AA SKINCARE - CEDARWOOD AND PEPPERMINT CONDITIONER*

aa skincare conditioner review


AA Skincare recently launched a ranged of shampoos which I had the pleasure of trying last year. The latest launch of a range is their conditioners, I opted for the cedarwood and peppermint conditioner (£5.94, 250ml) after falling in love with the scent of this with their shower and bath gel. It is an invigorating and naturally refreshing conditioner that adds volume and shine. It is packed with nourishing ingredients such as shea butter and coconut oil to lock in moisture, along with peppermint and cedarwood essential oils to offer balance to oily hair. 

A small amount of conditioner spreads evenly over shoulder length hair, which once applied needs to be left on for five minutes. The peppermint leaves my hair and scalp feeling refreshed and clean and the scent stays in my hair every time I use it (I may occasionally smell my hair just to breathe in that peppermint scent.) Overall, it doesn't really add much volume to my hair unfortunately, but you know no amount of backcombing and hairspray will give my hair volume, it instantly falls flat. But I do enjoy using this conditioner, it leaves my hair soft and shiny and smelling incredible. 

Have you tried anything from the AA Skincare range?

DIY CEMENT POTS

It has been ages since I have had the time to really craft and make something; I had the idea of making cement pots last year, buying all the materials I would need and even making a tester pot to see if it would work. I ended up making the pots a couple of months ago but wanted some cactus to plant in them so avoided writing up the post until I felt they were finished. So today my mum finally found some cactus and I think they look quite pretty in their pastel, vintage colour pots. If you would like to make your own read on. 
cement planters diy

LIVING AT HOME IN YOUR TWENTIES

Do you remember when you were a child and you used to think that anyone above twenty was an adult; then you get to that age and the next minute you are almost thirty (well in four years time) yet you still do not feel like an adult at all and still feel like that child thinking about what it is like to be grown up. That is how I feel. I am twenty six and still live at home, if you had told me this when I was sixteen I more than likely would have laughed, I had big dreams of moving out as soon as I turned eighteen, my own house, all independent. The reality? I can't even begin to imagine ever being able to afford my own house, right now I don't think I could even get by renting somewhere (although I will be moving out in September due to going to University, which without a student loan I would not be able to afford.)

For me, something that I really hate about living at home is the lack of feeling independent, I feel stuck somewhere in-between being a child and an adult. I want to feel in charge of my life, to be able to make my own life choices without being frowned upon, to not always have to explain my actions. Living at home you always have your family watching over you, analysing the mistakes you make, there are things in your life that you might not always want to share with your family, to keep it to yourself, living at home that isn’t always possible. Every time I go out I am met with questions: Who are you going out with? Who are they? Where do I know them from? The list goes on, I know on part this is a way of my family showing an interest and that they care but it would also be nice to leave the house without having to answer to someone. God forbid, I mention a male name, conclusions are jumped to and I have to explain that yes females and males can be just friends.


SUGRU - CRAFT AND CREATE KIT*

Sugru is a brand I discovered a couple of years ago when they kindly sent me some to sample, which I ended up using to create this Japanese inspired bookmark. (Apologise for the photo quality, I still suffering from broken images on many posts and others looking very blurry.) 

If you haven't heard of Sugru before, it is a rubber/mouldable glue designed for fixing, making and improving existing products. You can find out more here. Sugru are ready to launch a create and craft kit which will be available from Sugru from the 1st May, retailing at £10. The product is aimed at both seasoned and first time crafters. sugru create and craft
The product comes neatly packaged in a little box which tells you all about Sugru, what it is, ways to use it etc. The kit itself comes with four single use packets of Sugru, a storage tin, a thimble thumb grip, a texturised brush and booklet filled with craft and DIY ideas. 

DAYS OF IN COSTA RICA.

As must as I enjoyed volunteering in Costa Rica, I wish I had more time to explore the country. Thankfully, at the centre you have one day off a week since I was there for two weeks I had two days of to go and explore. Although in a very central location, days out involved getting a taxi (depending on where you want to go, there are busses) which can be costly, all my trips were done in groups which saved A LOT of money and I was fairly easy and where I went (basically went with the flow.)

My first trip was to Poás Volcano and San Jose.
Early in the morning we left the rescue centre to take the drive to Poás Volcano, I’m not entirely sure how long the drive was. We kept going up and up, surrounded by the most stunning scenery, honestly Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to, jungles and rainforest, mountains and blue skies in every direction you could look. However, the further we got up the cloudier and wetter it got, hopeful however we still went ahead and purchased tickets into the park. Well, the weather and luck was not on our side and we were greeted with a thick blanket of cloud over the volcano. It was slightly disappointing but just like animals you cannot predict the weather, so I tried not to let it put a downer on the day. 






On the way back from the volcano we were dropped off at a little shop, although I cannot quite recall the name, we were greeted with strawberries, cheese and wine to try and another handful of food samples in an attempt to make us buy something. It was a nice shop however filled with typical souvenirs and sweet treats.

la paz costica rica
la paz costa rica
La Paz waterfall gardens was next on the agenda; however, we didn’t go into the gardens themselves you can see the waterfall from a road. A very loud and thunderous waterfall, a few snapshots later we were back on the road. 
san jose costa rica
Between us we decided to head into San Jose and have a look around, I guess it would have been wrong of me to come to Costa Rica and not see San Jose. Two of the girls we were with had been living in Costa Rica for the last 6 months so they showed us a few of their favourite spots. We went round a market packed to the brim with handmade items, souvenirs etc. I picked up a feather which had Scarlet Macaws painted on them, I never tend to buy many things when I am away but I do like to have at least one thing to remind me of my time in another country. We went into a little bar to have some snacks and I tried my first and last chilli-guaro shot, it was the vilest shot I have ever had in my life, it really was not good. Chilli and alcohol should not be a thing. We wrapped up a very long day eating food in an Irish pub before heading back to the centre.
My second day trip was to Manuel Antonio.
costa rica
The drive to Manuel Antonio was not pleasant, going through rolling hills and roads made my stomach feel so nauseous that I just wanted to sleep. We ended up stopping for breakfast and I was so relieved to be out the car. Although being a vegetarian the options was slim so my food of choice was toast and a smoothie. Not far from where we had breakfast is a bridge over Rio Tarcoles known as the ‘Croc Bridge.’ 
croc bridge costa rica

Evidently, you can see where the bridge gets its nickname from, there were so many Crocodiles underneath, all basking in the morning sunlight. I love watching animals and even though they were still whilst we were there I could have watched them for hours just to see if anything else would have occurred.  
manuel antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park is renowned for its diversity of plants and wildlife, with rainforest, white-sand beaches and coral reefs. Within seconds of walking into the park we were greeted by so many animals, capuchins, frogs, sloths, racoons, a porcupine… there was animals everywhere! To say my trip was all about animals, I feel so lucky that I got to not only work with so many species but saw such a vast amount of them in the wild. 
manuel antonio

I wasn’t entirely sure of what the plan was here, if we were going for a hike or whatever, turned out most people wanted to spend the day on the beach; I am not a beach person I would have preferred hiking but since I had brought a swimming costume with me and had still yet to use it I couldn’t wait to go swimming in   ocean! The ocean was warm, but choppy with waves you had to tread water to keep above them. There was few yet scary moment when a few of us got caught under the waves; I remember being caught in a wave when I was a kid and it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life because I genuinely thought I was going to die, so I feel slightly mean laughing at it happening to someone else.



Once we had dried off and got changed we exited the park and went round a few markets. Then we went on a hunt for food, this took a while since it was extremely hard to find a table for all of us. This area is full with a lot more tourists than anywhere else I had been in Costa Rica previously. We finally settled on a restaurant which has amazingly good food and an incredible view of the ocean with toucans flying around and iguanas basking on roof tops (they also had two adorable dogs to pet but really they just wanted you to give them your food!)

Rather than heading straight back to the sanctuary we decided to stop of in Jacó to watch the sunset on the beach, we arrived just in time to see the sun setting in the car and caught the last part of it on the beach. Jacó is another tourist spot famous for its beaches and nightlife. It was a nice little town, full of restaurants, shops and tattoo parlours, which we all contemplated doing but the prices started from $70 plus. Instead, we went to a bar and I purchased the  largest smoothie ever and we all swapped social media details. I feel so lucky to have spent a month in such a wonderful country, met some amazing people, got to work with some animals I never thought I ever would and got to see so many in the wild. 

I hope I get to go back to Costa Rica one day in the future but for now I am looking forward for this year’s adventures, do you have any travel plans for the year?

AA SKINCARE FRANKINCENSE AND ROSE GIFT SET*

It’s nearly that time of year again where we treat our Mums for Mother’s day. I don’t know about you but I like to give practical items, thing that can be used. Along with other small gifts and days outs. One thing I like to receive as gifts is skincare products, mainly because skincare are products I get through so quickly that it is nice to have a little stock of them. If you are into natural beauty like me then maybe this hydrating and toning face kit from AASkincare would be perfect for your mum! With key ingredients of frankincense and rose amongst 20 other natural ingredients it will leave skin feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and soothed.

The kit comes neatly packaged in a gift box with the following three products, face cream, gel and toner. I have used some of these products previously on myself and they have worked wonders for me, I am forever grateful that AA skincare have been a brand that has gifted my many items but it is one I choose to buy from as well. I really cannot say it enough, but they are one of my favourite brands. 

This gift set is perfect from aging skin as the director of AA Skincare, Woody Evans says ‘Rose Damascena brings calming and fortifying qualities, combined with soothing Frankincense - highly regarded for its ability to soothe and prevent fine lines, small wrinkles and other signs of ageing.  Our new Hydrating & Toning Face Kit is perfect for rehydrating skin prior to moisturising in the morning or evening.

I have mentioned before that AA products are free from parabens and artificial ingredients, vegetarian and many products vegan with only natural and safe ingredients.
So if you are looking for the perfect skincare for your mum then look no further!

Visit www.aaskincare.co.uk to view their huge collection of natural beauty products.

REVIEW - CAMOUFLASK FROM AUDACIOUS RHINO SPORTS*

Over the last couple of years, I have slowly started to spend more time outside participating in outdoor activities, in particular travelling where I have done lots of hiking! When doing anything outside it comes apparent there are certain pieces of equipment which may come in handy. Anything that can carry fluid in is a priority! Getting enough fluid is extremely important especially when partaking in a strenuous physical task in hot or cold weather. Audacious Rhino Sports specialise in a number of water bottles and flasks; I opted for the Camouflask (800ml, RRP £29.33.) Not going to lie I may have been slightly swayed by the design… Saying that though the flask has a lot of great features which for me will make it a great travel companion.
Camouflask vacuum flask

I haven’t actually had the chance to test this product outside, so I conducted a few little experiments inside. Firstly, one of the features is being able to keep your drinks cold for up to 24 hours (honestly would be so handy in hot countries where your drinks turn warm) and keep hot drinks hot between 6 – 12 hours (because having a hot drink in a cold isolated place would be perfect.) Well, the product did exactly that. I tested the hot drink overnight and was pleasantly quite surprised in the morning to find the drink at the same temperature because I didn’t think it would work… I tested the temperature once more after the 12-hour mark and the fluid was still lukewarm. So, how does this work? Well the flask is a thermos insulated, double walled vacuum flask, so its aim is to insulate whatever is inside! (I have had vacuum flasks in the past that didn’t keep my drinks warms, hence the scepticism!)
Camouflask vacuum flask

The flask is really good quality, made from grade stainless steel (the flask is tough! Perfect for travelling and outdoor adventures) it’s hygienic with leak-proof seals, food safe and it is BPA free and environmental friendly. The flask is super easy to clean as well, so you won’t get the taste of yesterday’s tea in a drink of water the next day. I love the design of this product, firstly the pattern as I have mentioned BUT I adore the addition of a handle making the product easier to hold. The flask has a large, easy-pour and wide mouth complete with a screw on drinking cup.
Camouflask vacuum flask

Well, if you can’t already tell I am really impressed with this product and I am looking forward to taking it away with me to Peru later on in the year and then to Iceland! If I had to pick a fault, I would say it is slightly on the bulky side so space in a bag may be an issue but other than that I cannot fault it.

Let me know what your key outdoor equipment is!

*This product was sent to me for reviewing purposes, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Self-love on Valentine's day

I remember being in school and I hated the thought of Valentine’s day. Every year you could buy anonymous roses to be sent to a boy/girl you like. Every year I would get my hopes up thinking maybe I would get one. I never did. It made me feel pretty bad about myself. I watched the same few girls get more than one rose every year, it was later discovered that they bought their own roses to look ‘popular.’ Which is the point, so many people around this time of year start to feel unwanted and unloved.

The fact that Valentine’s is about love, I do not see why it should be about couples celebrating their love for each other, it should be about love for your family, your friends, even your dog and most importantly love for yourself. But instead I see so many posts or people feeling down about being alone at this time of year. I used to be one of them. I wanted to feel loved by someone, to feel special and not be alone on Valentine’s day and to have a boyfriend to share it with. And well, when I did have a boyfriend it was a big let-down, he was one of those ‘I don’t believe in Valentine’s day but I still expect a present type.’ I would get my hopes up waiting for some romantic gesture which never came, most times he got his mum to cook us dinner and buy his presents for him (that should have been a warning sign.)

I think the most important kind of love is self-love, and I honestly believe you cannot be happy in a relationship or with yourself if you don’t enjoy your own company. That you know you can be alone and be happy. Throughout the years I have seen so many people jumping from one relationship into another out of fear of being alone and I find it sad that so many people have felt like that. It is important to invest in yourself, to learn to love yourself and enjoy being by yourself.

For me self-love is:

Choosing ourselves and making time for yourself. I honestly love being myself and having time to reflect on life or to do something that I enjoy e.g. blogging. It’s about putting my own wants and needs before someone else’s (although at times this may come across as being selfish to some!) but honestly if you don’t put yourself first then how often will someone else?

Loving and accepting yourself as a person, yes I have imperfections, I can be mean and I have an ugly side. But I like who I am as a person, I am happy being me flaws and all.

Being positive and focusing on what makes me happy and trying to not let other people belittle me and bring negative vibes into my life, not letting others people opinions have an impact on me. People can be mean, or make things up but I always say to myself ‘do these people matter to me, will these people be in my life in so many years?’ Most often the answer is no, so I move on with my life.

Forgive yourself, learn from mistakes and move forward and to stop clinging to the past.

And most importantly to dream big! Honestly, setting myself goals is what makes me happy knowing I am working towards ways to improve myself, to push myself past my own boundaries and out of my comfort zones. 

So whether you are single or in a relationship this Valentines day remember the importance of self-love! 

FRONTIER: COSTA RICA ANIMAL RESCUE CENTRE

My second volunteer project in Costa Rica was spent at the Costa Rica animal rescue centre, located in Alajuela. The reason why I chose two different projects is because I wanted to gain experience doing conservation, seeing animals in the wild along with getting hands on experience with some incredible species of animals. I loved the contrast of the two projects, and both of them were so different it is hard to choose a favourite.

Firstly, getting to the centre. This seemed a lot simpler on paper. The centre is located approx. thirty minutes from San Jose airport. I was told by Frontier to arrive before 12pm to get a free pick up. The centre had my flight details and knew what time I would be arriving. I was told I would be met in the arrivals area outside by someone holding an animal rescue centre sign. This didn’t happen, when I arrived there was no one there, I waited fifteen minutes then decided to ring a number that was provided to me. I spoke to the guy at the other end telling him I was at the airport waiting to be picked up, he assured me someone would be there in fifteen minutes; half an hour later I was still waiting. Feeling slightly frustrated I rang again to be told once more that they will be there in 15 minutes. The guy showed up half an hour after that phone call. I wish I could say the drive to the centre went smoothly but it didn’t. On route to the centre my driver all of a sudden changed direction, I initially thought he had made the wrong turn. Two minutes later we were pulled over by the police, where I was asked questions and had my passport took off me. I was pretty scared because I had no idea what was going on. Eventually, everything was explained to me basically the driver wasn’t a licensed taxi driver, I watched as the police took of his number plate and let us go. The rest of the drive was awkward to say the least. I was told by Frontier the pickup was included in the price, so I was shocked when I was told I needed to pay. However, he said I could pay later, which I opted for so unlike some other Frontier volunteers I did end up getting my free pick up.

I was greeted by so many volunteers; I was slightly shocked to see so many. There was people coming and going every day, people from all corners of the world. Everyone was extremely friendly and I met some incredible people. It was also a nice change to not be the only volunteer.
The accommodation was great. There were areas to relax in complete with hammocks, a dining area, plenty of toilets and showers (no, you can’t flush toilet paper and yes the showers were cold) and even a swimming pool. There were several rooms which consisted of bunk beds. Thankfully, I managed to get a bottom bunk which was relatively comfortable. I did struggle to sleep the first night since there was someone on the top bunk and it creaked every time they moved… There was always space to spend time alone or areas to socialise in. Overall, everywhere was kept relatively clean and tidy.
I really thought I was going to be eating healthy in Costa Rica, lots of fruit and fresh dishes. I was wrong. The food however was good even if it did consist mainly of carbohydrates. Breakfast mainly consisted of pancakes, or rice and beans a traditional food to eat here but a rather strange one to have for breakfast for me. Lunch and dinner was anything from potato stew, pasta to plantain. I enjoyed all of the food apart from the pasta, it just had an odd taste to it. They cater to all dietary requirements such as vegetarians, vegans, gluten free etc.  

Every day at the centre has an order to it, breakfast was at 7am, lunch at 12pm and dinner at 6pm. After breakfast and lunch there would be a staff meeting to discuss anything that we might need to know or feedback from any volunteers. These meetings always finished with ‘who is the best team?’ followed by all of us shouting ‘the rescue centre team.’ After the meetings you would perform your afternoon or evening tasks. On your day of arrival, you will be put in a group, and each day you will have a different letter for the tasks you are doing. All of this is written on a board which is pretty easy to follow, I always took a photo on my phone so I could easily check what else was left to do. Tasks include everything from preparing food for the animals, helping in the kitchen, cleaning of enclosures and living spaces and feeding of the animals. For the first two days you are not allowed in the enclosures, you watch and learn how to do everything but everything is pretty simple and easy to do. Depending on how many people are in your group depends on how long it will take, sometimes I had loads of people and the tasks were done fairly quickly, one time there was just two of us and it took around an hour and a half. I enjoyed it with less people, mainly because then you had less free time. There is a lot of free time, it can be filled up doing other tasks such as making enrichment for enclosures etc. but with things like this you have to scavenge for what is already on site which can be hard. There is a shop and town not too far away. Lastly, everyone gets a day of per week to go further afield which I will be talking about in a different post.

I spent both Christmas and New Years at the centre. This was my first time away from home from both so it was a little strange being warm and not cold! For both occasions, the kitchen staff prepared us a special meal. We had Christmas dinner on Christmas eve which consisted of mash potato, crisp/dips, a vegetarian dish with lots of vegetables and cheese (and some kind of meat for the meat-eaters). We had the same meal on New year’s along with lunchtime being veggie (or meat) burgers and homemade chips, this was my favourite meal I had here. We were all like excited kids running up to get our food, it was good! On Christmas morning we had a present to open, volunteers bought a gift to put under the tree in exchange for a present. The gifts mainly consisted of food and I got a box of biscuits. On new year, some people used their day of to go do something whilst the rest of us sat around a bonfire and watch fireworks in the distance. I enjoyed both, they were quiet and different to what I am used to but I didn’t miss being away from home either.

So, lets talk about the animals! There were many different species here and every day I fell in love with a new one.
Sloths are the main animals here; I am pretty sure they have around twenty including babies! They were adorable and surprisingly a lot quicker than I originally thought. You aren’t meant to touch or pick up any of the animals but that doesn’t stop them climbing or coming over to you! One very hungry sloth came over and tried to get food out of his bowl before I had the chance to put it down. It was one of my favourite moments there, and when I actually got to see my first sloth up close I was unbelievably excited. They are also pretty photogenic animals. The marmoset was another favourite, and he loved climbing on people and snuggling on any soft material although he did bite which were quite painful for such a little guy.


There was Kinkajous who would climb on your shoulders and play with your hair, a toucan who was being prepared for life back in the wild, opossums who enjoyed their fruit snacks.


Other animals include dogs, goats, capuchins, pigs, ducks, olingo, hedgehog, squirrels and more. 


Each animal has their own story on how they arrived to the centre some more tragic than others, many were former pets apart of the exotic animal pet trade. Owls with broken wings, parrots from bad backgrounds who learnt how to scream and ask for help in Spanish, monkeys used for performing, one was even addicted to alcohol and cigarettes, the list goes on. It is sad how animals can be so mistreated by people but thankfully there are many people who want to make a difference to stop things like this happening.
So, I booked this through Frontier as well, paying £599 for two weeks. Now, I have a huge problem with that cost, unbeknownst to me I got charge extra for booking through Frontier. Turns out if you book directly through the rescue centre you pay $30 per day, which works out at $420 which converts to roughly £335 so basically I paid an extra £274. Now, I was told by someone at the rescue centre that they hadn’t received any money from Frontier since October, frontier deny this. Secondly, there was no frontier staff on site, and on my third day there the lady in charge left for Christmas holidays. Basically, for the majority of time I was there it was ran by volunteers and I am not even going to mention the potential health and safety hazards. A few of us who came from frontier decided to email them to ask where has that extra money gone etc. to be met with silence. It took me several emails to get a reply where I was told the extra money went on emergency services, £274. I contacted them again asking for the full break down of the cost, no reply. I emailed again and again. Two weeks later I got a reply saying they could not tell me where the money went other than some covered emergency service and marketing costs. One girl never got a response, another girl came for three weeks but paid an extra $745 due to booking through frontier to be told that she was charged extra due to the exchange rate, she is from Puerto Rica. I did email again but no reply. I am actually appalled and disgusted that they have charge people such a high amount and have pretty much ignored emails from several people which to me screams something isn’t right. If I had known prior to booking I would have gone directly through the rescue centre. I was given no extra help from booking though Frontier, since there was no staff there and only volunteers, if I had injured myself no one would have known I had this emergency service (I didn’t even know myself) I would have been treated the same as every other volunteer. So my advice, if you want to go here book through the centre and be aware if it is a partnership and check to see if they are charging you the same amount to if you go directly.

You can read more about the centre here, they have quite a sad story to tell… If you would like to help the centre in anyway this is their amazon wish list!


If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. 

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