Spring Reading List

Hi, my loves! I hope everyone is safe right now more than ever, and learning to live in our ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable. I’ve been quite undecided whether or not I should carry on blogging as if the world isn’t THE most terrifying place right now, and after a lot of debating I thought it best to carry on, and hopefully spread a little much needed positivity. I didn’t post last week as my Spring Bucket List was due to go up but as we’re not allowed to leave our houses (except for grocery shopping or medical attention!) it really wasn’t the right time to post it. The way things are looking right now we might just have to wait for a Summer Bucket List… but we all know this is going to be the most amazing Summer once all of this is over right?! *crosses fingers*

I don’t want anyone to think I’m feeling particularly happy and upbeat right now because honestly, each day is so different. I’m scared and I hate the unknown more than anything, but I am really trying to have a PMA* (*Positive Mental Attitude). I think the only thing we have to hold onto right now is positivity and hope! I think I might record a Week In My Life next week, which seems strange as my days are only just working from home, watching Netflix and not much else, but I think a little bit of solidarity could be extra helpful right now! Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing 🙂 

I’ve seen LOTS of bloggers online talking about now that they have ~so~ much more time on their hands they’re picking up hobbies, working out more etc but honestly, I feel like if anything I have less time? I’m extremely fortunate to be able to work from home which I’m so grateful for (I started my new job two weeks ago, then took pretty much my whole desk home on my second day to work from home for the foreseeable, pretty crazy right?!) I guess I technically have more time as I’m not getting ready the same as I would for work and I don’t have a commute anymore. Unless you count walking the 20 steps from my bed to the dining room AKA my unofficial home office but I’ve been filling that time with other happy things. Real talk: I really miss getting in my car and driving to the office, I never knew how much I enjoyed my commute!

I’m not getting fully ready most days (I think I’m going to change this from next week because honestly I love doing my makeup – and sometimes my hair – so maybe this will make me feel more ‘normal’). But… I’m SO DRAINED. Does anyone else agree with me on this?! I’m only reading the news once or twice per day as honestly I’m finding the whole thing terrifying, and it’s really hard to mentally cope with. I’m so grateful that Matt and I are safe and healthy, and so are our families. We’re staying permanently with my family until this is all over and we are missing Matt’s parents so so much! We miss our grandma’s, our friends, and I haven’t even met most of my new co-workers yet. It’s a crazy time and for me personally starting to learn a new hobby just isn’t something I can do right now. Instead I’m working really hard and trying to learn as much as I can with my new job, sleep well, eat well and enjoy all my favourite downtime/self-care activities. I especially love taking baths, spending extra time on my skincare routine, watching my favourite vloggers, Matt and I look forward to walks more than your average Labrador and I LOVE reading! My Kindle is packed with fun books to read and I’m so excited to be sharing some of those with you, as well as a bunch of books that I really loved and recommend you get immediately! 

My To Read List:

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
This was recommended to me on Amazon and the synopsis and reviews made me download it immediately! This book is a love story of a couple based in New York (I mean that alone had me sold) who have their life planned out. Dannie, the main character, falls asleep one night and wakes up five years in the future, with a completely different life to the one she currently has planned out. I was really careful not to read too many reviews – someone always spoils it! – but this is the next book I’ll be delving into because I’m so excited about it.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
I’m currently reading this now, I’m about half way through and I am really enjoying it. I loved Josie’s first book (more about that below) so I had high expectations! I admit I found it a little slow at the beginning and I wasn’t as excited about it as I was her first one, but now I’m wrapped up in the story and can’t wait to see what happens. Lydia is married to Freddie, who dies suddenly in an accident and her whole world is turned upside down. She soon realises that when she sleeps life in her dreams is just the same as it always has been…

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter
I have had this on my ‘to read’ list for a long time but there’s just always been other books I’ve been more excited about, although after how much I loved So Lucky (again, more on that below!) I am really excited to get stuck in. The story is based on three women who are all united in their views, if nothing else, and I have a feeling it will be very much based on the way society is nowadays. By her own admission, Dawn likes to talk about reality in her books and show that different perspectives can work together, I hope it’s as witty and off-the-cuff as So Lucky!

Dear Lily by Drew Davis
Anyone else hear the name ‘Lily’ and immediately hear ‘where’s the dog, Lily?’ in their head? Just Me? Okay… Again this was recommended to me on Amazon and I’m really looking forward to reading it; the story is about Joy moving away from her family home – and her sister, Lily – and sounds like the perfect escapism girly read. Joy communicates via letter and I’m assuming goes through things from her childhood/past as it appears to be very emotional based on the reviews.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Shay talked about this in her March book review this past week and I immediately downloaded it. I love pretty much all of her recommended books, and if I’m ever feeling at a loss looking through Amazon I head over there for inspiration (and check the comments section too)! This book is about a mum and son who live in Mexico, and have to escape to the US away from the Cartel. From Shay’s review and the Amazon reviews it seems to be a very suspenseful, tragic, heartwarming read, and I’m kind of obsessed with all things about the drug cartels in Mexico! Matt and I watched Narcos: Mexico and LOVED it, and I think that’s what got me into that kind of storyline. This book is fictional but wanting to cross the border for a better life is an everyday thought for so many people, I’m so excited to read this… I just need a few more happy, easy books before I delve in!

No We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald
Okay so I adore Sophie’s books and I’m so excited to read this! This books seems like a typical girly, romantic comedy that I really bloody love… Sloane is looking for The One and she’s pretty sure she’s found him, until she finds out Myles is hiding a huge secret from her and everything falls apart, as it always does in a rom-com! This feels like a perfect chilled read, especially when the world is so topsy turvsy.

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher 
I really like Giovanna’s books because they’re generally very light hearted, easy-to-read and something you can pick up and put down without being too gripped. I mean that as a good thing! This story follows Lizzy, who thinks after being with her boyfriend for ten years there’s a proposal on the horizon, however that doesn’t exactly work out. Gi’s books are super down-to-earth and I always fall in love with the main character, who I’m assuming is going to be heartbroken and on a journey to find herself throughout the book…

Books I loved and recommend:

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
I’ve bought this book for so many people! This is a great read that would be such a welcome distraction for someone during this crap time. Dolly recounts SO many memories throughout this book, and so many of them are things that our teenage selves will relate to! She covers heartbreaking times in her life, funny times, learning experiences and everything in-between. I really feel like Dolly comes across in a big sister kinda way throughout this book, and it’s a bloody fun trip down memory lane as I guarantee you’ll remember certain things/people/times whilst reading her story. I think every woman should read this, I’ve actually read it twice and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time!

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
This is my favorite book I’ve read so far this year! Literally laugh-out-loud funny and not the predictable storyline I was expecting a few chapters in. Tiffy, the main character, is the most lovable, friendly girl and I think that’s partly why I loved this book so much. I found it so funny, I always wanted to know what was happening next and I was jumping to conclusions of what would happen next all the way through. It also really shows how people can get to know each other without knowing each other, and that’s something that happens more and more in the world we live in. Imagine how many couples will be saying in a few years ‘oh we talked every day during quarantine!’ hahaha.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
I’ve talked about this book several times on my blog and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it’s so worth a mention for anyone new reading! Let me just be clear: this is NOT a light read. It’s a very moving, heartbreaking, touching story and my heart physically hurt reading this. But, it’s still so amazing! Elsie, the main character, is living in a happy little bubble when the most distressing thing happens; her husband is killed in an accident. The writing is phenomenal; Elsie’s personality shone through in this book even in the midst of horrific grief and all the way through I just wanted to pop round and give her a hug. I also really cuddled Matt tight each night when I put this down, it brings a whole other level of appreciation to your loved ones! To be honest all of Taylor’s books are incredible, you can’t go wrong with any of them!

The Accidental Life Swap by Jennifer Joyce
This is a very fun, light and easy read, which is perfect if you’re struggling with everything going on in the world right now. I read this in two or three days a few weeks back and I just loved the storyline. Rebecca is a pushover who works for a horribly mean boss (we’ve all been there!), and she thinks she needs to be more like her in order to do better in life. She quickly learns that being a bitch is not the best way to go through life and the way she learns it is SO funny. I also would love to see if the house in this book was based on one in real life, and if so I want to move in!

One Day In December by Josie Silver
I read this last December, assuming by the title it was a Christmas themed book. It’s not! I loved this book from start to finish and read it SO quickly, I wish I could go back and re-read it for the first time! Laurie and her best friend Sarah both unexpectedly fall in love with the same guy, but it’s not a typical love triangle story at all. The book moves through years pretty quickly and you really get to know the characters so well, I was rooting for different people at different times in this book but overall I loved the ending and I so want a second book to see what happens with the characters! Also there is some really sad moments in this book, so just bear that in mind if you’re struggling a little right now.

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom
This was such a heart-warming read, I truly adored the storyline and the characters! A twenty-something girl who was adopted as a baby goes to find her birth mother on the other side of the world in New Zealand, and as you can imagine it’s not straight forward. She’s led there by a tragedy, and the truth behind her adoption is told throughout the book. I literally gasped at parts of this, again I was thinking I knew what was going to happen but I was so off. This is an easy read and I was so happy with the ending (even though I felt it was a little rushed). Also, it really made me want to visit New Zealand, it sounds like such a beautiful place and the way of life seems very similar to the UK!

The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes
I’ve also talked about this on the blog a few times recently but oh my goodness I just LOVED this book! This is the perfect quarantine read because I promise you’ll not want to put it down. Caitlin is a professional matchmaker running her own agency, with the most perfect cookie cutter husband and life, or so her followers think. This is a great story that shows what you see on social media is not always as it seems, and although some parts are completely heartbreaking overall the book is beautiful and heartwarming. I love that the reader doesn’t know exactly what’s going on right away, and you are led to make your own assumptions before being told the truth. Such a great read, and another book that makes you feel especially lucky for your life right now.

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter 
I saw this book all over Instagram and I downloaded it because I just had to see what all the hype was about. Around three chapters in I was feeling like this book was not for me, but boy was I WRONG! I did find it a little hard to get into, but it is so worth sticking with. This book is relatable, hilarious, thought-provoking and it also covers some really hard parts of life. The story is based on three very different women whose paths overlap and it’s a really great testament to the power of female friendship. Warning: it gets… graphic(?) pretty quick!

Have you read any of these books? Which is your favourite?! Please share all of your recommendations below, I love hearing what books people would recommend and why! Sending you all positive thoughts and love in this horrible time, we’re all in this together friends 🙂 (and that reminds me, Matt and I have got a date with HSM this afternoon… yay for Disney+!) 

-G x

My Current Skincare Routine: Winter Edition

Hi, loves! Today’s post is one I’m so excited about because I really just wanted to talk about all the products I’m loving right now. I should start by saying that my skin is combination, and like most people’s it leans way more to the dry side during the Winter months. My skin is also dehydrated, and that’s something I’m really trying to treat. Overall I’m pretty happy with my skin right now, and I’ve learned it’s never going to be ‘perfect’ which is fine! I recently talked about the things I’ve learned from my experience with acne, and I think it’s so important that we stop being so hard on ourselves for not having perfect skin. Nobody has perfect skin, and that’s okay! Also I’m sure this may seem like a lot of products to some (and possibly very little to others) but this is just what works for me 🙂

AM

I cleanse my face every morning with my Aveeno Positively Radiant cleanser which I absolutely love! This cleanser leaves my face feeling clean and is the perfect first step in the morning as it’s not at all harsh or stripping. It removes all of the skincare product residue from the night before easily and gently, and it has a really pleasant, light scent which I appreciate because I’m not a fan of highly fragranced cleansers. I really look forward to washing my face with this every morning!

Depending on how my skin is, I tone with Pixi Glow Tonic but I tend to only use this on the days my skin is feeling extra dry or if I have an active breakout/cystic acne. This is without a doubt my favourite toner as it is packed with glycolic acid which gently exfoliates your skin. I really think this makes a huge difference to the pores on my cheeks too, it definitely reduces the appearance of them and overall helps my skin look so much brighter. It literally makes you glow!

Whether I have or haven’t used my toner, my next step is always Hydraluron serum. As soon as the weather gets cold, my skin gets dry and dehydrated and this serum works to boost moisture levels in the skin, and hold on to all of the moisture from your moisturiser. If you’re struggling with dehydrated skin (a huge tell tale sign is your makeup breaking up/not lasting throughout the day) you should give this a go as it makes all the difference! It’s not a miracle worker and my skin is definitely still dehydrated, but it has improved so much since I started using this serum. I only use a pea sized amount across my whole face; it absorbs straight in and doesn’t feel tacky or sticky at all. Also, just an FYI, Caroline Hirons swears by this product so much it’s been coined Hironsluron by her loyal readers/viewers!

I’m not usually too fussed on which eye cream I use as I’ve never found a day time eye cream that makes much difference to me, but that all changed when I picked up La Roche Posay Hydraphase eye cream. I’ve been using this around two months and it feels so nice, absorbs into my under eye area quickly and is cooling which is lovely if your eyes can be a little puffy in the morning! My concealer always sits well on top of this which is also a bonus as I’ve tried several eye creams that pill under makeup and cause texture.

For my moisturiser I like to combine two products; I take a smidge of La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo and mix it with a bigger smidge of Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré. So technical, I know! If I have a bad breakout I apply a little Effaclar Duo directly over the area, but most days I mix them together with my fingertips and apply all over my face. Effaclar Duo has been a staple in my skincare routine for years and it’s something I’ve always kept in my collection, but with consistent use it’s made such a difference to my skin. I love love love Lait Crème Concentré – which is one of the best selling French pharmacy skincare products ever – as it’s very hydrating, but sinks into the skin so well and is a perfect base under makeup. Makeup artists worldwide swear by this as a must have product in their kit, it also doubles as a primer which is great for travelling!

My favourite ever lip balm is hands down Nuxe Reve de Miel – made by another fantastic French pharmacy brand – I just cannot say enough good things about this! It’s creamy, moisturising, non-sticky and keeps my lips moisturised for hours. I use this morning and night, and I also keep my Nuxe Reve de Miel stick in my bag which I re-apply several times throughout the day. Matt is a huge fan of these lip balms too!

PM

My favourite time of the day apart from snuggling up in bed with Matt is taking my makeup (and bra) off. As soon as I’m home for the evening I like to take off my makeup, get showered/bathed and throw my pj’s on, and then I’m cosy for the night! Over the past few weeks I’ve been reaching only for the Clinique Take The Day Off cleansing balm which is an old favourite of mine. This balm takes off every. single. scrap. of makeup on your face and doesn’t cause any irritation to my sensitive skin. I apply to my dry face, and massage in to start to break down my makeup. I then wet my fingers and carry on massaging in the balm, which turns to an oil-like consistency when water is added. I take my flannel soaked with warm water to remove everything. It literally takes less than a minute! I’m also a huge fan of these flannels from M&S; they’re inexpensive, wash so well and make the world of difference to my cleansing routine.

I always always always double cleanse – because Caroline Hirons told me to – and nine times out of ten I reach for my Aveeno Positively Radiant cleanser that I use each morning. I just love this stuff! It’s also very boyfriend friendly; I’m forever trying to get Matt into a set skincare routine and this is one of the few products he actually enjoys using.

Each night I tone my face with either Pixi Glow Tonic or Pixi Retinol Tonic on a cotton round. I choose which one to use based on my skin that day; if I’m suffering with an acne flare up or a bad breakout I reach for Glow tonic, and if I’m having a good skin day I reach for Retinol tonic. This is such a low dose of Retinol that it is safe to use every day, so I often use this several nights in a row, and I love how it makes my skin feel.

My next step is to apply The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid serum which is fantastic for dehydrated or dry skin! I personally prefer Hydraluron for during the day, but I love love love this product for the evening. I find this is a lot more runny in consistency and you have to be careful not to pump too much out, but it is such a bargain and really has made a difference to my skin. It leaves my skin feeling plump and hydrated, and is the perfect product to be sandwiched between cleansing and applying the rest of my skincare products.

If you’ve read my blog for a while you will know I am obsessed with The Body Shop’s Drops of Youth Bouncy Eye Mask and nothing will ever replace this for me! I’ve used this product for around two to three years and it is just so hydrating. I especially love that this eye cream is cooling on application and as it’s a gel-like texture it sinks straight in. I really love this eye cream and it’s a product several people have told me they tried because I rave about it so much… it’s so worth the hype, I promise!

Before I apply my my moisturiser, I use Pixi Glow Tonic serum followed by Botanics Restoring Overnight facial oil which is my perfect evening combination. The Pixi serum is just beautiful! I apply two to three drops across my whole face and it helps to exfoliate (like the toner) and hydrate. My skin always looks glowy and fresh after application, and if I ever skip this step I feel like my skin really pays for it the next day. The Botanics facial oil was something I picked up on a whim in Boots – we’ve all done it, right? – and it is the most luxurious facial oil I’ve ever used! I love the scent so much, it’s packed full of essential oils and is really calming. I am so impressed with the quality of the oil and I’d really advise anyone wanting a little luxury in their skincare routine to pick it up! One thing to note is that I don’t apply the oil to any areas affected with an active breakout!

My holy grail skincare product this time of year is Clinique Moisture Surge moisturiser, it’s truly the best hydrating moisturiser I’ve ever tried! I feel like it just layers so well on top of my serums and oil, and makes my skin feel so soft and plump. I love that it’s such a light texture but a little really does go a long way, and it is a great product if you have combination skin. It definitely doesn’t make my face feel or look oily, but it concentrates on any dry patches and just makes things so much more hydrated!

Just like I do in the mornings, I always finish off my evening skincare routine with my Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm. I generally tend to do my skincare routine early in the evening so I often apply several times more before I go to sleep, and I always put it on just before Matt and I get into bed.

I of course use various treatments – sheet masks are a personal fave – throughout the week/month, and I just see how my skin is doing and what it needs at that time. You can read all about my favourite treatment products here, I still use and love all of those products, I just have a few extra faves now too! I love trying new beauty products but these days I’m slightly more hesitant to try new skincare products as I’m really happy with the ones I’m currently using! I would love to try more from the Botanics range though, and the Clinique Moisture Surge hydrating water gel has been on my ‘to try’ list forever! What are your go-to skincare products for the colder months? Have you tried anything I talked about in this post, or are you adding them to your Christmas list?

-G x