Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas Volunteering, with Crisis at Christmas

I know it's a bit late to tell you all about Crisis at Christmas now, but, well, maybe this post will be useful for you next year? I'm looking at all the posts going up of the lovely meals that everyone had at Christmas (and oh, they do look great!) and decided it was probably about time to tell you why I went a bit AWOL and what I got up to over the Christmas week.

This year was my fourth year volunteering with Crisis at Christmas, and my first time volunteering at a day centre. Crisis a homelessness charity that runs year round, however runs an extra special project for a week at Christmas - primarily throughout London but also in some other big cities in the UK. They set up special centres in secret locations to provide a range of services for homeless people. The centres vary - some are day centres, like the one I volunteered at this year - they are, as it suggests, open purely during the day and so are aimed primarily at people who have some sort of accommodation already. Others are for rough sleepers (the one that I have volunteered at for the past three years) which are open 24 hours and provide beds for those who normally sleep on the street, and a centre also exists for those with alcohol addiction.

I've spent the last four years as a volunteer, normally throughout the whole week - though this year I was a bit more limited as I don't have a car this year.

As well as providing beds and meals for the guests, there are other services available. This includes a range of entertainment options, massages, hair cuts, dentists, computers, advice giving, Narcotics Anonymous, the Samaritans, etc etc. All provided for free, of course!

Normally I work at the rough sleepers centres which have typically been placed in large warehouses in the middle of nowhere. They aren't the most pleasant of atmospheres but the guests there are the ones who typically need the services the most. I have always found the guests there to be extremely varied, but largely not the most trusting of people - which isn't too surprising - with the exception of one guest who for two years running I never saw stand still. He was literally always wondering around dancing and having a great time listening to the music! I actually missed him this year, he always kept me entertained.

This year I was at a day centre, which was in a very different location - inside a very nice school! All settings are 'donated' and receive no funding etc for providing the use of their setting so it was nice to see such a nice school being handed over for the use. Less volunteers were needed for this centre, however even less of those volunteers actually turned up which meant that most of the days this year I didn't actually have a break of more than about five minutes as there simply was not enough time. The guests at this centre were completely different - many of them knew each other already and I'd say were typically more enthusiastic and friendly. They were much more likely to come over and have a chat with me, and many of them seemed to just want somebody to come and talk to and tell their stories to. This was a big different to my normal centre, where sometimes literally nobody would want to talk - but of course, there are different priorities in those cases.

Though if all goes well I'll be back working shifts next year and it might therefore not be possible for me to do it, I'm hoping to make next year my 5th year volunteering with Crisis, however at this point have no idea which centre type I plan on returning to. If I'm honest, I had a better time at the day centre. It was more fun, people were friendlier and more easygoing. However, there's no denying that this is almost certainly because the people at the rough sleepers centres are more in need, and I think that assisting here is probably more of a priority for me even if it does mean not such a great time for myself - particularly because I don't mind doing night shifts, and there is often not enough volunteers to cover this shift. Perhaps next year I'll look into doing the alcohol dependency centre, though that will certainly be a different sort of place to tackle!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Jaw Surgery Recovery: Week Six!

Today marks the sixth week since having jaw surgery and genioplasty, and on the whole things are getting better.

My speech is almost perfect now. I'm lisping on my s's still, but I'm completely understandable, and this holds up throughout the day. It still hurts if I've had a really talkative day, but I'm no longer slurring by the end of it. I only wear the elastic bands at night now which has improved life considerably! My numbness is all completely gone.

In terms of activity, that's improved too. Technically I'm still not supposed to be exercising much at all, but I've been going jogging three times a week for the last two weeks. The first time it really hurt my face, the second time it was uncomfortable but okay, and ever since then it's been fine. My main worry was passing out or something whilst doing it, and that obviously hasn't happened. I thought I'd have lost a lot of fitness and obviously to an extent I did, but I'm still meeting all of my targets - but obviously they're a lot lower than I was doing, but seem to be going back up again pretty quickly.

In terms of appearance, to me I still look swollen. I've slowly been reintroducing myself to different friends. I don't really like doing it, I find it awkward. They say I look very different. They're not saying it in a bad way, but it makes me uncomfortable. I'm much happier around people who didn't know me before surgery. I've started volunteering again, at a different centre to normal, and I'm so much more confident around those people because I know nothing is different to them. I don't like looking in mirrors. I don't really like how I look. I know you're not supposed to judge yet, but obviously, you still do. I especially hate my lips. They still don't close. I can hold them closed for longer now but it's an effort and it looks bad. Today my orthodontist told me that at around the six month point the scar tissue should ease off a bit, and from around one year to two years they should close up. Great. I was hoping in like, one more month, not one more year.

In terms of eating, there's positives and negatives. I eat like a snake now! This means I can eat quite a big variety of things and will clearly never choke on food again as I can swallow more or less anything whole, including giant bits of pasta and whatever else. I'm pretty good at eating anything that can be swallowed whole, which has become most things. As of today, I am allowed to start chewing again, but nothing hard. I asked if pizza came under too hard and he said no, I should be able to start managing it soon. Unfortunately, eating is incredibly difficult. Chewing is a bit of a mystery, as it does indeed chew the food up but then it sort of just sits on my teeth and its hard work to get it back onto my tongue. Or,a bit of the food gets chewed up, but I can't move it to be able to chew up another bit of it. Or the problem that bothers me the most, my jaw gets stuck open. I have completely shredded the back of my mouth from where it gets getting stuck open. The main complication of this is that it is much easier to just continue eating like a snake. I went with food that I already knew I could swallow whole so that if it went wrong I could still get it down, so the general process is I fight with it for a little while, my jaw gets stuck open, I get sad, I swallow it whole. Eventually I gave in and just continued my normal method of eating but even then my jaw was getting stuck open, where it normally doesn't.

I realise this is progress and that things are improving, but it's so frustrating not being able to do it. And I know that when I started on soft food my jaw would get stuck open all the time then and eventually I just didn't have that problem anymore, so logically this should stop too. But it's SO frustrating. I had images of going to volunteering tomorrow and actually being able to eat food, or of being able to go back to work (know how many food places are open at 3am that will serve me soup? Yeah not many) and its all very frustrating that I just can't do it. I'd started booking meals out and was so excited about it because it's been so long since I've been able to go anywhere. I suppose logically I probably will be fine in the three weeks I have before that first reservation, but at the moment I don't see how.

I'll update again at eight weeks and hopefully by then I'll be a functioning person again. As always feel free to ask if you have any questions!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Lush Christmas 2014: Star of Wonder

Lush always features highly in my Christmas features - although admittedly usually I wait to get these gift sets until they're in the sales! This year however, I was gifted this lovely Star of Wonder, and as it wasn't wrapped up I figured it was perfectly okay to start using it before Christmas, right...?

Well, let's have a look inside!

First of all, it is worth saying that Star of Wonder is themed around firework displays and a starry sky. And that, of course, it comes in this rather wonderful box! Lush boxes are reusable and always really strong and in good condition, so I'll be keeping this one to use for something next year!

First up we have Shoot for the Stars, a bath bomb that I owned a couple of last year so it's nice to see make a return! This is a good sized bomb and turns the bath all sorts of colours and a trail of silver, eventually leaving the bath what is supposed to be midnight blue - but if it's anything like I remember from last year, will actually leave you sitting there in a pool of black water, haha. There is a lot of power behind this bomb and it really does fill your bath up very quickly! This smells like Honey I Washed The Kids, for those of you who know your Lush scents :)

Next up we have a little bottle of Snow Fairy. Confession time - every single year I wait until boxing day, and then buy myself a bottle of Snow Fairy. Last year I had a bit of a failure - I bought my normal ginormous Snow Fairy bottle, but I also bought a few gift sets which all came with Snow Fairy. So I still have a fair bit of leftover Snow Fairy from last year! For those of you who don't apparently hoard Lush products like I do, this is always a great one though. It's easily their most popular product every year and it really does smell so lovely. It's a strong, sweet candy scent, and if you're new to Lush then this is the product I would recommend you take advantage of to go and get now!

Next is Star Light, Star Bright, a bath melt that I am SO glad is in a little wrapper this time. I got one of these last year and it completely contaminated my bath supplies box by just coating everything no matter how many layers I put it in! This wrapper seems to have it well secured though. Basically, you crush this under running water and it adds silver sparkles to your bath! It also contains shea butter and coconut oil to make your skin nice and soft. I find you can get quite a lot of uses out of this product, you definitely don't need too much of it to get a good effect.

Next up is Candy Mountain, a bubble bar. I had this last year as well and I'm glad to have it again. Like Star Light, Star Bright, you crumble this under running water and it fills your bath with bubbles! Last year I found this one to be a bit difficult to split nicely and I'd end up accidentally dumping loads in, but you don't need too much to get a good pile of bubbles - it might have changed, but last year I found that by the time I was ready to get out of the bath the bubbles had all gone though, so you may need to top it up if you're planning on spending a long time in the bath!

Next up is Sparkler, the first product that I haven't actually used before. From looking at the picture on the box I assumed this product would be a bit like Fun, but it isn't at all - it's a lot bigger and more solid than I was expecting! Sparkler is a new product this year and was part of the Halloween range, and oddly isn't actually on the Lush website. This is scented with Rose Jam which is odd to me as it doesn't look like it should - but Rose Jam is actually my favourite Lush scent, so I'm pretty happy with that. I'm going to assume that it turns the bath yellow and due to the size of it I imagine it's going to make a good effect - however I haven't actually used this yet, so we'll have to wait and see :)

The final product in this box is Snow Fairy Sparkle, a shimmer bar which, unsurprisingly, smells of Snow Fairy! I haven't used this before either but it has a nice feel to it and is filled with shea, murmuru and cupuacu butters which are supposed to melt over your skin. This sounds really nice and I'm really looking forward to using it, I don't think I've used one of Lush's shimmer bars before so it'll be interesting to see how it works - and whether I want to pick more up in the sales!

Interested in picking one up? Head over to your nearest Lush store, or buy online!

What are your favourite Lush Christmas products?


Monday, 15 December 2014

December's My Little Box, with Fleur De Force!

When I initially heard that the December My Little Box was going to be a collaboration with Fleur deForce, I really wasn't sure what to think. On the one hand, I much prefer the regular themed boxes rather than collaborations. On the other hand, if I had to choose a big blogger to create a box with, I think Fleur is probably the best choice.

On receiving My Little Box my feelings very quickly changed to optimism. Such a pretty box! I love the little polka dot pattern and the little illustration of Fleur.

First up, the monthly photocard. I do like the illustration on this, and I think it's a cute little message. However, this card obviously doesn't have much year round standing! I will be putting this on my downstairs mantelpiece along with the Christmas cards because I think it'll fit really nicely there, but this isn't going to be one that lasts much after that.

The My Little World magazine! I like the picture of Fleur, though the amount of feature on her is actually pretty low. I was really surprised by this - when it was the DVF collaboration the magazine was filled with pretty much nothing but her and it was easily one of the most dull magazines I've ever flicked through - yet with Fleur there was very little about her, which struck me as odd when I thought there was actually much more you could do with her. Alongside Fleur there's a guide to wrapping presents, a hairstyle guide, etc. As usual, this isn't the sort of magazine that you can really take a lot of time with, but it's a nice little addition and I do feel like the quality goes up each time. There is a little DIY guide to making your own body scrub which I think I'll try though!

Next up is this little packet of masking tape. Yes, masking tape. I have... almost no use for this. Don't get me wrong, the little tape is cute, but it's also exactly that - it's tiny, and therefore has very limited practical use! It's in cute designs though so I will keep this and add it to my craft pile, but I'm not entirely sure I see myself ever actually using it!

Then we have...thread. Uh. I have nothing to say on this. I have literally no use for it. I suppose I will see if my housemate wants it!

Continuing the packaging theme, we've got some gift tags next. These are a nice little design but it's too late for me, all my packages are done and labelled already! If you're a last minute sort of person maybe these would be for you. I have about a zillion gift tags already but these are a nice addition and seem good quality.

Next up is this little crochet headband. I think it's pretty nice actually - I don't know if I'd ever wear it myself, but it's really pretty. The colour is nice and seasonal and a really pretty shade, and it's really well made. I don't think this would suit me at all but I will give it a good try!

On to the beauty products!

First up we have Cowshed's Wild Cow invigorating body lotion, which at first glance didn't look all that great to me. It contains essential oils of lemongrass, ginger and rosemary which again wasn't the best sounding to me but of course I was going to give it a try anyway. It's a bit of an odd smell - I wouldn't say it suits your normal body creams at all - but that doesn't mean it's a bad one! I do feel like I'm smelling someone's kitchen cupboard instead of a beauty product, but actually I do really like the scent. It sinks in pretty easily, leaves your skin smelling decidedly odd but feeling very moisturised. I actually like it, but think I'll be keeping it as more of a night time product so it doesn't just make me feel hungry all the time.

Next up we have L'Occitane's Precieuse Immortelle. This is a pretty pricey product I think at £45 for 50ml, and claims to be revolutionary in skincare due to being packed with active molecules (what does that mean? Who knows!) and will make your skin appear younger, firmer and smoother. The shape of this bottle means it'll be quite hard to get the product out properly I think, which is a shame as it's almost certainly going to be a great quality product. It's got a nice smell and texture to it.

Finally, we have this lipstick. I'll be honest with you - I took the swatch below on my hand and it really doesn't do it justice. It actually took quite a few layers to get that swatch on my skin, and even then I was pretty disappointed with it and assumed it to be a more subtle colour - it's actually much stronger on the lips and is really nice, it's a red shade but with pink to it and it's actually a really strong, interesting colour. Unfortunately I won't be showing it to you on my lips this time because surgery is still doing very odd things to my face, but it's a really nice colour and hopefully I'll be able to use it soon.

Overall, I'm mixed about this box, but I think on the whole I'm pretty happy with it. There's quite a bit I won't use very much, but at the same time I'll get at least a teeny bit of use out of it and enjoy the novelty of it, if that makes any sense at all! What did you think about this months box?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Bomb Cosmetics - A Quick Review!

I love a good bath bomb or a bath melt, and normally Lush is the brand I'll turn to. However, there's no denying that Lush's bath bombs sure are expensive - as much as I do enjoy the novelty of my bath suddenly turning green or being filled with glitter!

I also happen to live near a lot of independent stores, and the one just round the corner to me sells quite a big selection of Bomb Cosmetics. So here's some of what I picked up!

It could be because I picked them up from an independent, but unlike Lush there isn't much advertising about the bombs/melts or what is in them. It was sort of just up to us to sniff them all out and choose the ones that we liked the most based on that!

These have been lovely as the weather gets colder, and it sounds silly but they have sort of given me something to do whilst being trapped at home! Every day I've been taking really long, hot baths with a book and adding one of these little ones into the mix.

Of course, you don't get the dramatic reaction with these that you would get from a Lush product - but that doesn't mean they're no good! These are great, long lasting products. The melts in particular last a really long time, to the extent that I've normally finished my chapter and find I still have a good third or so of a melt left bubbling away. I really like the feel of them, I am convinced my skin is nicer after bathing with one of them!

If you'd like one, check out their website! Creamers like these featured are usually around £2.09 and a bath blaster around £2.29!


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The First Month of Jaw Surgery Recovery

We have finally made it to the first month of jaw surgery recovery! I wouldn't say I'm recovered, not by a long shot, but its hard to believe just how much I've improved over the last three weeks. In that first week I was barely functional and considered it a triumph to not have to take three naps in a day or to be able to finish a yogurt in one sitting.

All that being said, I still do not feel right, at all. My energy levels continue to be horrific, my jaw doesn't feel like it fits on my face, and I'm constantly aware of what my teeth are doing at any given point. BUT... it is still all a significant improvement.

Talking of improvements, there has been one big one - as of my appointment last Thursday, I no longer have to wear the elastic bands for most of the day. So, I had seven elastic bands keeping my jaws tied together. For the first week I couldn't take them out at all, and after that I could to eat but had to aim to only keep them out for at most an hour at a time. Now my orthodontist wants me to start just wearing them for twelve hours a day - ie at night basically. He said from my appointment that I could start just not wearing them for the rest of the day but I was hesitant on this and wanted to cut it down slowly. This hasn't really happened to be honest, because when I've had stuff to do I just haven't bothered to put them back in. Obviously I can talk much clearer without them, and, y'know, I don't look like my mouth is full of elastic bands, but it is a bit more tiring. It also has the disadvantage that when I do put the elastic bands in again, they hurt a lot more.

I lied - two big improvements! I've started to be a bit more willing to be social again. I've hidden away as I have felt so awful and looked so ridiculous, but on Friday I met up with the first friend who hadn't seen me since early on in the treatment. And it was fine! He said he could tell that I was swollen, but that he only knew that because he was someone who already knew me - he said that if he saw me on the street and hadn't known what I looked like before, he wouldn't have thought anything was wrong. We talked for quite a few hours and then suddenly AGONY. It's interesting because you could tell the moment my muscles decided it had been too much because I stopped being understandable, haha. I think it's probably a good thing to be using them though. I still talk in a ridiculous way as my teeth pretty much stay close together, but I think it'll improve.

I also had my first time meeting and interacting with new people since having the surgery. I'm normally really confident with this and I picked it up again faster than I expected, but I felt super awkward at points - I think more than anything it's because I'm so hyper aware of the fact that my lips still bloody do not close, so my instinct is to cover my mouth a lot. I mentioned pretty early on that I'd just had the surgery so excuse any weirdness and that was definitely the right call to make as people just had a lot of questions about it and didn't mind that I was pretty much useless. You can also tell how much those two weeks of not eating properly have screwed with me as I quite happily sat there taking an hour to eat a doughnut with a spoon in front of people. Oh well.

I'm going to keep trying to catch up with people, but slowly. I still get really nervous about it and I do have to basically spend the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing as I get exhausted otherwise. And the more tired I am, the more useless my lips are, and of course the less understandable I am.

The swelling is still there, it still moves around, it isn't massively noticeable anymore. I can tell, and my friends can still tell, but it's no longer a ridiculous amount. My feeling in my lips is almost completely back, patches of my chin still feel a bit odd but I'm not completely numb anywhere anymore. My skin has mostly recovered - the underside of my chin is still pretty bad, but everywhere else has more or less cleared up again. My speech is pretty clear now - as mentioned above when I get tired it starts getting muffled, but otherwise I'd say it's really clear. I sound a little different, I think because I'm not opening my mouth to speak as much as I used to, but you'd be able to easily understand what I'm saying. I'm lisping very slightly on 's' sounds, but otherwise all my letters are back. Pain is still there and fairly consistent - it's usually completely manageable though I do sometimes get irritable towards the end of the day as I get fed up with it. Every now and then something new and random happens and hurts - ie. I was talking to my housemate and my jaw twitched to the side by maybe 2mm and resulted in me lying on the floor yelping in pain. This appears to be its new favourite thing to do, but only when I'm in a good mood.

In terms of eating, I'm all good there - I'm still not allowed to chew, but I've become a master at managing to swallow most things whole! I'm also starving all the time so I'm probably eating more than I used to, but that's not a bad thing. There are only two things I've had difficulty with - I find rice pretty hard work as it goes mad and escapes in your mouth and then it becomes quite hard work as some gets in your teeth and some gets between your lips and my tongue can't move properly to get it. But I am fairly certain that I'll have this down by next week. The other thing that I've found is definitely not a good idea is potato soup - even with the potatoes cut teeny tiny and boiled to death those things HURT to try to swallow whole. I still pull odd faces when I eat and it still hurts quite a lot of the time, but I'm getting better at it. I think it will be a while before I eat proper food in front of people as for some reason I manage to keep getting it all stuck in my teeth (amazing to me considering I DON'T USE THEM, but I think it's because I can't open my mouth very wide) but I think I'm going to be more comfortable with soup or whatever in front of friends than I thought I would.

Sleeping is still not great, but that's probably because my energy levels are all wrong. It no longer really hurts my jaw to sleep, but it does still hurt around my ears.

Finally, exercise - I asked if I would be able to start exercising yet, and was told that apart from gentle walks he still wouldn't recommend it.'s just hit four weeks and I have fitness tests in January, so I definitely went to the gym yesterday. Sorry, doctor. I just did the first day of Couch to 5K and I was actually surprised that my energy levels weren't as completely hideous as I thought they were and I managed to complete it easily enough. My face bloody hurt, though.

So, one month down! A long time to go, but a big improvement. There probably won't be a post on this next week unless something dramatic happens, but week six seems to be the beginning of the next stage - ie, you're normally allowed to start using your teeth again. So I'll make an update then or the week after on how that goes! As always feel free to ask any questions :)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Review: The Jawbone Up Move Fitness Tracker

Ever since going on medical leave, getting fitness into my life has been really difficult for me, especially being that I'm banned from doing most activities! I decided I should make more of an effort to go for walks, but being that it's so cold at the moment I was severely lacking motivation to actually do it. I therefore decided to look into fitness trackers, and eventually ended up with this little gadget - the Jawbone Up Move. Its release date is actually today, but mine arrived last week so I've had a little while to play around with it and get used to it.

There are two main competitors in the fitness tracking market - Jawbone and FitBit. On the looks side, FitBit probably actually appealed to me more, but the main selling point with these devices is the apps that they work with so I decided to download both and give both a try for a couple of days. Jawbone won, so I decided to look into their devices a bit more. At the time of looking, only the wristbands were available - wristbands definitely do not work with me. There's the fact that I don't really like the look of them, but more than that I definitely would not be allowed to wear one at work. It looks like I was looking at just the right time though, as the Up Move is a little clip on device that you can hook on to your pocket, belt strap, bra, or wherever else you decide you want it to go!

And this is it! It's a tiny little device, much smaller than I expected it to be. It's really very discreet when I clip it on, and nice and light. There's a variety of colours available but I went with the black one just because I wanted it to be a bit more disguised with my clothes. It's a very small device but very sturdy, the clip is good quality and I'm yet to be worried about it falling off my clothes.

So, what does it do? Well, in many ways it is a bit of a glorified pedometer. It counts your steps, and it also monitors your sleep - sort of, we'll get to that. On the app you can tell it what your step goal is and the device will also update you on how well you're doing. Obviously the app itself will just plain tell you, but the Move has a display like a clock - if you click it, it'll display a little white line in a different place, like a clock face, so you know how well you're doing. Eg - if the little dash is at the very bottom of the Move, then you're about half way to your goal. I've found this to be pretty accurate, my only concern is with buses - I've found its hit and miss as to whether it counts my bus journeys as me taking lots of steps or not. It seems to be that the bumpier routes it is more likely to think I'm taking steps, which makes sense. I'd imagine if you're a motorbike rider it'll definitely think you're doing a lot of walking - I'll get back to you on that in a month!

As for the sleep part - you can hold the button down and it'll go into sleep mode. You press it again when you're awake, and you can check it all out on the app. The app displays the time you spent in light sleep and deep sleep, as well as how long it took you to sleep and how many times you woke up during the night. The first night I used this I think it was really accurate. It said it took me 38 minutes to get to sleep, which I'd say is about right, and obviously I don't know how accurate the light and deep sleep readings were, but judging by how I felt in the morning they were spot on. However the second night it said it took me 4 minutes to get to sleep when I know for a fact it was at least an hour and a half, and the same applied for the third night - I don't know exactly how long it took me, but it was definitely a lot longer than the ten minutes it seemed to think! I don't know how accurate the light and deep sleep readings are, but I think they're more accurate than that part at least.

On the app itself you can view the charts of your walking and your sleeping, and you can also input other activities. For example, you can put in any exercise you do, and you can also put in any food you've eaten. When you do this it will give you a rating of the food you've eaten that day. I've found the food database is actually pretty good and its easy to find most things in there - certainly a lot easier than FitBit's database was. It has a scanning mode where you scan the barcode of an item which is great in theory as you can get the actual information of the fried rice you just ate rather than the information of a generic box - however, the first time I scanned a yogurt I bought it was convinced that I'd bought a packet of chicken fillets, so your mileage may vary on that! You can track calories eaten with this, and if you have a weight goal you can input that as well. I'm not using that, so I can't comment on how well it works. You can also input your mood.

One of the features most heavily advertised with the app is the smart coach system, which provides you with personalised information and advice based on your data. It does use your data, but I don't know how generic it was. As an example, on my first day of using it I'd only used it for an hour or so so had reached 250 steps. My smart coach commented that the average user walked 8000 steps, whilst I'd walked 250, so adding an extra 1000 would help bring me closer to that goal. Yes, it would - but someone who walks an average of 250 steps isn't going to suddenly quadruple that. It also provides information and advice through a couple of tips a day. At the moment I find them quite interesting but I don't know if the novelty of that will wear off! There is also a "Today I Will" feature. I'm not entirely sure how frequent these are as I got my first one today, so I'm not sure if they're more frequent now it has more of my data or what. My "Today I Will..." is based on the fact that my sleeping times are really inconsistent, so it wants me to go to bed at 23:06 today. Yes, 23:06. It's being very specific. I'll try, Jawbone, I'll try.

I do like the app though - FitBit's is very plain and matter of fact, whilst the Up app is bright and colourful and I like looking at it. I know that sounds like a silly thing to judge it on, but when you're basically looking at graphs it is important to find one that you like to look at and use, otherwise you're just not going to bother. That being said, FitBit was probably a bit more user friendly and was more straight forward when it comes to inputting the data. The Up app can also be synced with other popular apps like MyFitnessPal and TrackMyRun - I don't use any of these apps so I can't comment on how well it does this!

Overall, this is a good app and a good product - it is tiny and lightweight and very discreet, and despite being so small and not really having a screen, I find that what the little light up buttons can do is actually very useful and productive. If you need extra motivation or you enjoy tracking your activity, I'd recommend you give this a go - I'd tried to use tracking apps before but always lost interest within a couple of days, so having something like this is really working for me, especially when I'm so restricted in what I'm allowed to do and can't go to my normal fitness classes anymore. However, before buying one, I'd recommend you download both the FitBit and the Jawbone apps and see which one you like the most, then look at the devices from there. Also if you're an Android user, double check your device can run the app before thinking about buying any of them! I use the HTC One M8 now which runs it perfectly well, however my previous phone was the original HTC One, which couldn't run it. 

You can buy one for £39.99 through the official site, or get it through amazon for what is currently the same price.. 


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Yankee Candle: Winter 2014 Collection

I'm a big Yankee Candle fan and I think I've bought all of their collections this year apart from their Autumn one. I've loved getting to fill my cupboards with fruity and floral scents, but I've been particularly looking forward to getting my hands on their Christmas collection!

As always with me, I chose to go with their selection of wax tarts (find out why here!) and got the collection of ten (two of each) for less than £10. So, let's check out how they actually stand up when it comes to scents, shall we?

First up we have Candy Cane Lane, the scent which I'm pretty sure seems to be the most popular this year. Yankee promise that this scent will remind you of a favourite Christmas place where dreams are made, filled with peppermint, cookies, and vanilla icing. I certainly liked the sound of that, but unfortunately I don't love this scent quite as much as the description made me think I would! It's definitely still a nice smell, I suppose it just doesn't smell quite as authentic as I find Yankee's normally do. I find the peppermint is quite a bit stronger than the other scents and overwhelms it a bit, but this is still one I'll be using this year. It reminds me of Winter Wonderland, Hyde's Park annual Christmas event, but thankfully with less of the chaos that comes with it!

Next we have Christmas Garland, designed to be an aroma of freshly cut pine boughs and zesty berries. I found this one to be more of a subtle scent - but that's exactly what I expected from the description anyway! It's a very warm and homely scent and I actually really, really like it. I suppose in a way this is probably one of the most generic scents in this batch, but it's really nice and well done and is just a nice deep scent that's definitely noticeable but without being overwhelmingly so.

Third up is Icicles, designed to remind you of a crisp winter forest, with notes of ice covered pine branches and cinnamon. I wasn't sure what to expect from this one - perhaps similar to Christmas Garland, but with more of a spicy hint to it? Well, I was completely off - this scent does not smell even slightly like I expected it to, and disappointingly I would say it doesn't really remind me of the description at all. And that's going in knowing full well what it's supposed to remind me of! The different notes in this are strong, and personally I think they're more than a little strange together. For me this one doesn't really work and I'd have to say it's my least favourite out of this batch. 

Next up is Angel's Wings, designed to remind you of sweet spun sugar, flower petals, and smooth vanilla. I'd have to say that this one really does remind me exactly of what it is supposed to - I could easily identify all of the different notes in there, and they blend really well together. It's probably the most subtle scents of the batch but I still wouldn't call it one that you could really use as a background scent. It's really nice though, very sweet and sugary so perhaps not what you'd expect from the name but still a very nice and uplifting scent.

And finally, we have Silver Birch. Silver Birch appears to have been designed as more of an Autumn scent, with the description of an early Fall breeze mixing with with the spicy dryness of just turning leaves. There sure are a lot of tree related scents in this batch, aren't there? That being said, this is a really nicely scented candle as well - and actually, it does remind me of Autumn, yet somehow I still see it being better suited to the current season. Absolutely no idea why! The individual scents are a bit harder to pinpoint in this one as they blend together really nicely. This is a very cosy scent, and if you were looking for a candle to be a bit more in the background, I'd say this one is probably the one to go with.

Overall impressions of this collection? There's definitely some nice scents in there, but honestly, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I think this is probably the least varied collection that they've done this year - so if you like the scents and the notes then that's great, I just tend to prefer more of a mixture as I like to mix and match the candles to suit my mood! That doesn't make this a bad collection though - I'll still be using them all. If I was to recommend you one scent from this collection, I think I'd tell you to go for Angel's Wings.

I bought my Yankee Candles from yankeedirect - This collection of ten wax tarts cost £9.99, or you can buy them individually for £1.20. If you prefer your candles to be, well, candles, prices start from £7.49. Will you be getting any Yankee Candles this season? Or have some already? If so, which was your favourite?

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