Lushoween 2016


October is the best time of year. Never mind the leaves changing or the move into fall fashion, nope, it’s because you get both Halloween and Christmas candy. My sweet tooth goes into overdrive with happiness. The OTHER great October treat is Lush‘s Halloween and Christmas launches. The only time you year you can enjoy a glitter filled, pumpkin pie scented bath while eating a chocolate Santa #luxurybathtimegoals.

Lush Halloween 2016

I have picked up a bunch of the new Halloween items (and one or two sneaky bits which are technically from the Christmas range) so I am sharing these with you today.

Lush Boo Bath Melt

First up is this adorable little guy. I got mostly bath bombs except this one which is the Boo Bath Melt (£3.50). This is a ginger scented melt which when run under hot water will produce a small amount of bubbles as well. He makes the water soft and is great for the skin. Mine was snuggled up against the Sparkly Pumpkins in store so he’s got a bit of glitter on him but they don’t have glitter as part of the deal. Boo.

Lush Monsters Ball Bath Bomb

Here we have the Monsters’ Ball Bath Bomb (£4.25). He is the floral-sweet scented love child of Monsters’ Inc’s Sulley and Mike Wazowski and is freaking adorable. That eye of his is solid cocoa butter so you can massage this into your skin once his body has fizzed away. He is very powdery and soft so he really explodes into a cloud of pink and blue froth when you dunk him. He leaves the water a deep indigo colour. I just wish he had a core of silver glimmer to really up the wow factor.

Lush  Autumn Leaf Bath Bomb

This is the Autumn Leaf Bath Bomb (£3.75) and this is a lovely seasonal addition for those who really aren’t into the spooky Halloween shtick. Like a fallen carpet of fallen leave it turns your bath into a myriad of yellow, greens and reds. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the smell of this one (it is a woody-grass scent) but it is nice and fresh. I do prefer the sweet and spicy options this time of year but this makes a good change. Unfortunately it turns your water a bit of a blah rusty colour and it’s not particularly moisturising but it’s a fun spectacle while it lasts.

Lush Pumpkin Bath Bomb

Is this not just the most perfect pumpkin? This Jack O’ Lantern is the Pumpkin Bath Bomb (£3.95) and is a sweet cinnamon dream. I was really sad that they didn’t bring back the cinnamon scented Cinders but if anything this one is better. It has a hint of creaminess that really boost the moreish fragrance to the next level.

Lush Skullduggery Bath Bomb

This sugar skull is the Skullduggery Bath Bomb (3.75) and is actually my first purchase from the Lush Kitchen. This has the Calacas lime fragrance so is zesty and uplifting. I haven’t used him yet so I’m not sure if he is all that exciting in the water, but he’s a skull and it’s Halloween so I had to add him to the cart.

Lush Northern Lights Bath Bomb

The Northern Lights Bath Bomb (£3.95) was my favourite product from the 2014 A/W ranges so I was really excited to see it back. It’s in a more compact form with the blue and yellow inners now visible. Sadly it now doesn’t have stars or popping candy but it still have the same relaxing scent of ylang ylang and jasmine. It is fun to watch swirl in the bath and it softens the water well.

Lush Never Mind the Ballistics Bath Bomb

Finally, the least Christmassy Christmas product ever released: the Never Mind the Ballistics Bath Bomb (£4.25). This is super super sweet and fruity, like a pick ‘n’ mix essentially. It has orange, lime and banana included on the ingredients list so no, it’s not Christmassy at all but it also has a massive dose of cocoa butter (all that pink topping) so it’s a good one for your skin in the cold winter months and offers a zippy pick me up. It spins in the bath and is just a little punk rock – as much as a bath bomb can be at least!

Lush Halloween Haul 2016

And so ends my Lush Halloween haul. With the exception of Northern Lights, I only picked up things I hadn’t had before so I think that all of these products are new for this year (with the possible exclusion of Pumpkin, I’m not sure on that). I really miss the Lord of Misrule bath bomb as it has one of my favourite scents ever but it is around until Christmas so I might still get one or try to pick it up in the sale. Trying to save money this time of year is a bummer.

I’m sure I’ll be back with my Christmas purchases soon, there is a t-rex shaped bubble bar that has my name aaalll over it!

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Sometimes it’s really easy to be lazy on the weekend. I am extremely guilty of this. My commute amounts to 15 hours a week on top of working full-time so by the time the weekend rolls around I just want to sleep, eat and maybe catch a film. And of course there is the boring stuff to do – food shopping, household chores, y’know the drill.  However, I always regret this come Sunday night/Monday morning. Nothing worse than a wasted weekend. So me and David decided to take a leaf out of Lynne from Cocktails and Daydreams book (blog) and join the Alphabet Dating bandwagon.

Alphabet Dating is basically where you plan dates according to the letter of the alphabet you are one. So could be aquarium, art, arcade etc… you get the idea. A nice suggestion is to take it in turns to plan so it’s a surprise for the other person.

For our first date we decided on A for Arboretum. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is located between Gloucester and Bristol in the Cotswolds and is home to some 15,000 trees, 17 miles of pathways and even plays host to concerts.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

The treetop walkway is a new addition to the park and offers views a birds (nest) eye view of the start of the Silk Wood section of the forest. We took the Summer Trail around the Silk Wood which was 1.6 miles and took us just over an hour at a leisurely pace.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

The above image is of a 2000 year old lime tree and a sculpture made from cuttings from it. Really! Even though it doesn’t look like what you might expect.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

What’s the Time Mister Wolf? I loved this tree sculpture. There were a few dotted about (including the Gruffalo) so it would be cool for them to add to this.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

After this walk we stopped at the cafe for lemonade and scones, which were lovely. However, this rather pleasant a civilised morning came to an abrupt end when I discovered a tick on my wrist! I think that it hadn’t quite burrowed all the way in as it wasn’t engorged (vom) and David was able to pluck it out of my arm fairly easily but I was absolutely horrified! I have a fear of bugs so it was all I could do not to burst into tears.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

We did then walk around the Old Arboretum Summer Trail (1.2 miles) but we had a bit of a case of the heebies so the pace was picked up quite significantly! The Old Arboretum shows subtle differences in how trees used to be managed and displayed. There lots of information as you walk round and additional activities for kids to do such as a digital “Tree Quest” if you so wish.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Entry to the Arboretum was £9 each which I did think was quite dear. Luckily the prices in the restaurant seemed fairly reasonable, so not the cheapest day out but not the most expensive either. We did pack a picnic but unfortunately the weather wasn’t great and we didn’t like the fact that the picnic tables were just in the carpark. Had it been a nicer day (and I hadn’t already had a tick trauma) we might have just sat on a blanket in the Old Arboretum part of the park which doesn’t allow dogs so is generally quieter.

We’ll definitely revisit Westonbirt. I think the Enchanted Christmas Illuminated Trail looks wonderfully festive and I would love to see it. Plus all the ticks will be dead by December!

Overall, we enjoyed the first instalment in our Alphabet Dating adventure. I just hope the next one doesn’t involve any insects.

Long Time, No Blog


Well then. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve managed to publish a grand total of one blog post since the end of the January and, to be honest, I have mixed feelings about this.

I’ve been a bit disillusioned with blogging recently. I’m not into the whole SEO, monetising, numbers thing and it seems like there is a lot of pressure to do exactly that. From this being the focus of blogger chats to the flood of how-to posts, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing blogging wrong. Don’t get me wrong, all this is great for people who want to take their blog in a more professional direction, but for me it feels like I don’t have a place in this world.

So I’m making my own blog world. I’m going to continue blindly down the hobbyist path. No analytics, no adverts, no stress. I’ve missed having something to do and I enjoy writing and taking photographs (albeit on my phone – but hey, seems to be appropriate) so I am going to get to it now.


So what else have I been up to? The reason I took a break in the first place was because we finally completed our house purchase in early February so we spent two months packing, decorating, moving and unpacking. And shopping. And decorating. So much decorating! I’m going to share some room tours soon so look out for them if you like interior posts.

Anyway, I would love some inspiration. Whether you’re a fellow hobbyist or a pro, let me know what your favourite thing about blogging is in the comments.

Ali  xx

Easter Caramel Cheesecake Feat. Hotel Chocolat

Easter Caramel CheesecakeThe last time I blogged an Easter baking recipe was three years ago when I shared a lovely, but rather garish, green cake. Bright green icing, fake mini eggs, butterfly sprinkles and Malteser bunnies, it was delicious but not the classiest looking of desserts. When these glorious looking Easter treats* landed on my desk from Hotel Chocolat I decided to put them to good use and make a more grown up, but still eye-catching, dessert.

Easter Caramel Cheesecake Easter Caramel Cheesecake

In my package I received A Dozen Quail Egglets which include two each of the flavours Chocolate Mousse, Salted Caramel (one of Hotel Chocolat’s best flavours IMO), Peanut Butter, Raspberry Supermilk, Strawberries and Cream and Hazelnut Praline. This is an extremely nice set with a wide range of flavours that would make a perfect gift for any adults you have to buy for this Easter. I also received a set of the Caramel City Bunnies, a sophisticated take on the ever popular Easter Bunny motif. I love his little tie, he looks like he is ready to take the Caramel Bunny out on a date – which gave me my inspiration….

Easter Caramel Cheesecake

…Lets make No-Bake Caramel Cheesecake with caramel, Caramel, and even more caramel!


For the (buttery biscuit) base you will need:

300g biscuits – I like digestives and especially chocolate digestives best but you can use any that gives a good ‘rough’ crumb, such as Oreos for a richer flavour

125g melted unsalted butter

For the filling you will need:

284g (family pack size) full fat Philadelphia or similar cream cheese – mascarpone is also a good one to go for

75g icing sugar

100g  Carnation Caramel or similar

150ml double cream

150g Dairy Milk Caramel (chopped up)

To decorate, I used:

Carnation Caramel

Canned whipped cream

Hotel Chocolat Caramel City Bunnies

Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel Quails Egglet

Galaxy Golden Eggs.


  • Blitz your biscuits in a food processor (or smash in a bag with a rolling pin if you’re old school/have something you’re cross about). How fine is up to you, I like quite fine but don’t mind the odd chunk, especially if it still has chocolate on.
  • Stir into the melted butter.
  • Press into the bottom of a 11 inch loose base baking tin. Leave in the fridge to set while you prep the filling

Easter Caramel Cheesecake

  • Whisk together the cheese, caramel and icing sugar until smooth. Remember to taste it during this and the next step: if you need it to be sweeter, add more sugar; if you want it to be richer, add more caramel.
  • Pour in the double cream and keep whisking until it thickens. It needs to be thick enough to form peaks so best to use an electric whisk for this one. It is ready when the peaks stand on their own:

Easter Caramel Cheesecake

  • Next, stir in your chopped chocolate.
  • Spoon over the biscuit base and spread evenly. Return this to the fridge for at least 5 hours.

Easter Caramel Cheesecake

Finally, we have reached the most fun stage – the decorating and the eating! I added the Caramel drizzle before removing it from the pan (for tidiness sake mostly). You may need to put a knife round the pan to loosen the biscuit base when removing it. Then I added some squooshy cream, the lovely little bunnies and a golden egg nest.

Easter Caramel Cheesecake Easter Caramel Cheesecake

I think it looks lovely. Still lots of fun, but a distinctly grown up affair for adult who kind of wish the Easter bunny was real. I love how the cream gives the look of little cotton tails on the bunnies. And because I did all the work, I’m definitely going to make sure that Egglet ends up on my plate…

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it has put you in the mood for Easter – tell me, what is your favourite Easter treat?


I Read the F*@#ing Books | The Help

I read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help a few months ago having received a free Kindle download. I have to say I wasn’t that interested in it. I had heard a lot about the book since the 2011 film adaptation directed by Tate Taylor after it gained a lot of Oscar buzz but I didn’t watch the film and it took me a long time to get round to reading the book. Having rectified this, I want to share my thoughts on both of them.

The Help is set in 1960s Mississippi. The book is told from three women’s perspectives: Aibileen, her good friend Minnie and Skeeter. Aibileen and Minnie are both black maids working in the households of Skeeter’s (a white woman) friends. Aibileen is smart, well-read and respected by her community. She left school at a young age due to the need to earn but keeps up with her writing at which she is quite talented. Minnie is the firecracker of the pair, she has been fired from numerous jobs for talking back to her employers, but the one person she doesn’t stand up to is her abusive husband. Having just returned home from college, Skeeter begins to see the way in which her friends and her community treat their employees and decides to enlist the help of Aibileen and Minnie to publish a collection of their stories, exposing the true experience of ‘the Help’.

The film is very true to the book in events, characterisation and sequence. There are a few minor changes that I do think matter. I read the book first and my main criticism of it was that it seemed very sanitised. Terrible things happened, such as the enforcement of the rule that the maids had to use toilets outside, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of anger about it. Only one of the maids, Gretchen, was angry at Skeeter’s privileged position and this resulted in Aibileen telling Gretchen to leave her house. This was removed from the film. I think that’s a shame because it showed the reality of tension between the communities. For the most part The Help sticks rigidly to the idea that if you’re a ‘good’ person you’ll get along with anyone which to be frank, for the time it was set, seems a bit rose-tinted to say the least.

Another thing that irked me about the film was that I felt like Aibileen’s intelligence was dumbed down. She is a kind, nurturing woman, but she is also shown to be fiercely smart in the novel. One of the most famous lines in the film is the whole “you is kind, you is smart, you is important”, but Aibileen doesn’t say this in the book, she says “you are kind” because she has a strong grasp of language! It’s such a small detail but it seems like they were trying to make her seem less well read, more provincial even for no reason.

I guess the biggest criticism of The Help is that it is attempting to be the true story of black women in America in the 60s, but it is written by a white woman. Incidentally, a white woman who grew up with black maids. Of course she is going to have a certain bias. Even more disappointing is that the film is directed by a white man. The result is a perfectly pleasant book and film, but don’t assume that you’re going to get anything close to a historically accurate representation of black women’s experiences. The cast of the film is terrific but it’s such a shame that their source material was so weak. This was a cast that could has dealt with BIG issues with grace and integrity but instead they’ve produced a film that just pays lip service to the era.

Neither the book nor the film were my cup of tea, plus they’re so similar that I don’t think one is better than the other. If I had to, I’d say the book is superior due to the extra depth it gives Aibileen. I realise this might be quite controversial because it both are very popular, but I’d honestly say just skip both.

What did you think of The Help?


A Little Boots Makeup Haul


I was very recently doing my makeup when I realised that my eyebrows were looking weird. They’d start off ok but then by the time my eyebrow gel dried down they’d take on a milky look. I thought maybe it was just because my chosen product was crap, but on closer inspection it turned out that nope, it was just me that was crap. I bought a coloured gel for blondes. And this is the problem not being able to wear your glasses when you’re doing your makeup. I can’t bloody see!

Anyway, the point of this ramble was that I needed to go to Boots. For one thing. So obviously I bought seven things. Not a huge haul but I thought I’d share what I got anyway.


The fist thing I got was Rimmel’s Brow This Way brow styling gel in ‘Dark Brown’ aka the actual colour of my eyebrows. I really like this, it adds a bit of colour and definition and holds everything in place without getting too crispy. I also like the tapered brush, it’s not the smallest but neither are my brows so it works for me.


Boots have a few deals on just now, either 3 for 2 (like on Revlon) or buy one get second item half price (on Rimmel, Maybelline etc) so it’s a good time to pick up some of your essentials. This is how I’m justifying the rest of the items I bought anyway…

The second item I picked up was this Rimmel Kate Eyeshadow Stick in the shade ‘Rose Gold’. Rose gold aka copper. I love copper eyeshadow, it looks great with blue eyes so I’m sure this will become a go-to. It’s metallic and super intense on one swipe but also easy to blend out with a pinkie finger.


From Maybelline I bought one of the Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in the colour  ‘Red Essential’. This is super pigmented and really creamy so although it is a pencil you still have to be careful when applying it.


Here’s a swatch of both the lip and eye pencil, both are really high quality and I’m very pleased with them.


I also finally got myself the Maybelline The Eraser Eye concealer. I got the shade ‘Light’, it’s slightly warm for my skin but it’s totally fine when it’s blended out.

Finally I picked up three of the Revlon Colorstay Shadowlinks. These are small individual eyeshadows that you can pick and mix to create your perfect ‘palette’. I got the shades ‘Sand’ (a pearl finish), ‘Copper’ (metallic) and ‘Cocoa’ (a satin finish). My reasoning behind this was that they are so dinky I thought I could just chuck them in my makeup bag for using at work. I didn’t swath them in store and I wish I had because they don’t actually seem that great. They’re a bit gritty and not that pigmented. ‘Cocoa’ is probably the best but ‘Sand’ really sucks. I’ll give them a fair go though, they might turn out to be fine. I’ll report back.

What have you been buying at the drugstore recently?

Obsessing Over Enamel Pins

Recently my Instagram and Etsy has been awash with enamel pins. My thought process was thus: ‘I should do a blog post on all these awesome pins’… ‘Oh shit, A Beautiful Mess has done it now’…’Ach well, I’m gonna anyway.’ Yeah. So I thought I would just share the ones that are currently sat on my Etsy favourites list. These are all shops based in the UK, there are awesome shops all over the world with good shipping policies, but shop local and all that.

Axolotl by Hannah Hitchman | Middle Finger by Jolly Awesome | Don’t be a Dick by Veronica Dearly | Drive In Movies by Hand Over Your Fairy CakesHeart and Brain Set by Rock Cakes | Pretzel by Peas and Needles | UFO by Sugar and ViceGummi Venus De Milo by Mike McCabe | Diamond Terrarium by Finest Imaginary | Majestic as Fuck Unicorn by Punky Pins

These are all priced from £5 to £15 (for the two pin set) so a super affordable way to pick up some fun finishing touches. I feel a collection coming on…

Here is the link to the A Beautiful Mess pin posts if, like me, you just can’t get enough.

Drop any links to your favourite pins/shop in the comments please!