Pasta Evangelists

My favourite food is PASTA. As a vegetarian, I’ve found Italian food one of the most versatile. So when my friend recommended Pasta Evangelists – the fresh pasta subscription service – I had to try it. Here’s my review and if you want to try some yourself then follow this link to get 50% off your first order.

Unlike many food subscriptions, Pasta Evangelists food doesn’t feel like your average ready meal. This pasta is fresh, handmade and it tastes amazing. The options are always diverse and the veggie menus on offer have been really exciting. So far I’ve had mozzarella tortellini, arrabbiata fusilli, pesto gnocchi, pumpkin ravioli, mac and cheese… and I’ve got Porcini, Wild Mushroom & Chestnut Tortelloni with Thyme Butter & Hazelnuts, Tagliatelle with Ligurian Basil Pesto & Pine Nuts  and Pumpkin Lasagna on the way. I can’t wait to try them!

The ordering process is very simple. Choose a one off order or opt for a subscription to save money. There are three subscription offers: Vegetarian, Variety and Gourmet. Then pick:

  • the number of dishes you want to receive
  • the frequency (weekly, fortnightly etc)
  • when you want your pasta delivered (I go for Tuesdays so I have the delivery at the start of the week)

I like the subscription model because I can be a bit lazy cooking through the week and it’s handy to know I’m always going to have some yummy pasta stocked in the fridge for nights when I’m feeling a bit tired or uninspired.

As for delivery, the fresh pasta comes packed with cool bags and insulation.  I was really impressed with the thoughtfulness of their packaging and the best part is that you can send it all back to Pasta Evangelists for recycling so it ticks the sustainable box too.

And when the food arrives, everything is super simple. Each pasta dish comes with its own recipe card and the different elements are colour-coded so it can be easily sorted out. Typically, there are only about three or four steps to follow and they take about 10 minutes to make and the finished product is Insta-worthy.

I’ll be honest. The big downside of Pasta Evangelists is that it is a little on the expensive side. It’ll cost you about £7 or £8 per portion of pasta although you do save on the subscriptions. Having said that, I do think it’s worth it because it is restaurant-quality and the average ready meal in the supermarket costs about £3 anyway and tastes no where near as good.

And if you want to save some money you can get 50% off your first order with my family and friends referral or simply quote ‘Fourth Month’ at the checkout. With this discount, you get roughly four portions of delicious pasta for about £12.50 and I’ll get a free box too. Win, win! Already a member? You can get 5% off with the code SITE5.

P.S. I’m not affiliated with Pasta Evangelists and this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really love and believe in their products.

Keep up-to-date with my favourite things on Instagram @the.fourth.month.

Health

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the festive period and are now moving into 2019 feeling positive and excited for what lies ahead. I’ve decided to write a blog which is quite out of my comfort zone but that’s a good thing. I’m writing about…HEALTH.

Time to face the facts. I am quite an unhealthy person. I am addicted to junk food, I don’t exercise at all and my mental health is often quite poor. I’m frequently fatigued, feel low and get out of breath just walking up stairs. Yikes!

At the age of 24, this is NOT where I want to be. So I’ve decided to set myself some healthy and realistic goals for 2019 and want to invite my friends and family – and anyone who is interested – to join me on my journey.

Goal sharing

The main reason for sharing this very personal journey with you right now is because there are proven benefits of goal sharing and I am much more likely to achieve if I have said it out loud. Mostly because it keeps me accountable for my actions. I see you all as my accountability partners. If you’re interested in the psychology behind goal sharing I found this blog a helpful read.

What do I want to achieve?

  1. Activity. I don’t intend to join a gym and go to 4+ fitness classes a week. I have tried to throw myself in at the deep end in the past and failed to achieve consistency several times. I want to increase my activity by walking more, driving less, getting the stairs instead of lifts and generally standing more. After all, standing is the new smoking. I would also like to attend yoga for both physical and mental reasons.
  2. Nourish. I am NOT on a diet. I have been dieting on-and-off since I was about 16 and so far I am still overweight. I’ve tried Slimming World, Cambridge Weight Loss, Ketogenic diet etc and, personally, I find they work in the short-term but I gain weight quickly after. I’m not disparaging those who find this works because I know it does for lots of people. In 2019, I want to take a non-diet approach which focuses on adding lots of healthy, colourful and nourishing food to my diet and where possible ditching high processed carbs and sugary foods. I’m not restricting myself and I’m not punishing myself or attaching morals (‘good’ and ‘bad’) to food because it’s incredibly unhelpful to me. I’m sure you all know how it feels to be on a diet then fall off the wagon with a Chinese or pizza and you beat yourself up about it and make yourself feel like a failure. Not good. If you want to know more about a non-diet approach to eating, have a read at this blog.
  3. Relax. Stress is a huge factor in all of our lives and it’s something I want to become better at managing – mostly through my first goal of activity but also through regular meditation practices. I will also work on using social media less because this is a huge factor in feeling a bit rubbish about myself. I wrote a blog called Breaking Up With The Internet a while ago which talks about this in more detail.
  4. Sleep. I have been fortunate to never really suffer from insomnia. Unfortunately though I have had long bouts of hypersomnia where I find myself needing to sleep for 12-14 hours every day to feel remotely human. To work on having better quality sleep I plan to reduce my caffeine intake, reduce time spent in front of a screen and create a positive sleep routine which I follow as much as possible. I actually wrote a blog about sleep a while ago which you can read here.

What to expect

I want to write regularly about my health journey and share tools and resources that I have found helpful along the way.

I would also like to share the stories of friends and family who have successfully managed to change their health for the better using lifestyle so please do get in touch if you have any tips.

Love April x

April 2018 Favourites

It’s officially been one year since Jamie and I moved into our flat and if you’ve been following The Fourth Month on Instagram you will see I’ve been really interested in interiors over the past 6 months or so. This is partly because I’ve been working in a stunning country and period interiors store, Saks and Hart, since January. And partly because I’ve also been trying to make our rented flat feel more like home.

So most of my favourites for April 2018 are interiors related but I’m hoping to do something bookish shortly since I’ve been reading a bit more lately.

Let me know what you think of my faves this month and I’d love to hear what you’ve purchased recently.

Enjoy x 


Rae Dunn artisan collection by Magenta

I’ve been drooling over Rae Dunn pottery on Instagram for a while now. They are just the perfect addition to any farmhouse-style home. They’re so unique and the use of font really appeals to the publisher in me. So on my birthday, when Jamie asked me what I wanted, he was a bit surprised when I said I wanted… bowls. TK Maxx are currently stocking a small amount of Rae Dunn for a very reasonable price. I got my bowls for £3.99 each and my ‘Let’s Eat’ platter for about £12.


Stone jug and eucalyptus

IMG_3058

This is one of my favourite Saks & Hart purchases! It’s a very rustic and traditional style stone jug and I’ve paired it with two stems of artificial eucalyptus. I’m currently filling out our flat with artificial flowers and greenery to give it a vibrant springtime feel. I just think the splash of green makes a home feel more lived in. The jug was only £15 and it’s still available in the Dalgarven, Kilwinning store. You can also get something really similar at Homes Direct 365 and you can get three sprigs of eucalyptus on Amazon for £8.99.


Bobble Bath Mat from Cologne and Cotton

IMG_3257

This bathmat was another Instagram discovery and when I saw it, I knew I had to have it. This adorable little bath mat trimmed with fun bobbles was an ideal addition to my neutral bathroom. It’s 100% pure cotton, fully washable and it feels so soft when you step onto it. Plus it’s only £16, which I thought was a bargain for such a good quality product!


Birchbox UK x Cath Kidston (April 2018)

IMG_3289.JPG

I used to subscribe to Birchbox a while ago but cancelled to save pennies. However, when they announced their Cath Kidston collaboration, there was no way I was missing out. I’m obsessed with Cath Kidston – I have Cath Kidston mugs, socks, a hot water bottle, purse, meal planner… the list goes on. So I had to get this gorgeous Birchbox. I was slightly disappointed because one of my products arrived dirty but I’ve reported this to Birchbox and hopefully it will get sorted. Other than that I was in love. That gorgeous Cath Kidston print and a Cath Kidston hand cream! I also got a lovely brow gel, mini blush, mini highlighter, a make up brush cleaner, free Spectrum brush, and hair volume spray. All for only £12.95 (including postage). I’d say that’s pretty good going.

If you fancy subscribing and trying Birchbox yourself, follow this link and you’ll receive £5 off your first box!* 


WHAT ARE YOU LOVING THIS APRIL? WE ARE STARTING TO SEE SUNSHINE AND IT’S TIME TO WELCOME PASTEL COLOURS AND FLORAL EVERYTHANG. DO YOU HAVE ANY GO-TO PRODUCTS FOR SPRING? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS OR ON INSTAGRAM.

*for the sake of transparency, I will also receive £5 off when you sign up

Upcycling project: TV unit

Recently I completed my first upcycling project and although it’s not perfect, I am really pleased with the overall finished result and thought I would share the process with all of my readers.

I was really inspired to start upcycling by my good friend Victoria and Jo from @littlevillagehouse on Instagram, who have both created some amazing pieces through recycling old furniture.

So Victoria and I ventured off to local charity shops to see what I could find. Because Jamie and I live on a budget, most of my furniture is secondhand (from family members) or bits and pieces from Ikea so I was really excited about the prospect of having something unique to call my own. I had been looking at corner TV units online for a long time. I had been drooling over the Huxley Corner TV Stand from Next but I just couldn’t warrant the price tag at this stage in our lives/careers.

I found this sturdy corner TV unit at a charity shop in Kilmarnock for only £10. Instantly, I had a vision of how it could look with grey paint and fresh handles. I love country and farmhouse style furniture and accessories (even though I live in a top-floor flat in a busy town) so I could definitely imagine the unit fitting in perfectly.

My friend had lots of furniture paint leftover from her own projects so we used that to paint it. It was Rust-Oleum’s ‘chalky finish’ furniture paint in the colour Flint, which you can get in Homebase or Argos. Before painting, we gave it a light key with fine sandpaper to help the paint stick. It really didn’t need much so if you’re doing this yourself make sure you’re not too heavy-handed.

After sanding, we used a combination of a small sponge paint roller, for large flat areas, and a little paint brush, for corners and edges. Once the paint was dry, Victoria kindly touched up any rough spots and – voila – it was ready for its new home. Depending on the desired finish, you might want to use more than one coat but I like the shabby-chic look and felt the one coat gave great coverage.

The original handles were cute and gave a vintage feel to the unit but because I wanted to give it a complete facelift, I decided to replace the old handles with farmhouse-style cup handles and picked a cute knob for the main cupboard in the centre. These were super cheap from Amazon. The cup handles were only £2.79 for 6 and the knob was £2.90. Click on the images below to get your own!

Screenshot 2018-02-23 13.29.52Screenshot 2018-02-23 13.29.45

Overall, I am so pleased with the finished result and it feels magical that not only do I have a piece of unique furniture that I really like, and that cost me less than £30 in total, but that I made it with my own hands. As someone that suffers periodically with bouts of bad mental health, I’ve found creative projects like this to be super helpful and healing. There are a couple of chipped bits around the base, which I need to sort out, but imperfections are a part of life so who cares? There is something amazing about seeing it in my living room and knowing that it’s one-of-a-kind and special to us.

What do you guys think? Have you tried some upcycling?

IMG_2945.JPG

Follow me on Instagram for more home and interiors updates!

Friction Free Shaving razor subscription

I’ve been meaning to blog about Friction Free Shaving’s razor subscription for a while because I think more people need to know about it. This post is in no way endorsed or sponsored by FFS; I just love their products!

Friction Free Shaving (FFS) is a genius service that you need in your life.* This is a life-saver if, like me, you’re a bit low-maintenance or forgetful. Using old blades is so bad for your skin; is unhygienic; and prevents you from getting a really close shave. With monthly or bimonthly deliveries, I never have to remember to pick up fresh blades at the supermarket and my legs can be silky smooth at all times. Plus it’s really good value for money.

*if you choose to shave! The choice is totally up to you, of course, and you should never feel obligated to remove any of your body hair. If you rock natural hair, good, If you don’t, good. Your body = your choice. 

When you first order from FFS, you get to choose from three razors ranging from £5 to £9 (Rose, Silvia and Frankie). You can even get your razor engraved for ultimate personalisation (free engraving worth £6 if you click here*) and pick some add-ons like pre-, post- and during shaving creams and balms. The more luxurious options include a stunning rose-gold metal razor with 6 blades and the world’s first chrome razor designed especially for women. I went for the basic Frankie razor with 3 ceramic coated blades and a lubricating vitamin E strip for extra moisture. It feels heavy and sturdy and the blade has 90-degree movement, which is great for around the ankles and knees. Plus it’ll only set you back £5.

Once I received my first order (the razor and a set of 4 refills), I could choose to have my refills delivered straight to my doorstep at a frequency that suits me (every month or every second month). I get the Frankie blades delivered every two months, which suits me perfectly, as I can change my blade every two weeks. But if you would like to change them weekly, you could go for the monthly delivery.

I’d also like to point out that the customer service at FFS is amazing. I have to admit that I considered cancelling my subscription during winter because, let’s face it, your shaving frequency is significantly less than during the summer months. However, instead of cancellation, the lovely Amber at Friction Free Shaving offered to put me on their ‘winter setting’ which allowed me to either swap my next set of blades for one of their tubed products or postpone my subscription to give me time to use up the blades that I currently have. I thought this was a great personal touch because I didn’t want to cancel forever but I didn’t want to waste my cash on surplus refills. 

So if like me, you are always looking for ways to maximise productivity in your day-to-day life, subscribe to FFS and you’ll never have to remember to buy fresh razor blades again and you can feel safe in the knowledge that you’re getting a super hygienic, smooth shave every time.

Click here to get FREE razor engraving worth £6 using code NUFE9H*

 

*Total transparency: You get free engraving and I receive £3 credit towards my FFS orders whenever one of you lovely people join the FFS gang.

2017: Most Popular Posts

How on earth is January almost over? I intended to write up a ‘2018 goals’ post but time has escaped me – maybe I still can. As always, a big goal for me is to keep up the momentum on The Fourth Month. I’ve been posting more regularly on The Fourth Month Instagram account so it’s now time to produce more content for the blog.

The Fourth Month journey began back in Summer 2016 when I broke my leg and was relegated to the sofa for about 5 weeks. Since then I’ve focused on books, interiors, wellbeing and general lifestyle posts. Like I did last year, I thought I’d share the top posts of the year to say farewell to 2017 and hullo to 2018.

5. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES BY SARAH J MAAS

img_4588

This review of A Court of Thorns and Roses was my first blog post in 2017 and you guys seemed to enjoy reading my thoughts. It was a book that left me feeling torn. I loved some of the characters and the magical world they inhabit but a lot of this story is problematic. Its troublesome Beauty and the Beast tropes (Stockholm Syndrome and sexual violence) made me feel uneasy but Maas created such a rich and exciting world full of powerful and mysterious characters with this series. I’ve yet to read ACOMAF and, at this point, I doubt I will. Check out my review and let me know what you think.

4. A PUBLISHING POSTGRAD UPDATE

The fourth most popular post in 2017 was my publishing postgrad update. It’s one of the few, if not only, personal posts I’ve written for The Fourth Month. This makes me wonder if you would like to see more personal blogs (let me know in the comments or send me a message). Since writing this in April last year, things have changed even more. I left my job at the Publishing Bureau to pursue work as a Library Assistant. Working with books and children is really my dream job! And, of course, I graduated with a Distinction in MSc Publishing in October last year, which was a massive achievement.

3. 10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GOING TO UNIVERSITY

IMG_1297

Guest blogger, Zina, makes two appearances in the Top 5 of 2017. This is a witty and in-depth look at the trials and tribulations of University life. It’s a great read for anyone considering going to University but it also resonates with anyone who is at or has been to Uni. This uplifting list hopefully put a few minds at ease last year and I’m sure it’ll stay relevant every year as new students move on to higher education.

2. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: BOOKS BY FIERCE FEMALES

I am so happy that this list of fiercely feminist books made it to the top of my most-viewed posts in 2017. This post was requested by a friend but it has clearly been enjoyed by many readers. The list featured some of my favourite authors from Charlotte Brontë to Jessie Burton. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you would like see more bookish lists on The Fourth Month.

1. VANITY FEMME GLOW DUST REVIEW

img_3515

Stealing the limelight yet again, Zina’s review of Vanity Femme Glow Dust has made the top spot for 2017 (it was also the most viewed blog in 2016). This sparkly review of a cult-classic highlighter gets hits almost every day so I’ve asked my gorgeous make-up artist sister to start writing some make-up reviews in 2018. Follow her on Instagram and subscribe the The Fourth Month to make sure you don’t miss a thing.


Follow me on Instagram for more updates!

September favourites

You may have noticed some recent changes to The Fourth Month. I’m now residing at thefourthmonth.blog and pages like Food, Wellbeing and Shopping have returned to the site. In February, I wrote a blog about Changes, where I announced The Fourth Month would focus solely on the publishing industry and books. However, since I made this ‘niche’ for myself, I found myself completely uninspired. So I’ve decided to go back to my roots and The Fourth Month will be a mix and match of anything and everything once again.

In the spirit of embracing chaos, I am starting a monthly ‘favourites’ blog, which will be a list of random products from books and magazines to beauty and candles to delicious foodie treats.

Enjoy x


Breathe & Teen Breathe Magazine

I featured Issue One of Breathe Magazine in a blog last year (August 2016 Home Inspiration) when I first discovered this amazing publication. A year on and they have recently launched their sister magazine, Teen Breathe, which aims to help teens and young adults find a bit of peace and quiet in their hectic, social-media driven lives. The beautiful illustrations and peaceful content of Breathe magazines have resonated with me from day one. A year later and I’m still enjoying every issue. Not only does it look great on your coffee table but it’s bursting with ideas to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. I also think it’s pretty inexpensive as far as luxury magazines go. I recently subscribed so that I never miss an issue – I love it that much!

Get an annual subscription to Breathe for your Amazon Kindle.

If you’d like me to do a full review of the recent issues of Breathe magazine then please comment below or drop me a line at thefourthmonth@icloud.com.

Rustic bath shelf from Sainsbury’s

IMG_1993.JPG

Face cloths from Asda, candles from Aldi and Wax Lyrical UK, face mask and body scrub from Lush Cosmetics

I’ve been desperate for a bath shelf for AGES. I love running a hot bubble bath after a stressful day and some over-the-bath storage is the perfect addition to a soak in the tub. I picked this up in Sainsbury’s – their homeware selection is gorgeous – and I like to use it to show off my favourite bath time products: some rolled-up face cloths, Lush cosmetics and a couple of gorgeous candles. It’s like my own mini spa. There’s also room for a glass of wine (or two). If you’re on a budget, you can up-cycle an old wooden shelf for the same (if not better) effect.

Aldi Lime, Basil and Mandarin Candle

This Jo Malone dupe is getting ALL THE HYPE lately and I can see why. At £3.99, this supermarket candle will cost you 90% less than the real deal. While I’m not convinced about the ethics behind such a cheap dupe, I can confidently say that this candle smells just like the Jo Malone original and leaves a long-lasting, strong fragrance in the air. It also looks really luxurious and mimics the classic Jo Malone style beautifully. Ultimately, I will probably continue to splash out on a real Jo Malone candle once in a blue moon because you always get what you pay for but this Aldi dupe will definitely keep me going in-between – I’ve already bought three!

Mini lavender pots

I love a bargain! So I was pretty excited when I saw this set of three artificial miniature lavender plants in a cream wire basket reduced to £7 in Tesco. I skipped to the checkout and to my delight, these cuties were reduced even further – to £1.70! I couldn’t believe it. I love seeing these lavender plants perched on my kitchen windowsill every morning. I haven’t seen them in any local Tesco stores since and I can’t find them online but you can get a similar set from Melody Maison for only £8.95.

Try adding a couple of drops of real lavender essence to give some authenticity your artificial plants. Lavender oil has some wonderful healing properties which make it a great bedtime companion.

Lazy Sunday Coffee

Jamie and I recently bought a coffee grinder and French Press from IKEA so that we could enjoy freshly ground coffee in the mornings instead of instant. However, I often find fresh coffee too strong or too bitter but I was pleasantly surprised by Taylor’s of Harrogate’s ‘Lazy Sunday’ coffee. With hints of hazelnut and citrus, these coffee beans don’t claim to be “knock-your-socks-off, drag-you-awake coffee.” Instead, this is “coffee for lie-ins and Sunday papers, for lazy mornings with your feet on the sofa.” If I was a cup of coffee, this is what I would be.

You can buy three bags of Taylors of Harrogate Lazy Sunday Medium Roast Ground Coffee for £8.65 on Amazon.

On the subject of coffee, we’re thinking about getting a proper barista coffee machine for our Christmas this year. Do you have any recommendations or know of any coffee machines we should steer clear of? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Instagram.


What are you loving this September? The weather is cooling and it’s time to break out the hats and scarves again. Do you have any go-to products for Autumn? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.

Tidelines Book Festival 2017

Yes, The Fourth Month blog still lives. I’m back to write about a book festival taking place in my very own hometown later this year. Forget about the Fringe! Tidelines is North Ayrshire’s only independent book festival. This year’s Tidelines festival (21-24 September) boasts Chris Brookmyre, 404 Ink, drams of whisky, banned books and prohibition cocktails amongst 18  fantastic events which will take place in 4 venues around Irvine’s Harbourside area.

Tidelines Book Festival 2017 is a book festival not just for bookish folk like me. The events range from TV drama to soul music to murder mysteries and fairy stories. A schools programme runs alongside the 18  events so there is plenty for the whole family to enjoy. This includes The McDougalls, who I can now vouch for as being wonderfully entertaining after a lively performance of Ally Bally at this year’s programme launch.

I’ve already booked tickets for Fiona Rintoul’s introduction of Whisky Island. Guests can enjoy three tasting drams as Fiona Rintoul’s new book celebrates the Isle of Islay, its people and eight legendary whisky distilleries. I’m looking forward to the book discussion but Jamie might be more excited about the whisky tasting.

I’m incredibly excited to take part in some of the events at the end of September and I think it’s a wonderful accolade that my hometown is hosting such a varied and inclusive event. Please support the festival by joining in! The full programme details are available at www.tidelinesbookfest.com. Tickets are now on sale from the Harbour Arts Centre and prices range from £5 to £8.


“Tidelines will serve you a feast of exciting authors, ready to enrich your love of reading and your passion for ideas. Get involved. Book your places. And see you there at Tidelines 2017, your very own festival of writing talent on your very own doorstep.” – Andrew O’Hagan