13 Dec 2017

Christmas Going Away Checklist

Christmas is upon us! Whether you're spending the festive season back home with your family or on a special Christmas trip, here is a checklist of five things to remember to do before you set off for the holidays, to help ensure your Christmas travels are as calm and stress-free as possible.

Remember presents and cards
First and foremost, make sure you don't forget to pack any presents and cards you've gotten for your family and friends! Try and have your presents already wrapped too, or at least bring the wrapping with you - this is especially helpful if where you're going doesn't have easy access to shops for last minute tidbits. For me back home is London, so you can imagine why I rather not do last minute Christmas related shopping there!
If you are a last minute shopper consider buying presents (and even cards and wrapping) online using the address of your family home or holiday destination as your delivery address, as to make sure presents don't arrive at your home when you've already left. Of course make sure the orders are still under your name so there are no surprise-ruining mix ups.

Clean your home
The obvious steps to take before leaving for the holidays - though ones that can be easily forgotten - are to clear the fridge of any food that might go bad, wash the dishes and take the bins out, so that you aren't greeted with any gone-off food upon your return. Or worse still, so you don't realise you've left food out when you're already miles away and it niggles in the back of your head throughout your break. But aside from those mandatory precautions, it's also nice to have a general tidy of your whole place before you leave. This, in turn, leaves your head decluttered over the holidays, and your home will feel extra welcoming when you return to it post-Christmas.

Consider home security and safety
To ensure your home stays safe when you're away it's important to remember to take precautions such as closing all your windows, locking your doors and turning off electronics before you leave.
And now, thanks to really cool recent technology, there are ways to ensure all is secure back home even when you're miles away. Smarthome Panasonic is a system that lets you keep an eye on your pets when you're out, switch electronics on and off without moving, alerts you of any potential intruders or visitors at the door when you're away, plus more. And all of this is done easily from your smartphone or tablet. The price of Smart Home is also very reasonable and could make a great Christmas present!

Prebook travel and remember your tickets and documents
Try and avoid booking travel at the last minute to avoid elevated Christmas time fares. Once you are all booked don't forget to take with you your physical tickets and travel documents, and have any e-tickets and booking codes readily on hand before you travel.

Clear your schedule 
There's nothing more satisfying than completely clearing your schedule for a period of time. And never is this act more necessary than over Christmas, when you surely deserve a break from more menial obligations (where possible, of course). Do this before you leave for the holidays, so that as soon as you're out the front door you know there's nothing left to do except relax and have fun until you're back after Christmas! Even if you do have some responsibilities over the holidays that you can't get out of, make sure to clear out anything extra that isn't integral and save it for another date!

I hope you found these tips helpful. Have a great Christmas!

Disclaimer: This post has been kindly sponsored, but all views are my own.

Amani x 

31 Oct 2017

Channon Rose October Subscription Box | First Impressions

I recently signed up to YouTuber Channon Rose's subscription box service. Channon Rose is an American lifestyle and beauty vlogger, and I've been watching and enjoying her videos for a while now. After seeing unboxings of her first ever subscription box - which was released two months ago - I realized it was something I would enjoy. And as her second release would be the Halloween edition I made sure to sign up just in time to receive the Halloween themed box!

The box arrived at my home the day before Halloween. The box itself was white with a pretty design on the front and had '#Rosefam'' printed on the side. Upon opening it a few pamphlets placed above the items teetered out. These included a Halloween-y message from Channon, descriptions of all the items inside, a hint pertaining to the next box and a 'Postive Energy Challenge'.

The first item that caught my eye in the box was a cute, grungy #Rosefam Hat. It was cool to receive Channon Rose merchandise and to feel part of a #squad.

Then there were some BH Cosmetics Studio Pro Lashes, which made me very happy. I love false lashes. But despite that I always find myself nervous when purchasing them, as for some reason I don't seem to be very good at it. Meaning, I'm not always happy with the lash purchases I make upon actually wearing them - with them often looking either more subtle or more overpowering than I had hoped. With that being said I was very happy to see that someone who actually knows their stuff had selected lashes that they believe to be worthy. I'm looking forward to trying these on as I'm sure they're going to be great!

What really drew me into investing in this subscription box was the fact that it's a lifestyle box rather than solely a beauty one, and I was keen to receive accessories alongside beauty products. With that in mind I was pleased to receive a Black Choker in this month's box, which is definitely right up my alley. I've recently been pondering the fact that I don't wear chokers as much as I used to and how that needs to change. And this new addition inspires me to do so!

There were also some Furry Cat Ears in the box. As the box came right in time for Halloween the cat ears, choker and lashes combine to make a cute last minute Halloween look. Had I actually had plans for the day (sad face) I definitely would have implemented this, as I found myself stuck for costume ideas this year. 

I like the fact that Channon seems to often include vegan snacks in her box, especially as I've recently gone dairy-free. This month's box included a Justin's Dark Chocolate Candy Bar, serving as a slightly healthier treat for Halloween. I unfortunately can't try this bar as I have a nut allergy. So I'll have to give it to someone else and wait for their verdict on how it tastes!

Lastly came the BH Cosmetics Contour & Blush Palette, which I would crown the most exciting and visually pleasing item in this month's box. I have never actually properly contoured before. And  I have only started using a highlight very recently (blog post featuring my first highlighter coming soon). So this palette appearing at my doorstep now gives me a perfect excuse to finally try my hand at contouring. And it looks to be a great product to jump in with. I'm very much looking forward to experimenting with this palette and seeing what looks I can come up with with its assistance!

To conclude, I would definitely recommend this subscription box, and even to those who aren't familiar with Channon Rose. This box is curated by someone who knows their stuff, so you can expect some high-quality products and accessories, whilst paying a low price. The fact that the box comes every two months also makes it more affordable. Being in the UK it's also fun to receive US products without the usual hassle. The box is also stated to be eco-friendly.

 You can sign up to the Channon Rose Subscription Box here.

What's your favourite item in the Channon Rose October Box?

Amani x 

12 Oct 2017

Nottingham Secret Dinner Club

A secret cocktail venue, a curious, dimly lit oyster bar and a cake shop opening its doors at night? Intrigued? Keep reading to find out about my experience at the mysterious Nottingham Secret Dinner club.

Last month I was sent an invitation by It's In Nottingham to the first ever Nottingham Secret Dinner Club. The invitation was very elusive, only including a date and time and stating that the event would be hosted across three 'top-secret' venues. Then as the date drew closer I was sent another email revealing the meeting point for the night; the left lion on Market Square. When I arrived on the evening of the event I was greeted by the Its In Nottingham team, as well as a dozen or so other bewildered but excitable bloggers. Once we were all gathered it became clear that the details of the night would continue to remain a mystery, and that we would only find out where we were going once we arrived at each venue. Exciting!

Venue #1 | Boilermaker

We were led from Market Square towards Hockley, until we finally came to a halt outside a . . boiler room? It took me a couple of seconds to realise this was in fact the infamous Boilermaker, a cocktail bar hidden behind the guise of being a rundown boiler room. We walked through what looked like a toilet cubicle door and found ourselves in a pretty, fairy light and candle lit bar. There were tables set up for us, decorated with rubber ducks (ducks being integral in Nottingham culture) and candles. We were given bowls of snacks to nibble on whilst we settled down and mingled. And then finally we were presented with cocktails, which had been custom made for the night. Each cocktail was presented with an origami lion, which was a nice touch. The Left Lion cocktail - we were told - was a tribute to Nottingham. And the cocktail itself contained locally sourced ingredients representing the best of the city. The ingredients of the cocktail included Outpost Coffee, Brokers gin, Tonka bean liqueur, and even Doughnuts from Nottingham Doughnut Company. I loved this ode to Nottingham, especially coming from such an integral Nottingham drinks venue.

Venue #2 | The Curious Tavern

After our time in Boilermaker we were led around the corner to The Curious Tavern. I had been intrigued by the Nottingham's Curious venues for a while and this was my first time setting foot in one. The Curious Tavern was dimly lit with a suave interior; the moody yet comfortable atmosphere very in keeping with the theme of the night. The Curious Tavern specialises in oysters, but also has a variety of other wholesome foods on the menu. We were first served the colourful 'Selfie' cocktail, complete with attached selfie paraphernalia including retro sunglasses and fake moustaches. The cocktail itself was gin based with rhubarb liqueur and raspberry puree and was very tasty. Then we were served our main meal of the night; a beef and stout pie with a side of mashed potatoes and pea puree (vegan options were also given). Pie isn't something I would normally choose from a menu, but the meal was in fact really good and I'm very glad I got to try it.

Venue #3 | Homemade

By the time we were done at The Curious Tavern we had guessed that the next place would be somewhere where we'd have dessert. And that place turned out to be Homemade cafe, a cake shop and cafe in the direction of Market Square. Once we got to the cafe we were greeted warmly and found our tables already set for us. Each place was already served with a plate containing a range of delectable looking cakes with an accompanying sparkling pink drink, and each seat was aligned with a generous goodie bag signifying the night coming to a close. Once we were all comfortably sat down we were told that the cakes in front of us were After Eight brownies, Raspberry and Lemon cakes and Oreo cheesecake slices. There were also other choices for those with dietary requirements.
I was actually amazed at how good the cakes tasted. The After Eight brownie was so rich and indulgent in the best way possible. The Raspberry and Lemon cake tasted crisp and refreshing and surprisingly flavoursome, despite seeming simple on paper. It was also vegan. The Oreo Cheesecake was less sweet in comparison to the two others but just as good. I left Homemade very full but also anticipating trying more from their cake selection in the future.

All and all I had a great evening and really enjoyed the concept of the night. Thank you to It's In Nottingham for hosting the event and to the three great venues for having us and providing such great food and drinks!

Click here to check out It's In Nottingham's Food and Drink Finder

Amani x

10 Sept 2017

The Body Shop Showcase | Nottingham, Bridlegate

Two weeks ago around twenty bloggers and I were invited by The Body Shop to an event at their Bridlesmith store in Nottingham's city centre.

I hadn't been to The Body Shop for years, possibly since I was a teenager. And upon re-entering the Bridlesmith store my impressions were that it's reminiscent of an apothecary. There was a huge array of intriguing lotions and potions, and I wanted to play around with it all. To pinch my skin with their hibiscus cheek stain, to lather my face with their gooey, potent looking rose mask. And I did spend a lot of time testing out many of their products over the course of the night.

Unfortunately I was a few minutes late to the event, so I missed most of the talk that was given at the start. But I did hear a glimpse of The Body Shop origin story, and it was also later relayed to me that The Body Shop are currently petitioning for cosmetics to become cruelty-free across the globe.

Annoyingly I also missed the memo that we were granted 40% off all products for the night - if I had known this at the time I would have definitely taken advantage of the offer. But that's my fault!

There was also a competition for us bloggers to take part in. Those of us who had the right colour star drawn at the bottom of our party cups - which held a pretty pink, sparkling fruit-infused drink - were to be gifted certain Body Shop products. Sadly I didn't win!

The store's team of skin and make-up specialists were around on the night, providing personalised advice and product intel. We were also privy to a sneak peek of The Body Shop's new Vanilla Pumpkin collection, which has just been released in time for autumn. Spoiler alert: the combo smells amazing.

Two things in the store that really piqued my interest were the cheek and lip stains and the range of fragrances. I ended up purchasing the Lip and Cheek Stain in Pink Hibiscus  (also available in shades such as Dusty Rose and Dark Cherry), and am considering returning for the Vanilla Body Mist (vanilla is my favourite scent at the moment, and The Body Shop's brand of vanilla is warm and sweet).

Even though I didn't take advantage of the bloggers discount, The Body Shop still have some great deals available in store, such as 3 for 2 offers. And since the event I have picked up a points card, which I learnt will enable me to receive a free gift of my choosing (worth up to £5) on my birthday, which conveniently is in a couple of weeks time!

Overall I enjoyed the event and am glad I was re-introduced to The Body Shop. I will surely be paying more visits to the store.

Amani x


19 Aug 2017

Thrive: Feel Stress Free | Review

Thrive: Feel Stress Free is an app dedicated to reducing stress and anxiety. It was created by mental health professionals and contains clinically proven techniques. The app offers quick fixes to acute anxiety as well as aiming to significantly reduce anxiety over a period of a few weeks, when used consistently. Severe anxiety is, unfortunately, something I've dealt with most of my life, so I'm always up for exploring new ways of treating my anxiety. So I was very happy when Sam at Thrive kindly reached out and offered me a free trial of the full program, in exchange for an honest review. Here's what I thought. 

When logging onto your Feel Stress Free app you are transported onto a serene island (soothing ocean sounds included) where you are guided through various anxiety-reducing exercises by a friendly little robot. The available techniques include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, meditation, mindfulness, CBT and more. Some of the methods offered I was already aware of, but this app enables a more compact and pleasing way to access them, making it less likely to neglect to practice the techniques (which I'm guilty of). There were also some methods that I hadn't come across before and that I found helpful. 

The app also tracks your mood when you use it and identifies what factors influence your mood and stress levels. And with that information it suggests the most effective exercises for you to do in that moment. What I really like is that, even when you're seemingly feeling okay, based on the answers to your questions the app can identify when things might be about to escalate, and then helps you nip potential anxiety in the bud by suggesting appropriate exercises. The app seems to learn about you as it goes along and customizes itself around your unique needs. You are also able to track your process over time. 

A nice extra feature that the app has is the zen garden - where you can build and maintain your own peaceful little garden on the beach, making for the perfect relaxation activity or distraction when feeling anxious. Another cool detail is being able to send out affirming 'messages in a bottle' to other users of the app.

In conclusion, I found the Feel Stress Free app very effective and enjoyable to use, and I would recommend it to anyone who suffers from either stress or anxiety (and will be doing so). A monthly subscription to the app is only £5.99, which I believe is a small price to pay if you're serious about combating your anxiety or stress. There's also a basic version of the app available for free on the app store.

To download Thrive: Feel Stress Free click here.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

Amani x

11 Aug 2017

Beauty Temple Mapperley | Launch

Two weeks ago a few local bloggers and I were kindly invited along to the launch of Beauty Temple Mapperley. Beauty Temple already have an established beauty salon in Nottingham city centre but have recently branched out to the quaint area of Mapperley, and I was intrigued to see what the brand new salon had to offer.

Upon entering the salon I was greeted warmly and offered glittery cocktails and mini cupcakes (both which tasted great). There was also a DJ playing, adding to the atmosphere, and a choice of canapes. The salon itself was also very pretty, the decor akin to ones you see plastered all over your favourite Pinterest boards. The salon is large in size with various spaces and rooms dedicated to various treatments.

Each of us bloggers got to choose from a range of beauty treatments to try, options including makeup, nail and hair services. I decided to opt for glitter station makeup, as it's a look I've admired on others but hadn't been brave enough to attempt to recreate myself. I was a bit apprehensive about how it'd turn out on me, but I ended up being in love with how it looked!

I also watched as some bloggers opted for getting streaks of colour in their hair courtesy of Milk_Shake - a hair brand which provides a simple way to add a pop of semi-permanent colour to the hair. The finished result looked great on everyone who had it done.

Beauty Temple Mapperley offer many lavish services at very reasonable prices. These include the Bottomless Proscecco Blow Dry (only £35), the Rose Garden Hand Treatment, the Chelsea Blow Dry (if you fancy having your hair emulate Kate Middleton's signature hairstyle), a Champagne Nail Bar and much, much more.

They also provide all the classic services such as lash enhancements, massage and body treatments, makeovers, facials, St Tropez tanning and male friendly services, to name a few.

If you're looking for a place to host a birthday party, hen-do or girls night you can take advantage of Beauty Temple's Royal Gathering packages. Bridal packages and children's party packages are also available.

A huge thank you to everyone at Beauty Temple Mapperley! I really enjoyed spending an evening at the salon and hope to visit again in the future to try some of the many amazing treatments.

Click here to check out Beauty Temple's website!

Amani x
© Amani Carson | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig