Review: Prestige Flowers

I was having a really challenging day last Wednesday. I mean, it was the stuff of nightmares and then the postman knocked on the door. I cursed under my breath. What could he have been delivering that couldn’t fit through the letterbox? When I opened the door, I saw him standing there in the rain with a large box marked, “Prestige Flowers.” He gave me a huge smile, as if he was giving the flowers to me himself and said, “Somebody’s thinking about you.” Of course, nobody was thinking about me really. I’m a blogger and these were a sample for me to try so that I had first-hand knowledge of the product and could write the review honestly, but still, having flowers in the house provided instant cheer and it even affected the postman in a positive way. I’ll bet it made a change from delivering bills.

So, here is my honest opinion of my experience with Prestige Flowers. I did receive this sample for free but as always, all opinions are my own because nobody tells me what to write.

My first impression was that the flowers were really well-packaged. They came in a black paper and cellophane wrapper inside a pretty standard looking cardboard box. Inside the main box were the flowers and a smaller box with a clear glass vase to use with them.

If there’s one thing that’s important to me, it’s how easy or difficult it is to open the packaging and unwrap the flowers. In this case it was very easy, although scissors were required to remove the flowers from their cellophane and paper. For those wondering, the stems are held in a polystyrene type of pouch which holds moisture. It feels dry on the outside but moist on the inside and it keeps the flowers fresh while they are in transit.

Below, you’ll see a picture of the flowers when they first arrived. As you can see, most of the flowers were in bloom and the lilies hadn’t opened fully. They were fragrant and fresh with no visible dryness or spoilage. I was delighted with them and took to Instagram and my personal Facebook page to proudly show them off.

You also get a pouch of flower food with your flowers, which could probably be added right away or kept for a day or two down the line. I chose not to use the flower food and keep it for when they needed a bit of perking up, which wasn’t until day four. Below, you’ll see them as they are today, five days after I received them. The lilies have bloomed now and the purple flowers in the bouquet have started to wilt a little bit. For five days down the line, this is pretty good and I would expect any bouquet to need trimmed back at this point. It’s possible the little purple flowers would have remained fresh if I had given them the flower food right away. It’s probably six days since they left the Prestige Flowers HQ to be delivered to me. They still smell gorgeous and most of the bouquet looks beautiful.

This is a company I will be using for future floral gifts. I’ve used a long-established competitor before and I’ve always been disappointed. Firstly, the competitor uses a specific florist in my area whose driver has poor geographical knowledge. Prestige Flowers have the edge here because they’re being delivered by your postman. Secondly, Prestige Flowers have a lot of offers on their website for a free box of chocolates along with your flowers. That’s a huge number of bonus points to me. Third and finally, these flowers actually smell amazing and have done since they arrived. I’m not sure why but any time I’ve received flowers in recent years, whether from a florist or from a less specialised retailer (read supermarket or petrol station into that if you like), they haven’t smelled of anything. They just have no perfume at all.

The drawback with these is that if you’re not at home, your postman might deliver them to the post office and then you’ll have to go out and get them. I’m not sure what florists do in that instance – I think they come back and try again – but that is a minor drawback when you weigh it up against all the plus points.

Just to finish off, here are a few other things that caught my attention when I was looking at the Prestige Flowers website. Firstly, all orders are backed by a 100% satisfaction, money back guarantee. They offer flowers for all occasions and have an autumn seasonal bouquet which I liked. They’re very reasonably priced and right now there’s 50% off a lot of bouquets so you can get a bunch of gorgeous flowers, with next day delivery and free chocolates for £19.99. They can provide personalised wreaths for funerals and cater for almost any occasion. There’s a hampers and gifts section on their website too for those who don’t like flowers or have allergic reactions. They do alcohol, silk flowers, fruits, bath bombs, soft toys and there’s a Galaxy chocolate bouquet that caught my eye. I’m just putting that out there in case my husband reads this. They are also going to have loads of Christmas bouquets on offer. These would make a really great gift for relatives you can’t see over the festive season and I’m considering buying one for my elderly neighbour who is really difficult to buy for. I think she would love a Christmas bouquet. You can check out their selection here: https://www.prestigeflowers.co.uk/christmas-flowers

You can check out the products they offer on their official website. To sum up, I would give them a strong 9.5 / 10 and will definitely bookmark their site for future use.

Review: Secret Scent Box

With so many subscription boxes on the market, those who have a keen interest in trying new products but are short on time to go and browse the beauty counters are spoilt for choice. That’s not to mention the fact that trying a new product is often expensive and if you have a reaction to it or simply don’t like it, it’s money down the drain. That’s why I love subscription boxes. I’ve discovered new products that I would never have otherwise found. It’s good for brands and good for consumers. I was lucky enough to be given a sample of Secret Scent Box, a perfume subscription service that sends you three sample sized bottles of a new designer fragrance each month. As always, all opinions are my own because nobody tells me what to write.

secret scent box review

Secret Scent Box are based in the UK, so they are best for British and European consumers are if you live in the UK or Europe, you get free postage. Since it’s perfume, sending it internationally can be problematic and they don’t currently ship worldwide, so it’s best to find a subscription service in your own country and international readers might not find this review useful right now, but if you’re in the UK or Europe, read on!

Then first great thing about this is that there are three scents to sample every month. They are designer branded fragrances, so it’s not going to be obscure perfumes you’ve never heard of before. The idea is that each small 3 ml bottle will last you ten days so you have a thirty-day supply in the box. It obviously depends on how much you put on, but this is estimated using averages of four sprays per day – one for each wrist and each side of the neck perhaps?

 

secret scent box review

The box it comes in is compact and classy. It fits easily through the letterbox and isn’t going to end up sitting in the post office waiting for you to collect it, so right away that’s a thumbs up for this service. Inside the box you’ll find three small bottles with the scents included clearly labelled. Unlike the samples you can receive at department store beauty counters, they are not official branded labels and the bottles have been put together by Secret Scent Box staff. However, they are neat and don’t leak and are small enough to fit in your handbag or make-up bag.

secret scent box review

You’ll also get a little card for each fragrance which lists the fragrance name and designer, although not the nose behind it, which is something I would have loved to know. The card then lists some of the major notes involved in the fragrance, but obviously not all of them because designer fragrances are so complex and can contain literally hundreds of ingredients in small concentrations. If this could be improved at all, I’d add the nose of the fragrance and the release date. Maybe some information about silage and strength would be helpful. Fragrance enthusiasts would love this kind of information and it’s a shame it isn’t provided.

secret scent box review

Some of the brands you could receive are Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Prada and Givenchy and that’s just a small selection of the designers. If you can find it at a department store fragrance counter, there’s a good chance it could end up being one of the perfumes you receive here. That’s great news for those of us who like designer scents and want to easily find the perfumes again afterwards. The drawback is that it’s not packaged in official bottles. That could put off some potential subscribers but the scents are authentic. They are the real deal. The small print on their website declares this so they are being totally transparent about it.

“All fragrances are 100% authentic which are sourced from authorised vendors and then repackaged into smaller spray bottles by Secret Scent Box, London, UK. Secret Scent Box is totally independent from any designers, brands or manufacturers.”

Another great thing about this is that you don’t get any hints beforehand about which scents you’re receiving that month so it’s like getting a little present from yourself! It’s a minor thing which some people would probably find silly but if you’re like me and you like surprises, the secrecy of it could give you a little thrill! Each month will feature three new scents but if one has been particularly popular, they might include it again. There would be at least six months between appearances though, to give other fragrances a chance to be featured.

secret scent box review

It’s available for both males and females and costs £15 a month. You can get 10% off the first box if you sign up for their mailing list. You can send it as a gift to someone if you like. A subscription to this would make an excellent Christmas present for the perfume lover in your life. You can find out more and sign up on their website.

My Week In Freelancing 25/09/17 – 30/09/17

I’ve been doing these freelancing updates for a couple of months now and while I’ve been writing a lot of posts for OxGadgets, it’s been a good way to keep regular readers informed of what I’ve been working on. However, it does feel like it’s been ALL OxGadgets for a few weeks and I can’t seem to sell any of the other articles I’ve written. Now that uni has started again, it’s going to be more difficult to undertake regular work and it will be more of an as-and-when situation. I’ll be going back to music reviews because then I can go on whenever I like, see what’s available and choose what to write. Similarly, I’ll be taking a few mystery shopping jobs here and there, when they become available. As for the OxGadgets work, I’ll do a monthly roundup of all my freelance work and list the links there once per month instead as I can’t justify one post a week any more.

This week I’ve been pitching for jobs. One in particular really interested me as it was about sex toys and all the different ways they can be used. Those who have been following me for a while know about how I campaigned to make more people aware of vaginismus (WordPress just added a red line under vaginismus like it’s not a real word – point made!) and I’ve written in the past about how sex toys aren’t just for fun. They are also a useful way of working on the health of the muscles of the vagina and on confidence issues. So, I’m keen to get that job, although if I don’t, I may take up campaigning again. It’s something I feel is really important and needs to be discussed more.

Other than that, I have one review to share. Here’s the link. It’s for a really awesome set of headphones by a brand called Ailihen.

Review: Ailihen M10 Earbuds

So, I will write another freelancing update at the end of October, hopefully with gossip about Halloween themed mystery shops!

My Week In Freelancing 18/09/17 – 24/09/17

I’m late to write this post again because for some reason, my foot keeps going dead every time I sit at the computer. It’s really off-putting and it scares me a lot so I’ve been spending more time away from the laptop which is fun but not exactly productive. During the week I’m documenting I wrote five reviews for OxGadgets and did my first freelance mystery shop for quite some time. It was worth it though because I got a decent amount of money for very little effort. I also pitched for a few jobs that I didn’t get, but one I did and that was a blog for a bespoke jewellery company that will be featured on RockPaperSpirit very soon.

This particular mystery shop involved a new take-away feature of a local store. All I had to do was answer questions about my experience of them. It didn’t take a lot of time and it was more like market research than mystery shopping as I didn’t have to leave the house to do it. This is the kind of job I like! I was paid right away which makes it all the sweeter.

Here are the links to the OxGadgets jobs.

Review: Romoss Power Bank

Review: Hive Smart Sensors

Review: C3PO Bluetooth Speakers

Review: Smore Magazine

Review: Pure Siesta S6

Meet The Author: Brindy Wilcox

It’s time for another Meet The Author post and today we’re meeting Brindy Wilcox. Brindy and I met on Twitter and have become firm friends and I’m really excited to be featuring her today.

brindy wilcox

Brindy was born in Settle, North Yorkshire and has loved books from an early age. Her childhood favourites were Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales, The Swish Of The Curtain by Pamela Brown, as well as The Famous Five and The Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton. Her first stories were told to her Red Setter, Rusty, so when she began writing her first novel, it was obviously going to be about adventurous dogs. You could say he was her first muse!

brindy wilcox

Her debut novel is Through Time To London, which is an all-ages novel that could be enjoyed by adults and children alike. It follows the adventures of Brandy and Brinkley, two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as they travel back in time to meet King Charles II. On their arrival in London in 1665, they find the world very different to the one they’ve come from.

The second book is currently in the pipeline and should be released later this year and it sees Brandy and Brinkley travelling back to prehistoric times in Cheddar Gorge on a rescue mission.

brindy wilcox

Brindy said, “I had an ambition for over 25 years to hold I book I had written, and it was one of my proudest moments when I achieved this in September 2016. Since then I have thoroughly enjoyed talking about my book and my journey into publishing in schools, at book signings, on train journeys… anywhere and everywhere.”

brindy wilcox

If you would like to hear more about Brindy’s books, you can check out her author website or her blog.

Review: Willow Layne Lingerie ‘The Simone’ Bralette

There’s nothing I love more than discovering a new lingerie brand and one of the best places to find them these days is on Instagram. That’s where I stumbled across Willow Layne Lingerie. I instantly fell in love with their bralettes and the brand as a whole. Their products are ethical, 100% vegan and best of all, the designs are beautiful. I’ve included a few photos I took myself with my smartphone of the garment I’m reviewing as well as professional pictures. This is because I want to show the garment as it really is without any special photography skills and I feel that’s just as important as seeing it on a mannequin!

willow layne lingerie the simone bralette review

 

Willow Layne Lingerie is a business founded by Abigail Slone in August 2017, so they’re practically brand new. Abigail is a former professional dancer and freelance poet who wanted to have an ethically conscious lingerie boutique. When we shop in mainstream stores, you’re bombarded with unrealistic images. You know what I mean. It’s all intimidating images of what you should be wearing, how you should look and, my personal pet-hate, young, smiling, aesthetically beautiful women telling you they support body confidence and you should feel good about yourself. Easy for them to say. Willow Layne Lingerie is run by a woman, for women. It’s not about buying the underwear to please your partner or to look good for anyone else. Abigail says on their website, “I believe that you should be able to buy lingerie that is designed and marketed with your pleasure and comfort in mind as the top priority.”

willow layne lingerie the simone bralette review

 

The mission statement on their website says, “By Women, For Women.” Since this is a great fit for RockPaperSpirit and pretty much how I feel about lingerie, I reached out to Abigail and asked if I could review one of their bralettes. Almost every real-world physical shop I’ve been in recently is pushing bralettes as an underwear trend for AW 17/18. I received a sample of The Simone and I was excited when this dropped through my letterbox. They do ship internationally and it only took just over a week to reach me in the UK.

willow layne lingerie the simone bralette review

 

I counted 16 different styles currently on the website. They range from pretty items like The Simone, to sporty like The Tatum to boho-inspired pieces like The Elyse. Whatever your style, there will be a bralette to suit you.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

 

Back to The Simone though, and my first impression of the garment was that it was luxurious and elegant. I chose the smallest size which fits 32B, 34A and 34B, which is close to my own size. It runs up to 3XL which fits size 40DD up through size 44D. So, whether you’re large breasted, or a petite woman like me, you’ll find a size that suits you. This really appealed to me because I know from friends who have bigger chests that they are often put off buying pretty lingerie because the nicer items don’t run through to bigger sizes. So, right away Willow Layne Lingerie gets some bonus points for their range of sizes.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

 

I had the nude colour which is gorgeous because in daylight it looks kind of rose-gold, which is really stylish and on trend right now, and in the artificial light of my bedroom the colour is like a dusky pink/brown. It’s all really well stitched together and the lacy detail is just gorgeous. It has a kind of halter-neck, racer back style and the cups were a comfortable fit. Best of all, I found it to be true to size. There’s nothing worse than buying a garment and finding the sizing is different or runs too small or large.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

This garment only offers light support. It gives your breasts a really natural shape and will be great for wearing under jumpers and shirts during the winter. But since there really isn’t a lot of support, it’s obviously not recommended for exercising! It’s perfect for making you feel glamorous while you’re relaxing.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

 

It’s an ideal lingerie buy because wearing it did make me feel like I was kind of dressed up, even though I was just throwing on a baggy jumper over it. It gave me a little psychological boost because it was feminine and gorgeous but it wasn’t about seduction. It wasn’t put on simply to be taken off. This is lingerie that will be worn a lot. It’s for me and I like that.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

 

It’s 92% nylon with 8% spandex so it’s pretty stretchy. It was easy enough to get in and out of the garment but you have to be really careful as the material is super thin and could be easily damaged. So, it’s worth keeping that in mind. Treat it well! That means hand-washing, exercising care when putting it on and removing it and storing it in a drawer away from other bras that may have metal clips and fastenings.

willow layne lingerie the simone bralette review

Overall, I’d give this lingerie a solid 9.5/10. I really loved it and I’ve got a little wish list building already. It’s priced at $37.99 and if you use the code LAUNCHPARTY at the checkout, you can receive a 40% discount. If you’d like to know more about the different bralettes and the brand, you can view the Willow Layne Lingerie online store. I’d also recommend following them on Instagram.

Interview: Tapas, Cocktails And Chat With Sasha Lane

For anyone who doesn’t know, I love a good interview and I love to host them somewhere different each time. No boring studio for us (eat your heart out Graham Norton!). So, now that it’s interview time on RockPaperSpirit, I’d like to welcome you to the RockPaperSpirit virtual champagne cocktail bar. I’m joined by Yorkshire chick-lit author, the lovely Sasha Lane. You may remember Sasha from the feature I ran a couple of weeks ago about her trilogy and now we’re joined by Sasha in the RockPaperSpirit cocktail bar for some drinks, bar snacks and chat. Read on to find out about our virtual girly day out!

sasha lane

Let’s first find a seat at the bar and order some cocktails. I’ll have a virgin pina colada. And what will you have?

A peach Bellini. Refreshing but dangerous – they go down far too easily!

Tell me about the moment when you decided that you had to start writing professionally. What were you doing and how did it happen?

I set up my own business in October 2007 – a shop selling ladies clothes, shoes and handbags – and was in my dream place mainly because I have a shoe addiction and could then get them at wholesale price! But the economy crashed worldwide in March 2008 and my business only survived just over a year. Going through the process of closing down a business is nowhere near as fun as setting it up, and I was stressed and embarrassed that my business had failed. I started writing as an escape from all the negative stuff going on at that time and it gave me something positive to focus on. I felt like if I could write a book I wouldn’t feel like a failure.

I’m so sorry to hear about your shop. I know that feeling. I too had a business that failed. So, tell us, why did you choose chick-lit?

I didn’t – it chose me really. I started writing crime books as I have a huge interest in that (and also have a Criminology degree) but, admittedly after some honest feedback from my editor (after two attempts!), I realised that my writing style is too light-hearted for crime novels. I changed to chick lit, changed from writing in third person to first person, and the writing just flowed from that point onward. I like the fact that I can have fun with my writing in ‘chick lit’, addressing serious issued but with some added humour. I like the fact that I can write about ‘everyday’ women that readers can hopefully associate with.

sasha lane girl unhinged

Oooh, the tapas has arrived. *digs in to patatas bravas* Tell us what you’re working on at the moment, if anything.

I haven’t totally abandoned the idea of a crime novel, I’ve just had to tweak my approach, so I’m currently working on a chick lit novel with a crime theme – think “girl turns detective” rather than the standard crime/thriller novel.

Sounds like a great idea! Ok, now imagine you’re at the pinnacle of your career and all your dreams have come true. Do you keep writing or do you move on and do something else?

Absolutely, I keep writing. I love it. It’s funny – I was always looking for something, looking for that one thing that I would love to do, and I never dreamed it would be writing books until I started that first (really bad!) version of a book. I love everything about the process – even when I get the first edited version back from my editor and it’s been ‘red penned’ like when you were at school. I now see that as a good thing – it’s an opportunity to improve my writing and become a better writer.

That’s a great way of looking at it. If you were a cocktail, which one would you be and why?

A Cosmopolitan – as a throwback to my nightclubbing days. My guilty pleasure it still listening to 90’s dance and R&B music!

cocktails after work

Ah, who doesn’t love a bit of 90s dance? Have you ever based a character on a real person? Whether you have or haven’t, can you explain your thoughts on this?

I often get asked if the main character is me – it’s not, but there are elements of me in her – her sense of humour is probably the same as mine – plus a lot of crazy things happen to her and I have that problem too (she also drinks quite a bit of wine and eats far too many cupcakes which could be said for me) but she is purely fictitious. I think all of my characters are created through my own life’s experience – books I’ve read, films and TV that I’ve watched etc so there’s an accumulation of influences that go into each character.

You’re trapped at the North Pole and can only take three things with you. What are they? You’re not allowed to take people or pets.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a hot water bottle, and a crime novel.

Good choices! Where do you see your writing career in five years time? You can be as realistic or ambitious as you like.

I’d like to think that I’ve created an even bigger reader following which has enabled me to write more books and hopefully earn enough from it to write full time as I do love it. Things seem to have taken off following the publication of the third book in the trilogy so I’m hoping to build on that.

girl unconventional sasha lane

Finally, the last question that I ask everyone…what’s your favourite biscuit?

I’m old school I’m afraid – I love a chocolate digestive – but I’m not a dunker!

Nice choice. I’m a Penguin kind of girl but I do love a chocolate digestive too. Thanks for joining us Sasha and let me know when you write that light-hearted chick-lit/crime novel mashup. It sounds right up my street!

sasha lane girl conflicted

My Week In Freelancing: 11/09/17 – 17/09/17

The good news is I made outstanding progress with the fiction projects and I’m ahead of schedule with my studies, but that was at the expense of my freelance work. I didn’t tout for any new jobs, I had to turn down a couple that came in and I only managed two OxGadgets posts. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous amount of mystery shops I turned down. So, here are the two jobs I did for OxGadgets and I can assure you that next week there will be plenty more because I have a pile of interesting review items waiting to be tackled.

What’s New In The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update?

Wileyfox Introduce Smartphone And Echo Dot Bundle

My Week In Freelancing 04/09/17 – 10/09/17

I’m back at work after my break and I genuinely feel refreshed. It’s been one of my busiest weeks for a long time in terms of fiction but the freelancing side of things has been quiet. Below is a list of the OxGadgets jobs I’ve done.

Review: Keyport Pivot

Cello Electronics Launch Their First Battery Operated TV

Back to School Gadget Shopping List

As for my other freelancing work, I had some news this week that totally changed the way I’m viewing my mystery shopping work. I had been keeping it to a minimum because I’m claiming Carer’s Allowance and I am only allowed to make £116 per week before I’m penalised. It made sense to only undertake work that kept me below that threshold. However, I had a chat with a man from the DWP on Thursday of this week who said that the mystery shopping work I do for a Dutch company is actually viewed the same way that competition earnings are viewed. It’s not viewed as self-employed income.

Now, that’s not to say that all mystery shopping work would be viewed this way and I’m pretty sure the work I used to do for Market Force is treated as self-employed earnings since there’s a lot of paperwork involved and I have to officially invoice them, but Dutch company Roamler might be a different story. The photos are only paid for if they meet specific criteria and you’re the first to submit so technically it could be considered a competition. You’re surveyed in a short time frame and although you’re a self-employed agent, it’s a completely different ball game from Market Force. I can say that for sure since I’ve worked with both.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to declare my income from Roamler because the last thing I would want is to be penalised or seen as a fraudster and to be honest, the DWP scare me a little. But it does change the approach I’ll be taking and I’ll no longer be turning down work because I’m afraid of earning too much.

That’s all for this week!

Pictures From Glasgow Pride 2017

I had my doubts about whether I should visit Glasgow that day or not. Having just seen on the news that there were terrorist attacks in Spain, I’m now wary of going to events in big cities. It’s a sad fact about modern life that marches such as Pride are now targets for terrorism. However, if you stop living your life and doing the things you want to do, you let the bad guys win, so off we went to Glasgow to do some shopping and while we were there, we saw the Pride march.

Being a straight woman, Pride marches aren’t really something you would expect me to be interested in, but I’m not just a straight woman. I’m a mother of a little boy and I want him to grow up knowing that it’s ok to be whoever you are. So, although he didn’t ask why the march was happening, as he was only interested in the bubble machines blowing suds from an open-top bus, I tried to explain to him that these people are marching for love. It’s as simple as that.

glasgow pride 2017

My family supports the Pride march because we support freedom and equality. We support everyone’s right to be whoever they are and be that person in public. We support their right to express themselves and to kiss whoever they like. We also support their right to blast Britney tunes at full volume in the middle of Buchanan Street while dressed in drag and blowing kisses to the haters. Love it.

glasgow pride 2017