Monday, 29 February 2016

February Reading Wrap Up

Hello everyone! February has really been a great reading month for me. In reality I think this is because a) I went on holiday and I'm really good at reading lots on planes and b) I had a lot of work to do for uni and I tend to procrastinate by reading. Ooops. Nevermind! I actually really loved all of the books that I read this month so I'm especially pleased by that! I'm just about on track with my GoodReads reading challenge too which is great. My goal is to read a book a week but I didn't start off the year too well so it feels good to be catching up! Anyway, here are the books I read this month and what I thought of them:



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Friday, 26 February 2016

Leiden, The Netherlands









I've always dreamed about going to the Netherlands and was very excited to book a trip to Amsterdam. But I knew that I would have one morning free and I also really wanted to get out of the capital and see a town that was much smaller and more 'authentic' which is when I settled on Leiden. Leiden is a smaller city 25 miles south of Amsterdam. I bought a return train ticket(€19) and after accidentally getting on a train to Berlin before finding the right one(now that could have been a disaster) I found myself leaving the crowded streets of Amsterdam behind me. The train only took about 30 minutes and I saw so much of the countryside from the train whilst speaking to the people across from me. During my trip I discovered that old Dutch people are super nice and everyone seems to speak really good English!

Leiden is a university city. In fact, it's home to the oldest university in the Netherlands. When I was telling my flatmate about the trip I described it as the St Andrews of the Netherlands and I think that's a pretty good comparison! I didn't have any tourist attractions planned out I just wanted to walk along the canals and check out the university buildings. The town is very easy to navigate and as it was a really clear, sunny day when I went it was just such a lovely place for a walk. Literally everyone was on bikes and I could kind of work out my way towards the university by following where the 'studenty types' were going. It's a really beautiful campus! They also have a botanical gardens as part of their campus. I would have loved to have gone in but I only had about three hours in the city and I feel like botanical gardens are places where I'd prefer to spend whole days!

As the day wore on I got quite hungry and went on the hunt for some lunch. I popped into a bakery and had a gevulde koeken which is an almond paste cookie. It was absolutely delicious. I thought it was some sort of pastry, I only realised that I just ate a cookie for lunch as I was googling it for this post. Oh well, when in Leiden right? I'd bought some crisps and strawberries from a supermarket so I took the cookie to one of the many benches and ate my lunch infront of the canals with the sun on my face. Lovely! I then had a look around some adorable little shops before heading back to the train station. 

I had a wonderful time in Leiden and it was the highlight of my trip to the Netherlands. I would definitely recommend taking a day trip there if you are visiting Amsterdam. I enjoyed Amsterdam but I'm not in any rush to back. I would, however, love to return to Leiden and wish I'd had more time to spend there!

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Sassy Books: It's Not Me, It's You

Hello everyone! Today I'm back with another SassyBooks post! This month's book club read was It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane(sometimes I wish I made Youtube videos so that you could hear how great that name sounds in a Scottish accent) which is a chick lit stye book about a girl who discovered that her fiancĂ© had been cheating on her and decided to move from Newcastle to London. It had been gaining a lot of attention in the book blogging community for being different from the average chick lit book. And I definitely wasn't disappointed! 


This book makes for a very quick and easy read. I read it on Kindle because it was much cheaper and I felt like I was constantly swiping across for a new page. The story moved really quickly and all the characters were a lot of fun. I did find that at times the main character, Delia, kind of fell into that 'trying to be really cool and quirky with my weird fashion because I'm not like the other girls' stereotype and I did find myself getting kind of worked up by that at times but I don't think it was enough to make me seriously dislike the book. This book was also laugh out loud funny at times which is something really special. There have been a few books that I've found really funny but they've never made me actually laugh out loud or even smirk! On the whole I found this book to be a lot more positive than your average romance story which was really nice and it's kind of changed my mind about them. 

Next month's book is going to be: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. This is a non fiction book all about decluttering. Both Charlotte and I have agreed that we both have too much stuff and could really do with downsizing so hopefully this book will be just what we need. If you want to join in with the book club then you can read the book and publish your review on or before the last Tuesday of the month(March 29th). We hope as many of you can get involved as possible!

Have you read It's Not Me, It's You? What did you think?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell
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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hello everyone! If you follow me on Instagram then you'll know that I've just returned from a trip to Amsterdam. I jetted off on Valentine's Day with my good blogging friend Morag and we were there for 3 nights/4 days. We stayed in the ClinkNoord Hostel which is in the north of the city. The communal areas were really nice(and I totally geeked over the chemistry themed bar) but our room was a bit basic and pretty cold(a wardrobe would be nice please). We had a private twin with an ensuite and we got it on quite a good deal! You have to get a boat to the hostel from the main part of the city but they're free and leave every 10 minutes so it was really accessible. 

We arrived at around 5-6pm on Sunday so it was already dark and as we left Amsterdam Central Station we were a bit disorientated. We eventually got to the hotel after getting lost in building site(don't ask) and settled down before heading out for dinner at a restaurant in the China Town area and it was really nice but I'll be doing a separate post on food later on so keep your eyes peeled. We really wanted to go to the Red Light District and thought it would be funny to go on Valentines day as it would be a great story to tell but we were a little lost and as it was freezing and raining we went back to the hotel after searching for about an hour. 







The original plan was to get up very early on our first morning so that we could beat the queues at the Anne Frank House. We ended up snoozing until 9 so by the time we got there the queue was massive. I'm not kidding, we waited two and a half hours to get in. It was totally worth it. I read the diary a few times whist growing up and it's something I've wanted to see for years. Truly humbling and something you can't really understand until you see it in person. After this we walked to the Rijksmuseum so that we could take photos with the Iamsterdam sign. That night we headed out again in search of the Red Light District(or De Wallen as it's known to the locals) and this time we were a bit more prepared. It was definitely weird but generally more positive than I expected it to be. I'll write a whole post about my thoughts soon. 




Morag and I actually split up as we wanted to do some different things and I spent most of my Tuesday in Leiden, a smaller town 30 minutes south of Amsterdam via train. This was actually my favourite part of the trip. I did like Amsterdam but there was something about it that I couldn't put my finger on. I enjoyed going but I don't think I liked it as much as I was expecting to. Leiden felt calmer and more authentic and is just a beautiful city in general. But I will be blogging about my trip to Leiden as well and talking more about it then. When Morag and I reunited we went to the Sex Museum which was certainly an eye opener. Morag and I are both very sexually open people so we found this to be really interesting but if you aren't prepared to see some pretty weird stuff then maybe give it a miss. I have some absolutely amazing photographs from it but they're a bit weird to be sharing on my blog! At €4 a ticket it's also one of the cheaper museums! At night we went on another walk around De Wallen and then headed back to the hostel to enjoy a cocktail in their bar before going to bed early. 




Thankfully the hostel had a luggage room so we could leave some stuff there whilst heading out for our last day in the city. We didn't go to anything big in particular, just made our way around parts of the city that we hadn't seen yet. We went into a lot of shops including the Condomerie which is pretty famous. They had some pretty weird options. Including hand painted and patterned condoms. We never bought anything but it was definitely worth going in for a look. We split off again and I took another walk around the city before going back to the hotel to pick up our stuff. We both fancied doing some duty free shopping so left the city around 6pm for our 9:40pm flight. We ended up with about two hours to kill in the airport which was quite nice as we did some shopping and then just chilled. I bought a bottle of vodka and a copy of #girlboss in duty free so I'd consider that successful!

And that was our trip. As I said, I didn't quite fall in love with Amsterdam as much as I thought I would. I much preferred the authentically 'Dutch' feel that Leiden had to it. But I'm so glad that I got to go and experience it myself and it will be a trip to remember!

Hmmm.... where to go next?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell
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Friday, 12 February 2016

Lush Snow Angel Review



Hello everyone. Today I'm reviewing one of my last Christmas bath bombs: Snow Angel. I know that these products are no longer for sale but a lot of people, myself included, enjoy reading Lush reviews regardless and it will be helpful if this product is released this Christmas! Snow Angel is a very glittery bath melt. These are kind of like bath bombs but don't fizz as much in the water and generally are quite moisturising as they add a lot of oils to the bath. There are two layers. The top white layer and the bottom layer which is gold and absolutely covered in glitter. Because it's not Christmas at Lush without one extremely glittery bath product! 

Snow Angel has the same scent as Snowcake soap which has been a staple in Lush's Christmas collection for a few years now. It's quite a soft scent with lots of rose oil and I think there's either cocoa butter or shea butter in there too. It kind of reminds me of butter ball. This turned the bath water a really lovely yellow colour and added a lot of glitter to the water. Personally I prefer products with less or no glitter as the glitter sticks to the sides of the bath and you then need to clean it up! 

I did like this bath bomb but honestly it was a little underwhelming. I think I much prefer the bright colours and stronger scents of some of the other bath bombs so I don't think I would repurchase this over something like Shoot For The Stars or Yog Nog. But it's still nice and seems to be very popular from the other blog posts I've read! 

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell
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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Treat YOURSELF for Valentine's




Ah Valentine's Day. And importantly, my first single Valentine's Day in a while. Yes I have been kind of seeing someone but I won't be seeing them this Sunday and I don't really think we're at the point of thinking about celebrating it. So this year? I'm treating myself. This Sunday I'm actually jetting off to the Netherlands with one of my blogging BFFs, Morag, for three and a half days of exploring Amsterdam and absorbing Dutch culture. But even if you're staying at home you can still treat yourself to a good Valentine's Day! Single or not!

Flowers - I honestly never really used to be one for flowers. Both my mum and my gran are keen gardeners and we honestly always had flowers in the house when I was growing up and I guess I've always taken it for granted. But after moving into halls for a year I guess it was something I did miss a little. One of my current flatmates always tries to have a bunch of flowers in the flat and I really do think that it makes a big difference to my mood! This beautiful bunch* is from Debenhams Flowers who have a really lovely range of flowers in for Valentines. I really like that these aren't the typical red roses. The bright orange colours really stand out and lift my mood. Plus the lilies have opened since I took the photos and the smell is so strong!
If you'd like to treat yourself(or someone special) to some flowers then feel free to use my code: DFBLOG25 for a fantastic 25% off! 

Perfume - When you smell good, you feel good. My new scent is the Coconut Body Mist from The Body Shop. I absolutely love their coconut range(as you can probably tell from this blog post) so I am very pleased that I can smell like coconut-y goodness every day. This definitely isn't as strong as a perfume so I like to use it during the day to top up rather than spray on in the morning and go. It makes me smell like a bounty which leads onto my next point of chocolate fairly well...

Chocolate - Yeah ok, be a cliche. Plus if you're willing to wait you can buy discounted chocolate on Valentine's day. Are you telling me discounted chocolate isn't at least a little bit tempting? Luckily because of Christmas and my January birthday I actually still have a massive collection of chocolate that I have been slowly working my way through. 

Books - I've always been one for escaping into a good book at any time of year. But instead of a chick lit book why not try something else? I'd really recommend Where'd You Go Bernadette which tells the story of a young girl trying to find her missing mother by the means of texts, emails and letters. It's a really unique way to tell a story and is a really quirky book. I read it very quickly so you could easily get quite far through the book whilst snuggled up in bed with a hot chocolate or in a nice warm bath with a glass of wine. 

How do you treat yourself? 

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell
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Saturday, 6 February 2016

Epson ET-2500 Printer Review

Hello everyone! Today I'm going to be reviewing the Epson ET-2500 Printer* which I've been testing out over the last few weeks. The printer is part of their EcoTank range which uses refillable ink bottles. So there's no need for new printer cartridges which is not only cheaper but more eco friendly. With our family printer at home it feels like we are never done buying new ink! The printer comes with bottles of black, blue, pink and yellow which are supposed to last for two years worth of printing for home or small office use. The printer can also photocopy function but I've not been able to make it print double sided so I don't think it does at all. I've gotten used to the printers in the library doing this so it is something I've missed. 



The printer was really easy to set up. The instructions on how to fill the ink were very clear. I did spill a little ink on myself and it does stain but cleared in a few days with a good scrub. I had a little trouble connecting my laptop to the printer via wifi but after retrying it a few times it set up easily and is now good to go. My only real issue if that the cable that attaches into the back of the printer is really loose and it's hard to insert it into the printer and then move the printer afterwards without it dislodging. But once you have a printer set up in place you aren't really moving it anyway. Obviously as I've only had this printer for a few weeks I can't comment on the claim that the ink will last for two years. But so far so good. I'm really impressed with the print quality when you consider that this printer is designed for low cost per page printing.



This isn't exactly a student budget printer at around £200 but it is very reassuring to know that I'll almost have finished my fourth year of university before I have to start worrying about it running out! So far, I'm really happy with this printer and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to invest in a good printer.

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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

January Reading Wrap Up

Hello everyone! A bit late but today I'm sharing my January Reading Wrap Up. So far, I'm a little behind on my 2016 reading challenge but that's ok. I normally catch up in the summer months when I have more time to read! I read some good and bad books this month but I enjoyed most of them. I'm also yet to finish January's book club read, Quiet, because it's a reallllly slow read but I'm hoping to get it finished in February!



All of the Above by James Dawson* - Eugh. So I've read a few of James Dawson's books before and really enjoyed them. But honestly, this was a let down. I kind of feel like I'm outgrowing young adult fiction and I just didn't enjoy this. This is described at typical coming of age book but honestly I just found it a little annoying. The characters made me cringe with how hard they tried to be cool and I really had to force myself to carry on reading this. Oh and YA insta-love is a real problem here. I gave this 2/5 stars unfortunately. 

Ways To Die In Glasgow by Jay Stringer - So I bought this on a whim because a) it was cheap on Amazon and b) it's written by the lovely Lis's husband. This is a murder mystery book set in Glasgow. After my last disappointing read I got totally sucked into this one. It was amazing! I always think it's fun to read books set in cities you've been to and this was no exception. The story is told by a few characters but I liked the different narrative styles and found it very easy to follow. I read this in only a few days and really enjoyed it. If you are looking for a fun, fast, can't put down read I'd recommend this. 5/5 stars!

It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi MacFarlane - This is February's #sassybooks read. I guess you could say that I'm getting ahead of myself. I've not even finished January's book yet as it is such a slow read. I started this as I was just really in the mood for something a bit more fun! I really enjoyed this but won't be discussing it any further until my book club post nearer the end of the month! 

Overall not the most productive reading month for me but I did really enjoy two of the books. Hopefully I'lll get Quiet finished in February! 

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell
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