Monday, 26 September 2016

REVIEW: HoneyColony Equilibrium Energy

 Today I'm bringing you my first ever review on this blog - of HoneyColony's Equilibrium Energy: a new superfood formula. I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company. 

Equilibrium energy is comprised of 12 different superfoods, including ginger, blue algae and bee pollen with the main ingredient and the base of the formula being raw honey. The Energy supplement was really designed for anyone who leads an active lifestyle and while that definitely doesn't describe me, the benefits it's designed to bring (naturally stimulating the nervous system, enhancing brain function, supporting muscle relief, and providing anti-inflammation support) would really help me as a chronically ill person. So I was pretty intrigued by it. 

I've actually never really tried a superfood supplement before--I've barely even had standard supplements. I guess I'm just a little sceptical. But I cast my scepticism aside to give this a try. My first thought was how expensive the product looked. The jar is dark brown and is apparently Biophotonic meaning only sunlight is let in to improve the formula. My next thoughts were about the texture and taste of the product itself, neither of which are particularly desirable. There's a tar-like texture that's also quite gritty, and the taste is really hard to describe, but it's not especially pleasant. I did find myself not looking forward to taking it, especially as I often feel quite sick in the mornings. You could put it into a hot drink or smoothie, but I don't drink either first thing. That being said, it didn't make me gag or anything, and I did get used to it after a few days!

So did it help? I wouldn't say taking Equilibrium Energy gave me MORE energy, it was more like it made me less tired? I didn't necessarily feel like I could do more, but what I did do made me less tired than usual, and I found myself needing less naps. Mentally I definitely felt a little clearer, less fatigued. I was pleasantly surprised to see some results from taking the supplement, though I did feel like I would have been better able to assess the effects if I were able to take it for longer. 

Would I buy it for myself? Probably not. It was nice not to feel as tired for a couple of weeks, but the high-quality and small-batch nature of the product means it is quite expensive. Couple that with shipping and customs fees to/in the UK means it's just out of my price range really. However if I did live in the US, I might consider it, especially for a little boost during busy times. HoneyColony actually offer an auto-ship deal, which is both an excellent idea for those of us who are forgetful and it comes with a decent discount, too.

On the whole, I was pleased to see some results from taking Equilibrium Energy and while taking it long-term is not an option for me, I'd certainly say it's worth giving it a try if you have the financial ability to/aren't inhibited by shipping and customs fees like I am!

Find out more about HoneyColony's Equilibrium Energy here 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Chronic Illness and the Seasons

For me, Autumn is the best season to be chronically ill. In theory, summer should be best, because it is (again, in theory) hot and warmth is good for my joints, but the problem with summer is the clothing. I pretty much have to wear lace-up boots that cover my ankle and have a sturdy sole, and while this is fine for me apart from on very hot days, it does not fit in with other people's perceptions of what my summer footwear should consist of. This past summer, I did finally find the perfect pair of sandals from Dr Martens and while I love them, I couldn't wear them all the time because they just aren't supportive enough.

It isn't just the footwear that causes a problem in summer though, it's the rest of my clothes. I have to keep my body warm, because cold limbs = pain, stiff, locked joints and general badness. And unfortunately, I have a body that is tough to keep warm. I can go all the way to about 23 degrees (with minimal exercise) and still be happy in jeans or 200 denier tights. Again, this makes me look a bit weird. It's only on the (very rare) occasions that we have a hot enough day or if I'm away in a hotter country, that I go bare-legged.

My personal favourite season is winter, the antithesis to summer. I can wear all my layers and my boots without standing out, but the weather is often so cold that, no matter how much I like it, it's almost impossible for me to stay warm enough to be comfortable, especially out of the house.

This leaves Spring and Autumn. Spring pretty much has to be dismissed outright because I am NOT a pastel-shades kinda girl. Which brings me to Autumn. All those things able-bodied people romanticise Autumn for are pretty essential for me as a person with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. Autumn means I can wear my jumpers and my scarves and my big coats and my boots and not only not be out of place, but be bang-on re appropriate seasonal clothing AND warm and comfortable. Autumn means not being quite as cold as in winter. Autumn means russet and forest green and grey and black and all those other colours I like. Autumn means justifiable reasons to stay in (it's cold, it's dark, Bake Off/Strictly/Period Drama du jour is on) which makes me feel better as a person who often has to stay in. Autumn means hot drinks and blankets and stews and soups which are all things that make me feel more comfortable. Autumn means comfort full stop.

And comfort, as a chronically ill person, is one of the end-goals of any scenario. It's rare I'll find myself pain or fatigue free, or sans any kind of symptom or side-effect, but if I'm experiencing these things while comfortable, I can cope much better. I can be better-humoured.

If you're chronically ill, which season is best for you? And if not, what's your favourite season in general?

Sunday, 4 September 2016

August in Review

Honestly, August mostly sucked. I'm not really sure why--I just feel like it did. There were some high points: I went to Newcastle for a couple of days with my friend Debbie and had an amazing time with glorious weather and it was so nice, but other than that, August hasn't been so great. There's some stressful stuff going on at work, I had a tooth out, I had to cancel lots of social plans and, right at the end of August, my hip partially dislocated leading me to spend the first 2 days of September bed-bound. Funfunfun. 

Books Read in August
Potion Diaries: The Royal Tour - Amy Alward
The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts - Annie Darling
Just Haven't Met You Yet - Cate Woods
Geek Girl 4.5: Sunny Side Up - Holly Smale
Geek Girl - Holly Smale (reread)
Darkfever - Karen Marie Moning (reread)
Bloodfever - Karen Marie Moning (reread)
Faefever - Karen Marie Moning (reread)
Dreamfever - Karen Marie Moning (reread)
Shadowfever - Karen Marie Moning (reread)

Favourite Book of August
Potion Diaries - The Royal Tour

So I read LOADS in August! Way more than any other month so far this year. Unfortunately loads were rereads and I still cannot remember how to make them count again on Goodreads so they can't strictly go towards my goal for the year. I LOVED Royal Tour, which I knew I would after loving the first one last year. I also really enjoyed The Little Bookshop which is really funny and features a 'hate'-to-love relationship; my favourite kind! I was really in the mood to reread Geek Girl after reading the summer special, and then I was in a reread phase so I reread one of my fave guilty pleasure Urban Fantasy series; the Fever series. It's dark and sexy and totally addictive. 


Films Seen at the Cinema in August
Suicide Squad
The Shallows
Finding Dory

Lets just not talk about Suicide Squad okay?
My bf and I saw Nerve and The Shallows in the same day and it was the perfect double feature actually. Both about 90mins long, both thrillers, but one commercial, kinda pop-y and the other a bit more indie, tense and art-y. I really, really enjoyed them both though and thought Blake Lively's performance in The Shallows was exceptional. I also really liked Finding Dory!


Catch Up On This Month's Blog Posts

Again, not much of a blogging month in August, as I wasn't feeling great!
I shared my Chronic Illness Positives as well as the latest of my Etsy Addiction posts. I also talked about the struggles of healthy eating when chronically ill, and shared my top films to watch when you aren't feeling great!


Next week I'm going down to London to celebrate the launch of my friend Laure Eve's book The Graces (it's amazing, go buy it) and then spending the weekend at a family event. I'm also going to the ballet for the first time in ages to see Giselle. I'm super, super looking forward to the release of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, the sequel to Six of Crows which was one of my favourite books last year. I'm excited to see The Magnificent 7 and will almost definitely end up seeing Bridget Jones' Baby! Plus we have Poldark and Strictly Come Dancing are back on TV - very exciting.

This last 4 months are my favourite of the year, so I'm really hoping things pick up!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Eleven Films To Watch When You Feel Pretty Shit

Something I struggle with when I don't feel well is how to occupy myself. I'm usually too ill to go out or exercise or even read. I don't have the mental energy to watch anything new, and there's only so much Say Yes to the Dress one person can watch. Putting a good, familiar film on can serve a dual purpose: it's something to do, to take your mind off the pain or the fatigue, but also the perfect easy-viewing/entertaining/funny/heart-warming film provides a level of comfort and escapism and good-feeling that's so important when you aren't feeling great. 

Here are my choices of films to watch when you feel pretty shit. 

10 Things I Hate About You
Oh Heath Ledger. It is impossible to watch this film without uttering those words. So loveable and charming, with bonus Joseph Gordon-Levitt and of course, peak Julia Stiles. Humorous and heart-warming. 

The Hunger Games 
It might seem like an odd choice to make you feel better, given it's all about teenagers killing each other. But I find it very watchable, with excellent comedic elements from Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks and damn fine acting from Jennifer Lawrence. 

Pride and Prejudice
A controversial favourite adaptation of this Jane Austen classic, but I love Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen so it is my immediate favourite. I love everything about this film but especially that ballroom scene. I once watched this every day for about 3 months. 

Anything Marvel
Lets face it, pretty much any Marvel film is guaranteed high-entertainment easy-viewing. My personal favourites being Avengers Assemble and Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Pitch Perfect 
It's so funny and so feminist and so totally awesome. All of the actors work so well together which results in a slightly off-beat, totally charming and loveable dynamic. Plus who doesn't love synchronised lady dancing?!

Chalet Girl 
A low budget but utterly charming British film featuring the inimitable Felicity Jones, and Ed Westwick sporting his actual, almost-too-sexy accent. A true underdog story, it's perfect to help you feel better.

The Force Awakens 
It's just a damn good film. The perfect antidote to those prequels, it's joyful and full of loving references to the original films. It has its dark moments but ultimately it's an uplifting, inclusive and entertaining film. How can you not fall in love with Rey, Finn and Poe?!

A modern adaptation of 'Emma' makes this my second Jane Austen choice. Full of lines that have been permanently installed in the annals of pop culture quoting, super feminist and featuring the dreamy Paul Rudd, it's almost guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Your Favourite Disney 
I decided not to pick one out, because everyone has their own favourites but whichever yours is, it's a surefire way to leave you feeling better about life. Especially if you use it as an opportunity for a bit of a singalong. One of my personal favourites is Tangled. 

Ocean's Eleven
I love me a heist movie and there are so many charming actors in this it's hard not to enjoy watching it. And it's super easy viewing. 

Howl's Moving Castle
Pure escapism in the form of my favourite Studio Ghibli film. I've always liked the story of quiet Sophie, forced to find herself whilst on a strange journey in a magical castle. Plus there's the hilarious Calcifer and the enigmatic and beautiful Howl, voiced in a odd-but-it-works way by Christian Bale.   

Other excellent choices: Lord of the Rings // The Breakfast Club // The Holiday // Billy Elliot // Legally Blonde // Bring It On // The Devil Wears Prada 

What is your favourite film to watch when you feel shit?

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Healthy Eating and Chronic Illness

When I saw the Rheumatologist last September, one of things he told me I needed to do was improve my nutrition. This was not a shocking thing to hear, nor was it the first time I've heard it. Practically everyone I know has, at one point or many, told me I need to improve my diet. *I* know I need to improve my diet. 

The problem comes when you add chronic illness into the mix. Because chronic illness makes lots of the things you need to do to eat healthily hard. Like chopping fruit and veg, or standing and cooking for longer than 5 minutes, or washing the 5 pans, 6 knives, 2 chopping boards and a sieve that making your meal required. Fortunately for me, I live back at home now and my mum has made a steadfast effort to improve the healthiness of our evening meals. They all contain some form of protein (NGL, it's nearly always chicken. I am somewhat fussy and my brother is the rest of the way fussy and chicken is pretty much the only meat we agree on) and veg and are made fresh and are, thankfully, well delicious. She has been diligently testing out new recipes and adding extra veg where extra veg can be added (all so my brother can pick it back out of his portion) and I appreciate it so much.

Because the time I spent in London was not a time of healthy-eating. It was a time of takeaways. And food bought in train stations on the way home. And ready meals. I was famous in my department for how long I could make 1 large Dominos pizza last (4/5 days if I also had a side order) and I ate more of Tesco's Macaroni Cheese than any person reasonably should. I tried to counter-balance my unhealthy dinners by having a healthy lunch, but being unable to prepare these in advance meant they came from Pret or Eat or Itsu which was a financial drain. The only times I really ate anything healthy at home was when my boyfriend was visiting and he could do the chopping/stirring/washing up but that was 2 weekends a month. 

Home-cooked dinners aside, it's still hard for me to embrace healthy eating. It does not come naturally to me. I was the fussiest of fussy eaters as a child (think nothing touching on the plate, nothing that wasn't plain chicken, plain potatoes, plain bread...etc) and while I've embraced a large amount of foods since then I'm still fussier than the average. I've spent my whole life getting by on crisps and chocolate and pizza so having an apple instead is completely counter-intuitive. 

But I'm trying. Over the weekend I went to my boyfriend's house for a marathon TV binge and instead of ordering Dominos like we often do, we made homemade salsa. 10 tomatoes, 1 onion, 2 chillies, juice of 2 limes and 2 bunches of coriander (don't take the coriander away from me, I googled it and it has health benefits okay?) did 2 of us 2 meals and is chock-full of goodness (if you forget about the salty tortilla chips we ate the whole thing with). Healthy AND delicious. But it took ages to chop everything fine enough and I could only do a couple of the tomatoes, 1 bunch of coriander and the chillies (I ended up with wicked chilli burn on my fingers too) while sat on a stool and even then I was exhausted by the end. You may remember me admitting to eating only Krispy Kremes for breakfast for a little I'm mostly eating nuts and dried mango instead. So I really am trying.

The thing about chronic illness that you feel ill. Chronically. And there's something about not feeling good that makes you want to eat things that will make you feel better. And by that I don't mean spinach, I mean pizza. Feeling ill constantly just makes you want to eat tasty, preservative-filled junk food. Fizzy drinks full of sugar to help with the fatigue, chocolate as a mood-booster. And while I know that long-term, in order for me to get a bit better I need to eat better, chronic illness makes focusing on the long-term hard. Because you just want some kind, any kind, of short-term relief constantly, even if that relief comes in the form of a Krispy Kreme doughnut for breakfast.

Do you have any tips for easy healthy eating?

Friday, 5 August 2016

My Etsy Addiction #6

Welcome to the sixth edition of my Etsy Addiction series! As established in my first My Etsy Addiction post, I am an Etsy Addict. Not necessarily just buying, but also browsing, favouriting, planning future gifts. 

I decided to take advantage of this addiction for blogging purposes, and create a regular series of posts showcasing some of my favourite Etsy finds. TPlease be aware, some of the items I feature will be from shops based outside of the UK, so the shipping costs can be extensive and there can also be customs charges involved. All photos featured are from the Etsy listings.

As Pokemon Go is all the rage rn, what about this on-trend and stylish Pokeball necklace from JodiePopeJewellery

These quirky coasters from YouBadCat are perfect for British living rooms, given how much we discuss the weather!

This beautiful, eye-catching phone case from PapioPress

This delicate I Capture the Castle brooch from CaptureTheCastleShop is perfect for literary types

This sleek and elegant copper tray from Marbleandmetal

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Chronic Illness Positives

I've been feeling pretty miserable lately, so to inject a bit of positivity into my life I started to think about the positives of having a chronic illness. While these in no way make up for having the illness in the first place, I think does help a bit to remember them every now and again, to know there's a bit of light in the dark. So here are the positive aspects of my chronic illness.

1. I can zip/unzip all my own dresses all the way up/down: thanks to my hypermobile shoulders, I have no problem reaching over my shoulder/up my back to do/undo my own zips.

2. I am a walking, talking pharmacy: you need painkillers? I got 'em. And I got multiple types. I will likely also always have anti-inflammatory gel, antacids, and an array of other health-related items. I'm super handy to have in the office in that regard.

3. People do things for me: I mean, this is a positive but it can also be a negative because I am nothing if not exploitative. But one of the positives about having a chronic illness is that people help you out more: carry things, fetch things, change your bedlinen. All sorts of stuff. Today my colleague offered to staple things for me (I have trouble with this). Even if you don't take people up on their offers, it's nice that they're there.

4. I can swim really well: I'm not entirely convinced this is hypermobility-related, but I've decided to think it is. I'm super ungainly/clumsy/awful on land, but in water I'm pretty awesome. 

5. I (usually) get my prescriptions on time: I was always TERRIBLE at getting the prescriptions for my asthma before my chronic condition worsened, but now I take regular medication and need regular painkillers, I'm pretty good at getting it in (mostly) on time every month.

6.  I know a lot about TV shows: having a chronic condition means I'm always tired and in pain, so I watch a lot of TV. This means I am very knowledgable about all things show-related, so if you need a recommendation, or someone to 'OH MY GOD' with about a show, chances are I'm your girl.

7. I can get ready for work in under 15 minutes: true story. I can brush my teeth, cleanse/moisturise my face and brush my hair, get dressed and collect all necessities in under 15 minutes. And that's with having to have a little rest in between each item of clothing I put on. 

8. Justifiable napping: one of the worst parts of chronic illness is constant fatigue, but this does give you a valid reason to have naps. And who doesn't love a good nap?

9. I have really soft skin: the only positive physical aspect of my condition in a long, long list of negatives. My condition affects the feel of my skin, making it quite soft and velvety-feeling. Which is  good because I'm too lazy to exfoliate/moisturise anything but my face with any regularity

10. It's made me stronger: it's hard to know how much being chronically ill my whole life has truly shaped my personality, but I'm convinced I wouldn't be as strong or as resilient as I am without having been chronically ill. 

What positive aspects can you find to your chronic illness?