New Purchases Show & Tell – February 2018

New Purchases Show & Tell February 2018

February may be the shortest month of the year, but I’ve still made some interesting purchases within it.  In fact, my New Purchases Show & Tell February 2018 could be the most random mix of purchases yet.  You’ll see why in a minute.

In my attempts to spend my money more wisely, I can say at least one of the items ticks this box.  This may not seem a lot, but I do only have four items to discuss, so one out of four isn’t bad, right?

New Purchases Show & Tell February 2018 video

Although I was still on the tight side this month (thanks to our boiler needing a new pump), here’s what I’ve been buying with the cash I had spare…

GoPro Wrist & Hand Strap – 22 seconds in
I was spoilt at Christmas by David, with my main present being a GoPro!  So looking ahead, we both have a big holiday coming up (which I’m yet to announce/talk about) and it’s about time I get some accessories for this baby!  I can definitely see a hand and wrist strap being useful on our trip and they both feel very secure when being worn.  Now I really want to get some more accessories, so please fill my comments box with recommendations!

GoPro Wrist Strap being worn

Thermal Curtain Lining – 2:06 minutes in
This is what I meant by my New Purchases Show & Tell February 2018 being random.  Thermal curtain linings?!  Yes, I know.  I’m not sure I would’ve known about thermal curtain linings before buying our house, or even buying our curtains!  After getting curtains from Ikea, because of cheapness (oh the cheapness!), they needed altering and lining sewn in too.  Luckily my mum is a whizz with a sewing machine, so she managed to alter and sew in these £22 curtain lining that I bought from Dunelm Mill.  Thus, saving us a lot of money on curtains.  Thanks mum!

Liz Earle Botantical Shine Shampoo – 3:53 minutes in
You’ve probably heard me mention this product before, but it has never featured in my New Purchases Show & Tell videos.  To tell the truth, I haven’t been too loyal to Liz Earle in the past year or so, mainly due to the price hike on it.  (A hike of £4 from a few years ago, when I bought it for £8.)  I have shopped around but I still really like this shampoo, so I treated myself by spending my Boots points on it.  (Still a bit annoyed about spending £12 for it though…)

New Purchases Show & Tell February 2018

The Body Shop Matte Clay Skin Clarifying Foundation – 5:00 minutes in
Although I’m aiming to spend my money on more “important stuff”, I want to try and treat myself to a little beauty gift per month, to hopefully keep me from splurging!  So this month I gave The Body Shop Matte foundation a whirl.  I usually don’t like matte foundation (as it doesn’t suit my skin type), but this doesn’t dry me out, gives a natural coverage and, despite being a liquid foundation, doesn’t need a powder to finish.  Lovely!

Next month…

I was planning to spend more money on homely things this month, like getting our first house plant (so rock n’ roll).  Sadly though we spent money on the house in another way (thanks to the boiler, as I said).  Alas, at least we’ve got the curtains sorted.

There’ll be more home purchases to come next month and sadly my car MOT.  (Please pass, please pass, please pass…)  March is a longer month too, meaning more time to spend money on more things!  Spending wisely though, of course.

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Birchbox UK – February 2018

Birchbox UK February 2018 unboxing

Where are we in the year?  February is the time of the year when L O V E (Valentine’s or Galentine’s) and pancakes start getting our attention. But Birchbox UK February 2018 wants to point us towards beauty in decades past.

From 70’s bronzing, 80’s neon colours and 90’s glitter – there’s plenty of beauty looks to look back on and inspire us.  (Or to avoid at all cost.)  After all, some beauty looks really have stood test of time.  Find out which of those might be included in this month’s box!

Birchbox UK February 2018 unboxing

True beauty is timeless is the theme behind the three different box designs this month, representing three different decades that we were given the choice between.

Usually I’d class myself as a 70s girl (based on my music taste and style preference).  Surprisingly though I felt more drawn to the 80s box by its design, so that’s the box I chose.  But it’s okay, the 80s still has David Bowie.  (Plus Modern Love, my favourite David Bowie song, was born in the 80s after all… Oh and I was born in the 80s too, come to think of it.)

Birchbox UK February 2018 samples

Samples

With a theme that looks back on beauty through the ages, will this be reflected in the sample selection for Birchbox UK February 2018?  There’s only one way to find out:

  • The Beauty Crop Eyeshadow Trio (FULL SIZE!)
    I’m not surprised to see an eyeshadow trio to represent beauty of this decade, but it’s a shocker that there isn’t a neon purple or pink shade!  (Proper 80s eyeshadow shades!)  Thankfully Birchbox have brought more wearable colours from past decades for us to wear in the modern day.  Although I do see a hint of purple in the darkest colour of this set!  (It wouldn’t be 80s without some purple…)
  • Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm (FULL-SIZE!)
    I knew a bright fuchsia pink would be somewhere in this box…  I’m just relieved it’s in a lip colour!  Regardless of colour, being a lip balm too makes it particularly useful for me at this time of year.  (80s themed or not!)
  • Percy & Reed Finishing Polish
    Hair.  Another big 80’s look and it was all about the BIG hair.  Again another surprise from this box was that the hair product wasn’t either a hairspray or mouse!  But to be honest, I’d have preferred a finishing polish anyway.  Luckily I curled my hair before filming my unboxing, which perfectly shows how this little number can add a final sheen to a styled look!

Birchbox UK February 2018

  • Luseta Coconut Milk Hair Mask
    I’m pretty sure hair masks weren’t a thing of the 80s, but by now I’ve realised a lot of these products were in the other decade’s boxes, so these samples aren’t specific to the decades.  Well, the majority of them aren’t anyway.  Besides, it’s always nice to try a spendy hair mask…
  • Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream
    Balance Me have been impressing me recently with their products.  Although it’s a brand we see regularly in Birchbox that’s not to say I don’t enjoy their products.  Since receiving this eye cream I’ve been applying it day and night and my tired winter eyes already feel and look ‘smoothed’.  Maybe I do need some eye cream in my beauty regime…

Box round up

Hold the phone – do you remember in last month’s box round up I spoke about the full-size Keeome silicone buff makeup applicator as the February sneak peak?  Well looks like that never materialised…  (Anyone know why?)

I’d class this box as satisfactory, although I should give it more merit as I did receive 2 full-size items totalling over the price I paid for the box.  I am quite looking forward to next month’s box though, namely because the March sneak peak shows that we’ll be receiving a charcoal face mask, which looks like the kind that will be an absolute pleasure to peel off! (And I wonder if that full-size Keeome applicator will show up too…)

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Discovering WW1 History in Ypres

Ypres_Grote_Markt

When most people think of Belgium they probably think of Bruges, chocolate and Belgian beer.  Their first thoughts might not wander to the town of Ypres, a location steeped in First World War history.

Just before Christmas, David and I set off on a Belgium road trip where our first stop was Ypres. We were there to discover sites in and around the town that was unforgettably caught in the whirlwind of World War 1.

Ypres might not seem like a location, or a history, that fits my blog’s theme/aesthetic.  The First World War is often referred to as a ‘senseless’ war, but one we shouldn’t forget and Ypres certainly has a presence to that. This is why I’ve decided to tell you about our time there and what to do in Ypres.

What to do in Ypres

What to do in Ypres

In Flanders Fields Museum Ypres

I won’t pretend I knew all the battle sites around Ypres, known as the ‘Salient’, before arriving. However, I did expect that I’d feel humbled from what we saw and learned.

Arriving in town this had already began.  It was hard to believe we were looking at buildings that were completely rebuilt back to their medieval design (as they looked convincingly older!).  I found the Ypres Cloth Hall to be the most striking piece of architecture in this area, which shockingly was too reduced to rubble.

Impressively it was reconstructed to its prewar condition, which gazing up at its sheer size you can believe why this took a few decades to complete and why its one of the best sights in town.

1.  In Flanders Fields Museum

Ypres Cloths Hall now houses In Flanders Fields Museum.  We could have spent hours in here, with its high and varied volume of interactive exhibitions and artefacts.  Many of which are activated by a microchip embedded ‘poppy’ bracelet given on arrival, (that can also be kept as a souvenir).

View from bell tower of Ypres Cloth Hall

We chipped in an extra 2 Euros to climb the 231 steps up to the belfry, which provides the best views of the town’s medieval architecture and layout.  The exhibition exits through the Tourist Information Centre, where we lingered to find walking and cycling routes of the surrounding area.  (Our plan was to cycle the ‘Peace Trail’ the next day.  Alas, weather or time wasn’t on our side…)

2. Menin Gate

One of the most touching memorials is found at Menin Gate, inscribed within its walls are 54,896 soldiers names who were killed in the war, yet whose graves are unknown.  If that hasn’t hit home enough, as a tribute from the people of Ypres, every night at 8pm the road that passes through the memorial is closed and buglers sound the ‘Last Post’.

A ceremony that has been carried out, uninterrupted, since 1928 (bar a few exceptions).  Despite us visiting at the end of November when the town was quiet, we found it was bustling under the memorial’s arches before the ceremony began.  Silence soon fell among the crowd though when the buglers were about to begin, with thoughts turning to the men who lost their lives.

Menin Gate at night in Ypres, Belgium

Inside view of Menin Gate, Ypres

Inescapably, you walk away with a weight of poignancy, especially knowing this ceremony vows to occur for eternity.  As we sat in a nearby bar beforehand, a local man told us every November 11th sees the service not just fill the memorial, but crowds pour out onto the street covering the city.

3. Tyne Cot Cemetery

Lying just outside of the town in the quiet countryside is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world.  Walking to the entrance of Tyne Cot Cemetery‘s Visitor Centre we began to hear names spoken from various speakers dotted along the pathway.  Later we would discover these names, 34,887 of them, were those who were reported missing.

Whilst Tyne Cot can be a very mournful place, with white aligned gravestones forming row after row, the stillness of the surrounding landscape creates a peaceful resting place for the fallen.

Tyne Cot Cemetery in autumn

Battle of Passchendaele Museum in Autumn

4. Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

A short drive from Tyne Cot is the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  Passchendaele was a horrific battle towards the end of the First World War where half a million men were killed for just 8km gain of ground.

Housed in a beautiful chateau, the museum explores not just the battle at Passchendaele but the old weapons and uniforms of soldiers.  Realistic dugouts and trenches can be experienced too.

5. Hill 60 / Caterpillar Crater

Much is to be learnt about the war through museum exhibitions and seeing how many lives were lost in the many graveyards scattered around the area and beyond.  However, seeing battle sites that are still weathering the carnage of the past really instilled a lasting impression for me.

Hill 60 had been fiercely fought over in the war and although the trenches were filled, the land remains scarred.  Close to this lies Caterpillar Crater, which for me was one of the area’s most sobering sights.  Despite grass and nature growing over it, the huge hollow of land where the mine was detonated has to be seen to be believed.

Hill 60 former battleground in Ypres Belgium

Caterpillar Crater Ypres Belgium

6. Talbot House

Another short drive away from Ypres is the sleepy town of Poperinge, which became a place of refuge for soldiers.  Away from the trenches and shelling, a townhouse was founded where troops could recuperate and feel a little more at home (and looked like it too!).  There’s a cafe on the bottom floor, where you’re welcomed with a hot drink (no charge, but donations are suggested) and a makeshift altar that was created in the attic room.

Talbot House unexpectedly interested me the most and felt like a place stuck in time.  Particularly when I read a few soldier’s letters that were sent home describing this as a place of peace.  It has a huge emotional draw, yet tranquility too which is inescapable.

Talbot House Poperinge

Altar in the attic room of Talbot House

Watch where else we explored in Belgium:

Have you ever been to Belgium?  Where did you discover and what did you like about it so much?  Tell me about your experiences in the comments section below!

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New Purchases Show & Tell – January 2018

New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018

At the start of the year I can’t help but think about the new purchases I’ll be making in the year ahead (mostly thanks to this series of mine).  However, starting now – as of my New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018 – there’ll be a bit of shake up.

Now that I’m classified as a ‘homeowner’ I’m looking to need to spend my money more wisely.  (Not that I haven’t done that in the past…)  There might be less clothes and beauty purchases, although don’t worry I’m sure they won’t completely go.  But I predict there’ll be a wider variety of products in the horizon for me this year  However, let’s start with some new year basics first!

New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018 video

Here’s what I’ve been buying to help me get ready and prepared for 2018.

Leucttrum 1917 Notebook Dotted A5 Black – 41 seconds in
Being only my second-ever Bullet Journal (in my lifetime!), I’ve changed the brand of notebook I’ll be using this year.  Part of me wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Leuchttrum notebooks.  I’d never heard of this brand, yet their notebooks seem to be a bullet journaller’s favourite. Now I can see why, through the many features their notebooks include, which I want to cover in more detail in a separate post.  For now though, take the example of having dotted pages (instead of squared, like I had last year). As well as giving a cleaner look and feel to my pages,  it gives more flexibility to more designs too.

New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018

Dymo Embosser Omega – 2:07 minutes in
I have wanted one of these FOR YEARS!  My inner geek (oh screw it – I am a geek!) fell in love at first sight, whenever it was when I’d first caught sight of one as a kid back in the nineties.  Having never owned one growing up, I felt as giddy as a little girl again when it was delivered to my door.  I love how retro the black tape looks.  I want to label e v e r y t h i n g.

Sweat app (for Apple) – 2:52 minutes in
Forgive the obligatory fitness purchase in January, but getting this app has been on my mind for the past year or so.  I’ve been aware of Kayla Itsines and her Bikini Body Guide (BBG) workouts from long before that too, so I took the leap and subscribed to her app.  Let’s just say it’s no walk in the park and I’m working out more than ever – a whopping 6 times a week!  But her workouts are 28 minutes long, meaning I can easily squeeze them into my busy schedule.  Tell me if you’d like a separate review?

Chok Idea Watchband – 4:14 minutes in
Closely related to the fitness kick I seem to be going through, I’ve bought a new watch strap for my Apple watch.  I’ve needed one for a little while, as mine was going a bit off colour.  (Ewe, I know.)  I can’t afford an Apple branded watch strap at the moment, but this cheap but comfy strap will do for now.  I think the white and pink colour combination freshens it up a bit too!

New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018

Next month…

Right. With Christmas done and dusted, this means my money is free to be spent on what I want again.  (Instead of getting into debt by spending it on gifts for loved ones and way too many ‘Christmas drinks’ down the pub.)  This also means I can get back to buying things for our house, finally!

David and I have our eyes on some blinds for the living room, which I admit doesn’t sound too exciting.  But I may want to purchase my first plant for our home too, as plants seem to be all the rage right now.  Rock n’ roll people, rock n’ roll…

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Birchbox UK January 2018

Birchbox UK January 2018 unboxing

It’s a new year already and Christmas celebrations (with all the feasts and parties) passed long ago.  Diets have begun, gym memberships are back to being active and even my Birchbox UK January 2018 is on a New Year kick.  It’s time to focus on the year ahead.

Most people are done with getting all glammed up this month, unlike last month when we received a number of sparkling treasures from Birchbox. But that’s not to say we can’t make time to pamper ourselves.  Find out what I received below!

Birchbox UK January 2018 unboxing

Birchbox UK January 2018 kick starts the new year with the theme Stand Tall.  (Figuratively speaking of course, as I’m only 5ft 2.)  And as it’s the time of year to get organised, Birchbox UK have teamed up with British stationary brand Ohh Deer.  Namely because stationary = getting organised!

As for resolutions, instead of the usual babble like ‘get fitter’ and ‘quit this or that’, Birchbox urge us to ‘rip up the resolution rulebook’ and embrace something we really enjoy.  If that means making a habit of trialling new beauty products then count me in!

Samples

This is what we’re all here for; the samples.  Birchbox subscribers knew they’d be receiving a full size Lord & Berry Blusher Crayon since being given the choice of two colours.  So let’s get down to the details!

Birchbox UK January 2018 samples

  • Lord & Berry Blusher Crayon (FULL SIZE!)
    I’ve owned blusher sticks before, but blusher crayons?  Trying it straight out of the box it’s surprisingly creamy and quite blendable too.  There’s no going overboard with it either, I drew a few lines on my cheeks (something I never thought I’d say) and used my fingers to blend, which left me with a natural-looking flush that was quite easy to master.
  • Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner in Charcoal
    Here’s another product that’s soft and smooth to apply.  Grey is a welcoming twist on the classic black for me, being so pale le noir can look too harsh at times.  I don’t often wear pencil eyeliner on my upper lid out of frustration from making a mess.  However, this glided on and, more importantly, stayed on.
  • Thermaliv Night Cream
    I usually reach for oil (over a cream) for my night time regime.  But this could be a game changer.  The collagen production boosting and vitamin E ingredients are what drew me in and oh my word, it’s a pleasure to apply.  Waking up the day after my skin felt blissfully smooth and I couldn’t wait to apply it again the same evening.
  • Paul & Joe Beauty Primer in Dagree
    So, after some leaflet confusion I discovered what this product is and its intrigued me even more.  A hydrating beauty primer (I’m listening) with 3 types of hyaluronic acid (yes, my skin loves that stuff!) that absorb into the skin at different times during the day to keep my complexion hydrated and boosted at all times (okay – sold!).  On first impressions, it definitely does what it says on the tin (bottle) and packs a dewy glow to boot.
  • Afterspa Amazing Makeup Remover
    Amazingly – get it – this works!  Admittedly, I was dubious at first whether a cloth and just water could break down and remove ALL of my make up.  (Including foundation.)  Even my usual makeup remover still leaves me with panda eyes in the morning.  But I was proved utterly wrong when I woke up without looking an inch like Robert Smith.  (Joy!)  This will come in handy when I stumble in after a night-out and can’t be bother to cleanse, tone, zzzz….

Added Little Extras

When I hear the tune of a Birchbox collaboration, I always look forward to the added little extras and there’s been a few this month.  Of course we, as Birchbox subscribers, have come to expect a little discount with the brand collaborator – 20% off at Ohh Dear can tick that off nicely.

On top of that however, for a discounted fee we were also sent the flamingo adorned weekly planner as well as some stickers that are both fabulous.

Birchbox UK January 2018 added extras

The added LOC Shadow sticks were a thank you for recommending a friend who signed up.  Another bonus if you managed to recruit more Birchbox subscribers!

Box round up

Well I think it’s fair to say I’m quite chuffed with this box.  Having tried all of the items already I don’t think there’s one weak link in here.  Birchbox UK January 2017 – you have started the year on a happy note!

The fun hasn’t ended here either (spoiler alert for next month coming up).  Another full-size product will be waiting for us in February’s box in the form of a Keeome (remember them?) Silicone Buff makeup applicator.  Give me some of that South Korean beauty good stuff!

Not a Birchbox subscriber?  Sign up here and get 50% off your first box!

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I have not been paid by, sponsored by or asked by Birchbox to make this blog post or video in any way – I just do it for the love!

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