There are some places that feel like home, no matter where in the world you are.

And then there are some places that feel like the home you'd love to come home to every day. Mr. Hanbury's Mason's Arms, also known as the Artist's Residence Oxfordshire, is one such place.

I was lucky enough to visit the Artist's Residence on the eve of my birthday last week, whisked away after work to a pub dinner at this idyllic little inn in the countryside (a staycation for us really, as it was a super-handy 20 minute drive from home!). The food and relaxed atmosphere (and FOOD) won me over quickly - I had the house burger and J the beer battered hake and chips, both of which were fantastic. We ate outside in the setting evening sun, warmed further by pints of local lager and cider - if you ever find yourself in a pub in the Cotswolds, ask for Freedom! You won't be disappointed.

After a lazy wander around the grounds and a meander at the vegetable patch, we decided to trot down the road and back, before heading upstairs to our loft room. We had a note left on our room that this was a birthday celebration and the room selected of the five at the property didn't disappoint at all - airy, bright, decorated with humour and style - as soon as we walked in we were picking out all the bits and pieces we'd want in our own future home.

And the devil really is in the detail, the bits and pieces - locally procured snacks, the arran wool throw on the bed and the fluffy pillows and thick towels - right down to the Dyson Airblade to keep the room cool because the old inn had no AC! And then... there was the bathroom.

Roll top bath deep enough to swim in, rainfall shower with subway tiles, and spa-worthy Bramley bath products made this one of the most relaxing evenings in I've ever had. I ran myself a hot, long bubble bath, face mask'd up, and settled in with a podcast. Blissful.

It's also worth mentioning we had a deep, uninterrupted sleep, but our room did overlook the pub gardens - whilst this was a week night and the noise didn't bother us at all, I can't say that this would be the case at the weekend. That being said, the night was the best sleep I've had in a while, and waking up to an included(!) full English breakfast with tea on tap and fresh orange juice meant that I went home a very giddy Tami. This was bar-none one of the best overnight stays I've had full stop, let alone in Oxfordshire, and definitely one to put on your to-visit list if Oxford or the Cotswolds are in your travel plans. Now, when can I move in?

It's here. IT IS MY BIRTHDAY MONTH. I hope the bunting and champagne are ready but most of all, I hope there is to be cake. To be honest with you, I'm typing this a day or so after some pretty extravagant birthday celebrations have already taken place, so I'm feeling a bit like a quiet couple days before my big day this Friday. I'll be turning 29 - 29!! - the last birthday of my twenties. And even though that's a daunting thought, and maybe even a sad one, I'm excited for what's to come. Your twenties, especially your late twenties, can feel like the most awkward, painful, and amazing growing pains as you become who you are, the adult you're going to be. For the first time, maybe ever, but definitely since leaving home, I feel like I know who that is, that I'm happy with where I'm at and where I'm going, and I know I can count on myself to navigate what's ahead.

Summer is well and truly here in the UK, with heatwaves, downpours and 13 degree days all jumbled in to the hodge-podge that is this time of year. July and August are usually amongst my favourite months, not least because weekends are full of plans and most of them are celebratory! It's also the time of year I get to see my parents and that is really precious. Most of all I look forward to long evenings reading, after work giggling in beer gardens and finding the time to catch up with old friends in London. It's going to be a hell of a month!

SEE: Sorry not sorry for the basic bitch answer, but there is only Game of Thrones for me this month. We have been waiting over a year and now, at long last, the new season is only a few weeks away. I had a nightmare the other night that the first episode wasn't that good, that's how anxious I am for it. 

LISTEN: Things I was not expecting in June - 4.44 to be released, and for it to be what it is. I've also been totally obsessed with Biking (surprise surprise) and the new HAIM video

GO: There's a new address in town I'm dying to try - the Artist's Residence Oxfordshire which is over in South Leigh - a dreamy little country pub, restaurant and hotel which is nestled in a lovely little spot of green, perfect for a weekend staycation of relaxing! 

EAT: In June I was so lucky to get to spend a couple of weekends unexpectedly with my parents, and after a long day in the sun at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, we stopped off in Burford for some food at The Mermaid in Burford, which was a nice spot for a Sunday roast and a tipple!

DRINK: I have become a coffee drinker. In the space of a month. And now I find that I can't quite wake up without one. I know - bad habit. But in the summer, is there actually anything better than a Jimmys iced coffee to pep your morning? No, basically. 

WEAR: I did end up buying a birthday dress, and it was this one from Topshop - the fit is incredible, it's so comfy and it looks banging on. Can't ask for any more than that!

READ: As part of my book club last month I picked up (and devoured) Autumn by Ali Smith, which has become one of my favourite books of all time. Full review coming soon, but get your hands on it as soon as you can - it's masterful. I can't wait to go and pick up 'How To Be Both', as this was my first venture into her work and I JUST loved it!

THINK: Lift. I feel a bit of a picking up of myself is necessary and finally think I have the headspace to get 'er done. Time to look forward, get stuck in to everything ahead of me and relish all of the time I have to make things happen that I love to be a part of. Hopefully, now, the only way is up.

It feels like forever since I've done a general favourites-style round-up, and seeing as we've reached the half year point of 2017 (I know, how?!), now felt like a good time to chat through what's been floating my boat lately in terms of skincare and beauty. There have been quite a few standouts of 2017 but these 6 are the creme de la creme - the ones that have made the biggest change to my routine. So let's get into what makes them so fab!

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser: I'm starting with this one because I've reviewed it most recently and I'm going to say the least about it - everything I need to say is in this post in detail. However, it deserves a nod because it has literally changed my morning and evening skincare routine. Je regrette rien. The only thing I'm worried about is the day this runs out if Glossier hasn't reached UK shores!

MAC Liptensity in Smoked Almond: MAC just bringing it again with the everyday nude staple! This colour is a more intense, matte version of Patisserie - when I'm looking to do a bit more of a face for work, this is my most-often reached for colour. The formula is intense, comfortable and dries down to a matte but goes on fairly smoothly - it's one of the more comfortable matte formulas I've tried for a good amount of colour payoff and staying power. For me it comes off in a comfortable place between a 90s style brown nude and a 'my lips but better' colour - the swatches at Temptalia do it justice. A fantastic staple, I really want to try more from this formula.

Ultrasun Face SPF 30: It has reached that tiny passage of time in England that we call 'summer' and there's been something of a heatwave going on in recent days (I know, try not to scare it off), so SPF has become necessary again. Having used up all my tried-and-trues during my recent holiday to Dubai, I tried this sample over the weekend and I have to say, for a fuss-free facial SPF that does the job, this is great. Simple, no white cast, and protective - everything you need!

It! Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+: I'll be doing a more in-depth review of this baby soon but suffice it to say that since I purchased this, it has replaced my other bases as my everyday wear choice. I wear this to work and it looks natural, glowy, and matte but not uncomfortable on the skin. It doesn't settle into creases or leave any dry patches, but I would suggest wearing a hydrating primer underneath if your skin verges on the parched side. I love the way this makes my skin look and I've even had compliments on how radiant I've looked when I've worn it. Winner.

Bite Beauty Multistick in Almond: Oh Bite Beauty, how do I love thee. These multisticks are genius and this brown nude is absolutely stunning - I'll wear it as a statement lip if I want to go for a 'look', but where I've been getting a ton of use out of this is as an everyday blush shade. If I'm stuck for where to go, this colour always just brings a lot of life to my cheeks and helps pull everything together. I've not tried this as an eye shade yet but I'd be wary as the formula is quite drying and I tend to get eczema on my eyelids. However I've only read good things, so maybe this is something I just need to bite the bullet and try!

Garnier Micellar Water for Sensitive Skin: I didn't think anything could replace Bioderma as my favourite micellar but wouldn't you know it, Garnier have gone and done it. This is simple, weightless, powerful for removing eye make up that even Bioderma struggled with sometimes, and I love the way it doesn't dry out my skin. It has totally kicked out all other make up removers for me, and the price point is so great, I cannot fault it. Stocking up, big time! 

I've been slacking a little on checking in with myself since around the start of spring - after kick-starting my year focused on goals, making time for yoga and meditation, and being mindful, by April life had taken over again. With a new job, a holiday and plenty of plans for the weekends, everything else seemed to fall by the wayside. But just like with all the things we do to keep ourselves healthy - when you don't keep on top of your shit, you notice. So I'm making a promise to myself to make time for this stuff, and have a very mindful summer. Here's how I make time, even when it seems like I haven't got any.

1) Calmversation - Sometimes, muting WhatsApp can be necessary. I've talked before about putting your phone on flight mode, even deleting your Facebook and Twitter apps to quieten the 'noise' of your smart phone. But if you can't quite cut off completely, try to keep as many of your interactions with friends and family face to face or to voice/Skype calls. There's something I find really anxiety inducing from time to time about doing lots of back and forth texting or getting into long group WhatsApps - it almost feels like a pace-setting exercise. Keeping conversations where you can see and hear the intention behind what someone is saying, as well as taking the time to focus solely on them, just helps to press pause on the excess noise.

2) Stop, breathe and think - I'm not going to lie, I am a bit of a sucker for an app to solve my problems. Having said that, I really think this one is a goodie. You check in with how you're feeling that day, both physically and emotionally, and based on your answers the app recommends guided meditations for you to follow. I'm still relatively new to this so I don't know how extensive the library of free meditations are, but thus far - VERY impressed.

3) Have a conversation with your intuition - Yep, we're going woo-woo, but this amazing trick from The Lively Show really changed my life. I wrote a whole blog post about it last year, but long story short, this is a great way to check in with yourself and get insight into what you're really feeling beyond the day to day grumbles.

4) Sketch it out - there's a reason the adult colouring book market was the fastest growing in publishing last year - in our ever quickening world, people got wise to the joy of single-task focusing and getting creative with colour. I'd recommend this beautiful colouring book of Penguin book covers which my girl Jaye got for me for Christmas. 

5) Try active meditation - I totally get how you might not feel like you have time to sit down and meditate, or perhaps you think it isn't for you, but why not give this a shot - the next time you're doing something which requires some time dedicated to it - cooking or cleaning are good ones to start with - try observing your surroundings. What can you hear? What can you smell? What objects surround you? The art of noticing without judging is a great gateway into meditation and can really help bring you into the present moment and ground you. Give it a try!

The inevitable has happened - Glossier has finally found its way to the blog.

I suppose in exchange for New York snatching away a dear friend (and still somehow not permitting me to find my way over there), a little new skincare is an okayish peace offering. I was so excited for the day I'd get to try my first Glossier product, so when the little pink bubble wrapped parcel arrived on my desk, there was a little bit of nervous anticipation. Would it live up to the hype? Would it have been worth the wait? Where would I stick the free emoji stickers?

Let's keep this quick and dirty because I know you're all busy individuals with your own lives to get back to - this cleanser is awesome. Here's why -
  • It does an incredible job of removing make up
  • It's simple and hydrating
  • Rather than being a foaming wash, this is actual jelly - the texture is wobbly. It's unlike anything I've ever come across and makes cleansing an interesting experience! It doesn't strip skin at all but rather nourishes it
  • It leaves skin soft and plump to the touch
This cleanser has relegated my Pixi x Caroline Hirons cleanser to my drawer because it is that good - and to be clear, I love the dual phase cleanser by Pixi. Where this beats it is ease - I have never met a cleanser so easy to get onto and off of my mug. This will please skincare newbs and addicts like myself alike - it's paraben free, soap free, fragrance free, sulphate free and importantly - cruelty-free. My only slight gripe is the scent - as there's a high rosewater content, this does smell strongly of rose. If that's your bag then go for it, but sometimes it does catch me off-guard. Having said that, it's nowhere near enough to stop me from using this as my daily morning and evening cleanser.

An ethical brand at a price point I like with products this good is so worth the hype. Hurry up, Glossier, and get to the UK pronto!

Have you guys tried any Glossier? What would you recommend?

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