Soap & Glory Haul

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Soap & Glory is that one brand I always mean to purchase from but somehow always forget to. I’ve read countless reviews of their products and have always made a mental note to buy some things for myself but it just never seems to happen. If it wasn’t for the 3 for 2 offer on Soap & Glory that I spotted lurking in a corner in Boots recently, I probably would’ve left the store and would be halfway home before remembering my intentions.

Soap and Glory Haul

I happened to be in the market for a new moisturiser and shower gel when I noticed the 3 for 2 offer. As I received 3 Soap & Glory body butters last Christmas, I knew exactly which body butter I wanted. Sugar Crush was my favourite body butter out of the 3 I received and, as it makes me crave lemonade and reminds me of sunny weather (the complete opposite of what the weather is currently giving us) I immediately picked up a large tub of the lime scented goodness.

The Breakfast Scrub was a "I need another product to get this damn offer" purchase. I was reaching the end of Lush Ocean Salt and I figured a body scrub wouldn’t be a bad way to go. I bought Breakfast Scrub after much umming and aahing as it sounded like it had all of the right ingredients to make my skin look fabulous.

Soap and Glory Breakfast Scrub. Soap and Glory Sugar Crush

Annoyingly, I didn’t look inside the tub before buying it (because why would I?) so I was completely unaware of the fact some delightful human being decided to write their initials in the product and also run their finger through it. I guess I should start buying products from the back of the shelf as some people have absolutely no manners whatsoever.

Soap and Glory Foam Call body wash

While the moisturiser was easy to choose, the shower gel was a bit of an issue. I’ve never actually read anything about Soap & Glory’s body washes before so I have no idea which ones are good and which ones should be avoided. I eventually picked up Foam Call as it had the nicest looking bottle and based on the scent of it, I don’t think I made a mistake by judging something by its cover. It smells unbelievably delicious and it’ll last considerably longer than the small Lush shower gels I insist on hoarding.

Aside from the nasty fingerprints, I think I made all of the right choices with my first Soap & Glory purchases. All 3 products smell amazing and hopefully will also give great results. I’m just happy that I get to smell like lemonade again thanks to Sugar Crush. Who needs fancy perfumes when you can slather yourself with a luxurious body butter that makes you crave sugary drinks?

Tell me your favourite Soap & Glory products so I can add them to my list.

How to Drink 2 Litres of Water Every Day

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Pink Water Bottle

While drinking water on a regular basis is said to give you clearer skin, promote kidney function and boost brain power, drinking 8 glasses of the stuff each day is no easy task. I never used to bother drinking water when I was younger but now that my kidneys are forever giving me stones, I’ve had to increase my water intake to stop the stones from clumping. There are a few things I’ve found that makes drinking 2 litres of water each day a little easier and hopefully, these tips will help you too. Here goes!

Carry a Bottle with You at All Times:

If I don’t have a bottle of water near me, I don’t drink. Getting up halfway through an activity to go get a glass of water is a pain in the butt so having a bottle next to me at all times means I can drink without interrupting what I’m doing too much. It’s also great to have a bottle in your car or a small bottle in your bag too so you can drink whenever you’re thirsty.

Drink From a Bottle with a Straw:

I went to Nike a few months ago and bought myself a rather cute pink bottle with a built in straw. It holds 875ml worth of liquid and it makes consuming water so much easier. Since it has a straw, I find myself mindlessly drinking while carrying out mundane tasks. It makes drinking water so much easier as I can sit there with the straw in my mouth and drink until my heart is content. Plus I don’t pour the contents all over myself like I usually do with regular bottles. I’m a clumsy human!

Download a Hydrating App:

Logging your water intake is a great way to keep you motivated to have more water. I use the iDrated app – I think this is only available for iPhones – which gives you prompts as to when you should have your next drink. I like being able to see my daily water intake so I can try and beat it the next day. I’m in a weird, watery competition with myself.

Pace Yourself:

If you have a goal in mind, you might be tempted into drinking as much water as possible in one go but trust me, that is a bad move. If you consume too much water too quickly, your body can’t process it properly and you end up in desperate need of the toilet. Knowing you’re going to be running back and forth from the bathroom all day isn’t appealing and will discourage you from having water so just pace yourself. Sip the water, don’t gulp it like it’s the first time you’ve seen the stuff in days.

Consume Foods That Contain Water:

Fresh fruit and vegetables typically contain water so, if you don’t fancy drinking 2 litres every day, this is another great way to get more of the clear stuff into your diet. Strawberries, cucumber, watermelon and lettuce are practically all water so they’re a great place to start.

While these tips aren’t full proof, they’ve made it so much easier for me to get in as much water as my body needs on a daily basis. Willpower is definitely required too especially when you’re craving a sugary drink but remember, water will always make you feel and look better than a 500ml bottle of Coke ever will. Happy drinking!

Sheila's Natural Products Review

Monday, 20 June 2016

It probably comes as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I love a good natural product. While I occasionally gravitate towards the convenience of easily accessible products that are commonly found in supermarkets and high street chains, I much prefer to slather a natural product on my skin. I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of various ingredients but I do know my skin usually feels a lot better when I’ve used a product that’s free from chemicals I can’t pronounce.

Sheila's Natural Products

The latest additions to my skincare routine are from a brand that is 100% vegan and is plant based. Sheila’s Natural Products offers lip balms, moisturisers for various skin types and hand cream. All of the products from this brand contain no parabens, are not tested on animals and are organic where possible. What’s not to like?

I reached the end of my regular moisturiser towards the end of last month so I acquired the Sheila’s Natural Products moisturiser for medium/dry skin and the moisturiser for normal skin at the right time. I’ve been switching between the 2 moisturisers depending on the weather but the one for medium/dry skin has definitely received the most love.

Sheila's Natural Products

The moisturiser aimed at medium/dry skin contains starflower, safflower and hempseed oils which are believed to ease the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis and acne. I’m currently in the middle of a minor eczema flare up (thank you dairy) hence why this moisturiser has received more attention than the one aimed at normal skin. Usually during an eczema flare up, I get dry skin on one side of my face but that hasn’t happened with this moisturiser. My skin feels smooth and hydrated and I’m not even using that much of the product. A little goes a long way with this cream. Win!

As for the moisturiser aimed towards people with “normal” skin, I’ve found it does just as good a job as the dry/medium one. I tend to use the moisturiser for normal skin before I apply my makeup as it soaks into the skin very quickly. It makes a very smooth, easy to work with base for my makeup and it contains almond oil which always helps my eczema flare ups. Another win!

The last product I’ve been using from the Sheila's Natural Products brand is the lavender lip balm. Despite drinking copious amounts of water throughout the day, my lips get very dry, very quickly so I’ve been using this lip balm every morning.

Sheila's Natural Products

Admittedly, lavender is not my favourite scent and the lavender is initially quite strong when applied. Fortunately, it disappears quite quickly and I’m left with hydrated lips for a long period of time. It’s a great lip balm to apply before putting on even my most drying of lipsticks and, if lavender is a scent that calms and relaxes you, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to apply before going to bed.

Overall, I’m really pleased with all 3 products and my body was clearly so happy to have them that it gave me an eczema flare up to really test the moisturisers. Fortunately, everything lived up to expectation and, although each product will last a good few months, I’d happily purchase from Sheila’s Natural Products once I’ve run out. You can’t go wrong with natural products that do exactly what they say on the tin.

Disclaimer: The products featured in this post were provided for review purposes.

MS: The Diagnosis

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

MS: The Diagnosis

It is currently estimated that 2,500,000 people worldwide suffer from Multiple Sclerosis; a neurological condition that affects the brain’s ability to send messages to the rest of the body. It is not typically inherited nor is it contagious or fatal but there is currently no cure. MS has a wide range of symptoms that vary not only in length and severity but also person to person. When my other half sustained a concussion, we never expected that his lack of balance and inability to use one side of his body would result in an MS diagnosis.

In September 2014, by sheer accident, my other half hit his head and began to display concussion-like symptoms within 24 hours. While the throwing up, dizziness and headache seemed to be quite normal in the days after the concussion, the longevity of his symptoms was strange. He was reassured during a visit to A&E 2 weeks after he initially hit his head that it was just post-concussion syndrome and nothing else. It wasn’t until he returned to the hospital and pushed for a CT scan that he then started to get some answers.

While my other half never saw his CT scan, he was aware that something had shown up on his scan. He was referred for an MRI but that didn’t occur until December and things started to get progressively worse.

The only way he could get up the stairs was if he dragged himself, he had to use one hand to pick up the other and even the rate he ate at dropped significantly to the point where I, the very slow eater, finished a meal when he was still halfway through his. It was like he was deteriorating right in front of everyone’s eyes and there was no obvious explanation for it.

MRI Brain Scan
This image means nothing to me but it's from my other half's MRI.

When December finally rolled around, my other half had already self-diagnosed and was prepared for what was to come. His MRI confirmed it was, in fact, MS but, although he had self-diagnosed, he wasn’t quite prepared for how severe his case was. Most people will have 10 active lesions during a relapse but he had 20-30 at the time of his MRI.

Shortly after his diagnosis, his symptoms began to subside. He slowly went back to his regular self and it was almost like the relapse never happened. Weirdly, though, the MS specialist he saw was surprised by how severe his relapse was and how many symptoms he had. It seemed that he had the vast majority of them all in one go and his MS was adamant in making itself known.

While it’s been over a year since his last significant relapse, we can never be fully comfortable. Unfortunately, he has absolutely no idea what can bring on a relapse and although stress, vaccinations, infections and pregnancy (although I don’t think he needs to worry about that) can cause relapses, he’s just not sure. Sometimes he has numbness in his feet and legs or a ringing in his ears that could always be the sign of another MS attack but it’s hard to tell. There hasn’t been anything so significant (touch wood) since 2014 and I think it’s safe to say we’re all happy about that.

MRI Scan
I still have no idea what I'm looking at.

The concussion may have been the thing that encouraged my other half to get a CT scan but funnily enough, the concussion didn’t bring on his MS relapse. According to the MS specialist he saw, the concussion had absolutely nothing to do with any of the things that happened and was just a happy, albeit unfortunate accident. If he hadn’t hit his head, we may have never actually found out what was going on.

If there's one positive thing to come out of this it's how great my other half has been. If he’s ever dwelled in despair over his diagnosis, he’s never shown it. He’s always keen to learn more about his condition and isn’t afraid to talk about it when necessary. Although a lot of people in his life don’t quite understand what he’s dealing with, he doesn’t mind answering any questions that they have and has made them aware that if they’re curious, they can ask him. He’s not ashamed of his MS and has actively chosen to face it head on as opposed to questioning why it happened to him. I wish I could tell you how incredible he’s been throughout all of this but I really can’t, no amount of words can explain his brilliance.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post then I salute you but there’s a lot more to come. Up until my other half’s diagnosis, I had no real understanding of MS. It’s not exactly a widely discussed health issue as it’s not the most common of conditions. There’s a lot to cover in regards to MS including the treatment my other half will hopefully be completing at the end of this month (although a complication has occurred which may delay the treatment). Hopefully, I can do some justice in shedding some light onto the condition but if I don’t, at least you got to look at my other half’s brain scan.

*I've chosen to refrain from going into too much detail as to what MS is in this post as I wanted it to be completely focused on my other half for now. The real facts will come soon, probably with less brain scans!

Life Lately

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The shoe has no relevance to this post. I was just wearing some kickass shoes one day and felt like doodling them.

It’s been a while since I last did a personal post. The last time I did one I had just been diagnosed with kidney stones (again) and was resenting my internal organs. Annoyingly, it’s been almost 5 months since my diagnosis and referral to urology and I still have a disturbing amount of kidney stones in me. The results of my CT scan were so grim my GP practically fell off his chair when he saw them and then wished me luck. You know you’re screwed when your doctor says “good luck”.

Thanks to the obscene amount of kidney stones in me, I’ve overhauled my diet and lifestyle as much as I possibly could. There’s no more lounging around in bed on weekends or getting out of breath when running up the stairs. The takeaways have stopped and the family size bags of crisps are no longer being consumed. Fizzy drinks are becoming a rarity and my chocolate intake is almost non-existent. I’ve started to exercise on a regular basis and I’m consuming so much water I’m practically becoming a fish.

I genuinely thought these would be difficult things to implement into my life but everything has come rather easily to me. I actually like preparing meals from scratch with a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and I love the fact I don’t feel sluggish and tired all the time now. The rewards are certainly coming in thick and fast and you know what? I don’t even miss the family size bag of crisps while watching crap television.

The thing that’s probably making me the happiest is the exercise. I’m not going to lie, I absolutely detest it while I’m doing it but afterwards, I feel incredible (just ignore the various pulled muscles I have at the moment). I’m running 5K now and although it’s not easy, I’m able to push through the times where I want to give up and just keep going. I do get disgustingly bright red and sweaty during it all and it’s probably not a pretty sight for anyone I run past but hey, at least I can run up the stairs without practically having to sit down when I reach the top.

Sadly, despite all of this, the kidney stones remain in place and so does the pain. The great thing about having kidney stones before (yes, surprisingly there is a benefit) is I now know what real pain feels like and can pretty much work through anything my kidneys or any other body part gives me. There are times when I just can’t be bothered dealing with the pain but I can usually avoid it by having a quick nap. There’s another added benefit of kidney stones, you can sleep because you’re in pain and no one is allowed to call you lazy!

While kidney stones are a major pain in the bladder (see what I did there, oh I am just so funny…) I’m kind of weirdly glad I have them again as it’s resulted in some significant changes I wouldn’t have made otherwise. I do wish my appointment for urology would hurry up and come through already – I was supposed to have one at least 8 weeks ago – and that people would stop taking my blood and asking me to pee in small bottles but I guess you can’t have everything. I’m just going to end this on a disgusting question, why do they make you do urine samples in those really tiny bottles anyway?
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