February Monthly Favourites

I cannot believe we’re already in March, I feel like we should just be coming out of January (but with the weather getting better every day, I'm so glad it's not January.) I have a lot of really cool things to go through this month including some new artwork, movies, clothes, toiletries (as ever), great food, and maybe some helpful and honest advice too, so we best get on with it! 

Doggie Artwork 

The first thing is more of an appreciation and a thank you to my wonderful friend Charlie and his super talented sister Flo! A couple of months ago Charlie asked me if I had any pictures of my two boxer dogs as Flo was practicing drawing animals, so I sent over a few pictures of our dogs and a couple of weeks later she came back with these incredible drawings!!

So the one on the left is our old boy Jacob, I think she captured his grumpy old face perfectly and then the one on the right is our younger girl Beans, I also think Flo was able to capture not only the “interesting” shape of Beans’ head but also those little mischievous eyes that we love so much. 
I don’t think Flo is doing commissions, this was just a one-off thing but I’m so happy she made these, they’re currently framed at my mum and dads house and my parents love them so much, as I say, this isn’t an “everyone go and bombard Flo with your commissions” kind of thing, I just wanted to thank her for these beautiful pictures that captured our pets so perfectly. 

Soul movie 

I don’t think this film is news to anyone but about a month ago we watched Soul on Disney+. I absolutely love Pixar films, they shaped my childhood, and even now as an adult I just love cosying up in bed with some popcorn and watching a sad/feel-good Pixar film, we chose Soul as I'd heard so many good things about it and then when I saw it was about a jazz musician I knew this was the film for us (music is a huge passion for the both of us and jazz is my favourite genre)!! 
I was expecting it to be super super sad like most Pixar films but actually, this one didn't make me bawl my eyes out like UP or Toy Story, it still had a lovely message about living life to full and not worrying yourself silly about constantly trying to find meaning in every single thing you do and how that isn’t actually giving life to the full, that's just over-obsessing about things that are stopping you being happy! I won't spoil it if you haven't seen it but the casting is great, the storyline is incredible, the art style is beautiful but the music throughout the whole thing is just astounding, I could have listened to it all night! 

Image from Disney

Coral Sea Chinese takeaway 

This next one is just a brag because I know a lot of you don’t live anywhere near me, so I just wanted to boast about an amazing Chinese takeaway near us. Coral Sea is the only Chinese takeaway (that I know of) near us that serves up VEGAN DUCK!! This place does an entire chow mein or basically any meat dish that you want but uses vegan duck instead! Since going vegetarian in 2019 I've just come to accept that although I can get a lovely dinner from most takeaways they aren’t anything that special, it's just a load of vegetables cooked into a delicious sauce, there's never any bite! Well, Coral Sea gave me bite! Since it was my birthday a couple of days ago, we decided to have Coral Sea again as a birthday treat! I ordered the vegan duck in black bean sauce with egg fried rice (I know it’s not vegan but I’m veggie anyway), it was absolutely delicious and it even has fresh chillies to throw in some extra spice. The portion sizes are really big and well worth the money, the veggie spring rolls I had as a starter tasted freshly made, and altogether it's a delicious meal!  
What I'm trying to say with this favourite is I love that a lot of takeaways are producing a much wider range of veggie and vegan dishes that go far beyond some vegetables in a sauce with rice/noodles, I’m really hoping this is a huge step in the right direction for making veggie and vegan options more accessible (and in some ways more appealing) to a much wider variety of people. 

Fit Kit Shampoo & Conditioner and Fit Kit Body Wash  

Monthly favourites wouldn’t be the same without a good old shampoo/body wash review! My auntie gave me these Fit Kit Shampoo & Conditioner combo and a Fit Kit Body Wash (as well as some hand sanitiser but I haven’t got round to using that yet). I must admit, this brand said it's perfect to revitalise hair, skin and muscles after workouts and exercise…I do not exercise. I love to walk and swim but not for any real workout purpose so I didn't know if these products would do anything for me and I was worried the shampoo might make my hair really greasy as I assumed it had extra oils to combat the sweat in your hair. As usual, I was wrong. I’ll talk about them separately so you can get a full idea of just how good these are!

So to start with the “gentle repair” shampoo and conditioner combo, I only used this as a shampoo because I assumed if either of the shampoo and conditioner were to be diluted in the mix it’s probably gonna be the conditioner more than the shampoo. So I used this just as a shampoo and used my normal conditioner with it, it worked out amazingly! My hair felt thicker and stronger even as I was washing it out, the packaging says it uses caffeine to give your roots a bit of a boost as well as moisturising coconut milk and it really seemed to revitalize my hair each time I used it and my hair didn’t seem to “get bored” of it or get used to the shampoo, so each time my hair was so much thicker and stronger. Of course, I love this brand even more as they’re cruelty-free and vegan, made with natural ingredients AND made in the U.K! I’ll include a picture here of the ingredients just so you can check they’re all ok for you. 

The other Fit Kit product both my partner and I used was the “body recovery” body wash. Now to say my partner actually wanted to use this was a good review on its own, anything I buy for the shower he constantly says “smells weird” because I use things with natural extracts in, this body wash has sauna oils in it so it smells woody and musky, which I thought he would hate but he really liked it! The body wash also has magnesium to treat tired muscles (you know…after all that exercise…?) which might make it a really re-invigorating thing to use in the shower in the morning if you struggle to get up. I enjoyed the sauna oils the most, when it combines with the heat from the shower you do get a mini sauna experience! I didn't think this was an incredible product that really helped soften my skin or protect it when shaving but it did smell nice and the gel-consistency of the body wash was nice too, it was mainly just a nice product to use but I don’t think it did as much as good as the shampoo. Again, this body wash is veg and cruelty-free, made with natural ingredients, and made in the U.K! I’ll leave a picture again of the ingredients for this one so you can check it out and make sure it’s safe for you! 

Ivy Park Hoodie 

Ok, you’re still with me? This one is pretty exciting! For my birthday, my mum and I went halves on a hoodie from Beyonce’s new Ivy Park range! I am obsessed with Beyonce as a singer and performer but I also really love the Ivy Park brand, years and years ago I bought a jumper, vest top, and pair of leggings from the first drop when they still worked with Topshop, but I was very excited when I saw the brand had moved to work with Adidas, as someone who doesn’t buy many branded things I was interested to see what the quality would be like now it was partnered with such a huge brand like Adidas and let me tell you, it's all good news! So here’s a little picture of me in my cream/oatmeal coloured hoodie, it’s as soft as it looks and the inside has a waffle-type material that stops you getting sweaty so it’s good after workouts or just to cosy up in on a super cold day.

Now, I am about an 18-20 clothes size and I was a bit unsure of what size to buy, I ended up buying the XXL just to be 100% sure it would fit…it was way too big!! I’ve kept it anyway as I couldn’t be bothered sending it back and I liked the super oversized look anyway, but if you’re a similar size I would recommend a L if you want it to fit just right or a XL for a bit of a looser fit. I love how it looks, you might be able to see the little Ivy Park logo on the chest it’s not too big which I like but it’s made of reflective material so it catches the light and looks really cool, it has a lovely cosy hood as well as a huge deep front pocket which I’ve taken to calling a pouch! 

As I say, I don’t really own many branded things so I was pretty excited to get the cool Adidas three-stripes on the arms and the subtle logo on the wrist, you can’t see but on the inside of the arm is another reflective strip of material that goes all the way up from the wrist to the inner arm, it just adds a bit more detail that you don’t realise until you look hard enough, I love little things like that! 

I just wanted to add this silly picture in so you can actually see how big it is on me! I've got about 4-6 inches of extra room! It doesn’t matter too much to me but I know for some people this would really ruin it for them so just be aware that Ivy Park sizes run big and I think Adidas sizes are more than a bit generous too. 
Obviously im bias toward Beyonce and her brands but I'm so impressed with how Ivy Park have becomes more size inclusive over the years, even back when they brought out the first items, they still fit me (I was a size 16-18 back then) but obviously, that size was seen as XL which we all know just isn’t true, so to have items that could potentially comfortably fit someone up to a size 26 is incredible. A lot of the clothing on the new drop is beautiful, this hoodie was £85 and I would never splurge on something that expensive normally but I just wanted a piece of Ivy Park to myself, a lot of the patent trousers are beautiful, I’m in love with the trainers and they also do branded face masks! 
If you enjoy the brand like I do I would say it’s well worth treating yourself to a piece if you’re able to, the brand offers women’s, children’s, and gender-neutral clothing options and all of them run in different fits from skin-tight, normal fit and baggy/oversized, so you have a really good choice of not only what item of clothing you want but also the style of fit you want as well.  

Being Open and Honest With Mental Health 

Finally, I wanted to talk about something that’s maybe not quite so fun but so much more important than any of the other things. I feel like during all the lockdowns, most of us have struggled in one way or another with mental health or staying positive when days feel like they drag on or are exactly the same as the day/week before. 

To be honest, I struggled quite a lot between Christmas and the end of January, it was nothing to be overly-concerned about (I'm safe and have the support of my partner, family, and friends) but I just started to feel that a lot of things weren’t worth it, these were small things like eating proper meals, doing basic housework and showering but the main thing that got me to the point where I felt like I HAD to share with someone were the consistent intrusive thoughts ( I don’t need to go into them but just know they’ve pretty much all but disappeared now) and these became part of my daily life, driving to work was difficult, getting to sleep at night or focusing my mind to do basic tasks was difficult as I was struggling to hear through these thoughts. I was open and honest with my partner and we agreed to just listen to ourselves and each other when things felt like too much. We worked out that normally (for me anyway) these feelings and thoughts can be easily helped when you just share them with someone you trust. 

I know that isn’t easy for some people and if you feel like you have no one to turn to there are plenty of free therapy apps as well as free helplines/websites that can give you even basic support like someone to lean on for a few hours. 
I don’t think most of us even realise that we’re having a hard time until it all creeps up on you and you’re a bit frightened, but if you have been feeling that way (even pre-pandemic) just know you aren’t alone, there are so many people out there (who you maybe don’t even know yet) that are here to help and inspire you to find things that make you feel better about the situation you’re in. 

Personally I've found this blog to be a godsend, I’m able to ramble on and get out how I feel, not really caring if anyone reads it but it’s just a nice way to get everything you’ve been thinking or feeling, I've also found a lot of joy in baking/cooking as it focuses my mind on something practical (and tasty) as well as learning new skills! And finally, I've found reading to be so helpful, not only does it pass hours when you feel like you’ve got nothing to do, but it also pushes you into a completely different world where you’re submerged in someone else’s story, and I think sometimes we all need that. 

I’m going to leave the name and websites of some places that might be of help to you (none of them have asked me to say anything, I just think it might help some people.) 

Samaritans.org or call them free on 116 123 
Thecalmzone.net (C.A.L.M) or call them on 0800 58 58 58
Daylio Journal (app) 
MindDoc: Your Companion (app) 

Please keep talking to each other, there is ALWAYS someone who will listen…and maybe treat yourself to a few of these things on here! 

We’re all going through this together x 

H x