Friday, 29 November 2013

5 Favourites: Christmas Gift Sets

I find gift sets to be a little hit and miss. We all like different things and what works for some doesn't always work for others. I'm sure we've all received gift sets before where we didn't use half of the products in it or we didn't like the smell of something or it contained a makeup product that didn't match your skin tone. So to save you the stress of finding the perfect gift set this year, I've come up with what I think are five of the best sets around.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

The Benefit set doesn't contain any concealers or foundations so there won't be a shade matching problem. Instead it contains neutral shadows and blushers to suit most skin tones and a small rose coloured Benetint which again will suit most people.

This Clinique set contains three of the famous chubby sticks in a pink, coral red and pinky purple. They provide a nice colour without been too in your face so are a great gift choice.

Who doesn't love a bit of Soap and Glory?! Their body butters have to be one of their best products and this set contains three travel sized ones to try!

The traditional bath and body gift set but a little bit classier! Philosophy make amazing smelling products and this cute little set contains some amazing festive fragrances.

And finally what I think is the pièce de résistance of this post... the vivabox fragrance set. If you haven't heard of it is a box which contains seven perfume samples and a voucher for one full sized bottle. The receiver of this gift sets gets to try all seven perfumes before deciding which is their favourite, they then take the voucher to The Perfume Shop and receive a full bottle of perfume. The fragrances in this years set are Jimmy Choo Flash, Carolina Herrera 212 VIP, Lacoste Touch of Pink, Boss Orange, Ghost, Paco Rabbane Black XS and Paco Rabanne Lady Million. Oh you can buy a male versions too containing seven aftershaves!

 You can keep track of all this years Christmas posts with the red Christmas 2013 button to the right!


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide 2013

Last year I did a series of gift guide posts of presents below £30. This year I decided to do a smaller more varied gift guide post with some of my top present picks for a variety of budgets. So if you are struggling for ideas here is some inspiration.

 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

  1. Kindle - This is the most basic Kindle priced at £69 however you can get Paperwhite and Fire ones depending on what you are looking for. I received a Kindle a couple of Christmas' ago and I love it!
  2. TV Box Sets - There's no shortage of great TV box sets around that someone in your life is sure to have been watching. With Breaking Bad, Homeland, Game of Thrones, Hannibal and more there's loads to choose from.
  3. Lush Hamper - Here's a little fact for you, as pretty as pre-wrapped Lush sets are they actually cost more money than if you were to buy the items separately and you often get less product in the sets too! Make your own hamper full of Lush Christmas treats or if you know some products that someone just can't live without from Lush make a hamper up of those.
  4. Brit Stitch Make Your Own - The one above is one I quickly made, there are 9 colours to choose from and you can colour the straps, body, sides and buckles with up to three different colours. If you don't feel brave enough to make one for somebody there's a good selection of ready made ones to pick from too.
  5. Photo Collage - For a more personal present why not make a friend/family member/other half a photo collage? You can pick collage frames up from loads of different places and have your photo's printed off in Boots.
  6. Olivia Burton Watch - Olivia Burton makes the prettiest vintage inspired watches I think I've ever seen. I could have easily picked about 10 to include on the picture here but in the end I went for the red colour crush one.
  7. Yankee Candles - If your looking to give a bit of a homely gift Yankee Candles are a great place to start. This set contains two medium jars which on their own are £16.99 so this set is quite a bargain. Each candle burns for 65-90 hours and the larger jars are always the best for giving off a good smell.
  8. Penguin Clothbound Classics - These have to be the prettiest books in existence. I own one already and have my fingers crossed Santa will be adding a couple more to my collection. If you have a bookworm to buy for I highly recommend checking these out.
  9. Lomography Camera - Do you know someone who is always snapping away? A Lomography camera may be a good gift for them then! There's so many to choose from all of which take different kinds of pictures. The one featured here is the La Sardina camera DIY edition black.
  10. Whittards Hot Chocolate - There's nothing better than a mug of hot chocolate when it's warm so for a foody gift give someone this festive hot chocolate selection. A bit like a selection box with a twist!
You can keep track of all this years Christmas posts with the red Christmas 2013 button to the right!


Monday, 25 November 2013


Last Monday Josh and I graduated from Coventry University both with 2:1 degrees in Journalism and English. We headed back to Coventry on Sunday and I have to say it was very strange to go back. We spent a large chunk of our relationship living in Coventry and to not be doing so anymore is still at times a weird concept for me. I genuinely miss the place but I also miss the life I had with Josh there so I was very happy to be back. We had a browse around the shops and visited Ikea for old times sake before joining Josh's parents for a little afternoon drink. My Dad and stepmum soon joined us and we spend a fair amount of time chatting before heading back to the hotel to relax before going out for a meal. The whole family clan headed out later on for a meal and cocktails at Cosmo, a world buffet restaurant where we all ate until we were ready to pop. Josh and I were then surprised with an amazing graduation cake and some gifts. We really do have lovely families! 
The evening was rounded off by a visit to what was one of our favourite pubs to go to when we lived in Coventry. It's the oldest pub in Coventry and it's so quirky and cosy. Lots of little rooms with roaring fires and real ales and ciders. Perfection! We headed back to the hotel later on, still full from the lovely food and feeling very happy.

The next day was graduation day and a little more stressful than the relaxing day we'd had on Sunday. None the less it really was an amazing day, much better than I could've ever expected (despite the cold and rain). I'm really happy that the whole thing from moving away, going to university and finally graduating was something that Josh and I could share.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

5 Favourites: Christmas Jumpers

Christmas isn't the same without a Christmas jumper, I bought my first one last year and it's so cosy if I had some extra cash I'd definitely be getting another this year! I've been having a look around to see what's on offer jumper wise and thought I would share with you my five favourite Christmas jumpers.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

My favourite has to be the first one, I love the colours and print. I really like the snowman one too though as it's a bit unusual.

Which one is your favourite and will you be buying a Christmas jumper this year?

You can keep track of all this years Christmas posts with the red Christmas 2013 button to the right!


Thursday, 21 November 2013

BOOKS: Mini Book Reviews #6

I'm back with more mini book reviews, if you want to read my previous ones you can do so here and if you would like to read any book review over in full (I have quite a lot) you can do so over on my other blog here. The four books I'll be reviewing today are: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, A Sister's Gift, The Good, The Bad and the Furry and Apartment 16.

 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The curse of hyped up books strikes again! Although it was an OK book I don't necessarily agree with all the rave reviews this book has received. The novel just gently plods along without really leaving a mark. Given some of the subjects covered in the book I expected to a bit moved by this book but it just didn't stir up much emotion (and I cry at pretty much anything!). It's worth a read but it's not the most exciting book I've ever read.
Full review here.

 A Sister's Gift by Giselle Green
This book seemed to take forever to get going which wasn't a good start at all. After reading the book a found out the one of the plotlines has caused some controversy amongst readers but I'll be honest it didn't really shock me I was just happy for something to finally be happening. I feel the ending could have been developed more in place of the slow start. In all this book needed a snappier start and a less snappy finish!
Full review here.

 The Good, The Bad and the Furry by Tom Cox
This book is all about the famous Twitter cat, The Bear and his other furry friends. I'm a sucker for a cat book so this was on my to read list instantly. Written by Tom Cox, it documents his life with an abundance of four-legged friends both past and present (some of which don’t even belong to him). His witty writing style and ability to anthropomorphise any animal he comes into contact with makes this a funny, enjoyable read.
Full review here.
Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill
 I was after a scary book to read around Halloween and Apartment 16 seemed perfect. From the start the book did a great job of providing a few scares and did very well it building tension; it had me hooked. At times I felt the book became a little too weird though and there were some things left unanswered that I would have like to have known.
Full review here.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

My Autumn/Winter Essentials - Part Two

Last week I brought you the first part of my autumn/winter essentials, if you missed it you can check it out here. This weeks I'm back with the final lot of my essential for the colder months. 

Snuggly pj's...
There's no better feeling when the weather is cold than putting on a pair of soft, cosy and fleecy pj's!

 Red Nail Polish...
In autumn and winter red is just about the only shade to grace my nails (L-R Natural Collection in Burgundy, Barry M Gelly in Pomegranate - this one is more of a pinky red, W7 in Red Dazzle and W7 in Crimson)
 Glitter Nail Polish...
Aside from red I also like to add a bit of glitter, 'tis the season for glitter after all! (L-R Technic in Carnival, Models Own in Blizzard and Barry M in Gold Glitter)
I much prefer winter footwear over summer footwear and these are just a small sample of the boots I own (black Chelsea boots - Primark, heeled brown Chelsea boots - Ebay and Black studded boots - New Look) 

Lush Snow Fairy...
I love most of Lush's Christmas products but Snow Fairy is by far my favourite, it's bright pink, glittery and smells amazing! 

Big, cosy jumpers...
A love jumpers and can never resist buying a few new ones each year, so below is just a small sample of what I own (Christmas jumper - Primark last year, grey jumper Matalan still in store and Mickey Mouse jumper - H&M last year. 

And that concludes my autumn/winter essentials. What are you essentials for this time of year? Let me know!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


So I know there's six weeks left until Christmas but everyone should know about saving money in advance! Last year I wrote a money saving post predominantly aimed at students about how to Christmas shop on a budget which if you are a student you can check out here.
Seen as I am no longer a student I thought I would come with some money saving tips for everyone else. A lot of these will seem quite obvious but it's surprising how many people don't do these things and lets be fair who doesn't want to save money?!

  1. Save, save, save. As I do most of my Christmas shopping online my card gets a lot of use at this time of year so at the end of each week if I've have any spare money I've been putting it in a little envelope ready to pay back into my account once Christmas is over. So far I have saved up half of what I've spent on presents and there are 6 weeks left until Christmas. I'd like to reach the amount I've actually spent so fingers crossed!
  2. Shop online. Ok so I know high street shops are disappearing and all that but why pay £20 for something on the high street when you could get it at half the price online. For the past few years around 80% of my presents are bought online. I'd say that percentage is a lot higher this year. Less than 10 presents out of the 30ish I've bought have come from the high street.
  3. Know where to look online. My top places for looking for presents are Amazon and Ebay but if you are ordering from somewhere else see if you can find a discount code online for that shop first a few seconds searching Google could mean you'll find a percentage discount code or a free shipping code. Also check out new and used on Amazon, now I'm not suggesting you buy someone something that isn't in good condition but new and used is great for books, I've ordered plenty from there in near perfect condition for a lot less money than they are brand new. If you know someone who wouldn't be picky about that kind of thing then you may as well order from the new and used section.
  4. Join a survey site. A lot of survey sites pay out in vouchers meaning you could use the vouchers to buy some of your presents. My favourite is Valued Opinions which offers vouchers for Boots, John Lewis, Amazon and lots more. Simply fill out surveys and earn rewards then when you have enough money cash out a voucher. Valued Opinions are £10 and £15 vouchers. It may take a little time to build up but even one voucher is a saving. 
  5. Plan in advance. It's best to know what you want to buy people before you start shopping, looking around for inspiration is fine but if you actually plan to buy presents, whether it be online or from a store don't go in without a very good idea what you are looking for as if you left yourself no time you'll panic and buy the first thing you see. This could end up costing you a lot more money than it would if you planned ahead.
  6. Set budgets. Be realistic on how much you can afford to spend on each person you are buying presents for. There's more to Christmas than spending a lot of money on people. Josh and I have set a budget this year and implementing the above tips I've actually been able to get more for my money and not go stupid and spend loads. Enjoy Christmas, enjoy all the yummy food and enjoy the look on peoples face when they unwrap your gifts it doesn't matter how much you've spent!
 If you have any Christmas money saving tips, please share them below!

You can keep track of all this years Christmas posts with the red Christmas 2013 button to the right!


Monday, 11 November 2013

My Autumn/Winter Essentials - Part One

I was going to this as a video but as much as I enjoy making them I hate all the time it takes saving them and uploading them to Youtube and my heart will always lie with blogging.
Autumn and winter, or rather the time leading up to Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year. I love watching the leaves change colour and fall to the ground, the dark nights, bonfire night, and of course Christmas. I also much prefer autumn and winter clothing. Knitwear and boots are where it's at for me! After watching Zoe's autumn/winter essential video  I started thinking about what my autumn/winter essentials were and came up with the following...

Berry Tones...
I love wearing berry coloured things at this time of year, they're my favourite kind of colours (shown here jeans, boots, snood and cardigan - all from Primark)
 Candles and wax tarts...
I like to burn candles and wax tarts all year round but there's something extra cosy and warming about doing so in winter. My favourite scents also fit in nicely with this time of year as I love all the spicy, cinnamon smells.

My skin needs a little extra love in the cold months and that's where these products come in! (Trilogy face oil, L'Occitane hand cream, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and Blistex Relief Cream for dry/chapped lips)

Who doesn't love a good hat with pom pom ears?!
My favourite blushes for this time of year are (L-R) MUA shade 5, Topshop Morning Dew and MUA shade 2
My favourite lipsticks for this time of year are (L-R) Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple, Kate Moss for Rimmel matte lipstick in 107, Rimmel Moisture Renew In Love With Ginger, MUA shade 2 and MUA shade 8
 The second part of my autumn/winter essentials will be up next week!


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Thankful Thursday

It's been a few weeks since I last did one of these and seen as I'm not doing Thankful Thursday posts every week, when I do write one they will be covering a few weeks not just one week! Now that's cleared up, on with the post...

Pretty red leaves at Brodsworth Hall

Lately I am thankful for...

My Dad's beef stew and giant yorkshire pudding, beef stew has to be my favourite winter meal ever!

The little spark of blog creativity that has hit me lately, I have lots of (hopefully interesting) blog post ideas.

My big fluffy, cardi that Josh treated me to, I cannot wait to wrap up in it when it's freezing outside.

Hot baths whilst reading and drinking peppermint tea.

A Halloween movie night with Josh .

Spending more time with Josh, now we don't live together any extra time with him makes me happy!

Josh's kitten turning back up safe after she had gone missing for over 24 hours, she's not my cat but I love that little kitten so I'm glad she came back!

Sunday's with my Dad and stepmum. It's the only day we're all together for a decent length of time, we always make the effort to do a bit of something during the day on Sunday's and have a nice meal together where we sit chatting. It's nice.


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

ADVICE: Keeping an active mind whilst unemployed

Today's post is a little bit of a different one from me. As most of you know I am currently unemployed since finishing university this year and whilst the job rejections, not hearing back from employers and trips to the job centre are difficult I've found one of the biggest things to deal with is the boredom that sometimes creeps in. Most of the time I do find things to do (with some of the advice I'll be offering in this post!) but there's other times when the day just slowly drags on and I have nothing to do. When you've been in education for the last 18 years of your life it's hard to stop and just have nothing to do. I'd class my self as a reasonably intelligent person, I got decent GCSE and A Level results and I'll be attending my graduation this month to make my upper 2:1 Journalism and English degree official. It's hard to go from that to nothing and I'm sure there's other people out there who feel the same. With this in mind I've been thinking of ways to keep my mind active whilst unemployed and I thought I would share what I've come up with.

  • As easy as it is to stay in bed until late then laze around in pj's all day, don't do it! It does nothing for your motivation. I hate sitting around in jeans and stuff but I make sure on the days I don't have anything to do that I get up early, get dressed which for me is usually in some comfortable trousers and a nice jumper, do my hair and I even put some lipstick on. Now I know that sounds a bit stupid but I don't bother with any other makeup and a nice bright lipstick instantly brightens my mood so why not do it! I feel much better for doing these things and sleep a lot better at night too so give it a go.
  • If you have a blog (which I'm assuming that a fair few of you reading this do) invest some time into it, make it look the best you can and come up with lots of new and interesting ideas for it. On the days I don't have anything to do I spend quite a lot of time thinking of new ideas, getting photo's, finding inspiration and writing up future posts. I can honestly say that during this time I'd be lost without my blog.
  • Learn something new. It doesn't have to cost a lot or anything at all but try out something that you've always wanted to learn. For me I've always enjoyed learning how to tweak my blog and make changes myself using HTML and CSS codes so I'm currently learning how to code. I might not do anything with it, I might not even understand everything but I'm giving it a go and I'm enjoying it.
  • Throw yourself into a hobby that isn't blogging, this might be something you used to love when you were younger and that you gave up on or something that you still occasionally do. Well now is the time to step it up a gear. The possibilities are endless really it could be anything from drawing, crafts, writing in a none blogging way, reading, dancing, photography, the list could go on. It also the perfect time to find a new hobby, you don't have to be great at it you just have to enjoy it and get something from it.
  • Research something. Is there something you have a particular interest in? A period in history, an artist or art movement, a place, it could be anything. Do some research on it, try and learn new things. 
  • Go for a walk. If the weather is nice don't stay cooped up all day go out for a walk, it's good for you, you'll feel refreshed and it could even spark some inspiration for a blog post, a drawing, a piece of creative writing, a photo. You never know what you might get from it.
I hope this helps a few people, I already do a couple of things on here and I've already noticed a feel much better and positive for it, I sleep better on a night and genuinely look forwards to learning new things and having things to do. If you have any tips please let me know in the comments, it's be great to share some more ideas!

P.S I now have a Facebook page for my blog, please come and give it a like here! 


Sunday, 3 November 2013

BEAUTY: The Sunday Night Pamper

I always have been and always will be a bath kinda girl, showers just don't cut it for me (unless it's red hot in the middle of summer than a nice, cool shower brings a smile to my face) but for me, especially at this time of the year there is nothing better than sinking into a steaming bath with some nicely scented products and a good book. I'd like to say I am accompanied by a glass of wine on these occasions but the reality is it's usually a mug of peppermint tea! Sunday night is a great time for a good pampering session, I'll be honest sometimes I just cannot be arsed with it all but sometimes I like to whip out all the good stuff and give myself a nice treat! So my usual Sunday night relaxation routine goes a little like this...

  • A nice warm bath with bubbles or a bath bomb and a good book or magazine
  • A good moisture hit for my hair, my favourite shampoo and conditioner are the L'Oreal Ever Riche nourishing and flowing ones (in fresh water from the shower not the bath water just in case anyone was wondering!)
  • A good scrubbing and buffing and soothing for my body with exfoliator and body butter
  • And finally a nice little facial compromising of a cleanse with No7 melting gel cleanser, exfoliation with Superdrug's Simply Pure smoothing face scrub, the Una Brennan tea flower mask and a moisturising face oil.

My Sunday night routine leaves me feeling soft, smooth and relaxed and my hair and face are always thankful for the extra attention. All that's left to do after is pull on comfy pj's and snuggle down!

P.S I now have a Facebook page for Bits and Bobs, please come and give it a like here!