Tuesday, 31 December 2013

December Empties


It's hard to believe we've finished 2013 already, and tomorrow we'll be heading into the New Year - is it just me, or has this year flown!? December in particular has gone really quickly for me, although it always does with being so busy. I've sadly not managed to blog as much as I'd like due to other commitments but it's still been a pretty good month for me, and I've also finished up a fair few products! Read on to see my thoughts on this bunch of empty bottles.
December 2013 Empties
December Empties 2
W7 HD Foundation I'm so sad to have finished this foundation! I seem to have gone through it really quickly but it has lasted a good couple of months and I've been wearing it almost every day as I love it so much! The shade matches my skin perfectly, it blends well and gives a great coverage, and lasts reasonably well on my oily skin - everything I look for in foundation, for a bargain price.
Repurchase? Yes!!!
Neal's Yard Bee Lovely to Your Hands Hand Cream This was a magazine freebie a few months ago which I've really enjoyed using; it hydrates really nicely and has a gorgeous citrus scent which makes it a pleasure to use. It does leave my hands feeling a little greasy and I was really annoyed by the way the writing rubbed off the packaging after a few weeks; this tended to stick to my freshly-hand-creamed hands and leave me covered in little black and blue bits, which I didn't appreciate. Overall, though, this was lovely.
Repurchase? Probably not as it's outside my budget at the moment, and I do prefer L'Occitane if I was to buy something in a similar price range.
Batiste Tropical Dry Shampoo Biiiig can - they work out cheaper when the smaller cans aren't on offer, and they're half price at Superdrug at the moment so I've stocked up! I couldn't be without my Batiste, my hair would need washing daily otherwise, so this is an absolute essential for me and I love the Tropical scent.
Repurchase? Already have.
Macadamia Deep Repair Mask This tub has lasted me around a year, although admittedly I have alternated it with other hair masks. Nonetheless, a little goes a long way so whilst it seems expensive, you do get fairly good value for money. It also does a great job of really intensively conditioning my hair, leaving it soft, smooth and shiny.
Repurchase? Maybe, once I've finished up some other hair masks.
Naked Coco de Mer Body Butter I really love this body butter, the scent isn't my favourite but for moisturisation it's amazing, particularly in the Winter. I actually purchased a tub of this for my Nan for Christmas, along with a little bundle of other Naked goodies, as she suffers with eczema as badly as I do and I've found this perfect for rehydrating any dry and sore bits. I also love that you get 300ml which is a good-sized tub, and it's less than half the price of The Body Shop's body butters (which I also love!)
Repurchase? Yes!
December Empties
Naked Volume Body Building Shampoo My staple shampoo from Naked, this is perfect for my thick but fine hair which tends to go oily quite quickly - it smells lovely and leaves my hair feeling clean, and is pretty reasonably priced as well. This must be about my sixth bottle of it!
Repurchase? Already have, although I'm currently trialling Naked's Brunette Radiance range - expect a review post on that very soon!
OPI Nail Envy I was amazed at the difference this little beauty made to my nails in terms of peeling and flaking, and it's also turned out to be a pretty good base coat, so I was pretty sad to see the end of it. I put off ordering a new bottle since it's quite pricey, but my nails went downhill fast without it, so I ended up reordering from the same Amazon seller I got my original bottle from. This really is a game changer for me and I won't let myself run out again!
Repurchase? Yes!!
Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub It seems to have taken me absolutely ages to finish off the last little bit of this, but the jar is finally empty - I really enjoyed using this because of the lovely bubblegum flavour, and found it effective for exfoliating my lips.
Repurchase? Maybe, although I did pick up the Santa's Lip Scrub when it was half price at Lush in the sales, so not for a while!
Witch Blemish Stick This featured in my Evening Skincare Routine post earlier in the year and is an essential for me, helping to treat spots and calm down my temperamental skin. However, I recently purchased the Gel rather than the stick and have to say I love the gel even more, so this may be the last time the stick features in my Empties posts!
Repurchase? Probably not, as I prefer the gel version.
Naked Silky Smooth Starflower Body Wash Another product which seems to feature almost monthly in these posts; I love the spicy cinnamon-y scent and the fact that this body wash doesn't upset my sensitive skin! It's also perfect for bubble bath for the little ones, meaning I can bath my stepdaughters without my hands turning into a red flaky mess - bonus!
Repurchase? Already have - in fact I stocked up as it's currently half price at Boots!
So, those are my December Empties! Have you posted an Empties post this month? Have you tried any of these products?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Blogger Secret Santa

First up - sorry for my extended absence! Some of you will know I was working night shifts in the run up to Christmas and that, along with being ill, basically ate up all my time so blogging unfortunately had to take a back seat. Things may still be a little hectic into the New Year as I'll hopefully be starting my new job on the 6th, but theoretically speaking should settle down after that. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas - did you get up to anything exciting?
Alright, down to business: having missed out on a Secret Santa last year due to budget issues, I was super keen to get involved so when I read that Vicki from A Life of Geekery was organising one, I was quick to sign up. With a budget of £15, we were each given a blogger to shop for, although I won't give away the surprise as to who I bought for just yet - I'll update with a link when she posts about it! Today I'm sharing the beautiful gift which Raphaëlle sent me. It was so beautifully wrapped but I forgot to take a photo of it before unwrapping - though I did Instagram it here when I received it.
Bloggers Secret Santa 2013
Tatty Devine Anchor Necklace
Raphaëlle sent me Benefit Prrrowl, which is a duo consisting of an iridescent mascara overcoat and a shimmery pink lipgloss, along with a beautiful baby blue anchor necklace from Tatty Devine - I love them both and will definitely be wearing the necklace a lot come Spring - once you can see jewellery for hoodies and scarves, that is! Thank you so much, Raphaëlle, for the beautiful gifts.
Did you take part in a Secret Santa this year? What did you receive? What's the best Secret Santa gift you've ever got (or given!)?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Review: Witch Blemish Gel

Recently, I purchased Witch's Blemish Gel as an alternative to their Blemish Stick, which has over the years become a staple in my skincare routine. This attracted me as you get 30ml of liquid product, as opposed to 10g in the stick version, which never seems to last me very long. So, how have I been getting on?
Review Witch Blemish Gel Title
Within the outer cardboard packaging, the Blemish Gel is packaged in a turquoise squeezy tube with a flip cap, which makes dispensing product very easy. According to the label, "For more than 40 years, Witch has used nature's clever ingredient Witch Hazel. It naturally cleanses, tones and soothes, leaving your skin perfectly balanced, soft and healthy-looking. That is why we use it in all our products. Trust nature, trust Witch. Witch Blemish Gel instantly absorbs deep into your pores, cooling your skin and dissolving excess oils. Deep cleanses by tackling the source of blemishes. Great for all skin types but especially oily/combination skin. As with all skincare products use with caution on sensitive skin."
Witch Blemish Gel Review
I've been applying this after cleansing each evening, before bed. The gel absorbs easily into the skin and doesn't leave behind any noticeable reside or sticky feeling, so should be fine to wear under make-up as well. I've been a bit poorly recently and, along with working nights at work, my poor skin has been a bit stressed and showing up a few more blemishes. However, I have found that the Witch Blemish Gel works really well to dry any spots out - mostly overnight, although the bigger beasts have taken a couple of days.
Review Witch Blemish Gel
For me, this works even better than the Blemish Stick and I'll probably be sticking with the Gel in future! Obviously if you do have sensitive skin then, as stated, you should be careful using this, but otherwise I think it's a lovely product which does exactly what it claims.
Witch Blemish Gel Ingredients
[Ingredients: Aqua, Alcohol Denat, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Twig Extract, 
Propylene Glycol, Alcohol, Polysorbate-20, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, 
Panthenol, Parfum, Disodium EDTA, Hyaluronic Acid, Citronellol, Geraniol, 
Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool, CI 42090.]
Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of alcohol in skincare products, but with spot treatments it can often be ideal to dry the blemish out; aside from the alcohol, there's nothing on this list that concerns me aside from the Parfum, which may irritate sensitive skins.
This is definitely a product I'd recommend if your skin is prone to blemishes, and one which will become a permanent addition to my skincare routine. Witch Blemish Gel has an RRP of £3.29 for 35ml of product, and is available from Boots, amongst other retailers.
Have you tried Witch's Blemish Gel? What's your swear-by blemish treatment product?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Gift Guides #4: Kids

Today we're onto the fourth post in my Christmas Gift Guides series; kids! Personally I've been buying for my step-kids, but you may be shopping for your own children, younger siblings, nieces and nephews, or even the children of friends. I think it can be quite hard to know what a child will like, particularly if you don't spend a lot of time with them, since their tastes and preferences can change almost overnight! That said, I think I've got quite a few fairly safe options on this list, so hopefully you'll find something to inspire you.
Christmas Gifts for Kids
1. Bluezoo Pink Cat & Dog Top Pinafore, Debenhams, £12.80-£13.60
2. Personalised Jigsaw, Photobox, from £9.99
3. The Top Gear Years, Waterstones, £5.59
4. Fuzzy Face Magnet Game, Dotcomgiftshop, £2.95
5. Mister Maker Craft Set, Amazon, £14.89
6. Traditional Wooden Skipping Rope, Dotcomgiftshop, £2.95
7. Shopping List Game, Amazon, £4.49
8. Children's Kitchen Utensils, Not on the High Street, £12.50
I'm very much the sort of person who goes gooey over baby clothes, and with friends who've had a beautiful baby girl quite recently, I couldn't resist buying her a little dress for Christmas. I adore the heart pockets on this pinafore dress! Jigsaws are always a good choice for little people, improving their fine motor skills and spatial awareness, and Photobox offer the option of printing your own photo onto one; you could get a family photo or a snap of your family pet printed for your little ones to enjoy putting back together. Teenagers can be even harder to buy for; books, I say. They may think they don't like reading, but in my experience it's just a case of finding a book that interests them - even if it is about Top Gear... Magnets seem to be a source of endless fascination in our house, so this Fuzzy Face game should provide a fair amount of entertainment, whilst also teaching them about science! Craft sets are a great way to interact with kids and let them be creative, what could possibly be more fun than gluing everything together!? This sort of craft set is really great for letting their imaginations run wild - although I'd also purchase a messy mat and some aprons to go with! Perfect for slightly older kids, a skipping rope teaches co-ordination skills and helps them burn off energy - I'm a proponent of anything that keeps them active and helps them sleep. I'm a massive lover of educational toys and games, and actually bought this shopping list game for our littlest for her birthday at the start of the month; it's been a huge hit and is great for working on their memory and spatial awareness, as well as the idea of "taking turns" - and only buying what's on the list while shopping! Finally, I think it's really important to teach kids from an early age about food - where it comes from, what goes into it, and so on. The only way children can grow up with an understanding of a healthy balanced diet is if it's taught to them, and letting them get involved in the kitchen is the perfect way - our little ones love to help out with "mixing" and stirring, so these child-sized utensils would be ideal. They're always very pleased when they get to eat the end results - "We helped with the Yorkshire puddings, didn't we, Jess?"
Are there any children you're buying for this year? What sort of gifts have you chosen? I'd love to know if you found my suggestions helpful!

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Guest Post: NOTD 'Vixen'

Today I have a little treat for you all; a fab guest post from the lovely Saida! Saida contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I'd be interested in a guest post swap, and I was thrilled to say yes please as I always enjoy reading her blog and her photography is amazing! You can pop on over to her blog to read my review of a lovely budget hand cream. So without further ado, I'll hand you over. Enjoy!
♥ ♥ ♥
Hello lovely readers of Jess’ blog! I’m Saida from Saida Cane photography. Jess has kindly agreed to let me write this review post, and she has written a post over on my blog too! Feel free to come on over and browse through my photography, lifestyle and beauty posts, I would love to hear what you think. I hope you are getting into the Christmas spirit – I can’t believe how close it is, I really do feel like a little kid again when I think about going back home for Christmas day.
Today I am going to be reviewing a nail polish which is going to be a definite favourite of mine to wear over the christmas season. It is the Revlon nail polish in 570 'Vixen', a gorgeous deep red shade which I have worn a lot already and I think it goes with pretty much any outfit. I was in boots looking for a christmassy shade, and when I came across this I couldn’t help myself as I am a big fan of Revlon nail products. It cost £6.49 but as usual it was on 3 for 2 at boots so I really had no excuse but to pick it up!
nails4
nails9 2
nails5
nails6
I think the packaging of this polish is really lovely, it almost looks like something you’d expect from high end brands, it is just sleek and simple with gold accents. The brush makes the polish really easy to apply, it is a great size and easy to work with. I usually apply two coats to get a perfect look with this, as well as applying a base and top coat just to seal it all in, and the wear time without any chipping for me is around a week, which for a drugstore product is not bad at all. Even then a little touch up is enough to fix it! I think you guys can tell that I would definitely recommend this lovely product, and you can pick it up here. I would love to know if you have used this product before, and if not, what is your favourite nail polish for the Christmas season?
I hope you have enjoyed this post, and that you all have a lovely christmas.

Saida x
[All photos in this post are c/o Saida, of course!]

My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember today is your LAST CHANCE to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms - it closes at midnight tonight!!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Gift Guides #3: Grandparents

I'm onto my third gift guide, and today I'm thinking about grandparents - sadly, I never met either of my grandfathers, but I'm lucky to still have both my Nan and my Gran. My Gran turned 90 at the end of last month, so I reckon she's due a good Christmas pressie! I find the older generation can be a little harder to buy for, personally, as they tend not to want things in the same way younger generations often do; therefore, I find, something useful is often the best way to go!
Christmas Gifts for Grandparents
1. Simon Carter Platinum Plated Owl Pendant, TK Maxx, £24.99
2. Mantaray Beige Hedgehog Embroidered Purse, Debenhams, £16
3. Parker IM Premium Metallic Pink Ball Point, WH Smith, £21
4. The Essential Diabetes Cookbook, Waterstones, £15
5. Teapigs Mug Gift Set, Teapigs, £13.50
6. Festive Hot Water Bottle, Primark, £5
7. Red Fair Isle Throw, John Lewis, £50
8. Pearl Trim Beanie, Asda, £6
9. Christmas Scented Handmade Candle, Not on the High Street, £8.50
Okay, so jewellery isn't necessarily useful, but this necklace is pretty and something I think most Grannies would appreciate and wear. A purse, on the other hand, is endlessly practical, and yet this Mantaray Hedgehog embroidered one from Debenhams is also really sweet and sure to gain endless compliments. Both my grannies are fans of making notes, keeping journals and sending hand-written notes, so a lovely pen like this one would be ideal for adding a touch of luxury to the everyday; although, knowing my Nan, it'd get lost in the bottom of one of her endless handbags within a week! Diabetes is unfortunately quite common in the older generations - both my grannies sadly struggle with it - but that's no reason to stop cooking, particularly when it's something you enjoy! This cookbook was written in association with Diabetes UK and promises diabetes-friendly yet still delicious recipes. Everyone loves a good cuppa, so this Teapigs giftset consisting of two types of tea and a lovely mug makes a perfect gift. There's a lot of concern about older people keeping warm enough during the Winter months, so I've included this lovely festive hot water bottle and blanket to help keep your loved ones cosy. The hat goes along the same lines, whilst still being stylish with the lovely knitted pattern and pearl detailing. Finally, Christmassy candles - again, a little bit more indulgent rather than practical, but I still think this would be a lovely gift and a welcome addition to anyone's home this Christmas!
So, those are my Christmas gift picks for Grandparents - I apologise if they're a little female-grandparent-oriented, but I do think they could easily be adapted - cufflinks, wallets and blue pens, for example. Do you get your grandparents Christmas gifts? What are you getting them this Christmas?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms - it closes at midnight tomorrow!!

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Christmas Tag

I've borrowed this little tag off Amy as I've been feeling super Christmassy the last few days, what with my Christmas Gift Guides posts, my Christmas nail art, and finally making some progress on my Christmas shopping! I'm so excited about Christmas this year (usually it takes me until about the 20th to get excited) and can't wait to put our tree up!
What is your favourite Christmas film?
I adore Love, Actually! I seem to watch it every year with my Mum, I just love the way there's so many stories and they slowly intertwine. And of course, everyone loves a happy ending (and Hugh Grant!)
What is your favourite festive colour?
Red! There's something about red that's just inherently Christmassy to me, it reminds me of holly berries and the cherries in the Christmas cake.
Holly
c/o cindy47452 on Flickr

Do you open your gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Morning! This was a strict tradition in my family; stockings were taken into our parents' room at a pre-specified time (which I'm sure became later each year, as we got older..), and then we had to get dressed and have breakfast before being allowed to open any more presents. My brother and I would take it in turns to get a present from under the tree and give it to its owner, so that we could all watch it being opened and see what everyone got, and my Mum wrote us each a list so that we could write thank you notes.
What is your favourite winter fragrance?
To be honest, I have no idea what's classed as winter fragrance in terms of perfume and so on, but generally speaking I like to wear slightly spicier scents in the Winter.
What is your favourite Christmas scent?
I couldn't possibly choose! I love the scent of cinnamon and cloves, and pine from the tree, and Christmas dinner of course!
What is your favourite holiday drink?
Again, I have a few! Hot chocolate with marshmallows is a favourite, although I'll drink that all year round.. I also really like hot cider, and mulled wine smells gorgeous even though I can't stand the taste of wine...
Candy Canes or Gingerbread Men?
I love gingerbread men! I'm not such a fan of candy canes, they tend to go sticky and they take too long to eat. Give me a gingerbread man anyday! They also smell amazing.
What is your favourite Christmas song?
At primary school, we always had a Christmas party in the last week of term - we'd get to dress up in party clothes, lunch would be a Christmas dinner, and in the afternoon we'd have party games and Christmas songs. It was amazing, and this song always reminds me of those parties.
Have you ever made a snowman?
Oh yes! Although they rarely get finished as my brother and I always used to aim far too high as kids, so we'd end up with an enormous body and zero inclination to make a head to match, particularly when there were also snowball fights to be had, and sledging to do...
What is the most important thing to you about Christmas?
It's clichéd and predictable, but you can't beat spending time with family. I love that we have a full house on Christmas Day and it's so nice having everyone together, even if cooking for a dozen or more people is a nightmare..
I'm tagging a couple of bloggers whose answers I'd love to see, but if you're reading this and fancy answering the questions then feel free to do so and leave me a link so I can read them! I tag: Laura, Laura, and Rachael.
Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Gift Guides #2: Mama

For me, my mum is one of the most important people in my life, so I always want to get her something a little bit special come Christmas time. She can be quite hard to buy for as she doesn't really wear make-up or perfume, or use hair products, she doesn't use a handbag, and let's just say the football fan in my parents' house is not my Dad.. She isn't your typical woman, so I've tried to go for gifts which are thoughtful and feminine but would still suit my mama.
Christmas Gifts for Mums
1. John Bishop Book, Amazon, £9
2. Red Spotty Oven Mitt, Dotcomgiftshop, £4.95
3. Diary, Paperchase, £7
4. Floral Ceramic Travel Mug, Debenhams, £8
5. Metal Wall Sign, Dotcomgiftshop, £6.95
6. Silver Knot Studs, H Samuel, £4.99
8. Bruce Springsteen 'High Hopes', Amazon, £9.99
9.Hand Knitted Cable Hot Water Bottle Cover, NotOnTheHighStreet, £39
10. Red Cable Bootie Slippers, Debenhams, £15.60
My Mum has her ears pierced and wears a pair of plain gold studs, at all times. I'd like to get her something a little bit prettier to wear for special occasions, especially since she's recently had her hair cut a bit shorter so her earrings are now on show more. One thing I inherited from my Mum is her sense of humour, and so Christmas socks are a must; I really like this super-cute set of four reindeer-themed socks from George at Asda. I unfortunately also inherited her perpetually cold feet, so I know these cosy boot-style slippers would be gratefully received, as would the gorgeous hand-knitted hot water bottle cover. I've already mentioned her sense of humour, and recently my Mum and I went to see John Bishop - he's a very funny and exceptionally nice man (we had a chat after his show) and if my Mum didn't already own his book, I'd be buying it for her. She's also a massive fan of Bruce Springsteen, who is releasing a new album in January - it's a bit late for Christmas, but I've pre-ordered it for her - shhh! Keeping track of my brother's activities is no easy task, even now he's moved away to Uni, so a diary is an essential item for my Mum, and this one is super pretty. I'd hate to be misconstrued as sexist, but it's a statement of fact that my Mum does the vast majority of the cooking, so this lovely spotty oven mitt would be a cheerful addition to her kitchen, whilst the metal wall sign is a frighteningly accurate representation of my mother's view on picky eaters... Finally, as an avid coffee drinker, I think a travel mug would be a perfect gift - my Mum has a battered plain steel one at the moment, so this pretty one would be a nice change.
What are you getting your Mum for Christmas this year? Are any of these suggestions helpful to you? If you're a Mum, would you like to receive these gifts?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

NOTD: Festive Nail Art

I've been getting into the Christmas spirit with a little bit of festive nail art! For the look below, I started with a coat of 17's Nail Xtras Strengthening Base Coat on each nail, before applying my base colours; I used Barry M's Matte 'Espresso' for my little finger, 17's Rock Hard Couture Nail Effects in 'Celestial Pearl' on my ring finger, Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine 'Lychee' for my middle finger, Nails Inc. 'New Burlington Place' on my pointer, and Kolor Kubes 'Coffee Bean' on my thumb, each with either one or two coats until opaque.
I used Barry M's Silver Nail Art Pen to draw a snowflake onto my little finger, Models Own 'Green Grass' to add a triangle shape for a Christmas tree to my middle finger, and Rimmel Professional Finish 'Ruby Me' for an oval on my thumb to form a robin. Once these had dried, I went over the triangle and oval a couple more times to increase the depth of colour and even out patchy-ness, particularly on my thumb where the deep brown base showed through the red quite strongly at first.
Next, I added detail; a dot of Khroma Beauty 'Fairy Dust' at the top of the green triangle for a star, followed by diagonal lines of 'Fairy Dust' across the tree as tinsel, and small dots of 'Ruby Me' as baubles. I also added two dots with Barry M's White Nail Art Pen above the red oval on my thumb, for eyes. I then added a small triangle of Essie's 'Orange, It's Obvious' to the red oval as a beak, and a dot of Barry M's Black Nail Art Pen to the centre of each white dot to complete the eyes. Finally, once dry, I added two coats of JacavaLONDON's Top Coat to each nail to seal in, smooth and protect my designs and add shine.
Christmas Nails NOTD
Christmas Nail Art
I'm actually really happy with how these turned out, although I didn't attempt them on my right hand this time.. What do you think of my festive nail art? Which is your favourite design? Have you done any Christmassy nails yet?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Gift Guides #1: The Man In Your Life

I've decided to put together a few little gift guides, to hopefully help you with your Christmas shopping - assuming that you, like me, have not yet completed the task! I started in about October, felt really organised, and haven't done anything since. Whoops. Anyway, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that men are the worst to buy presents for - I have a Dad, a boyfriend, a step-son, and a brother whose birthday also falls on Christmas Day. That's a lot of man-presents! I hope some of these suggestions come in handy for you.
Christmas Gifts for Men
1. Black Leather Sony Xperia Z Case/Wallet, eBay, £4.80
2. 5-Pack Festive Fairisle Socks, Asda, £6
3. Moustache Fridge Magnets, ASOS, £5
4. Personalised Map Cufflinks, Not On The High Street, £29.50
5. Beeswax Texturising Wax, The Body Shop, £5.50
6. Bicycle Cufflinks, Not On The High Street, £19.75
7. Stegosaurus Cookie Cutters, ASOS, £7.50
8. Burgundy Checked Shirt, Topman, £30
9. Union Jack Ceramic Travel Mug, Debenhams, £8
Gadgets and accessories are usually a safe bet; obviously you'd have to tailor this to the type of phone/tablet the man in your life owns, but I really like this leather case/wallet which means he'll never be with an excuse for not paying! Toiletries are something every man needs, as much as he might hate to admit it.. Shaving products are a great option if your man doesn't use hair products, or you can always fall back on shower gel and deodorant if you have a shaven-head, bearded fella to buy for. I think cufflinks are a lovely gift as they're something that will last forever; maybe you could personalise map ones with where you got engaged and married for your husband? My brother is a keen cyclist, so the lovely little bikes would be perfect for him. Christmas socks are something of a tradition in my family, so this five-pack from Asda offers great value and includes a couple of plain pairs for non-festive wear, too! In my view, there's nothing better than a gift you can borrow, and I think this lovely checked shirt would look just as good on me as it would on my boyfriend. Finally, the novelty gifts; all men love food, this is a fact, and what could be better than food which is a 3D model of a dinosaur!? This is also available in T-Rex, Brachiosaurus and Triceratops, just in case you want to make a cookie version of Jurassic Park (and lets face it, what man doesn't!?) Moustaches are right on trend at the moment, so these fridge magnets are the perfect way to keep your shopping list on the fridge in style - novelty and practical, beat that!
What are you buying for the men in your life this Christmas? Any recommendations? I'd love to hear your ideas, or how these gifts go down if you end up purchasing any!

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Recent Giveaway Wins

It's been a couple of months since I shared some of the lovely things I've been lucky enough to win, so I thought it was high time I put together another little post to show you all. I don't want anyone to feel like I'm bragging or anything like that - I genuinely enjoy reading these sorts of posts on other blogs, and I think it's always nice to say thank you to the bloggers who've been kind enough to hold giveaways!
I was one of four lucky winners in the lovely Angelica's giveaway, winning a Lanolips Lip Ointment with colour SPF 15 in the shade 'Dark Honey', which I reviewed here.
Lanolips Honey
I won three Sophie Kinsella books from Marissa at Chic Darling, which are perfect for a bit of light reading; I've enjoyed a couple of Sophie Kinsella's books before, so it's lovely to add to my collection! I especially got into Twenties Girl and read it in two afternoons, almost running home from work on the second day to finish it!
Sophie Kinsella Books
I won this super-cute dotcomgiftshop Owl Cookie Jar from Laura at Made Peachy - he'll look perfect in My Kitchen, although I can't guarantee he'll contain cookies for very long...
Owl Cookie Jar dotcomgiftshop
etailPR gave away a goodie bag from an AX Paris event which I unfortunately wasn't able to attend; the contents of this tote almost made up for that, from the delicious AX Paris cookie to the gorgeous Kukee jewellery, Barry M Matte Nail Paint, Neal & Wolf haircare samples, and a gorgeous contouring brush from Zoeva, amongst other things.
AX Paris Goodie Bag
AX Paris Goody Bag
Charlotte from Carlotta's Beauty Spot celebrated 1000 GFC followers with a giveaway for a MAC Quad & four eyeshadows - I chose Cranberry, Electra, Steamy & Twinks. I'm absolutely thrilled to have won this, as MAC make-up isn't something I can ever justify treating myself too, but these four are just gorgeous. Charlotte also sent me a little box of Celebrations, although they didn't survive long beyond this photo..
MAC Quad
Sarah from MyBeautySleuth gave away a little trio of Body Shop products, including Coconut Shower Cream, Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel, and White Musk Libertine Body Lotion, in her Christmas giveaway.
Body Shop Goodies
Ila from The Cleanser Blog celebrated 100 followers by giving away a gorgeous trio of Sanctuary Spa Body Butters, which I'm so excited to try as I love Sanctuary Spa products!
Sanctuary Spa Body Butters
I also won a month's advertising on Jess's blog, Dungarees & Donuts, which is a lovely opportunity to hopefully gain a couple of readers, and I won a £15 ASOS voucher from Adrienne at Late Night Nonsense, which I put towards some REN Skincare.
Have you won anything lovely lately? You can always enter my giveaway with Cruise Fashion to be in with a chance of winning one of three Juicy Couture charms!

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

#TBSXmasBonanza

On Thursday, I attended a blogger event organised by the lovely Rachelle of Inspired by the Retired. #TBSXmasBonanza was held at The Body Shop's Preston store and involved a lovely mix of bloggers, cupcakes, beauty products, samples, cocktails, photos and chatting.
On arriving, Rachelle gave us name badges to help us match up names with faces, and we were offered drinks, mince pies and cupcakes which were so pretty that no-one dared touch them for about twenty minutes - at length, I put mine in a little bag to take home since I'm firmly convinced there's no dignified way to eat a cupcake.
TBSXmasBonanza3
Rachelle had also prepared lovely little sample bags - with a difference; the sample pots were empty! With a mug of spatulas on hand, we were allowed to roam the shop filling our little pots with whatever we fancied, which was such fun, although a little taxing for those of us with only two hands and little in the way of co-ordination (that would be me). The samples I went for were Almond Hand & Nail Cream, Vanilla Bliss Body Butter, Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask, and Seaweed Mattifying Day Cream, all of which I can't wait to try!
TBSXmasBonanza4
We then had chance to fill our baskets to take advantage of the 40% off promotion with our kindly gifted Love Your Body cards, whilst chatting, making use of the photo props and generally confusing the rest of the late-night shoppers. Rachelle also gave each of us a little red goodie bag with a Christmas-themed sponge, some gingerbread biscuits and Love Hearts sweets, which was so lovely - I thought the samples were the goodie bags she'd mentioned, but then there was more!
TBSXmasBonanza2
TBSXmasBonanza1
Afterwards, a few of us headed around the corner to a newly-opened cocktail bar, Treehouse, to continue chatting with the addition of delicious (if a little on the strong side) cocktails; mine was a Mango Daiquiri which was lovely but maybe not the best idea when I had to be at work for 7am the next day.. Unfortunately we all had to leave after an hour or so for various trains, buses and lifts, but it was a fab evening and so nice to meet some fellow North-West bloggers!
If you're interested in what I bought, here are my purchases. I picked up the Tea Tree Pore Minimiser   (£7.50) which I've previously reviewed and absolutely adore, along with the Limited Edition Ginger Sparkle Body Butter (£13) which again, I've had before and love. I also decided to try some new things, in the form of Rainforest Radiance Hair Butter (£3), and a lovely gift-set duo (£16 with a value of £27) containing Vitamin C Microdermabrasion (£13) and Vitamin C Skin Reviver (£14), along with a treat for my boyfriend's stocking at Christmas. Altogether, my shopping was worth £45, but with the 40% off I paid £27, and also qualified for a freebie; a gorgeous Body Butter Christmas Cracker Gift Set (worth £12), containing Body Butters in Shea, Chocomania and Coconut - all of which smelled amazing when I was wandering round sniffing everything in sight!
TBSXmasBonanza5
TBSXmasBonanza6
Below are the lovely bloggers who attended the event, I think I've included everyone on the list, but if I missed you I'm so sorry, let me know and I'll add you in!
• ClaireCarolineRachel Louise • YasminDanielleKatiePaulaNafisahNicolleEmmaHannahLouise
A massive, massive thank you is due to Rachelle and the rest of the lovely ladies at the Preston store for making this such a fun evening! It was lovely to meet so many local bloggers and I really hope I can attend a similar event in the future.
Have you attended any amazing events recently? What would you buy with 40% off at The Body Shop?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms.

Friday, 6 December 2013

NOTD: Matte Crush

Placing a little online order from Boots last week, I ended up adding a couple of extra items to my basket to qualify for free collection from instore; one of them was Barry M's Nail Paint in 'Crush', from their A/W Matte Collection. I posted about 'Mocha' a while ago and was really impressed with the formula, so I had been looking forward to picking up a couple more shades and this was the perfect opportunity! The formula of 'Crush' wasn't quite so smooth, and I found it went on quite patchy with the first coat, although the second coat neatened everything up nicely and dried reasonably quickly to a gorgeous, matte finish. I do find that the matte finish of these polishes (and indeed, every matte I've tried) tends to wear off after a couple of days, but there's no denying this is a gorgeous shade. Below you can see two coats over OPI's Nail Envy, with no top coat; I apologise for the photos, it's so dark at the moment! The photos with flash show the colour quite nicely, but I also included the bottom right one without flash just for reference.
Barry M Matte Crush NOTD
'Crush' is available from Boots, Superdrug or direct from Barry M, priced at £3.99 for 10ml of product.
What do you think of 'Crush'? Do you like matte nail polishes, or do you prefer the "traditional" glossy finish?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Giveaway: Urban Decay Vice 2 Palette

The lovely Isabelle from Le Chateau des Fleurs is holding a giveaway to win an Urban Decay Vice 2 Palette! For your chance to win, just scroll down and enter via the Rafflecopter widget.
http://www.urbandecay.com/urban-decay/makeup-palettes-%26-gifts/vice-2/386.html
"Experiment with insanely cool brights, not-your-average neutrals, and sexy hits of smoke, all in our decadent, revamped formula. In case you weren’t around for the frenzy of the original Vice Palette, here’s the deal: yes, Vice 2 is limited edition and it WILL sell out. (With 20 EXCLUSIVE shades you won’t find anywhere else, what would you expect!?"
Shades include: Smokeout (dark taupe-black satin), Lovesick (black matte with iridescent micro-glitter), Shellshock (bright metallic silver), Coax (medium metallic pink with golden iridescent micro-sparkle), X-Rated (baby pink satin), Prank (deep navy matte with turquoise floating pearl), Madness (bright metallic blue shimmer with blue micro-glitter), Strike (antique gold shimmer with silver micro-glitter), Stash (deep olive green shimmer with iridescent micro-sparkle), Poison (charcoal satin with iridescent micro-sparkle), Radar (metallic brown shimmer with iridescent micro-glitter), Damaged (bright metallic emerald shimmer), Voodoo (metallic purple shimmer with iridescent purple micro-glitter), Betrayal (bright purple satin with blue shift), Derailed (medium metallic taupe-brown shimmer), Dope (warm champagne satin), Toxic (metallic copper-pink shimmer with tonal micro-glitter), Habit (light nude matte), Ambush (metallic brown satin) and Rewind (medium brown matte).

Available for both USA and International Entrants a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Review: Collection Longer Lash Lengthening Mascara

I received Collection's Longer Lash Lengthening Mascara as part of a giveaway prize quite some time ago, but have only recently started to use it as I was being sensible and waiting until I'd finished another before opening it. I've been wearing this as my everyday mascara for the last few weeks, so here are my thoughts. Collection claim, "Lengthen your lashes! Added fibres for an ultra lengthening effect."
Collection Longer Lash Lengthening Mascara Review
First up, the packaging; this isn't something you'll lose easily due to the bright orange tube, which personally I don't really like and would prefer something a little more toned-down and classy looking. It does mean that the mascara is easy to find in the depths of your make-up bag, though, and I know a lot of people love the bright colourful mascara tubes so this is completely down to personal preference. The wand is a standard mascara brush, which I tend to prefer to the plastic wand-style brushes (Benefit's They're Real!, I'm looking at you...), although this does seem to be particularly bad for mascara clumping on the end as you pull it out of the tube, as you can see below.
Collection 2000 Longer Lash Mascara Review
The wand makes it easy to apply the mascara and I'm quite happy with the length it gives, although I do tend to look for volume over length in a mascara; again, this is personal preference and obviously, this being a lengthening mascara, is what you'd expect! I have shade 17 'Ultra-Black' and I'd agree that it is a good, true black shade, although I don't have the "regular" black to compare it to... The fibres in the mascara aren't overly noticeable and I'm not sure that they transfer from the wand onto the lashes, to be honest. I haven't had any problems with my lashes clumping or looking spidery at all, but I do find that the mascara can smudge around my eyes after a few hours' wear; this is probably due, at least in part, to my oily skin, but isn't a problem I've had with other mascaras and so would put me off repurchasing the Longer Lash Lengthening Mascara.
Collection Longer Lash Mascara Review
The above photos show my lashes with no mascara (top), and with two coats of Collection Longer Lash Lengthening Mascara (bottom); you can see that the length of my lashes is emphasised nicely (though I do have quite long lashes to start with) with a good strong, black colour. You can also see that the volume I tend to look for in a mascara isn't really there. I do still like how this looks and it is perfect for day-to-day wear (as seen below), but it's not a mascara I'll be queuing up to buy again I'm afraid.
Collection Longer Lash Mascara FOTD
[Other products used: W7 Anti-Dull Skin Primer*; MUA Matte Perfect Foundation in 'Fair';
Soap & Glory Kick-Ass Concealer in '01 Light'; Collection Loose Powder in 'Barely There';
Sleek Blusher in 'Rose Gold'; MUA Pro Brow Kit; Urban Decay Naked2 Palette 'Half-Baked'
(applied with a damp brush as a liner); Chitchat Juicy Lipstick in 'Damson']
Collection's Longer Lash Lengthening Mascara is available from Superdrug (amongst other retailers), priced at £2.99 for 8ml of product. I'd recommend this if you're looking for a cheap and cheerful lengthening mascara and don't struggle with oily skin; if your skin is oily, or you tend to prefer volume over length, then this probably isn't the mascara for you. Overall, though, this is a pretty good offering.
Have you tried Longer Lash Lengthening Mascara, or any other Collection mascaras? What's your favourite budget mascara?

xo
My December advertiser is the beautiful Sarah from Small'N'Hot, I'd love for you to pay her a visit!
Remember to enter my Cruise Fashion giveaway to win one of three Juicy Couture charms.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Review: Peach Deep Moisturising Foot Pack

From the depths of Winter, encased in their thick socks and cosy boots, a muffled cry for help can be heard from my poor, neglected, abused feet. Whilst in summer they're looked after and I even paint my toenails, in Winter it doesn't seem worth the effort and sadly, they do tend to get overlooked. To try and rectify this situation, I picked up this Peach Deep Moisturising Foot Pack as a complete impulse-purchase in Poundland a while ago, and have recently got around to using it - don't worry, there's no photos of my feet!
Peach Foot Pack
Packaged in a peach-coloured foil pouch, much like a face mask, the foot pack consists of two "boots" which you put onto your feet to work their magic. The packaging claims, "Peach intensive treatment boots are enriched with Peach, Gingko, Honeysuckle and Vitamin E to penetrate deep into the skin to reduce callus build-up and help repair and soften cracked, split heels. How to use: 1. Thoroughly wash and dry feet. 2. Take out and unfold the boots and wear the boots on your feet. 3. Remove the boots after 15-20 minutes. No need to wash feet after using the boots!"
Peach Deep Moisturising Foot Pack Review
So, after washing and drying my feet, I tore open the pouch to remove the boots. At this point, I was relieved to discover that the boots weren't like a sheet face mask as I'd imagined (I'd been worrying I'd have to spend twenty minutes stood on a towel!), but instead are made of plastic with a fabric lining, which is soaked in the treatment liquid. There is a gorgeous peachy scent as soon as you open the pouch, which lasts for the whole treatment time and can still be smelt for hours after use. The boots felt cold to put on, but soon warmed up to body temperature; I actually put my slippers on over the top to keep my feet warm as my house is freezing! I have big feet (UK size eight!) and the boots were just big enough for me, so in the unlikely event your feet are any bigger than that, you'd struggle with these.
Upon removing the boots around half an hour later, there was a lot of excess liquid left on my feet - the instructions say it's not necessary to wash your feet, so I didn't, but it did make putting tights on a strange experience! That aside, my feet felt smooth and moisturised, with the hard skin on my heels being noticeably softer. This foot pack did make a definite difference to my feet, which I have to say I was impressed by!
Ingredients Peach Deep Moisturising Foot Pack
[Ingredients: Aqua, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate,
Paraffinum Liquidum, Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Urea,
Cetearyl Alcohol, Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract, Betaine, Cyclopentasiloxane,
Polyacrylate-13, Dimethiconol, Polyisobutene, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, Salicylic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate,
Disodium EDTA, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Isostearate, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle)
Flower Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Ginkgo Biloba
Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract,
Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract,
Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Fruit Extract, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Cetearyl Glucoside,
Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Methylparaben,
Phenoxyethanol, Propylparaben, Parfum.]
I wouldn't expect much more from such a cheap product, but the ingredients list is nothing to write home about; although there are a fair few nice ingredients including several fruit extracts, Vitamin E and Glycerin, there are also dodgy contenders in the form of Paraffin, Dimethicone and various parabens. I wasn't too concerned about this as my feet have never been prone to eczema, whereas I wouldn't dream of putting these on my hands for fear of them cracking and flaking. If you are sensitive to these ingredients, it's definitely something to be aware of.
Peach Foot Pack Review
Overall, this was lovely to use and did seem to soften my feet up nicely, which makes it a product I'd consider repurchasing in the future, although I wouldn't recommend it to those who are prone to sensitive skin on the feet. Peach Deep Moisturising Foot Packs can be purchased in Poundland at £1 for a single-use pouch containing two boots, although I can't find them on the Poundland website. Have you tried these foot packs, or a similar product? Do you try to look after your feet during Winter, or do you just have a massive rescue mission come Spring?

xo

Monday, 2 December 2013

Focus On: Cruise Fashion (+ A Giveaway!){NOW CLOSED}

Cruise Fashion have nine stores around the UK, and also now run an online boutique specialising in high-end fashion for men and women. Stocking designers including Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, as well as more affordable brands such as Armani, Forever Unique and Michael Kors, Cruise have a lot to offer, which has led me to put together a little wish list of some of my favourites!
Cruise Fashion Wish List
Cruise Fashion have very generously offered three Juicy Couture Puffed Pave Heart Charms (pictured below) to give away to three of you lovely bunch! All you have to do to enter is fill in your details in the Rafflecopter form below, but please make sure you read the Terms & Conditions before entering. PLEASE NOTE THIS GIVEAWAY IS OPEN TO UK RESIDENTS ONLY - sorry to any international readers. The giveaway will run for two weeks from today, so hopefully the winners will have their prizes in time for Christmas!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED, THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES!!
Juicy Couture Charm
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Which is your favourite item from my wish list? Have you ever shopped with Cruise Fashion?

xo

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Top Ten Christmas Jumpers

Now we're into December, it's officially Christmas in my mind - which means it's acceptable to start putting decorations up, getting excited about Christmas dinner and, of course, choosing the annual Christmas Jumper! I've put together a little top ten of some of my favourites, which I've split in half: the first half features "nice", traditional festive knitwear, whilst the second half is graced by the cheesiest, tackiest novelty jumperss I could find!
Christmas Jumpers
Penguin Sweater, Ravi Famous, £20
Polar Bear Jumper, H! by Henry Holland at Debenhams, £40
Snowman Jumper, Matalan, £15
Jolly Fluffy Christmas Jumper, New Look, £24.99
Rudolph Face Jumper, Ravi Famous, £20
My Christmas Jumper last year featured a penguin, there's just something about them... I really like the bottle green colour of the Ravi Famous number, too. This Henry Holland Polar Bear jumper is super cute with his pink mittens, and there is also a lovely detail on the back, with the polar bear's rear end and its little tail - I love it! The Matalan Snowman Jumper is, technically, menswear, but I've never let that stop me before and I'm certainly not about to start now! I love the stars in the background and the snowman's lovely bright carrot nose. The New Look 'Jolly' Jumper features a stocking a candy canes, with a lovely tacky texture to boot. Finally, what's Christmas without Rudolph's glowing red nose? I particularly like his scarf on this one, too.
Festive Knitwear
Grey Snowflake Jumper, Mantaray at Debenhams, £40
Fairisle Jumper, Matalan, £18
Collection Fairisle Jumper, M&S, £28
I love the soft white and grey of the Mantaray Snowflake Jumper, it's so pretty. The Matalan Fairisle is a traditional print but still quite bold which I really like as I'm definitely not one for subtlety! M&S's contribution just screams traditional festive knitwear to me, it reminds me of something Ron Weasley would wear which just makes me love it even more! The New Look Snowflake jumper is a more modern take on a traditional motif and I think it works really well. Finally, this patterned-sleeve reindeer number from ASOS is the perfect bridge-jumper, for me, between cheesy and traditional; the reindeer is a bit more modern whilst the sleeves and tapestry-style print reindeer keep it a little more on the conservative side.
Which knitwear camp do you fall into? I'm definitely a cheesy novelty jumper girl, the more 3D features and glitter the better in my book! Which is your favourite of my top ten?

xo
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