Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Getting Crafty for Christmas. Gift Guide Part 1.

When I think about some of my most treasured Christmas presents (apart from the awesome karaoke machine that Santa bought me when I was 10) they have been ones that have been hand crafted by either the giver or just something a bit unique. It really evokes a much more festive feeling in me compared to something straight of the shelf. 

With this in mind, I've decided to share some of my favourite craft and handmade ideas for the festive season  with you lovely lot. 

As many are perishable, I'm not going to get down the nitty gritty until a few weeks before, but it's time to get planning! 

1. "Drink Me" Bottles. 

A fun and unusual twist on a bottle of wine in a bag, you can really let you imagination run wild with your 'potion' of choice. I purchased some 550ml kilner bottles from here for just under £3.00, and eBay have a multitude of bargains if you trust glass in the post, but when you add on shipping fees, it works out much the same for a small order. 

I've simply printed off a 'drink me' label from the internet and glued to a standard label sticker for the actual bottle and mounted the tag on card and scored out. The eagle eyed amongst you may notice some re-used Glossybox ribbon, crafty can mean thrifty too. 

Here are my favourite recipes for some scrumptious tipples: 

The real beauty of this gift is you can literally put whatever you like into the bottle, go thoroughly festive with a spiced rum or mulled wine or indulge your pic 'n' mix sweet tooth with some childhood favourites. 

2. Handmade Delights. 

I spend far too much time on Etsy, but it really is a goldmine of handmade delights. If you're looking for some absolutely adorable but affordable stocking fillers for your friends, I'd highly recommend swinging by Lily Loves Lola. Ran by the lovely Victoria, she makes dainty charm bracelets* that seriously please the 'it's so tinnnnyy' lady inside me. 

Each hand wrapped in brown paper tied up with string, they're definitely one of my favourite things this Christmas! 

If you want to get your hands on them, Victoria has a 15% off code running until the end of November, so get in there quick. Use EARLYBIRD15 to claim your discount. 

Also a quick mention The Tartan Fox, I love the stuff, you should too. 

3. "Eat Me" Jams & Pickle Sets. 

Have you noticed a slightly wonderland theme running through this all? 

Christmas is the perfect opporutnity to get into the kitchen and knock up some eats and treats. Red Onion Marmalade is the perfect easy chutney that you don't need to leave for an age to mature. 

Take the time to write a handwritten tag to make it just that little bit more special. I'm planning to make a few different jams and chutneys and put together a mini hamper.

Some Irresistible Christmas Recipes: 

All perfect with a chunk of cheese and bread! 

So I don't overwhelm on one post I'm going to split this into two parts, expect to see some 'Sweet Treats' ideas next week! 

4. Pamper Jars 

I did this one last year but it was a really easy thrifty present for any girly girls you might want to give a gift to. 

What are you doing to be crafty this Christmas? Let me know!

Laura xx

Monday, 26 November 2012

Signature Scents of 2012.

Signature Scents

I'm all about a signature scent. I may be fickle when it comes to a whiff of the good stuff, but deep down I'm a loyal old soul and always return to a few perfumes. 

The rag tag collection of bottles above are just a few of the scents that have wafted in and out of my life over the past year and they have all served me well. 

When I think of a signature scent, I just can't imagine sticking to one fragrance day in, day out, for every occasion. I think perfume is the final device that when getting ready can really set your mood. I wouldn't dream of spritzing the ever refreshing Origins Ginger Essence for a night out on the town, as I associate it with feeling clean, fresh and ready to face to the day. Similarly with Vivienne Westwood Boudoir, it's overwhelming powdery notes wouldn't feel right in the office .  

This year, Tom Ford has come crashing into my life. Black Orchid has been a dominate player in my fragrance collection and has by far garnered the most compliments. I almost feel like it's a bit of chameleon, it settles well on the skin so it's not too overpowering for daytime, but has dark enough notes to be a sexy night time scent too. If I had to pick the signature scent of 2012 for me, this might be it. 

I've really enjoyed Molton Brown's offerings this year, Valbonne hits the nail on the head when it comes to unisex fragrances and Alpuldre was a summer stallwart. Highly recommended for sure. 

Jimmy Choo EDT rushed in and out of my life like a whirlwind, it's an addictive sweet scent but it hasn't left me craving more once the bottle ran dry. This surely gets a blogger hype award! 

Finally, a recent rediscovery in the form of an excellent Glossybox sample, is Burberry body. I received a sample of this quite a while ago and whilst it was a lovely fresh fragrance, passed me by. The small perfectly formed bottle has re-awakened by love of the perfume. It's fresh, clean and makes the perfect post gym shower scent. If an award existed, it'd be the start of something special award. 

Which fragrances have coloured your 2012? 

Laura xx

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Gift Ideas: HJ Manicure Set.

We all know that Christmas is the ultimate excuse to crack out the glitter polish (in my case, everyday is an excuse to slap on the glitter, but we'll go with it anyway). I was sent this very sweet little manicure set from HJ Manicure showcasing some of their Christmas collection. 

I'm a big fan of showing support to smaller companies and Helen seems to be really passionate about what she's trying to achieve, and if you're creating cute polishes, all the better! 

Above we have: 

Tinsel: Purple Shimmer
Indigo: Purple/Pink Glitter
Ice: Silver

Now, I have to admit, I'm really not a purple or silver fan, it happens to rank amongst my least favourite colour to wear on my nails. But, the polishes went on smoothly and were opaque in two thin coats. The other baby pink and red glitters look far more up my street and would be worth a sneaky peek! I'm not hating the purple glitter either, it's growing on me.

Other than that I think they make a really sweet gift idea. Mix and match either small 5ml travel size (£4.50) or larger 15ml (£9.50). I don't think I've ever used up a large polish bottle before it's gone south, so travel sizes are a lovely idea. If you have a nail polish fanatic in the family, a custom set would be right up their street!

If you want to check it out, click here. 

Laura xx

*provided for consideration 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Wednesday Wishlist #1

It's that time of year when we think of others and have to put our own feckless desires on ice (sob) so in order to keep the shopping for myself bug at bay, I've put together a little Wednesday wishlist. 

1. Topshop Croc Quilted Bomber Jacket: I've wanted to invest in a leather jacket for the longest time but I'm really not down with the whole easy rider style. I am however very much down with a bit of mock croc. Yes Please. 

2. Topshop Aztec Fairisle Snood: Can you tell i've been stalking the toppers website like a woman possessed? It's festive, it looks warm. I'll take it. 

3. Yankee Candle Red Velvet Cake: Are you kidding me? Red Velvet Cake in a candle...having thoroughly sniffed this to the point of looking a little bit mental, I can confirm it is the best thing since Mango Peach Salsa. Maybe, probably. 

4. Loakes Brogues: Yes, there are for the males. But I really want a pair. I've been keeping a beady eye on eBay for some and they will be mine. I just need to find a seller with tiny little man feet. 

5. MAC Russian Red: I already own Lady Danger, but Russian Red just feel so much more festive. Despite my embarrassing mountain of lipsticks I just don't own anything remotely blue based. I'm as shocked as you...

6. Origins Ginger Essense Rollerball: I already own a bottle of this nectar, but I want to carry it around with me all the time. Do we really need to discuss my love of ginger anymore, see previous post...

Let me know what's on your wishlists.

Laura xx

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Not The Gumdrop Buttons! The Body Shop Ginger Sparkle.

When I think of Christmas, I think of Gingerbread. It is by far my favourite festive scent. 

I spotted this gorgeous little tin in The Body Shop when I popped in last week and I had to pick it up. 
It's ginger, It's fricking adorable and It's a bargain, how could I say no! 
£15 will get you some delicious ginger shower gel, scrub, soap and body butter. When you can shell out a tenner for a body butter alone, it's a winner. 

Despite the wonderful contents, is it wrong to say I'm most excited about the tin?! It's a fantastic bit of packaging that makes the gift look a lot more expensive and could be used again and again. I'm definitely filling it with some real gingerbread when Christmas is around the corner! 

This would make the perfect gift for any ginger fanatic.

If you want to get your paws on your very own gingerbread man, click here

Just as a bonus.... 

Laura xx

*Bought with a gift card provided by PR. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

November Glossybox.

This months offering from Glossybox is certainly a treat. The theme of the month is stocking fillers and despite sometimes producing products that don't exactly appear to fit, the majority of this months five would be at home in any glamorous stocking. 

In my box: 

WEI Beauty: Royal Ming Firming & Hydrating Cream 
Alison Claire Natural Beauty: Mango Body Butter
Burberry: Burberry Body Eau de Parfum
Nails Inc: Notting Hill Gate Nail Polish
Dermalogica: Daily Microfoliant 

I'll just get my least favourite out of the way, I'm not entirely enamoured with the WEI Firming and Hydrating Cream, I'm quite happy with my skincare routine and this just doesn't appeal to me. Now, I never throw my Glossybox teddies out of the cot, but I would have much preferred the Dr Jart BB Cream, as this is the second time it's alluded me and it makes me sad! 

Despite initially thinking "not another body butter", my doubts were expelled the minute I popped a little blob of the Alison Claire Mango Body Butter onto my hand. It smells divine and the pump bottle is a much better design than a big old pot, less mess and more economical use of product. Love. 

The star of the show is undoubtedly the Burberry Body Mini Perfume. I recieved a sample of this a while ago and really liked it, (click here for a more detailed review) and screams stocking filler far more than any of the others. I'll be popping this in my handbag before you know it. 

Nails Inc have always impressed me and this wee bottle is ridiculously cute. The shade, Notting Hill Gate isn't ticking all the boxes for the time of year, but a great stocking filler idea. 

I was also really intrigued by the Dermalogica product in my box this month. I've recently started using the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm and wanted to investigate a gentle exfoliant to compliment the product, and this is definitely going to be a great one to try. It's an usual powder consistency that turns to a gentle paste when added to water. I'll let you know how I fair! 

What did you get this month and what did you think?

Laura xx

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Getting Party Season Ready: Fitness Edition.

I'm finally admitting to myself that it might be semi acceptable to start broaching the C word. Before I dive head first into gift guides and Christmas make up essentials (mountains of glitter), I thought I'd write a little post about what I'm doing to be just that little bit healthier before mince pie mania kicks in (why are those little suckers so damn addictive?!). 

This definitely isn't the definitive guide to looking like a festive babe, but it's just a few ideas and suggestions that you might thank me for when your slipping into your party dress. 


As the weather gets colder and that cosy winter feeling starts to creep in, all I want to do is eat stodgy, delicious winter eats. I'm talking steamed puddings, big plates of spaghetti bolognese and lets be honest, anything warm and slightly comforting that's placed before me. It's definitely difficult to relish eating salad when it's -5 outside. 

Instead of completely denying myself (It would only end up in a total breakdown involving a family size cottage pie...not that that's ever happened...) I've been indulging in all of the winter veg that just doesn't get a look in during the summer months. You can knock together some absolutely delicious dishes that don't involve too much effort but deliver on taste. 

Some of my favourites include this Sweet Potato Stew. If you want the recipe let me know, I'll see if I can remember off the top of my head, it's a chuck it all in and let it go affair!

And for lunch, try whizzing up a batch or two of  fresh soup and freeze, they make perfect warming, but easy lunch options. I used this simple Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup recipe. It took me less than half an hour.

If you haven't guessed already, if I'm trying to eat a bit cleaner, I tend to cut out the vast majority of the meat out of my diet. It's not because I think it's doing me any harm, but I tend to to like my meat in all the worst ways (oo-er). I'm still eating grilled turkey and chicken and desperately trying to eat more fish, but red meat is pretty much off the menu.  

I'm just trying to combat my craving for stodgy carb rich food with pulses, root veg and healthy soups. So far so good! 

As far as sweet treats go, I usually find that a NAKD bar will hit the spot, or Greek yoghurt with some agave nectar is a good one. 


I find that my motivation for doing anything other than collapsing on the sofa under a fleecy blanket completely diminishes when you're leaving work in the dark, so now is the perfect time to mix it up and try different things. Personally, I find classes are the perfect way to make sure you get in a good solid hour of exercise without even noticing. If someone is going to shout and me all the way through so I keep going, sounds good to me! 

I'm still loving Body Pump and try to do it twice a week but Zumba, Bokwa, Circuits and Body Combat are all brilliant for serious calorie burning. Swimming is also a great low intensity workout to fit  in between if you have time, there's always the bonus reward of a hot jacuzzi or sauna afterwards!

If you're not a member of a gym, there are some excellent fitness DVD's that will do the trick if it's just too cold to pound the pavements. I still think that the 30 day shred is a great one if you find it hard to squeeze in exercise. 

But, a good run on a crisp autumn morning is a bracing wake up! 

Let me know if you're doing anything to shape up for the festive period, lets get sharing our tips! 

Laura xx

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Satin Taupe Staple.

It's a MAC classic, It's been ranted and raved about, but I haven't owned it until now. Why? Who knows! 

After a mildly (read very) upsetting palette massacre due to a clumsy fiend who I'll spare any blushes by not naming (my mother) I decided to buy a few shadows to replace the fallen few.

I'm really not a massive eyeshadow person, but I've found myself reaching for Satin Taupe more than I care to mention over the last few weeks. 

I've been wearing it one of two ways, either slapped all over the lid like the intense eye close up above, or paired with MAC Jest and placed in the crease for a bit of natural definition. 


If you haven't discovered the wonder of Satin Taupe, find it here

Laura xx

Thursday, 8 November 2012

New Stuff & Things.

I went shopping, I bought some (more than I anticipated) things. 

My first mistake was wandering in Space NK. I went for a cheeky browse, I left with Emma Hardie Amazing Face Cleansing Balm & my good old friend, Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum. Is my wallet glad I picked these up? Nope. Is my face? Yep. 

I won't rave on too much about the sneaky MAC item here, I did a whole post worth here. Read it, love it. 

Finally, Boots lured me in and I picked up L'oreal Voluminous, just because I want to give it a whirl. My current Seche Vite is like superglue so I picked up a new one. The end. 

Stay tuned for reviews etc when I've given these beauties a whirl. 

Laura xx

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Oh My MAC: Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Superb.

Before I begin, shall we take a little trip down blogger memory lane? If I could just cast your mind back to the heady days of MAC fantatasism, major lemming and sold out LE collections, I could reel off a list of 'must have' collections that whipped the blogosphere up into a frenzy. Hello Kitty or Naked Honey anybody? 

As far as I'm concerned, I just haven't bought (literally and figuratively  into MAC hype for a good while, I like my staples but I haven't ran sweaty palmed to a MAC counter in a good while. 

Whilst I didn't exactly plan on picking up this absolute beauty, I'm ever so glad I did. 

Enter Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Superb. 

After a recent disaster with my By Candlelight MSF and the gym changing room floor I've been after a replacement that isn't in danger of exploding shimmer all over my make up bag. I was originally after Dior Amber Diamond but the MAC counter caught me first. 

To paraphrase a certain 80s chick flick, it had me at first swatch. Superb applies almost like a liquid metal, it is that smooth. In comparison By Candlelight seems almost chalky. It's not super glittery, just a smooth champagne highlight. 

I've applied it on cheekbones with a stippling brush for a gorgeous night look, and don't even get me started on how it looks on the brow bone and cupids bow. Yum.  

MAC claim is lasts 10 hours, but I'm yet to put it to the test. 

So, it's nice to have a little trip down MAC hype memory lane, I think this product might just be worth it...if it was socially acceptable I'd probably coat my entire face in it. 

Laura xx

Monday, 5 November 2012

Current Favourites.

 Jemma Kidd Blush - Sigma Small Tapered Blending Brush E45 - The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara* -
Tom Ford Black Orchid -Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter 

Just a few current favourites that deserve a little mention. My cuticles/hands have been an absolute wreck over the past few weeks, the cold weather and heating have made them really dry and Lemony Flutter is the only thing that seems to combat it. It's not exactly one to pop on throughout the day as it's thick but applied as an overnight treatment it works wonders. 
Another product that has come back into it's own is Tom Ford Black Orchid. It's the perfect autumnal scent that never fails to glean compliments, my only gripe is that I wish I could see how much of the stuff is left, I don't think I could live a day without it! 
In an effort to use up my ever expanding mascara collection I've particularly been enjoying the Super Volume Mascara from The Body Shop. Interestingly I don't think it gives me extreme volume, but it does deliver a strong separated lash that looks lovely in the daytime. 
My blush of choice recently has been the Jemma Kidd In Vogue Perfect Blush in 5th Avenue. Whether it's swept on or just using the light pink matte colour at the top, I've used it most days over Illamasqua Sob (another favourite, but somehow missed the photo op!).
Finally, I had to include the Sigma E45 Tapered Blending Brush as it's really re-ignited my love of the crease colour. I've been using MAC Jest with Satin Taupe in the crease. Small enough to create a defined crease but fluffy enough to blend seamlessly, it's a great tool for those with smaller lid space.

Which products have you been enjoying recently?

Laura x
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