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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Sausage Cassoulet Recipe & Essential Cuisine Review*

Does anyone else absolutely love cooking in Autumn and Winter? I struggle a little through the warmer months as I never know what to make, but when the cold weather starts, I'm all about the casseroles, stews and slow cooker meals. Last week for the first time I decided to make a Sausage Cassoulet and it was the perfect warming meal we all need on a cold evening. So filling and so tasty. One of the ingredients I used was from Essential Cuisine, a brand who sell high quality stocks and soup bases to take your cooking from simple to spectacular in just a matter of minutes. These products apparently shave hours off chefs preparation time, so if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me! Keep reading to find out how I used one of the liquid stocks in this recipe.
Ingredients: to serve 2 people
6 cumberland sausages (I used Asda extra special ones which are the best ever)
4 slices of bacon
1/2 an onion finely diced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of baked beans
1 tin of butterbeans (drained)
250ml of beef stock
salt, pepper, garlic powder, mixed herbs, and you can also add a tiny bit of chilli powder if you like

Method:
1. First of all prepare your sausages, we grilled ours for about an hour and they were cooked perfectly, we also added the bacon for the last 15 minutes
2. While the sausages are cooking, for the sauce, start off by frying the diced onion
3. When the onion was soft, I added in chopped tomatoes, baked beans, butterbeans and gave it a good stir
4. I then added in my stock, I used 2 teaspoons of the Essential Cuisine beef stock with 250ml of boiling water but you can use normal beef stock cubes if you prefer
5. Next is the seasoning, I added in all of the above but it's completely up to you, and then I left to simmer for around 45 minutes
6. When the sausages and bacon were cooked, I chopped the bacon and added it in, and then I added in the sausages whole but you could chop those too if you prefer
7. After giving it all a good mix, it was ready to serve and we had ours with mashed potato but you could have it with just about anything
This meal was so easy to make, and was a great one to just leave to simmer and not really have to think about that much! It might not look very attractive but honestly it tasted delicious and I could have eaten it again the next day. It's one I know I'll be making a lot from now on. I loved adding in the stock from Essential Cuisine as it was actually a bit quicker than normal stock cubes. It didn't require much mixing at all and just added a lovely meaty flavour to the dish. What's great about these stocks is that aswell as using them as I did, you can also just squeeze in a little to any meals you're making for that instant hit of flavour. They are great to keep in your cupboard and just make life a little bit easier. If you would like to give these a go, they are £3.45 each and you can find out more about them on their website.

What's your go to winter meal?

*Products sent for the purpose of this post, I only work with brands relevant to me and my blog

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A Mini Weekend Away In London - Winter Wonderland, Christmas Shopping & Lots Of Food

I'm currently sat writing this wrapped under a warm blanket, aching all over and feeling a little sad that our little trip away to London is already over. I hadn't spoken about us going back to London on my blog, in fact just a few weeks ago in this post I mentioned that we had no plans to go back for Christmas this year and we really didn't! That was until we knew George had to go one day for work and it required stopping over night, so we thought why not make a weekend out of it? It was all a bit last minute but so exciting. Just to be clear, I'm more than capable of being by myself at home, I just wasn't going to turn down an opportunity to go back to my favourite place! We travelled early Sunday morning so we had the full day and night to do what we wanted, then on Monday as George was working, I had a lot of the day to myself to shop and explore, and it was perfect. So if you want to know what we saw, what we did, and most importantly, what we ate, then keep reading!
Once we were checked in we headed straight to Piccadilly Circus so we could pop to Whole Foods. We can't have a trip to London and not make a visit. They stock Crosstown Doughnuts which are literally the best ever and we always get a few. This time we had the Chocolate Truffle one and a Glazed Vanilla one, both were dreamy. We then got on the tube to the Southbank which was a little odd actually as we usually stay right next to the London Eye, but we were in a different hotel this time. We had a lovely walk along the Southbank and there were so many festive stalls along it, they do such a good Christmas Market around this time of year and all of the food looked amazing. After that we headed for Winter Wonderland which was the main thing we wanted to do this trip.
We had planned on going last year but just didn't have time so it was a real priority this time. It was of course busy as you'd imagine but so worth going to. I think in the end we had walked around Hyde Park twice as it was just so big and there was so much to see, I was in so much pain with my feet afterwards, but I'd do it again tomorrow if I could. It's really expensive and most games and rides are at least £5 but you've got to have a go on a few haven't you? I actually won a cute gingerbread teddy from a hook an olaf game (doesn't that sound creepy?) which I'm sure will look nice somewhere in the flat once we decorate for Christmas. The main food we wanted to try, which we'd seen on Instagram a few days before was HALLOUMI FRIES. I'm just a bit addicted to cheese, especially halloumi so these were a must. I can't even explain how good they were. They were covered in a honey glaze, peppers, mustard, mint and something else too and everything about it was incredible. Everything about Winter Wonderland was great and I'd love to visit again next year. It was all so pretty, and there was still so much to see and do when we left so if you're planning a visit, prepare to spend a good few hours there! We then had a Domino's at the hotel, as they don't deliver to our flat at home and it's kind of tradition while we're in London to get one. I miss it already.
The next day I had a chilled few hours in the hotel getting ready while George headed to work, and then we met up about 11 at The Breakfast Club at Canary Wharf. I'd never been before but I'd heard good things and they really didn't disappoint. I went for the Banoffee Pancakes which had cream, chocolate sauce, toffee sauce, banana and maple syrup, and George had the Pancakes with Bacon and Maple Syrup. I think in the end I only had just over half as it was an absolute mountain and I seriously struggled but god it was good.
After that I then headed off by myself to do some Christmas shopping and I had such a chilled afternoon. I was thinking to myself that morning on the way to meet George how I had literally no anxious thoughts at all and how comfortable I felt, and it's such a huge difference to how I feel at home. Whenever I'm out here I'm always a little on edge and generally I feel some sort of anxiety every single time whereas there, nobody knows me, I can go wherever and feel comfortable and it was just incredible to have that feeling. Just walking around going wherever I liked, and feeling GOOD. I took myself to Borough Market first because again, a trip to London isn't complete without that. I finally picked up one of the nut brownies from Bread Ahead which I didn't get last time and instantly regretted! It was worth every penny. I also picked up a few other bits then went to Covent Garden. It is just the most beautiful sight at Christmas. Look at this silver reindeer! There are decorations everywhere and it made me feel so festive. I didn't get much from Covent Garden but it was still lovely, and I'd planned on getting a few things from Oxford Street anyway which was where I finally ended up.
I ended up meeting George on Oxford Street and we had the final few hours in London together which was really nice. I had a few vouchers to use which is always exciting so I headed to Boots to stock up on some makeup. I've just come to the end of my contour kit so I picked another one of those up, my current blusher is broken so that needed replacing and then I picked up my trusty Maybelline concealer. I then spotted this L'oreal Multi Masking Kit which I absolutely can't wait to use! I've been seeing these face masks everywhere but before I invest in a proper pot of one of them, I thought I'd give this a go and it was on offer which is a bonus. I then picked up a few Xmas presents and stocking bits but apart from that I didn't get much else, though that just means I have more leftover to spend now ;) After walking down the majority of Oxford Street and having a little browse in Selfridges we then decided to head for the train station. We didn't get the train home til about 8 so we were home quite late and so shattered, but it really was a lovely, little break.
I am so incredibly happy we got to go back because we really didn't plan on it, after already going two times this year, and I'd kind of come to terms with that! It might have only been short but it was sweet and for the first time I actually don't feel too sad about now being back, but more happy that we went. Of course as I said at the start I am a little sad and I'm sure as time goes on I'll miss it more and more, but right now I'm just so pleased we went and it really has made these last few months of the year! Also, I saw a few dogs and even got to stroke one at Winter Wonderland so you know, that kind of made it the trip of the year to be honest πŸ˜‚

If you've got to the end of this post, I hope you enjoyed it because I know it's very long and I've probably just rambled as I always do. I just love writing about our little trips away like this one. 

Have you ever been to London at Christmas? Are you planning on visiting Winter Wonderland?

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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The BEST Christmas Films

I'm back from another tiny little blogging break and I'm feeling all festive. I was away in London for the night so didn't get chance to post yesterday but it couldn't be helped and I'm so excited to get writing about our little trip. Anyway, aren't Christmas films just the best? I love snuggling up on the sofa with the duvet or a fluffy blanket, a cup of tea, and a festive film on the TV. I've done similar posts to this in the past but as Chrismas is well and truly on the way now, I wanted to do another and I have a few other films to add now. Let me know if you enjoy any of these aswell!

Elf

 I really don't think there is a better Christmas film than Elf. It has been my favourite for so many years now, I've lost count. I remember looking forward to watching this each year when I was younger, and I'm still exactly the same now. Will Ferrell is amazing as Buddy the Elf and in my opinion it's probably the best film he's done, it's just hilarious and I laugh the same each time I watch it. It's fun to see his transition from the north pole to New York and working out how different life is, I think it's just such a nice story. I'll never get bored of it.
Source

Arthur Christmas

This film came out in 2011 but I only got round to watching it last year! I can't believe it took me so long, as it was a film I knew so many people loved. It's one of those films that now I've watched, I totally get the hype and I know it's going to be one I watch every single year. The story of Santa missing out one child at Christmas and his son Arthur deciding to take it upon himself to deliver presents is brilliant and there's just something about it that's so heartwarming. It's a funny film but also little emotional, or it is to me anyway, I cry at most films! I don't think it matters what age you are, this film is just lovely.

Love Actually

Ahhh one of the best films ever! This film puts a huge smile on my face every single time I watch it. This has been one of my go to Christmas films for such a long time now, it's kind of tradition for it to be on ITV several times each year isn't it? I always end up watching it a good few times before the day and it always makes me warm and fuzzy inside. I love that each character has their own little story going on, the one with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickmans characters always makes me a little sad, but then the one with Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheons characters makes me so happy, the ending is perfect πŸ’›It's not Christmas without this film.
Source

Deck The Halls

 I actually often forget about this film but whenever it's on the TV at Christmas, I like to watch it. I remember watching it a few times when I was younger, I'm not sure if we even went to the cinema to see it on Christmas Eve maybe, so it's always nice to watch it but it is one I forget about sometimes! When I saw it was on TV a few weeks ago though, I put it on straight away and enjoyed it so much. It's basically about two dads who compete with each other to have the best house at Christmas and the best decorations, and it has Danny Devito in it who is always funny. It's one of those films that really gets me excited for Christmas.
Source

Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

 This film always makes me think of Christmas Day. The Santa Clause films seem to be played most years on Christmas Day on BBC I think so it's kind of tradition to watch it while unwrapping presents or just afterwards. Last year we watched the third film and that's probably my favourite of them all, so I can't wait to watch it again this year. This is the film where Scott Calvin aka Santa has to try and hide that he's actually Santa and that he lives in the North Pole from his in laws. There is also Jack Frost who is wanting to take over the North Pole, so I definitely feel it's got a better story than the first two films. This is another one of those films that just makes me feel all fuzzy inside and I love sitting in my pj's watching this with a tasty breakfast.
Source

Nativity 1 & 2

 Lastly, the Nativity films had to be on my list! The first film with Martin Freeman will always be one that makes me laugh. He plays an under achieving teacher who doesn't get along with his new teaching assistant Mr Poppy (though the kids love him) and they basically have to do whatever they can to get one of his ex girlfriends back from America to help film the schools nativity, and he's also still in love with her. It's hilarious in parts, the kids in the film are so talented and there is one in particular who just seems like a little star. The second film is just as good I think too. This time David Tennant replaces Martin Freeman as the class teacher and the story this time is that the class and Mr Poppy want to enter a singing competition and they kind of go and do it behind everyone's backs and it causes a load of drama! Like the first one, it's very funny and I love each character. I'm still yet to watch the third film so I'll have to do that this year!
Source
So that's all the Christmas films I'm looking forward to watching again this year soon! I'm sure they'll be others too but these are my favourites. Do you like any of these too? What film always makes you think of Christmas?

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Friday, 24 November 2017

A Few Beauty & Skincare Bits I'm Loving At The Moment

I seem to have spoken about beauty a lot on my blog recently as I've been trying out some really brilliant products out and I love sharing them with other people! As there are a few things I've been going back to over and over, the last few months, I thought I'd put them together in a little roundup post.

DHC Cleansing Oil 

You're probably getting sick of me talking about this product as I have mentioned it a few times now on my blog but it is one of the best products I've tried this year and it deserves the recognition! I've been using this Oil each night to either remove makeup or to just cleanse and I can't even put into words how soft my skin feels afterwards. It's brilliant for removing makeup, it just dissolves it all and it's so easy to wash off, and then I'm left with the most incredible feeling skin. It's not greasy in anyway and it's not caused me any breakouts which is fab because that's the reason I always avoided products like this. I do have a full review of this if you want to know more, but in short, it's a product I don't think I can live without now.

Palmolive Chocolate Shower Cream

 I'm always buying shower gels, it's actually a problem sometimes, but if I see one I like the look of and it's either on offer or not too expensive, then I'm gonna pick it up. I'd had my eye on this one from Palmolive for a good while actually and it wasn't until I just spotted in Morrisons last month for £1 that I finally picked it up. I was drawn to it because of it's strong chocolate scent (it's literally like chocolate milkshake) but now I've used it, I can say it makes my skin feel so smooth and soft afterwards. It's a little different to usual shower products as it's a cream rather than gel so it's got a really rich, velvety formula but it's just as good, and the scent really is amazing. They do a few other scents too including mint which smells just like mint choc chip ice cream, and strawberry which is just like strawberry milkshake. 

Rimmel Lasting Finish Breathable Concealer

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this concealer! I picked it up when I was getting another bottle of my favourite Rimmel foundation, and as it was quite new and I'd heard good things about it, I decided to give it a go. It's the Lasting Finish Breathable Concealer and I was really intrigued to see how it would compare to some other concealers I've tried recently, but I'm just not sure! I'll start with the positives, I think it's brilliant for under the eyes. A lot of the time when I apply concealer under my eyes, I can't really tell the difference but with this I can, I just feel like it really makes my eyes light up a little bit and it's also great for adding a little bit under the eyebrow as a bit of a highlight. The negative though is that I just don't find it covers spots very well and that's kind of the main reason I use concealer! My skin has been so up and down recently so when it's bad obviously I want to cover any spots up as well as I can but I find with this it just doesn't do much for them. The only concealer I've found that works really well for that is my Maybelline Fit Me one so I think I'm just going to have to go for it and repurchase that. This concealer probably won't be one I buy again but for now I'm enjoying using it just for under my eyes.

Superdrug Beauty Sponge 

This is one of those products which I first tried, absolutely loved and then eventually just sort of forgot about and I'm not sure why! I decided to use it again a few weeks ago and now I have no idea why I ever stopped, because it is brilliant. I like to use it to apply my foundation and any concealer under my eyes and it just works so well. It's so easy to use, blends in foundation really well and gives such a flawless finish to my skin. There are no streaks or anything which you can get with makeup brushes sometimes, and I find my makeup seems to last much longer aswell. I personally think the Superdrug Sponge is much better than the Real Techniques blending sponge, and I'll definitely be picking another one up soon. If you want more info about it, I have a full review up on my blog.

Botanics Micellar Water 

This is another product I feel I've mentioned quite a lot on my blog and social media, but I just love it! The only micellar water I ever used before this was the Garnier one (review here) which I do still absolutely love but when I was sent a few Botanics products to feature in a gift guide, this was the first one I tried and it's now such a favourite of mine. If I don't use the oil which I mentioned earlier in this post, then I use this and it's just so quick and easy to use. It removes makeup so well and is easily just as good as the Garnier one. It doesn't leave my skin feeling dry in anyway or anything, it's brilliant. I'm such a fan of Botanics skincare at the moment so definitely give them a try if you get chance. This particular micellar water is currently on offer for £4.66 instead of £6.99 at Boots.
I'm always on the Superdrug and Boots websites looking for new things to try but over the last few months these have all been my go to products so I just thought they deserved a mention in a blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Have you tried any of these products?

*Affiliate links used in this post

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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Food I Have Been Loving This Week #22

Yep, time for another one of these posts already! I just love writing them and looking back on lots of delicious food, and the last few weeks so far have been full of it.
After Eight Selection - Ahhh don't After Eights just make you think of Christmas? I could eat them all year round really but there is just something about them at this time of year that makes them even better. Mint chocolate is the best and I don't think you can top the original After Eights, but I did find this new pack recently which has milk, white and dark chocolates all filled the peppermint fondant filling, and they were pretty amazing. The dark chocolate ones were my favourite, I couldn't get enough of them. I'm definitely going to get some more of these to put away for Christmas soon.

IKEA - I mentioned a few foodie bits we picked up from IKEA recently in my last one of these posts but we went back again a few weeks ago and this time decided to have some of the classic meatballs in the restaurant and they were insane. I know they probably don't look that exciting but IKEA are kind of known for them aren't they? so you have to get some when you go. It was just such a tasty meal and now I think I'm going to have to get some everytime.

Asda Praline & Chocolate Eclairs - Eclairs are one of my favourite desserts but I don't have them too often as they're not really that great for you and also as George isn't the biggest fan there isn't much point getting some if it's just going to be me eating them, I'd rather get something we both want. Though I did find these Praline ones in Asda recently and even George liked the look of them so we gave them a go and as you can imagine, they were pretty incredible. They were filled with a belgian chocolate mousse and nutty sauce and the topping was rich chocolate fondant and hazelnuts, All of the flavours were so good together and they definitely were more indulgent than a normal eclair.

Simply Cook Chipotle Steak - Now a meal that we've made recently and that's chipotle steak which was one of the best meals we've had in such a long time. The recipe for this was included in a Simply Cook box I reviewed recently and one Saturday night George made it for us, and everything about it was delicious. The seasoning just added something a little extra to the steak and there was also a sauce included to stir in sour cream and drizzle on top and that was such a good addition. Steak is expensive so we don't have it loads but whenever we do we always enjoy it.

American Snacks - There are so many American sweets and drinks available over here now and I'm absolutely loving it. I've tried so many different things but recently I got a Rice Krispie M&M bar and it was just so good. If you've seen the normal Rice Krispie squares bars which you can get for about £1 for a pack of 4 then I'm sure you'd like this. It was basically exactly the same but had lots of mini m&ms and even though it was very, very sweet, I could definitely go for another right now. I found this in a little shop in Meadowhall and they had a few others too so I'm going to have to go back soon and get more. When I was there I also picked up a can of my beloved Peach Fanta and also a little pack of combos which are mini filled pretzel snacks. I put up a little American food haul a while ago which you can find here if you're interested.

Nachos At The Cinema - Lastly, you can't beat nachos at the cinema can you? To say we have unlimited cards we really haven't been to see many films recently so when we did get chance a few weeks ago we went all out with snacks. Nachos are my fave and luckily they topped them with loads of jalapenos and the sour cream and the cheese dip are the best. If you're interested we went to see Murder On The Orient Express which I highly recommend.

I hope this post hasn't made you too hungry, like it has me! So many things I've tried recently I just had to put in this post.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Christmas Advert Hype - Some Of My Favourites

Over the last few years the hype around Christmas adverts, especially the John Lewis one has just grown and grown. Not only is the classic Coca Cola advert one to look forward to, but now John Lewis, Marks and Spencers, Sainsburys and even Aldi compete for the best festive ad. It started a good few years ago when John Lewis released their 2011 advert centered around a little boy being impatient for Christmas because he wanted to give his parents a present, it's really lovely and still makes me a little emotional, and since then they've been bringing out a new one each year hoping to top the last. With theirs doing so well, so many other shops have started getting involved and as there are so many different ones each year I thought I'd do a blog post about them. It's something different to what I've done before but I hope you like it, and I'd love to know what your favourite Christmas advert is so far!

1. John Lewis The Snowmen (2012) 

My favourite ever Christmas ad and one that had to be at the top is The Snowmen from John Lewis which came out in 2012. I remember so clearly watching this with George at his one weekend and getting so emotional at it, it was the first proper one we watched together and I think it will always be special for that reason. I'm not great at explaining stuff so I recommend you just watch, but it's such a heartwarming advert and one I kind of miss every year!

2. Marks and Spencers Paddington Bear (2017) 

 If you've seen some of my recent posts it's probably no surprise the new Marks and Spencers advert starring Paddington is near the top of this list. I'm a big fan of Paddington and the films, so when I saw this advert, I was so, so happy. It's just very cute and one of my favourites over the last few years. I already don't know how they'll top it next year for me!

3. Marks and Spencers Mrs Claus (2016)

 It was last year I think Marks and Spencers really started to compete with John Lewis for the best Christmas ad, and I do think they won it. Last year John Lewis had the Buster the Boxer ad which I just didn't think was as good as some of their previous ones, and then M&S came out with this which was just wonderful. It was funny, it was emotional, it was just the best one of 2016 I think and I'm so glad they've come out with another great one this year.

4. Sainsburys 1914 (2014)

 Sainsburys pulled something special out of the bag with this advert in 2014. Even now it makes me cry and it just completely shows what Christmas is all about. It's called Christmas is for Sharing and it was made in conjunction with the Royal British Legion and it focuses on the famous Christmas Day football match between the British and German forces in 1914. I think this is probably one of the best ever Christmas adverts and will probably always be one of my favourites.

5. Heathrow Airport Coming Home For Christmas (2016) 

A Christmas advert for Heathrow is a bit of an odd one and not one you'd think would be included on this list but last year they brought one out and it is just adorable. As there are two bears that's kind of my reason for loving it so much but it's just a lovely little story and as you can imagine, it's another one that makes me cry, the ending just gets me!

6. John Lewis Monty The Penguin (2014) 

Back to John Lewis, and this time it's their Monty The Penguin advert, which has the nicest story of a boy and his toy penguin who wants to find love. The song included Real Love by Tom Odell is perfect and it's one that always makes me think of Christmas now whenever I hear it. I love the whole advert and it's so different to the others they have come out with.

7. John Lewis The Bear and The Hare (2013) 

Before Monty The Penguin there was the Bear and the Hare and even though it's not my favourite ever John Lewis ad, it is really nice to watch and gives me all the feels. It's another one that is just adorable, they do cute things like this so well, I don't know how they come up with so many different ideas.

8. Sainsburys (2013) 

This was before a lot of shops started properly going for it with theirs ads, and even though this one is quite simple, it's still one of my favourites and one I always remember at Christmas. It's nice to just see clips from lots of families celebrating Christmas and there are some really funny bits in. The ending though is what gets me as a man returns from the army to surprise his family and it's so heartwarming. A very emotional ending to quite a normal, basic advert but one I think I'll always remember!
There are so many other adverts I could have included but I think I picked the best so hopefully if you haven't seen them before, you enjoy them! The newest John Lewis advert came out a few weeks ago and to be honest I didn't think it was as good as others have been but I'm not sure if we all just hype it up too much now so it's easy to be disappointed when it finally arrives!

Do you look forward to the John Lewis advert every year? Are any of these your favourites too?

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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Birchbox Unboxing and Review - November 2017

After a disappointing September and October Birchbox I was really hoping they were going to smash it with their November box and they did! I really didn't want another box full of repeated things that I'm not going to use but with the November one, every single product is exciting and I know I'm going to enjoy using them. So, if you like reading these unboxing posts then keep reading to see what I was lucky enough to receive. 
This month Birchbox teamed up with Vogue so straight away I thought it would be an exciting box. All products were beauty editor approved and picked meaning they all must be pretty good and worth trying. As always the box is beautiful, there were two designs to choose from and I love the one I decided on. The pink background with gold letters is stunning and I think out of all of the ones I've received so far it's probably my favourite. I think this would look so pretty on display somewhere in our office on a white desk. 
Anyway now onto the products. This month as always there were two products everyone gets, a mini Benefit Hoola Bronzer and a Birchbox Brush Cleaner. When both of these were revealed, I was happy which definitely makes a change to the last few months. I've read several reviews of the Benefit Hoola Bronzer before so I'm so glad I finally have one. I've tried it a few times already and I'm in love! Also the brush cleaner is a fab little product and really worth having. I actually really love cleaning my brushes but I don't do it often enough at all, so I'm hoping this will motivate me a little to get it done more. It's really easy to use, you can just add a small amount of soap to it and then swirl the wet brush over it and leave to dry. I've seen things like this quite a lot online so I'm really happy to have this.
The next three products I received were the ones I had no idea about, the Percy and Reed Volumising No Oil - Oil, Seche Vite Top Coat Nail Polish and James Read Overnight Tan Sleep Mask. I love the look of all of these and really think they were all brilliant addition to this months box, I can see why they were chosen. I've heard great things about Percy and Reed before but just have never picked any of their products up. This smoothed, sealed and sensational volumising no oil, oil not only nourishes and repairs your hair but it also uses violet extract to keep it sleek while adding volume. As my hair is quite long at the moment, it definitely lacks volume so any product that can help with that is amazing. I've received a few products like this from Birchbox so far and even though it can be annoying to get the same sorts of products, this is a brand I've wanted to try for a while so I really don't mind. The Seche Vite Top Coat is an amazing product to have, so many people have raved about this before but I never thought I'd get the chance to try it. I love using a top coat on my nails as they really do prevent chipping and make it last so much longer, though I just never buy them! So happy to have this. Lastly, even though I never ever fake tan I can't wait to try the Tan Sleep Mask. This is an overnight product so doesn't require much effort, just apply to face and let it do it's thing. It's a tanning gel so is supposed to leave your skin feeling hydrated too aswell as giving a subtle glow. I get a bit sceptical about using products like this on my face as my skin can be a little sensitive but I think I'm going to brave it soon.
Overall, I'm so impressed with the November box and I'm so glad I decided to continue. As I've only been subscribed a few months I didn't want another box that's a bit of a let down but this one really is great. I'll use every single product, and I'm sure once I have they'll be featured in some sort of blog post. At the moment my plan is to continue with my subscription until the December box and then I'll have a re-think after Christmas, hopefully the next box will just as good! If you've been thinking of subscribing, I definitely recommend doing it now while you can still get this box! Some of the other products you have a chance of getting look just as good as these, I have a referal link here which gets you £5 off your first box!

What did you think to this months Birchbox?

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Monday, 20 November 2017

Christmas With Botanics - Gift Guide*

I've managed to do quite a few Christmas Gift Guides this year which I'm very happy about but today I have one more for you and then that's it for 2017! How is Christmas so close already?! Todays gift guide is all about Botanics skincare so might be worth reading if you know somebody who is really into their beauty products!
Botanics Skincare just seem to have grown and grown in popularity over this last year, and I've seen so many bloggers enjoying their products, so they clearly work for lots of people. If you've not heard of them though, hopefully this post will give you a little insight into what this natural skincare brand is all about and what brilliant products they do. There are a number of ranges available at Boots from Botanics and they are all targeted at specific skin types so I thought I'd go through them and tell you a few of my faves from each one.

All Bright 

This range is perfect for those who suffer with dull skin and need something to liven it up a little bit! Hibiscus is the main feature in this range so it smells absolutely beautiful which I always think is pretty important, and there are a variety of products you can choose from to try and make a little difference to your skin. Cleansing, Toning, Exfoliating and much more, this range has your whole skincare routine covered. Products like their 3-in-1 Micellar Solution are brilliant for removing every trace of makeup and the Night Cream is a great one for keeping your skin looking healthy and in tip top condition.

Radiant Youth 

The Radiant Youth range is brilliant for targeting the early signs of ageing. Infused with a cocktail of anti-oxidents from the Ginko plant, these products help keep your skin looking younger and healthier. Products like the Nourishing Eye Cream can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark circles and the Microdermabraison Polish helps to exfoliate away any dead skin cells on the surface of the skin to boost brightness and luminosity.

Organic 

Infused with Organic Rosehip extract, this range is rich in omegas and essential fatty acids, all nourishing skin foods which can help with a healthy complexion. The gentle formula leaves skin feeling so soft and smooth and like the other ranges, there are so many different products to choose from. The product that really intrigues me from this range is the Hot Cloth Cleanser. It's a little different to usual hot cloth cleansers from other brands as it's a balm rather than a cream and I personally think it's a great one to use during the week for a little skincare pamper. It just melts into the skin, removing any traces of makeup and really hydrates any dry areas. Other products in this range which are a little different but worth picking up are the Facial Oil which is non-greasy, fast absorbing and locks in moisture for hours, and the Rosewater Toning Spritz which leaves skin feeling refreshed and revitalized, I imagine this is even better to use during the warmer months!

Hydration Burst

 My favourite of the ranges, Hydration Burst is perfect for those wanting to nourish dry skin. The products in the range are infused with soothing Clary Sage extract, this was chosen because of its self activating ability to store water in dry conditions. The colder months can really dry skin out and leave it in a pretty horrible condition so this range especially is great for helping combat that. My absolute favourite product from the range is the Micellar Cleanser which removes makeup so quickly and effectively. It leaves skin feeling so refreshed and clean and it's a product I'll definitely be picking up in future. It's currently on offer for £4.66 instead of £6.99 so if you're in need of a new micellar water, I really recommend this one. Other products in the range worth considering are the Day Lotion which leaves skin feeling supple and smooth and also the Day Cream.
Botanics have really impressed me over the last few months and are definitely worth looking into if you're wanting some new skincare items to try or if you know someone who is into their beauty and skincare routines. With so many ranges available for all different skin types, there really is something for everyone and all at affordable prices that won't break the bank. If you're already sorted for Christmas then maybe few of these items could be good to pick up in the future for maybe a little self care package or a little birthday hamper? Botanics are perfect to use all year round so definitely keep them in mind!
Have you ever tried any skincare from Botanics before?

*Botanics products sent for the purpose of this post. I only work with brands relevant to me and my blog. Affiliate links used in this post

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Friday, 17 November 2017

Homeware Christmas Gift Guide - 2017

I personally love receiving homeware gifts at Christmas, there is just something so nice about unwrapping something that can take pride of place in one of the rooms, whether that's a candle, photo frame, ornaments, anything really, I just love adding new bits to our home. If you're know someone who isn't really into beauty or fashion or you're just a bit stuck for ideas, then hopefully some of these homeware items I've found will help you, there are so many nice bits out this year.

Phone & Tablet Stand* 

Do you ever have that dilemma where you're cooking and have to keep going back to your phone and looking at the recipe? or do you ever just want to sit your phone down in one room with some music on and get on with all the cleaning? Well if you do, then this phone and tablet stand from A Place For Everything could be a great choice for you, or any friends or family members you're currently shopping for. This stylish, solid oak stand fits any phone perfectly and would make a great addition to the living room for Christmas parties or in the kitchen on Christmas day, to just make life a little bit easier. Finished in solid oak and handmade in Wales by local designers, each piece is branded with the words 'myPad' and I personally think it looks much more expensive than it is. Currently priced at £20, this is an excellent choice for those prone to misplacing their tablet or phone.

Cancer Research UK Homeware 

This year I really wanted to feature some bits from different charities as so many do lovely things that would make perfect gifts, and are often overlooked! Starting with Cancer Research UK, you can find lots of homeware items on their website ranging from blankets to cushions and even candles, aswell as so much more. A few of my favourites are the Tartan Winter Blankets which are only £3.99, what a bargain, and how soft do they look! A blanket never goes amiss in winter, and also the Stag Cushion which is £5.99, makes the perfect addition to a room this Christmas. Lastly, I love this Robin Hot Water Bottle. A hot water bottle on a cold night is just heaven and how cute is this one? It's £3.99 which I think is a pretty brilliant price! Given that these are all under £10 they won't break the bank and will make wonderful stocking fillers.

Candles Are Always A Good Idea 

 A candle can never be a bad present can it? I truly believe you can never have too many, when one runs out I like to have another ready to go so the more the merrier. There are so many candles I could feature in this post but the one I finally decided on was the Prosecco one from Next which is currently £6. I featured it in my October favourites and I'm really considering picking a few more up as it's such a gorgeous scent and would make a fabulous gift for someone. Not only does it just look really sleek and chic but it has comes in a gorgeous box and just looks so much more expensive than it actually is. With candles it can be tricky sometimes if you're not sure exactly what someones taste is or what colours they like to go for in each room but I think this is just really classic and would look lovely in just about any room. Next have so many gifts and candles in at the moment, including a Bellini one and Gin Fizz one so definitely check them out this year!

Great Ormond Street Mugs 

 Another charity to shop at this year is Great Ormond Street. They have a lovely range of homeware to choose from including cups and travel mugs which feature designs done by the children who are cared for at Great Ormond Street Hospital. 100% of the profits made from the range goes towards helping the hospital so it's really such a worthy cause and worth considering this year. My favourites this year are the Latte style mug and the Reusable drinks mug which are both £5. Whether you're out running errands or just relaxing at home, both of these are perfect and are sure to brighten up wherever you are. You can find so many festive gifts on the website here including notebooks, calendars and crafty kits, all really well priced!

Dogs Trust Gifts 

 The last charity I wanted to mention in this gift guide is Dogs Trust, one I personally donate to every month. I've had a look at their gifts in the past and considered them but this year they really do have loads to choose from, you are spoilt for choice! One of my favourites which I think could be perfect if know someone with a little four legged friend of your own is this Wooden Photo Frame which is £7.99. It's a rustic style frame with hanging heart detail and heart shaped inner frame, and I'm sure it would be a lovely gift to unwrap. I also love these two hanging Christmas decorations, the yellow labrador and the dachshund, both £7.95. I love that they're so different to other christmas decorations people might have and the little ribbon and silver bell on them is so cute. Lastly, more mugs because can you ever have too many? This golden retriever one is adorable and perfect for the cold months for lots of hot cups of tea and hot chocolates. It's only £5.99 and they also have loads of others to choose from.

Pretty Gifted Personalised Gift Wrap* 

So this isn't a homeware gift but I really wanted to include this personalised wrapping paper from Pretty Gifted in a gift guide. Pretty Gifted allow you to create your own luxury wrapping paper, in a matter of minutes and it's so easy to do. First of all you can choose from a collection of quality papers in an array of luxury colours, then pick from 5 fonts, select your favourite metallic foil, write your message and then you can add a little extra icon, but that's it! The colour I chose was peppermint and I went for copper foil as I just thought those two would go well together. I kept the text simple with 'Happy Christmas' and I chose a little Christmas tree icon and I just love how it looks. You can tell instantly the paper is good quality and it arrives packaged perfectly so no damage can be done during delivery and it even comes with a little gift tag and a gel pen which is a nice extra touch. I think this is such a good idea for wrapping those special Christmas presents this year and well worth considering, I personally can't wait to get started! If you want anymore information or want to create your own wrapping paper, check out their website here.
I hope if you love homeware as much as me this gift guide has given you a few ideas. I love everything I managed to include and I'm so glad there are a few bits from charities too as they all have some really wonderful gifts in for Christmas.

Have you made a start on your Christmas shopping yet?

This Weeks Gift Guides - Womens // Mens // Food #1 // Food #2

*Products marked with a * were sent for the purpose of this post. I only work with brands I feel are relevant to me and my blog. Affiliate links used in this post

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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Mens Christmas Gift Guide - 2017*

I think something most of us can agree on, men are incredibly difficult to buy for. I genuinely struggle every year when it comes to buying presents for George and even though I think I do okay, I'm always a little worried on the day, that what I got could just look totally random! They just never give us much of an idea of what they want do they? So that's why I love doing these Christmas gift guides, to hopefully give other people a bit of inspiration when it comes to buying for the men in their life as it really can be a struggle!

Printsome Personalised T-shirts* 

I think personalised gifts are always nice, whether they are a special sentimental gift or if you're just looking for something that's a bit of a novelty present, you can always find some great things online which you can add your own touch to. The place I wanted to mention this year is Printsome who are a London T-shirt printing agency that offer their personalised service all over the UK. On their website you can personalise T-shirts, hoodies, jumpers, polo shirts, vest tops, aprons, workwear, sportswear, headwear, bags and accessories, just about everything, and you can add pretty much what you like. The process is so easy to do and takes very little time and delivery is within 5-10 days so good if you tend to leave Christmas presents until the last few weeks of December! If you're looking for something a little personal this year then definitely have a look at the website here.

AT Cross Stationery* 

I really don't think you can go wrong with stationery as a gift whether you're buying for men or women. Everyone needs notebooks, pens, diaries etc, they are always useful and a lot of the time you don't realise you need them until you've ran out, so getting them as a gift is always helpful I think. You can buy stationery from just about anywhere now, I got a lovely little set from Asos last year for George for a really great price, but if you're looking for something specific then AT Cross stationery could be the place for you. They do a wide range of stationery products but the one I really like is this Star Wars themed Sheaffer R2-D2 Rollerball Pen. It's got a unique design, looks very stylish and is comfortable to use. It's £16 which is definitely pricey for a pen but if you really want to splash out on someone and treat them to something you know they'll like, then this is definitely worth considering. They do a few different Star Wars products so lots more to choose from that would make great presents. Perfect if you know someone who is into the films and is a big fan.

Star Wars Travel Mug* 

 Sticking with the Star Wars theme, this travel mug from A Place For Everything is great for those on the go who have a love for the films. Now we're fully into Autumn and the cold has really started, travel mugs are just brilliant and really needed on frosty mornings on the way into work. Holding 475ml of your favourite hot drink, this travel mug is easy to fill, refill and clean and the lid clip gives easy access to your drink whilst preventing any spillage on your travels. You can choose from Yoda, Stormtrooper or Darth Vader and each travel mug is £8. I think practical gifts like this are always a good choice and one of these saves spending money each day at a local coffee shop!

Encona Hot Sauces* 

 If you know someone who is a bit of a foodie or likes experimenting with cooking then things like this Encona Carolina Reaper Chilli Sauce could be a quirky little stocking filler! You might think this is a bit of a random one but you can get so many different food gifts now from all sorts of places and I really do think they make great presents, and they are also great to add to hampers if that's the route you're going down. This hot and fruity sauce contains the hot Carolina Reaper Chilli blended with tomatoes, garlic, cumin and orange, so a whole range of flavours and you can add it to a load of different meals! It's a perfect little present for any spicy food fanatics you know and as it's limited edition, it's definitely worth picking up while you can. Instead of sticking to the usual brands, why not try something from Encona?

Badger Ales IPA Beer*

 Alcohol can be a great present to give at Christmas and this year Badger Ales have a brand new addition, 'An American Adventure'. Badgers Ales have been brewing in the heart of the Dorset countryside since 1777 and they are one of the leading independent brewers in the UK. They wanted to take inspiration from other countries with a rich brewing heritage and that's how this beer came about. Just awarded a UK silver in the World Beer Awards, IPA category, this combination of Amarillo, Mosaic and Cascade hops with a classic American ale yeast, results in a refreshing West Coast style beer.  A unique IPA beer like this could be an excellent present for anyone you know who is into their beer, whether that be your partner, dad, brother etc, it's a brilliant choice. It's available at Ocado and Waitrose for £2.19 a bottle or 2 for £4 so really reasonably priced!

Novelty Books 

Lastly, I think novely gifts are always fun. Little books available from places like Boots, Paperchase and even supermarkets are a funny little stocking filler and don't often cost much either. I've bought George little books like this a few times and this year one I've picked up (and given to him early because I'm just eager) is this Manfulness one from Boots which was £5. It's half series, half jokey and I just thought it was a bit of a different gift to everything else I've picked up already. This is a bit of a tongue in cheek book which features topics on mindful pint drinking to ways to cope with stressful life events like meeting the parents, and there are even a few activities in there. If you need a few final gifts for someone or don't want to spend loads then this is definitely worth considering.
I hope all of these things have given you some inspiration for gifts this Christmas. It really can be so hard coming up with new ideas each year but there are some great things out at the moment so really worth looking around!

*Products marked with a * were sent for the purpose of this post. I only work with brands relevant to me and my blog. Affiliate links used in this post

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