Thursday 17 December 2015

Christmas gift guide // the blogger

What do you get a blogger / vlogger / Youtuber for Christmas? If you were to say something rose gold / copper / marble you'd be half way there! Think beautiful details. The most photogenic of items that could easily make its way onto an Instagram account near you. Get ready for the ultimate blogger gift guide...

Olympus Pen Camera // Jo Malone //  Charlotte Olympia kitty flats // Charlotte Tilsbury lipstick // Marble phone case & charger // Headphones
Carvela boots //  Gin & tonic Library of Fragrance //  Clarins mask //  Guerlain kohl //  Hat // Diptyque candle // Lush bath bomb // Brown boots
Great photographs book // Yankee Candle // Wall art // Great photographs of people book // Charlotte Tilsbury cheekbones kit // Red shoes
Trending sweater //  Clinique skin kit // Breton stripe tee // Gold candle // Liz Earle skincare // Clarins Eau Ressourcante

Lots of these beauty and bath products being firm blogger favourites. With some marble and rose gold thrown in for good measure, and motivational prints for home / office. If you like this wall art, you may like my stationery gift guide. The two books on photography are must-haves for perfect blog photography  - the backbone of a truly good blog. And nothing says fashion blogger like a good pair of shoes / boots, a over-sized trilby hat and the ultimate blogger staple... a striped tee. If buying for a food blogger, you may like my foodie gift guide. I read so many rave reviews about the Olympus Pen this year as a good blogging / vlogging camera  - think this will definitely be my next 'small' camera!

Monday 14 December 2015

Christmas gift guide // the foodie

Do you know someone who salivates at the sight of food? Who studies food blogs and cookery shows for new cookery inspiration, and can't eat a morsel without taking pictures of their food first? This gift guide might be right up their street!

Spiralizer //  Mug Cakes book // Copper cocoa shaker //  Polka dot mug //  Spice rack  // Icing duster / shaker
Metallic spoon set // Marble trivet // KitchenAid // Laura Ashley measuring cups // Laura Ashley cupcake tray
Kitchen canisters //  Gold bowl // Copper frying pan // Dips paddle board // Apron //  Copper measuring spoons

Like my stationary gift guide, this has been a really difficult gift guide to write in that I'm wanting most things from both lists! I love marble, copper and rose gold - lovely neutral shades that will go in anyone's kitchen, never mind your colour scheme. I also can't resist a pretty print like the Laura Ashley blue florals. And how unusual and beautiful is that spice rack? Very drink me with the little bottles - which is probably why I like it so much!

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Christmas gift guide // Stationery lover

You can't beat the feeling of starting a brand new notebook. I know it sounds cliché, but I feel so much more inspired to write when I have a pretty notebook to do it in. The ideas flow a lot easier. And if I have a notebook I want to keep coming back to, I feel a lot more motivated to keep writing. This Christmas gift guide is dedicated to the stationery enthusiasts. For those where a standard biro won't do. The stationery enthusiast has pencils with witty remarks printed on them in gold lettering, the most tasteful thank you cards, and a kick ass desk space of copper pencil pots and motivational prints.

Kate Spade polka dot notebook //  Kate Spade witty pencils // Kate Spade witty stamp //  Liberty Merci paper weight //  Orange Jasmine scented pencils //  Paperchase striped thank you cards //  Pug calendar //  Rose Gold diary //  
Kate Spade gold pens //  Liberty colouring book //  Topshop star notebook // I am very busy filing set // 
Gold pot //  The Hipster colouring book // Talk is Chic notebook //  Escape the Ordinary notebook

And nope, this feature isn't sponsored by Kate Spade! They just do awesome stationery!

Monday 7 December 2015

Yankee Candle Reindeer Carousel advent calendar - first impressions

After my musings on advent calendars the other day, I decided that the Yankee Candle Reindeer Carousel was the one for me this year. I love its drum like shape, and the giant red bow on top. It's the ultimate Christmas box.

I have to say... it's not the most post friendly box. Mine arrived quite battered, with some of the doors open already. And reviews on the Yankee Candle website imply I'm not the only one - lots of people haven't been overly impressed with the state their calendar arrived in. But I'm putting this down to its awkward shape. Saying that, the damage on mine is minimal and you can hardly notice it.

Day one presented a red candle, which was sugary sweet, and I believed to be Candy Cane Lane. I preferred 2nd and 3rd December which offered Bundle Up (a foresty scent) and Winter Glow (more difficult to describe).

One of the nicest surprises about the Reindeer Carousel has been the votive candle I found behind door number 6. With past Yankee Candle advent calendars I've had, there have only been tea lights behind each door, which although burn plenty long enough, don't burn nearly as long as a votive would.

In summary, I'm loving this advent calendar and would recommend to anyone. However if buying for someone else as a gift, I would recommend one of their traditional - more sensibly shaped - advent calendars which should (hopefully) arrive intact and in better condition!

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Bathing in milk - just like Cleopatra

I don't know about you, but I still can't quite get my head around the fact that a couple of millennia ago, a certain female Egyptian used to bathe in donkey's milk. And reportedly no less than 700 donkeys were needed to provide enough milk for her daily bath(!) All this to maintain the beauty and youth of her skin. And for good reason - it has since been proven that the proteins found in milk hydrate the skin and help retain the moisture in your skin. Some experts say that milk can help certain skin conditions - that the moisturising fats and proteins in milk can help soothe redness from sunburn and can help relieve symptoms of eczema and similar skin conditions.

I don't think that many of us nowadays could envisage bathing in milk. However thanks to The Scottish Fine Soaps Company, I was able to experience the bathing in milk novelty. Scottish Fine Soaps have their own Au Lait collection where their (real!) milk powder comes in the most Instagrammable milk urn:

Au Lait milk bath powder* - £13.95

Really generously sized, this will continue to take pride of place in my bathroom even after I finish it all up. I sprinkled a generous amount of the powder into my bath and it bubbled up really easily and made my bath all nice and creamy. Their milk powder mix also contains chamomile which added to the relaxing bath experience.

Words cannot explain how wonderful this made my bathroom smell. Not just on the day of the bath - it even hung around in the air the following day. I would describe the scent as light and fresh - just like clean cotton. And speaking of soft things, it left my skin feeling incredibly smooth afterwards. I also used their Au Lait body wash which smelt exactly the same and left my skin feeling equally soft. So a big thumbs up from me! Would buy again.

Later that week I also tried a few more of Scottish Fine Soaps' other products.

Luxury body wash collection* - £14.95

Pink Grapefuit & Argan Oil body essentials* - £9.95

Kelp body wash
I first discovered The Scottish Fine Soaps Company through a beautiful Kelp hand soap and lotion in the bathroom of Carluccios's in London's Covent Garden. It's hard to put into words the scent... It reminds me of walks along the coast. That lovely fresh salty air. I absolutely love it. It's one of the best smelling shower products I've had in a long time.

Pink Grapefruit & Argan oil body wash & body butter
Grapefruit is actually one of the few fruits that I do not eat. I always believed it to be like watermelon - to be mainly composed of water and not have much of a smell to it - so was intrigued how this body wash would be scented. However I was proven wrong. This body wash smells sweet but in a really light and subtle way. Ideal for me as I hate really overbearing sickly sweet perfumes. The balance on this one has been done really well.

Larch and lavender body wash
I'll be honest, I had no idea what larch was. When I tried the body wash, I tried to detect what I could smell other than lavender. And I loved it. It smelt of pines and walks in the forest. When I looked up "larch" online, I found out it was pretty much that - deciduous trees. Such a beautiful scent which I imagine would be equally perfect as a candle.

Source: The Scottish Fine Soaps Company

As you can see from the above photos, all the gift sets are beautifully wrapped in the black and white monotone aesthetic that I love so much. With the added benefit of free delivery on all orders over £20, it's a really easy website to source some lovely Christmas presents from - I know so many people who would love the milk urn! And Christmas wouldn't be complete without their Lavender & Larch candle and Lavender & Larch reed diffuser - the ultimate festive scent, which would really make the house smell like Christmas trees!

In summary, I still really love the smell of their Kelp range, however their Au Lait collection is one my new favourites! I'll definitely be stocking up on more of both when I move into my new house in the new year!

* although The Scottish Fine Soaps Company very kindly provided me with all the above products in exchange for a review, as ever, all words and opinions are my own!

Monday 30 November 2015

Alternatives to chocolate advent calendars #2

Remember when the countdown to Christmas was an excuse to have a piece of chocolate for breakfast each day? Nowadays advent calendars aren't exclusively chocolate based. A couple of years ago I wrote this piece here about how advent calendars were starting to be filled with non chocolate alternatives like skincare products, nail polishes and even candles. Now everything imaginable can be found inside an advent calendar. This year I found a tea advent calendar - whatever will they think of next?! Here are - in my opinion - the best advent calendars out there right now:

Reindeer Carousel Advent Calendar - £31.99 //  Christmas Advent Calendar - £24.99 //  Advent House in the Snow - £27.99

Yankee Candle
The ever popular Yankee Candle advent calendar is back! But this year offers not one, not two, but three calendars to choose from. Their Christmas advent calendar (centre) is currently out of stock, but their House in the Snow calendar returns for another year. Although the three vary in price, the candle selection in each is fairly similar. Repeats from last year include Snowflake Cookie and Christmas Eve. This year sees some new ones I haven't tried before which include: Berry Trifle, Cosy by the Fire and Bundle Up

Jo Malone
If you're willing to dig deep, this would be a lovely way to try all the different colognes. If money were no object, this is definitely one I'd love to own.

Opening a door to find a Diptyque candle every other day? Another advent calendar I dream of owning.

Charlotte Tilbury  - £150.00

Charlotte Tilbury
Presented beautifully as Charlotte Tilbury's Book of Make-up Magic. Not actually an advent calendar in the traditional sense on account of only having 12 doors... but when you think about the quality of product you are getting, suddenly just 12 doors is fine by me!

Body Shop advent calendar - price unknown, products reportedly worth £93.50

Body Shop
Aptly named 24 Happy Days, as Body Shop is one of my favourite brands, this would be a very happy 24 days indeed! Their calendar contains a mixture of minis and some generously sized products too, as the doors are all different shapes and sizes. Of these it contains a product from their Fiji Green Tea collection (which fyi I have been dying to try!) and products from their Oils of Life range. I believe this one is only available in-stores though.

Harrods tea selection
Besides traditional chocolate advent calendars, this is one of the more affordable advent calendars I've seen on sale this year. Comes complete with 25 tea bags, offering a selection of organic black and green teas. A tea-rrific idea!

Who needs chocolate when you can have biscuits?! The beautiful home-made touches with this one means that no two advent calendars are the same. For those who question the durability of the biscuits, these reportedly have a decent shelf life so if you wanted to keep some of the biscuits for later in December / the New Year - no problem!

Botanical Ginvent calendar - £124.95 //  Vodka advent calendar - £99.95 //  Whisky advent calendar - £249.95

Advent calendars... with alcohol
24 days of gin, vodka or whisky - the choice is yours! Gin lovers will especially love the Ginvent calendar which includes one base gin and 23 botanicals to add to it. Reportedly some of the flavours include lavender, saffron and nutmeg. Whether it's gin, whisky or vodka that you choose, you'll certainly have a very merry Christmas either way!

Thanks to all of the above, Christmas is sorted. Winter skincare taken care of, biscuits to dip into your tea, candles for those cosy nights in, and alcohol to get you through the masses of Christmas shopping you've left to the last minute... (please tell I'm not the only one?!)

Which advent calendar is on your wish list this year?

Saturday 14 November 2015

How to have a spa night for £50 or less

Lately my mind has been - for lack of a better word - busy. I find myself having to work later and later meaning that I don't get much of a social life, let alone any chance to relax. When Ocean Finance offered me a chance to relax in line with their company ethos of making people's lives as easy and as stress-free as possible, it sounded ideal. I contemplated going to a spa but realised that I barely have any time to relax after work as it is - so having a night in would be treat enough. I lit candles in the bathroom to create a relaxing atmosphere, poured out a glass of wine, put on a nourishing face mask and ran a bath, introducing both my new Lush bath bombs into the water gradually. Their pumpkin bath bar left the water all sparkly whereas the Dragon's Egg was more volcanic and erupted mesmerising swirls of orange into my bath.

I used Body Shop's passion fruit shower gel, foaming it into massive suds onto a bath puff that I picked up for just £1 in Primark. It was so nice laying there, taking my time, not worrying about what I had to do next (I'm notoriously bad for never being able to switch off). I finished my glass of wine and lay there until the Dragon's Egg finished spinning around like a spinning top, and all the bubbles had started melting away. Afterwards I moisturised my skin using Body Shop's passion fruit body butter. I luckily managed to get the shower gel and body butter in an in-store offer for only £9.50.

I also swear by Body Shop's Peppermint foot care range which I used lots at uni to help sooth my legs when I'd been on the go all day. Taking a trip down memory lane, I picked up a bottle of their Peppermint Reviving Leg Gel which is quite honestly a miracle in a bottle. One of the things that makes me feel the most relaxed - and this may sound weird - is having clean and moisturised feet. I picked out a pair of festive socks from Primark - because it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas! - with the softest, cosiest fleece lining.

I went downstairs with M. and the rest of the bottle of wine (Malbec, a personal favourite!) and watched a film with pizza and a bar of Galaxy. There is something so soothing about Galaxy chocolate. If you just hold it in your mouth and let it melt, there's nothing quite like it. I'd ordered Jurassic World using Amazon Prime's next day delivery. Not exactly a typical chick flick for a relaxing night in.... but I find watching any sort of film relaxing!

Thank you so much to Ocean Finance for giving me an excuse to treat myself for once! The beauty of having a night in as opposed to a spa day, means that I have plenty of products left to enjoy multiple bath nights with - and lots of burn time left in those candles!


Lush Dragon's Egg bath bomb - £3.50
Lush Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar (no longer online) - £3.65
Body Shop passion fruit shower gel & body butter (not currently online) - £9.50
Body Shop Reviving Leg Gel - £7
Primark star candle tea lights - £1 each
Primark pineapple & ginger candle - £2
Primark bath puff - £1
Primark face mask - 90p
Primark festive socks - £2.50
Galaxy - £1 from Tesco
Tesco Finest Malbec - £6
Jurassic World - £9.99 from Amazon

Grand total = £50.04

What's your idea of a relaxing night in?

*although Ocean Finance very kindly provided me with budget for my relaxing night in, as ever, all words and opinions are my own!

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Tapas, golf and wine tasting. Not your typical Wednesday night.

When I was first invited for an evening of golf and wine tasting, although I do love a glass (or three) of wine, and I like golf, I couldn't really imagine how the two went hand in hand. But after one of the loveliest nights out I've had in a long time, I can safely say that I was proven wrong! Monarch Airlines kindly invited me for an evening at N1 Golf in Greenwich to spread awareness of the numerous golf holiday destinations they have across Europe. I arrived at North Greenwich (yes, the tube stop right by the o2!) and N1 Golf was a stone's throw away from the station. Google maps seems to suggest it's over a mile from the station and a 30 minute walk, but it's not. We were welcomed with sparkling wine and got the chance to meet everyone there. The sun was setting as we arrived and the floodlights were starting to come on - it was such a beautiful location to be playing golf in. To your left, the city and the River Thames next to you, and to your right, the o2 arena. You'd expect it to be loud and bustling when you play golf in the city, but it was so serene.

After drinks, we moved to the golf bays and received a briefing from the pro golfers, learning the tips and tricks of the trade - very useful as I hadn't played golf in such a long time! Then we had the chance to try for ourselves. I shared a bay with Michaela and Inna who were pros compared to me! We were upstairs on the top level of the driving range and had the most incredible views of London.

During which, there was lots of tasty looking tapas to dig into. We enjoyed prawn carpaccio, Basque style crab, barley, quinoa and pomegranate salad, and a selection of prawn tempura.

As the time to practise drew to a close, the competition of the night began to see who could get the ball the furthest. We finished up our starters and then were escorted downstairs to the restaurant to finish our meal. For the main course there was steak, lamb, tuna steak (the best I've ever tasted!) and sea bream. Most of which came with the most incredible fondant potatoes.

Dessert was a cheese board and chocolate brownies. 
It's officially a good night when there are chocolate brownies involved.

We also partook in some beer and wine tasting. Although it was pretty weird to be drinking beer out of wine glasses(!) I'm not really a beer drinker - although I did really like the first one we drank! - so I was more into the wine. And it was really nice to try some different wines. I would tell you my favourites, but after several different beers and several different wines, my attention span was... slightly lacking to say the least!

Olivia had a good collection of glasses going on....

By 10pm I was feeling pretty good. I had that nice fuzzy feeling inside that you get from a good wine. Or two. Or six. The winners of the competitions that evening were announced. Alex won the driving range one and Olivia won the social media side of things. Monarch flights and vouchers for N1 Golf's restaurant Vinotec Compass were up for grabs - so some really decent prices! Then after that we were all on our (very) merry way.

Thank you so much to Monarch Airlines, N1 golf, Talented Talkers, and Vinotec Compass for a lovely evening, doing something I usually wouldn't do. I've learnt that I'm no Tiger Woods, but it was a really fun experience and it's definitely not PUTT me off playing golf again in the future!