The Ultimate Festive Pamper Evening

Happy Sunday, loves! I’m so excited about today’s post because I just LOVE a pamper evening and I know lots of you do, too! I love nothing more than taking an hour or two on a Sunday evening (pre Strictly results show, of course) relaxing in a nice hot bath with all my favourite pamper treats. I take the time to treat my skin and my hair to a little bit more TLC than they get for the rest of the week and I always feel so good after! Matt sometimes joins in with my face mask sesh pre-bath and he really loves it too. All of the products in this post would make for amazing Christmas gifts, and I promise this post is not sponsored by The Body Shop (I wish!)

First things first, I like to set the mood. I feel the most relaxed with minimal lighting. Candles and lamps – particularly our Himalayan pink salt lamp Matt bought me for Christmas last year – make me feel so cosy and happy! I love to burn candles all year round, but at Christmas time I really appreciate a festive candle. My two favourites every year are Winter by The White Company and Snowflake Cookie by Yankee Candle, and this year I’m also obsessed with Bath & Body Works Pink Fairy Gum Drop. It’s just so pink and beautiful!

Once I’ve lit one or two of my favourite candles, it’s time to run my bubble bath. I tend to save my Lush products for weekends and days I’m feeling a little bit cr*p as I appreciate them even more then! My go-to bath bomb this Christmas is Snow Fairy as it smells incredible and creates the most picture perfect pink baths! A few of my other favourites for the season are the Polar Bear Plunge bubble bar, Luxury Lush Put bath bomb, Yog Nog bubble bar and Butterbear bath bomb… although Matt tends to steal all of the Butterbear’s we buy! I also love love love Dr Teal’s Lavender foaming bath which I’ve been using more and more as my regular bubble bath, the lavender scent is just so lovely and relaxing in the evening.

Whilst my bath is running, I take off my makeup with Clinique Take The Day Off cleansing balm and my flannel, then double cleanse with my Aveeno Positively Radiant cleanser. I love double cleansing!

By now my bath is ran, I have a can of Diet Coke (a must for any bath, I’m obsessed!) and it’s time to apply my face mask. The face mask I use totally depends on how my skin is on that day, so I don’t necessarily always use the same ones. My favourite go-to’s are the Pixi Glow sheet mask or The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow mask; both are incredible and are masks I’ve used for so long!

Post-face mask I wash my hair and apply The Body Shop Banana Truly Nourishing hair mask *gifted which I leave on my hair for at least thirty minutes. (I do this mask every other time I wash my hair and leave it on for around five minutes on a regular day when I don’t have tons of time!) This soaks into my hair and leaves it feeling so soft, tangle free and looking shiny as ever. It also smells amazing, kind of like banana milkshake, and I wish we had some kind of technology so you could smell it through my photo. Every single time I use this Matt compliments me on how good my hair smells, so it’s a boyfriend pleaser too!

Now it’s time to R E L A X and for me, that means opening up my current book and getting lost in another world. It’s my happy place! I just recently read Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay, which is the sequel to one of my very favourite books I read this year. It was so funny and well written, I’d definitely stick it on your list for Father Christmas this year. I love long baths but I love even more having uninterrupted reading time. Matt has very kindly bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas which I am SO excited about because it’s going to make my reading experience one hundred times better! He’s the best 🙂

My favourite shower gels of the moment are The Body Shop’s Juicy Pear *gifted by my lovely friend Shannen; more information here and Lush’s Yog Nog, I love them both so much I alternate pretty much every night! Festive scents are always my favourite, they are so fun to use and inject a little fun into my typical routine. I exfoliate using my beautiful The Body Shop Spa Of The World Brazilian Cupuaçu scrub-in-oil, before using my regular old Gillette Venus Platinum razor and shaving gel. I only exfoliate before shaving every other time (or every other, other time) but I always feels SO much better when I do. You really get a closer shave and it just makes my skin feels so incredible!

Post bath I take my time to go through my full skincare routine, run a little Morrocanoil Treatment Light through my hair and spray my Aussie Leave-In conditioner before wrapping my hair up in my hair towel wrap to dry and stay out of my face. I moisturise using my Hawaiian Kukui cream from The Body Shop which is so luxurious, although I think I really need something a little more moisturising to help my dry skin during the colder months. I love nothing more than getting cosy in my pj’s, my favourite fluffy dressing gown and Ugg slippers. Matt and I spend the rest of our evening snuggled up watching TV (which would ideally be a Christmas movie at this time of year but if football is on I can guarantee that’s what we’ll be watching!), cooking our dinner and just enjoying each others company. At some point I’ll quickly blow dry my hair – which after around an hour in the wrap is almost fully dry – and run my straighteners through it so it’s much easier to manage in the morning.

Thank you so much for reading! I apologise for the lack of photos but I totally forgot to take the rest I had planned. It’s been a week, haha. I do however hope this gave you all of the cosy, festive vibes and maybe a little inspiration for your next pamper night. I think they are especially important with all of the events we have this time of year – make sure to check out this post to stop you feeling overwhelmed! Sunday is the perfect evening to take a little pamper time, so take this as your reminder to treat yourself tonight! What are your favourite pamper products? Do you switch things up to include festive scents and products, too?

-G x

A Mini Lush Haul ft. The Halloween Collection

Hi, loves! Lush is one of my favourite ever brands, and I’m kinda obsessed with them and everything they do for the beauty world. I definitely buy way more products during the Autumn/Winter months because I love the themed products, and I take way more baths during this time of year. Bath bombs and bubble bars are my favourite treats, and Matt secretly loves a Lush bath too. Well, I guess not so secretly now, hah! I am so impressed by this year’s Halloween collection, they brought back some favourites and introduced new products that made my heart happy. I also had held on to a gift card from my lovely co-workers to spend this time of year, so I kinda went a little crazy picking things up. Almost everything I got was from the Halloween collection, but I did pick up a tried and tested favourite and a product I LOVE but didn’t realise was now part of the main collection!

Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar | £4.95
This is a Halloween product I buy every year, and despite how much I hate the glitter on this (it goes EVERYWHERE) it’s such a fun bubble bar! I break it into four pieces to get four baths out of it; your money goes much further with the bubble bars compared to one use products like the bath bomb. This turns your bath the most beautiful orange colour and smells gorgeous. Also, thankfully the glitter doesn’t stick to your body once you get out of the bath!

Lord Of Misrule Bath Bomb | £4.50
I love love love this bath bomb so much that I picked up two, and I’m already planning to pick up more. It has popping candy in it! Another product I buy every year, and stock up on once they begin to phase out the Halloween products, this is just a dream. This bath bomb turns your bath the most amazing dark colour perfect for Halloween; the green and pink mix together to make a dark purple and there’s glitter throughout, but not the kind of glitter that sticks to you. Your bath sparkles and shimmers and it’s a bath you’ll seriously never want to get out of. Matt and I always buy my mum this bath bomb as part of her birthday present (her actual birthday is on Halloween!)

Pumpkin Spice Lip Scrub | £6.50
I was so excited about this, and trust me, it did NOT disappoint! I didn’t even smell this in the store, I just picked up one and put it straight in my basket. If you know, you know. This is the perfect pumpkin spice scent; it’s got hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, and of course pumpkin, which is just lovely to use. I really have to stop myself from licking it off my lips each time I use it! Matt’s a big fan of this too; Lush’s lip scrubs are amazing at getting rid of dead skin and allowing your lip balm to fully do its job. I always use this in the evenings, and I’ve started to use it most mornings too as it makes my lip product for that day apply so much better. This lip scrub is a must have for the colder Fall weather!

Mercury Retrograde Bath Bomb | £4.95
This is – I believe? – new for 2019, and although I haven’t yet tried it I’m so excited to. It smells citrus-y yet cinnamon-y (great descriptions, I know #blogger) all at the same time, which is two scents I wouldn’t have previously put together, but it somehow works. I’m so interested to see what colour this will turn my bath as it has orange, green and purple in it, as well as little black

Punkin Pumpkin Bath Bomb | £4.95
A pumpkin bath bomb that smells like pumpkins? I AM IN. Like, that’s my idea of heaven. This is a delight; it’s aesthetically pleasing – hello, prop for all Autumn themed blog photos – smells incredible and makes for a wonderful bath time treat. I’m so excited to try this one out, and I think I’ll mix it with a little of the Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar for all the Halloween feels. Also, the description on the website for this made my day, it’s a parody of This Is Halloween! Snapple fact: I know all of the words to that song – doesn’t everyone? – and sing it to Matt probably five times per day around this time of year. He loves hates it. 🙂

Sleepy Body Lotion | £9.00
Pretty much every time I shop in Lush I re-stock on this lotion, I just love it! This is my everyday go-to evening moisturiser, and it just works SO well. The only other moisturisers I’ve reached for over the past few months is this in-shower moisturiser if I’m having a super lazy moment or this amazing cream for a pamper night. Lush’s Sleepy body lotion genuinely works to relax your body and mind before going to bed; it’s calming and the lavender smell is so beautiful. I’ve said this before on my blog; I’m not the biggest fan of lavender but this scent is amazing. When Matt has had a super long day at work (he’s on his feet all day long) he loves a foot massage with this, too! He’s spoilt, haha. The smallest amount goes such a long way, and it’s a product I genuinely look forward to using each evening.

So White Bath Bomb | £3.95
Okay so this baby was the curveball. I was SO HAPPY to find out this bath bomb is now available all year round! So White has been one of my favourite Christmas bath bombs for years, one that I stock up on each holiday season, and one that is now part of the main collection?! I don’t know when it happened and I’m probably super late to the party, but it’s seriously one of the best ever! Sticking with the Snow White theme, it smells like apples and rose, and is truly one of the most relaxing, comforting scents. It turns your bath milky white (although it used to turn it green, I think? I’m pretty sure it had green and pink inside a few years ago!) I only picked up one but Matt and I both love this one, next time we’re in store we’ll definitely be getting a few more to add to our collection!

Thank you so much for reading! Did you get a little inspiration to immediately run to your nearest Lush store?! What is your favourite item from the Halloween collection? What’s your favourite Lush item ever?! I think my favourite from the Halloween collection would have to be the Lord Of Misrule bath bomb, but favourite Lush product ever? The jury is still out on that one! Also… the lovely guy at Lush Gateshead, who seems to be the one who always serves me, gave me a little sneak peek at some of the Christmas products and guys. You are going to be blown away! They come out on September 25th, a whole three months before Christmas, so you can bet I’ll be including them in a little haul on the blog in the next few weeks.

-G x

Meal Planning: The How’s And Why’s

Hi, loves!

Meal planning is a huge part of Matt and I’s week, and it’s something we now do every week without fail. I love routine, I love organisation and I love being able to do things in a quick and effective way. Matt isn’t as fussed, but what we’re having for dinner each night is something I had always made the decisions on, because Matt is super indecisive! Now, through changing our habits and meal planning, this makes it a joint decision for both of us. I’ve mentioned meal planning many times on the blog, and been asked lots of times for recipe ideas and why we do it. I’d love to share a week’s worth of dinner recipe ideas, so that will definitely be up in the blog in the next month or so. Today I’m focusing on the how’s and why’s of meal planning for us, and asking some of the questions I see popping up over and over again. Is it actually beneficial to our lives? Should you be doing it? What does it even mean?

What is meal planning?
It’s pretty self explanatory, but meal planning is literally to plan – usually for the week ahead – the meals you (and your partner/family) will be eating. Some people do this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however Matt and I only really focus on breakfast for Matt (I generally eat at work), dinner for both of us with leftovers for lunch the following day and healthy snacks/desserts. I’m not really a baker at all, but I made this banana bread last week before I picked Matt up from a night out with the boys and it was so good! Also, no bake desserts are great, and they’re super quick and easy when your evenings are busy.

How do you do it?
On a Sunday, Matt and I sit down for twenty minutes to talk about what we want to make the following week, and plan our shopping list(s). We look at Matt’s shifts as this has an impact on what we make; on the days he works until 9pm I make dinner ready for him coming home, so we tend to go for meals that go in the oven and can be timed perfectly (for example, cod and roasted vegetables or a good ol’ pasta bake). I make a list in the Notes app on my phone of what meal we’ll make each evening, writing underneath all of the ingredients required to make the meal. I don’t include items like sauces or spices which we use in every meal as we already have those, although if I had to re-purchase something during my shop that week then I’d write them down too. Miscellaneous items like almond milk, protein bars and bread are bought every week, so I keep a generic shopping list I buy from too. I love that I can tick off the lists as I go through my shop, and have even started writing in the order that I’d walk around the shop, that’s dedication LOL. I grocery shop twice per week, sometimes a third time if we’ve ran out of anything, and I can get round the store in fifteen minutes or less every time.

Does it save you money and/or time?
YES. As we plan ahead and have a shopping list, I literally buy to the shopping list. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a sneaky bag of Haribo or Cadbury’s buttons will find their way into the trolley – I’ve no idea how – but most of the time I stick to our list. I tend to do almost all of our grocery shopping as it just works easier that way, and I enjoy buying based on a list as it saves so much time. It also cuts out any extra deliberations in store where I ring Matt and say “is X okay for dinner tonight? What do you fancy for tomorrow?” I also have the flexibility to go to more than one supermarket when I can, as I know what I need to get and we prefer certain items from certain places. Aldi and Lidl are great for freshly baked bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, and they also have great deals on pasta, spices and yoghurts. When it comes to chicken and meat, we always buy from Asda as I feel you get more for your money there, and we buy specific branded things like rice, almond milk, frozen goodies, and sauces there too. To be honest, I generally do most of our shopping at Asda as it’s nearby work, but I should get better at buying from various stores. However if we’re ever having a cheat night and eating rubbish, we love the Taste The Difference flatbread pizzas from Sainsbury’s (with a tub of Halo Top or Alpro ice cream thrown in, obviously)!

How do you get your ideas for recipes?
This has built up over a long time of trial and error of trying out new foods, as we now have our own little (mental) portfolio of go-to meals we love. We don’t eat much red meat and it’s something we’re actively trying to cut down on, and we generally favour chicken or fish dishes if we’re not eating vegetarian. When we’re not cooking a tried and tested favourite and want to try something new, I firstly look through our three favourite cookbooks. Our go-to’s are Pinch Of Nom by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone, A Year Of Beautiful Eating by Madeleine Shaw and Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape by Gino D’Acampo. Whether we follow the exact ingredients and method, or take inspiration to create something else I can almost always find something that looks good. If nothing was to take our fancy from those cookbooks we’d then look online at BBC Good Food, Pinterest, Tesco Real Food and of course, social media.

Do you find it easy?
I really do, and I would advise anyone who is thinking about giving it a go, to just try it. It took us a long time to start cooking with fresh ingredients, and we were regulars at M&S Food Hall for their dine in for two offer (we ate those almost every night!) for our first year of being together, but now that’s definitely a treat and something we do on the nights we really have no time. We didn’t know how to cook at all prior to last Summer, so we’re self taught (well, with the help of Matt’s lovely mum). I hear people say all the time “I don’t know how to cook” but honestly you just have to give it a whirl and practice lots, it gets easier and now we love every aspect of it. After we got the methods down, it took us a little time to tweak how we do things each week, but after a little trial and error it works perfectly for us. We’ve also been eating way healthier since we took meal planning seriously, as it’s developed a new interest in creating new meals, and we’re forever trying new things. I’m very interested in eating more vegetarian meals, and Matt’s on board to try whatever I want to try too, which is great! We’re thinking of eating vegetarian only for a week, pretty much just to see if we can do it, and if we do I’ll definitely share my thoughts on it with you on the blog.

Does it work every week?
Yes, for us it really does. We look at the week ahead, so if we’re heading out for date night on Friday we know we don’t need to buy anything for that night, or if we have plans with friends on the Saturday we’ll more than likely grab something when we’re out. If Matt’s out for the evening with the boys I also take great pleasure in having a kid’s tea before I go pick him up (Quorn crispy nuggets, Strong Roots spinach bites and a whole lot of this amazing BBQ sauce, if you’re interested) and those are the kinds of food we always make sure to have in the freezer, and I replace without fail on an almost weekly basis (especially those spinach bites, we literally eat them with almost every meal HA). The best part of meal planning is that it works around your life and your schedule, and it’s very flexible as a result. You could definitely just do one shop per week but we buy so many fresh vegetables and fruit it means by the end of the week items are out of date or just not as good as they should be, so I’d rather not waste food and just go to the supermarket two or three times per week.

I hope this post was informative and helped in some way! I love seeing what people eat for dinner, and what must-have recipe they recommend to others. I can’t wait to share with you a week’s worth of dinners for Matt and I. If you’re wanting to get a start on meal planning, I’d really recommend the three cookbooks photographed/linked in this post! Do you meal plan? Do you have any extra tips that may help me or my readers?!

-G x

The Cleansers Worth Your Money

Hey, loves!

I’m very excited to be talking about my favourite part of my skincare routine: cleansing my face. I love nothing more than the feeling of coming home from work, taking off my makeup and having a bath, before spending the evening with Matthew, more than likely cooking and watching our shows. (We’re currently watching Our Planet and it’s heartbreaking and amazing at the same time, the walrus scene had me crying so hard!)

I find that taking my makeup off is the first step in unwinding from my day; whether I’ve been at work, out shopping or running errands with Matt, it literally feels amazing every time. I’ve always been loyal to specific cleansers – I used Clinique Take The Day off pretty much exclusively for two years, but then when I changed my mind and no longer wanted to use/buy makeup and skincare products that weren’t cruelty free, I had to start looking at other options.

I shared my cruelty free skincare routine with you last month, and those products are tried, tested and truly loved. I didn’t delve too much into the products I use alternatively, or what I favour when I do switch out products from time to time. I think my skin reacts best when I stay consistent with my day/night moisturisers, and I truly love what I use so I stay away from changing these up. Cleansers are a product I have a little more wiggle room with, and as they’re not staying on my skin for an extended period of time, they don’t seem to cause too much trouble if my skin doesn’t agree with the formulation. I could probably change up my toner reguarly too, but I honestly have no desire to as I love Pixi Glow Tonic more than life itself! All of the products mentioned in this post are cruelty free, so you can shop without guilt if you’re in the market for something new! So, you probably won’t be too surprised by any of my picks based on previous posts, but which products would I recommend?

Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser
This is the cleanser that I reach for every morning and some nights, and as I mentioned in my skincare routine it smells very spa-like due to the natural ingredients. The cleanser foams up nicely when applied and never leaves my skin feeling dry or tight after; just a clean canvas to apply my makeup. It’s inexpensive, paraben free and formulated for use on all skin types. I’ve found that generally when a product states it’s suitable for ‘all skin types’ it doesn’t work so well on sensitive skin (my skin is beyond sensitive) but this is fantastic. The cleanser is formulated with witch hazel, which has worked really well to lessen my acne scars, and I’m pretty sure is solely down to this product (and my beloved night cream). On the occasions I use this cleanser in the evening I always take my makeup off prior with micellar water or an alternative cleanser, this is just the next step in my routine. Matt sometimes uses this when he’s having a ‘bad skin day’ – he’s crazy, his skin is perfect – and so does my brother. I picked this up on a whim one day in Boots back in October last year, and I’m so glad I did. I just can’t wait to try more from the brand!
RRP: £5.96

Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser
With my love of Pixi Glow Tonic being strong and unconditional, it’s safe to say I had bloody high hopes for this cleanser, and *spoiler* it didn’t disappoint. I got this as a gift from my parents for Christmas, and after having my eyes on the cleanser for a while I was so excited to try it. I started using it in January, and it was love at first use, although I shied away from using it too much as it’s a lot more expensive compared to the Sukin cleanser. Having used it more regularly over the past few months, I think the price is completely justified and it’s a product I look forward to using. Again, I don’t take my makeup off with this product although I’ve seen some people use it in that way and will probably give it a try now I’ve thought about it. The cleanser is thick and feels so luxurious on the skin, it’s like having a mini facial in our bathroom every night! The 5% gylcolic acid helps to keep my pores clear, and my skin always looks fresh and, literally glowing, after every use. Matt always compliments when my skin looks good, and I noticed every time he said it looked ‘really good’ was the nights I’d used this. It’s becoming an every day staple in my skincare routine, and I know I’ll re-purchase before it runs out.
RRP: £18.00

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
Ah, my beloved milky jelly cleanser. A truly iconic cult product, and boy is it for good reason. I’ve re-purchased this cleanser several times, and when I’m having a moment with it, I really love it. I use this exclusively in the evenings, and although I don’t reach for it every night I do grab this a few times per week. I really like to use it after a night out or a long day where I’ve really stepped up my makeup game and am wearing more than usual. I love to take my makeup off with this as I feel like my skin always feels super soft afterwards, and sometimes I’ll use this to take off my makeup, then cleanse with the Pixi cleanser. It is worth noting that I have combination skin that leans more to the oily side, and my face never feels dry after using this although I’ve seen various reviews saying people find it makes them more dry. In my opinion this is a steal; it’s fuss-free and so simple to use, sometimes the simple stuff really is best.
RRP: £15.00

The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter
I’ve used this on and off for years now, I don’t think I could ever not have this in rotation in my routine. Right now I use most nights, as I’m trying to use micellar water less often, due to the waste produced by cotton pads. Again, like the Glossier cleanser I use this to take my makeup off, and I’ll usually follow it up with my Pixi cleanser too. All about that double cleanse life. This cleanser is different as it’s in a balm format; the product is solid and when worked into the skin turns into the most wonderful oily consistency. I find this works especially well on eye makeup, and I never actually need to double cleanse with this product even when I wear waterproof mascara. As this product is formulated with camomile, it has that perfect soothing, calming scent and is so welcome at the end of a long stressful day. There’s also an oil version of this product I reach for over and over again, it’s equally as good and another must-have in my collection. I just need to find a solution to the cotton pads problem – has anyone got any experience with re-usable alternatives? Please help a gal out!
RRP: £10.00

Thank you so much for reading! Is taking your makeup off the best part of your day too? Have you tried any of the cleansers mentioned in this post? What are your go-to cleansers? Let me know in the comments!

-G x