A Unicorn In A World Of Donkeys: Book Review

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to review a brand new shiny book called A Unicorn In A World Of Donkeys by Mia Michaels. It has only just been released, so I felt very lucky to get my hands on a copy before it was available to buy. I was immediately drawn to this book after reading the description: An empowerment manifesto for creatives, misfits, innovators, and disruptors.  This book is for me! In fact, I read it in just two days as I found this to be so inspirational and fell in love with the overall message – just be yourself.

What is a unicorn? In the book, Mia explains that a unicorn is someone who doesn’t fit in with the mainstream. They don’t try to look like other people or compare themselves with others and they can’t help but stand out in their originality. Unicorns tend to be creative, sensitive and most often introverted. (Yes, yes and yes).

So what is a donkey? A donkey is someone who tries to blend in, feeling uncomfortable veering too far from the mainstream. They follow trends instead of setting them and believe conformity is a good thing. Basically, they want to live a predictable, conventional and safe life.

Wow. Already I was hooked. On the donkey-unicorn spectrum I would place myself more towards the quietly creative unicorn end. If you asked me what I was during my teenage years, I would say 100% unicorn – I had bright colourful hair, dressed as far away from mainstream trends as possible, had multiple piercings, listened to a lot of punk music, dropped out of college to persue a career in drinking and rebelled against conformity. Fast-forward to now, I’m still a punk girl at heart, except I’m sober, with a degree and have taken out my piercings.

I could totally relate to a lot of Mia’s background and felt inspired by her courage and determination. Mia Michaels is an American choreographer, best known for her Emmy Award-winning appearances on So You Think You Can Dance and for her creation of the choreography for Broadways Finding Neverland. Mia’s students, peers & mentors have noted her as a dedicated, live-changing influence of positivity in their lives. Mia has a way of touching each human she encounters with passion, emotional expression, and confidence of self-love.

As with any success story, Mia had to work extremely hard from the very beginning. Her book describes her unconventional background, her numerous knock-backs in the ballet world and her pure determination to live her life to the fullest. Her story is brave and fearless. She embraces her inner misfit and uses it to her advantage to empower others into to being themselves through teaching dance.

There are twelve chapters in the book to guide and encourage you to embrace more of your unicornness. Mia writes about her experiences with isolation, loneliness, bullying and coming out the other side a stronger person. She writes about building up resilience, being brave and stepping outside of your comfort zone. At the centre of each chapter, the core message is about overcoming fear and learning to be proud of your unique and wonderful self.

The book packed with inspirational quotes and interesting stories from her experiences with other unicorns (including celebrities like Lady Gaga, Prince, Freddie Mercury and Elton John). It’s fun and interactive and above all will inspire you to turn negatives into positives and never give up chasing your dreams (even if they are unconventional and different). Thank you Mia for the boost of confidence and positivity! I know I’ll turn to this book time and time again when I’m looking for a quick pick me up to reassure myself it’s okay to be yourself and step away from the mainstream.

Click here to order yourself a copy of this awesome book!  A Unicorn In A World Of Donkeys by Mia Michaels.

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Enamel Pins from Old English Company

If you are a fan of pretty stationery, inspirational prints, cute enamel pins, funky homeware and cards for all occasions, then look no further than Old English Company. This place has it all. Old English Company are a stationery and giftware brand which make beautiful products that are uniquely hand-lettered. Their aim is to create stylish, uncomplicated designs with messages that resonate with people. I love their style and must admit I spent a long time on their website browsing all their gorgeous items. Right now, they are running a competition to win a set of their super cool enamel pins, click here to enter! 

Since blogging about the cute and quirky pins from Innabox, I have become a pin fan and these pins are perfect to add to my collection. It was tricky to pick this little selection, I wanted to buy all the pins! Go check out all the pins in their collection, I’m sure there is one or two (or twenty) that take your fancy!

Hey! Envelope Enamel Pin– I love this pin! It’s so simple and fun. The hey envelope pin has been designed with hard black enamel and finished with gold plating. It really stands out and looks so stylish and such a quirky little keepsake for those whose life revolves around e-mails and the internet.

Love Avocado Enamel Pin – I’m not entirely sure when avocados and pineapples became such fashionable fruit but it looks like they are here to stay (for now anyway until bananas get their time to shine). The heart avocado pin has been designed with hard white enamel and finished with rose gold plating. This is such a cute pin and is perfect for that avocado lover/fitness friend.

Pineapple Enamel Pin – I couldn’t choose the avocado pin without taking it’s friend the pineapple. Like the avocado, this pin has been designed with hard white enamel and finished with rose gold plating. I love the simple, stylish and fun design, they make the perfect pair don’t ya think.

You Can Heart Enamel Pin – I’m all for the motivational statements so this pin was a must for my collection. The you can pin has been designed with hard pink enamel and finished with gold plating. It’s pink and it’s inspirational – what could be better than that!

Are you a fan of enamel pins? What is your favourite pin? Don’t forget to enter the Old English Co. competition for a chance to win a set of awesome enamel pins to add to or start your very own collection. Watch this space for more Old English Co. products coming soon on the blog… Exciting!

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Soap & Glory Home Spa

This post may look like it is sponsored by Soap & Glory, but sadly it isn’t (if you are reading this Soap & Glory, I’m always available for future collaborations!). This post is in fact a little sneak peak of the things I bought with my £25 Boots Voucher which I got for my birthday. At the moment, Soap & Glory products are 3 for 2 in Boots, so go grab yourself a bargain. If you saw my last post, you will know I was lucky enough to have the most relaxing Birthday Spa Break in the New Forest. This week was back to reality, so I thought why not just create your own spa at home, so that’s exactly what I did.  I brought the New Forest Spa to my bathroom, just with slightly less horses.

Soap & Glory Glad Hair Day Ultra Shine Daily Super Shampoo (250ml) – No build-up formula with raspberry fruit vinegar, panthenol, glycerin and phytantriol to gloss, smooth, repair and strengthen. For all hair types including highlighted and heat processed. One of things I love about Soap & Glory products is the smell. This shampoo smells so fruity and summery and leaves my hair feeling soft, smooth and super clean. There is also a matching Glad Hair Day Conditioner which I have only just discovered so will definitely be adding this to my home spa routine in the future.   

Soap And Glory Pulp-Friction Foaming Fruity Body Scrub (250ml) – Get fresher, smoother and softer skin with fig powder, pumice, peppermint oil, lemonade tree liquid, orange waterjuice™ and vitaminballs™ (A,C,E). Scented with our new Fruitigo™ fragrance. Whilst the bath was running, I used the foamy fruity body scrub. I found that I didn’t need much of this as it lathers up really nicely. I expected exfoliating to be uncomfortable but this cleanses gently and you can feel it working it’s magic. I felt extra clean before I even got into the bath! 

Soap And Glory The Daily Soothe Bath Float Foamy & Super Soothing (300ml) A new super-soothing, pre-bedtime foamy tub float is seductively scented, intensely relaxing, delightfully deluxe with luxurious long-lasting suds and sleep-inducing, muscle-relaxing and aphrodisiacal actives. This was the product I was most looking forward to using in my home spa and it did not disappoint. All you need is a small scoop into the bath and it smells amazing and really foams up well. It has a lovely sweet and calming aroma – I just put on my chill out tunes, zoned out and had the most relaxing floaty experience. 

Soap And Glory Smoothie Star Deep Moisture Body Milk (500ml) – Loaded with skin-softening cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil and Soap & Glory’s WATERLOCK™ moisture-trapping matrix, it also conditions thanks to its delicious (but in this case, definitely not edible) oat, yoghurt & honey formula. After my chilled out bath, it was time to use the body milk. The smell is gorgeous and makes me feel like I’ve been rolling around in cake mix. It absorbs well and the lovely smell lasts for ages, leaving skin feeling smooth and nourished. 

Soap And Glory Hand Food Hand Cream (50ml)With moisturising shea butter, macadamia oil and marshmallow, it’s non-greasy and non-sticky. I love this hand cream so much, I’ve been using it for a while now and it was especially handy (pun intended) for travelling (See: In-Flight Essentials Bag). Like everything Soap & Glory, it has such a nice fragrance, it’s light and absorbs instantly. When you have left your home spa, it’s the perfect size to pop into your handbag and top up throughout the day to keep your skin fresh and hydrated.

Do you like the Soap & Glory range? What products would you include in your home spa? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

This post contains affiliate links which means I will receive a small commission for each purchase at no extra cost to you.

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Birthday Spa Break: Balmer Lawn, New Forest

Last week for my birthday, Shaun arranged for us both to go on a mini spa break. Exciting! Shaun did a very good job of keeping this a secret – all I knew was we were heading towards the New Forest and I’d need my bikini. The New Forest is only about 30-40 minutes on the train from where we live so it wasn’t long before the surprise was revealed. We were staying in the Balmer Lawn Hotel & Spa in Brockenhurst. Shaun chose very well (apparently he did a lot of internet spa research at work) and before long we had checked in to this super luxurious hotel and were ready to begin the relaxation.

Our room was very posh (Shaun pushed the birthday boat out and went for a superior room). We had tea, coffee and biscuits, a bath, fluffy robes and a super comfy bed. We were right on the top floor so enjoyed a very scenic view overlooking the famous Balmer Lawn complete with horses.

We had access to the leisure facilities – a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna so decided to go out for some lunch before coming back later on for an evening swim.

The Balmer Lawn is a short 5-10 minute walk from the village of Brockenhurst in the New Forest. Before we went for our walk we stopped for some obligatory Balmer Lawn photographs:

On the way into the village, the first place we happened to stumble across was The Huntsman. We were on the search for some good ol’ pub food and this place fitted the criteria. Being pretty hungry by now we didn’t waste much time making a decision and went straight on in.

I’d say it was a pretty good decision…

I ordered a roasted vegetable sandwich, with green pesto, rocket, on white rustic baguette served with crisps and coleslaw with added skinny fries. Shaun went for a similar but meaty version. This was actually from their Light Bites menu so we were pleasantly surprised with the amount of food we got. What a delicious feast!

After lunch we went on a little wander around the local area stopping to pet this chap who was happily having his lunch.

It’s not often you walk down the road and see a horse, unless of course you are in the New Forest.

In the village, we decided it was time for something sweet so found ourselves being enticed into The Buttery, a cosy little tearoom with a tempting selection of handmade cakes. I’m a big fan of rocky road anyway, but if you want something a little special, you gotta try this rocky road with creme egg, it was pretty amazing.

More horse watching.

Ha ha, this post looks like all we do is stare at horses and eat food! We did actually have a swim and chilled in the room before we ate back at the hotel restaurant for the evening meal. This is the sea trout, citrus sabayon, heritage vegetables and sea herb salad. We both agreed that this is probably the poshest meal we have ever eaten. It may not look a lot, but I gotta say it was delicious and very filling indeed.

The next day was my birthday and what a glorious sunny day it was! After breakfast we went for another swim and a walk around the hotel grounds. The hotel backs onto miles and miles of stunning open fields so we went to say hello to our new horsey friends again.

As an extra birthday treat, Shaun booked us in for a couples massage before we went home. I know, I know, how lucky am I. We had a 55 minute full body aromatherapy massage which was incredibly relaxing. We left the hotel feeling super chilled out and extremely happy that we had such a lovely birthday break.

I gotta say, every single member of staff at the Balmer Lawn hotel and spa were so friendly and helpful. We felt instantly relaxed the minute we checked in and knew we were in good hands (hah, massage pun there). The hotel is superbly situated in the beautiful New Forest and close by the the train station and village. It really was a perfect stay and a fabulous way to celebrate my birthday. A big thank you to Shaun and the Balmer Lawn! <3

Have you been to the New Forest? Which hotels and spas would you recommend? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

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