Wednesday 27 November 2019

My 2019 Food & Drink Christmas Gift Guide*

It's time for my third gift guide of the week and this one is all about the food and drink, which I personally think is one of the best things about Christmas. In case you haven't already seen, this week I've shared a women's gift guide featuring lots of beauty bits, jewellery, luxury haircare and lots more, and yesterday I shared a men's gift guide featuring everything from novelty bits to designer items so feel free to give those a read too. Let's get started!
flatlay - morse toad chocolates, equinox kombucha, freedom beer

Morse Toad Personalised Christmas Chocolates £9.95*

First up we're talking chocolate and you can't beat the huge range available from Morse Toad. Morse Toad consists of a small team of hard working individuals keen on delivering moments of happiness through personalised gifts. I've spoken many times before about my love for personalised presents, I just think they show real thought and effort and I'm always on the lookout for more brands to buy from. There are a variety of gifts available from Morse Toad including a Secret Message Advent Calendar, Chocolate Cards and even hampers but the thing I love is their Personalised Christmas Chocolates. You can choose your chocolate message, add a personalised message to be printed onto the card insert and even add a photo which is a lovely added touch. This takes minutes to do but can be a really special gift for someone at this time of year. There's no need to worry about the quality of the chocolate either as Morse Toad use Belgian Milk Chocolate and I can assure you it is divine! There can be a worry with gifts like this sometimes that the chocolate will be a little cheap tasting but trust me, this is gorgeous. The last thing I wanted to mention about the personalised chocolates is that their letterbox friendly! No need to worry about collecting yet another parcel at this time of year from the Post Office. I couldn't recommend checking out Morse Toad for personalised chocolates enough, I can't wait to buy from them again!
Morse Toad personalised chocolates on heart chopping board
Closeup of Morse Toad chocolate with card

Vaso Premium Glass Straws £11.99*

Next up we have Premium Glass Straws from Vaso. These offer consumers a reusable, sustainable and recyclable alternative to plastic straws - such a simple change but one that can have an incredible impact on the environment. Billions of plastic straws are used and therefore wasted each year so they end up in landfills, our oceans and our general environment, and whilst a lot of places have started switching to paper straws and other alternatives, there's still so much work to be done. The great thing about these glass straws is that not only are you making a change, they do also deliver 100% pure taste because they're free from plastics, toxins, mineral oils and BPA. The straws are easy to clean and can obviously be used over and over again. The straws are available in 15cm, 20cm, 23cm and there's also a mixed pack, and each is currently on offer for £11.99. Vaso also do Bamboo Cases at £3 which is so handy so you can have one of the straws in your bag ready to use in restaurants etc. I think Vaso straws are a great idea for either yourself or someone you know who may be wanting to make simple swaps where they can.
Vaso glass straw in glass in front of christmas tree
Vaso glass straws held in front of wicked cup

Equinox Kombucha Spiced Gingerbread Kombucha*

Next up we have Equinox Kombucha with their new special edition Christmas flavour, Spiced Gingerbread. Can you get more festive than gingerbread? I don't think so, it's one of my favourites at this time of year! Available at Waitrose and Partners and online for a limited amount of time, this is the perfect booze-free tipple for the festive period. I don't drink a lot of alcohol and at Christmas time there is always the added pressure I feel so any alternatives that are tasty and allow me to feel like I'm not missing out, are a winner. The Spiced Gingerbread flavour is vegan-friendly, organic and sustainable and not only does it taste like Christmas in a bottle with it's blend of spicy ginger, zesty orange peel, juniper berry and festive spices, it also has a positive impact on the mind, body and planet. I think this could be a great choice to accompany a cheese board over Christmas or to enjoy at a party or two over the New Year. You can buy packs of 20 bottles for £36 on the Equinox Kombucha website.
Bottles of Equinox Kombucha on chopping board with baubles and holly
Feeling wicked cup on chopping board, Equinox Kombucha next to it

Kellogg's Pop Tart Gift Set £10

Okay for anyone who loves Pop Tarts, this is the perfect gift! Currently on offer for £10 at Debenhams you get a unique Pop Tart shaped ceramic plate aswell as beech wood tongs for picking your Pop Tarts out the toaster, which let's be honest is tricky sometimes! I absolutely love adore Pop Tarts, always have, always will, the classic chocolate ones are my favourite or the strawberry but you can get an array of American flavours now too so I think a box of those and this gift set would be a cute present this year. I would be thrilled to open this on Christmas day 😂
Pop Tart gift set

Next Cork Collector £25

Now, for any wine lovers you know, how cool is this Cork Collector from Next? As I said just a minute ago I'm not a huge drinker but if I was I would 100% have something like this in our kitchen. It's got that beautiful rustic look with a quote on the front and when filled with corks, I think it makes a fantastic piece of art.
Next Every Cork Tells A Story Art

KitKat Chocolatory 6 Finger Pack £7.50

Something else for the chocolate lovers in your life, KitKat have released a brand new range of flavours, available to buy from John Lewis. They're definitely not cheap at £7.50 for 6 KitKat fingers but they are exclusive flavours you won't find anywhere else and as you can see from the photos, they're packed full of delicious ingredients. A few of the flavours are Billionaire's Treasure which has a caramel filling and shortbread pieces, Nuttylicious with hazelnuts, pistachios and peanuts, Gin & Tonic and Whisky & Ginger just to name a few. Such a unique idea!
KitKat Billionnaire's KitKat

New Look Chocolate Mug Cake Set £8.99

For any bakers you know, how cute is this mug gift set? New Look actually do some really lovely homeware pieces and I've definitely bought one too many mugs from there before. Not only is this a gorgeous mug with the cutest slogan, you also get a microwave cake mix included which is a perfect treat for a cold Winter evening!
New Look mug with cake mix inside
So that's my food and drink gift guide and I really hope it's been useful for any foodies you're buying for this year. There's just so many gorgeous bits out at the moment so it was incredibly difficult to narrow it down! Have you made a start on Christmas shopping yet?

*Products marked * are PR samples

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Tuesday 26 November 2019

My 2019 Men's Christmas Gift Guide*

We all know men can be notoriously hard to buy for when it comes to Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, you name it, I always struggle! Each year I spend ages wracking my brain trying to come up with ideas I haven't done over and over in the past and I always find gift guides incredibly useful when I'm feeling like that. This year I've found some really brilliant gifts for the men in our lives so I hope if you struggle like me, that this might give you a bit of inspiration. Let me know if you have any other ideas too!
flatlay - bespoke london aftershave, morse toad chocolate, book, fred perry wallet

The Inside Inn Beer Set £18.50*

For those beer lovers in your life, bring the pub to your home with the Inside Inn Beer Set from Best Of British Beer. Open up the pub to find 4 bottles of Freedom beer including Freedom Pale, Freedom Four Craft Lager, Freedom Pilsner Lager and Freedom Organic Helles. Not only do you get this selection of refreshing drinks, you also get tasting notes and a pub quiz so great for a night in with friends! All Freedom beers are suitable for vegans too and I think the price of £18.50 for four full sized beers in the incredibly cool gift box it arrives in is reasonable. A great idea for anyone you know who loves trying different beers! There are lots of other products available too though including a Beer Advent Box, a 3 Beer Gift Set and a British Beer Crate.
The inside inn gift set
Freedom beers from the inside inn gift set

Bespoke London Eau Fraiche & Eau De Parfum - £6.99 - £9.99*

Next up, you can't beat a fragrance for the man in your life when it comes to Christmas time. Usually I find the issue is the price, you can end up paying almost £50 for a small bottle and sometimes it's just not worth the money, but there's no need to worry about that with Bespoke London. They prove that smelling luxe doesn't need to cost the earth with their range which captures the essence of masculinity and embodies every type of man. There are several scents to choose from including Wild Herbs & Tonka Beans, Sweet Spice & Sandalwood, and Oriental Woods and Amber, but the one I personally love is the Fresh Citrus and Vetiver. It's packed with crisp notes of mandarin, fresh ginger, apple and black pepper so is incredibly zesty but still has that deep musky scent we all like in a man's aftershave. All scents are available in the form of a Body Spray, Eau Fraiche and Eau De Parfum and are incredibly affordable with prices starting at £2.99.
bespoke london aftershave held up over flatlay
bespoke london aftershave closeup

Fred Perry Wallet £35*

For the designer lovers in your life, you can't miss out on items like this classic Fred Perry Wallet from Mainline Menswear! The classic billfold wallet in black is textured faux leather with a contrasting stitched trim and of course the signature Fred Perry Laurel Wreath logo in gold. What I love about this is how high end it looks and feels yet at £35 it's considerably cheaper than a few others I've seen online in the past. Fred Perry is definitely one of the more expensive brands to turn at this time of year but if you want to splash out or really treat someone, this could be the perfect gift. The inside of the wallet has multiple compartments aswell as one large compartment for notes and card slots too so don't worry, it is practical too. If you're in the market for something different Mainline Menswear also sell branded t-shirts, jumpers, trainers and accessories so well worth checking out!
Fred Perry wallet held up over flatlay

Personalised Guitar Wall Stand £49.95

Now for the music lovers, Not On The High Street have some really cool personalised items that I think anyone would be thrilled to receive. My personal fave which I honestly think we'll end up with in our next home is the Personalised Solid Oak Guitar Wall Stand. Available as a single or a double for two guitars, this is ideal if you want to try and save space where you can, guitars take up a lot of room! You can add a personalised message and there's a plectrum holder too, and whilst it's not cheap, I think it's such a unique gift idea.
personalised guitar stand

Beard Buddy Shaving Apron £8.99

I've seen shaving aprons like this around a few places and each year I've wondered if it would be worth getting for George, but this year I am seriously tempted! Anyone else find their other half gets their hair all over the sink when they shave and they just somehow don't notice? It drives me mad! This is where the shaving aprons come in handy as it can attach to the mirror and hook around the neck meaning it will catch every hair that falls, genius! Yeah it's a bit of a novelty gift but an essential for some!
shaving apron

Sudokube £5.99

Sticking with the novelty gifts, I love this Sudokube I've found from Prezzybox. It's £5.99 which I think is really affordable and it's one of those things you could spend literally hours on! Obviously it's in the style of a classic rubik's cube but with the numbers 1-9 on each side instead so if you know anyone who loves a brain teaser, this is a great one to get stuck into!

Whisky Glass Gift Set £12

Next always do great presents for men and this year I'm liking the look of their Whisky Glass Gift Set which is reasonably priced at £12. For anyone you know who loves a tipple, this is sure to put a smile on their face. You get a stunning whisky glass with four whisky stones which are great for keeping your drink cool without watering it down! Such a great idea but they also have a few other similar sets if maybe whisky isn't your thing.
Next whisky glass gift set

Personalised Bedside Watch & Phone Stand £39.95

Back to Not On The High Street for my final choice of this gift guide, and this time it's the Personalised Watch & Phone Stand. This is incredibly handy if you (or your partners) bedside tables are always cluttered. Sometimes there just isn't space for anything! This is a neat solution for any accessories you have and of course a great way to display your phone overnight. Not cheap at almost £40 though so maybe consider if you're wanting to get one or two luxury items instead.
phone and watch stand
So that's a wrap for my second gift guide of 2019 and I really hope it's been useful if you struggle to buy for the men in your life at times like this. Remember to come back tomorrow for my food & drink gift guide where I'll be sharing lots of yummy gift ideas!

*Products marked * are PR samples

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Monday 25 November 2019

My 2019 Women's Christmas Gift Guide*

It's time of year again! I'm back with my Christmas gift guides and I couldn't be more excited about it! Every year I look forward to putting these together and it's always something that is guaranteed to put me in the festive mood. Like previous years, this year I'll be sharing my gift ideas for women and men, and they'll also be a food and drink gift guide, and even one for pets! With this being my first year as a dog mum, I'm more excited than ever for Christmas Day and as I've been picking up lots of bits for Bear, I thought I would put one day together, so that will be up later this week. Anyway let's get back to today's post, my women's gift guide. I've got an array of different ideas for you so I hope if you're looking for inspiration for your mum, sister, partner, friend etc, that this is useful. Let's get started!
flatlay - T-Zone glitter face masks, Eye Majic instant eyeshadow, MasqueBAR gold gift set, Jana Reinhardt necklace, Sensationail nail polishes

Nailtural Nail Polishes £6*

Let's start with nail polish because you can never have too many can you? If you know a beauty lover, or someone who likes to get their nails done regularly then look no further than the new Nailtural Nail Polishes from Sensationail. There are over 20 beautiful colours to choose from, all with natural ingredients and a 10 Free Formula and every product is vegan and totally cruelty free! Not only do these look absolutely gorgeous on, but they are also easy to apply, fast drying and can be removed quickly which is an added bonus! The shades below are Naturally Nude and Profound Plumeria so maybe not strictly Autumn and Winter colours but shades that you could wear all year round. There's also a Cuticle Oil available and a non-drying nail varnish remover which has been enriched with soy and plant extracts. These are £6 each and you can find out more on the Sensationail website!
Sensationail nail polishes - pink and blue
flatlay - sensationail pink and blue nail polishes and natural cuticle oil on heart chopping board

MasqueBAR Gold Face Mask Gift Set £10*

Ahh I do love a face mask! If you do too or a family member is partial to a bit of pampering, then MasqueBAR have some great gift sets to choose from. Christmas time is made for luxury and can you get much more luxurious than gold foil face masks? I'm a big fan of the Gold Foil Peel Off Mask but not only is that included, you also get the Gold Hydrogel Eye Mask, the Gold Foil Calming Sheet Mask and a Gold Foil Peel Off Mask Pod. MasqueBAR masks tend to be anything from £3 onwards so I think £10 for all of this is fab! What I love about these masks is that you can tell they're of high quality and they always make my skin feel rejuvenated and refreshed. I've not been disappointed so far so I couldn't recommend them enough! You can buy their masks at Feelunique and Boots!
MasqueBAR Gold Foil Gift Set
closeup of MasqueBAR Gold Foil Peel Off Mask

Osmo Deep Moisture Gift Set £19.99*

Now for some haircare! I don't know about you but I hate paying loads for my haircare products so I tend to just grab whatever's on offer or I'll buy a few at a time when there's a good deal on, so if you know anyone that's the same, Christmas is the perfect time to treat them to something a little bit more luxurious. One set I think is brilliant value is the OSMO Deep Moisture Gift Set which is currently £19.99 at Sally Beauty. These bottles are normally around £14 each so you're getting a huge saving there. This deeply hydrating gift set can banish all of those damaged hair blues without weighing it down giving silky, smooth, manageable results. Formulated with Pataua Oil and Keratin Complex, it's the perfect combination for that fresh look for the new year. This particular set includes Deep Moisture Shampoo, Deep Moisture Conditioner and and Intensive Deep Repair Mask.
Osmo deep moisture gift set

Love Leggings Khaki Cropped Leggings £13.50*

Moving away from beauty for a little while, let's talk clothing! For those who live in pairs of leggings or just like to have a pair to throw on whenever, I mean who doesn't? they're one of the comfiest clothing items ever, Love Leggings are a brand you need to know about. At Love Leggings, they offer a range of non-see-through leggings (something that is always a worry!) including Everyday Cotton, Maternity, Kids and Sports Leggings meaning there's something for everyone! The particular pair below are the Khaki Cropped Leggings - that's personally just the style I prefer and I adore anything khaki coloured and I am incredibly excited to wear these over Xmas! These are 3/4 length and are available in a range of sizes, and they're only £13.50! I think for a good quality pair of leggings that's really reasonable. Many more colours and styles are available on the website so make sure you check them out!
Love Leggings green khaki leggings

Jana Reinhardt Polar Bear Necklace £85*

You can't go wrong with a piece of jewellery at Christmas time and the first of two items I want to share in this gift guide is this stunning Polar Bear Necklace from Jana Reinhardt. With a variety of lengths and colours to choose from, it really is an absolutely beautiful piece that anyone would be thrilled to receive. Jana Reinhardt pieces are all about personality and I think that comes through with this. All of their jewellery is made in Worthing by a small team of professional goldsmiths and it's made entirely by hand so you know you're getting something special with any item of theirs. Whilst the Polar Bear necklace is obviously close to my heart due to my own little Bear, they also have a Penguin Pendant Necklace which is adorable. Gifts of this style have become more and more popular since a certain John Lewis advert years ago so maybe this would be a nice idea if you know anyone who particularly loved that. The necklaces are £85 so the most expensive item in this gift guide but when buying jewellery you want to know it's going to last and I think the price really reflects the quality here.
Jana Reinhardt necklace in box, on heart chopping boar
closeup of polar bear necklace from Jana Reinhardt

T-Zone Glitter Face Masks £2.99*

Back to face masks, because there really is nothing better when having a bit of a pamper evening. I have a huge stash in the bathroom now, it's getting a little ridiculous! T-Zone are a brand I've used for years and years, I'm pretty sure they were one of the first ever skincare brands I turned to as a teenager and even now I pick up their products every so often. They've recently released Peel Off Glitter Masks in Black and Silver, and these would be such a good addition to a girl's night or maybe something fun to do on Christmas eve! Not only are these fun but they do also draw our impurities, help keep skin clear and refine pores. These are £2.99 each at Superdrug so really affordable too.
T-Zone glitter face masks

Soul Analyse I Am Strong Bracelet £30*

The second item of jewellery in my gift guide and this is the incredibly powerful I Am Strong Rope Bracelet from Soul Analyse. Bracelets are one of my favourite items of jewellery and Soul Analyse have a huge selection available including other affirmation bracelets such as I Am Loved, I Am Me, I Am Enough, I Am Blessed and Believe, aswell as crystal necklaces, affirmation necklaces and rings, and even gift sets. I personally chose the I Am Strong bracelet just because a lot of the time I don't feel that strong and it's a nice reminder whenever I'm feeling down. I think the black rope is a beautiful contrast to the engraved gold curved bar, and whilst it's clearly a stunning piece, it's something that could easily be worn for work aswell as it doesn't stand out too much. It could be worn all year round. Not only does this bracelet look pretty but it's also incredibly comfortable too due to it's sliding clasp which makes it easy to adjust. The rope bracelets range from £25 - £30 which I think is reasonable for something so unique.Soul Analyse I Am Strong Bracelet

Eye Majic Instant Eyeshadow £5.99 - £19.99*

If like me eyeshadow isn't really something you're that experienced with, then Eye Majic are the brand for you. The world's first instant eyeshadow. Yep it's ridiculously simple to apply and you get a range of shades to choose from so whether you like something a bit more subtle or want an intense smokey eye, they've got you covered. The great thing about these is that they're travel friendly so fab to take away with you, or to have in your handbag ready to apply rather than packing full size palettes and because of the pigment, you really do get the quality you would from more expensive brands. Rich colours, easy blending and they're long lasting. What's not to love? Make-up in seconds! You can find Eye Majic on Amazon and the 20 Pack, 4 Multi-Pack is priced at £19.99. Smaller packs are available at £5.99 each too.
Eye Majic Instant Eyeshadow
one of the shades from Eye Majic Instant Eyeshadow

EcoPanda Makeup Remover Pads £20.90*

EcoPanda are a relatively small brand really keen on replacing conventional beauty products with more environmentally friendly products, something I think a lot us beauty bloggers should be doing where we can. Their Bamboo Makeup Remover Pads are ideal for anyone wanting to make simple swaps. For £20.90, available from Amazon, you get 18 reusable makeup remover pads, one laundry bag to store them in and a gorgeous bamboo storage jar that would look pretty on any dressing table! Whilst these might not be the cheapest option, you can be assured that you've made a small change and imagine the impact we could have if everyone did this! There's no need to worry about the quality when it comes to these pads either as they are double layer, made from 100% organic bamboo cotton and contain no plastic. Suitable for all skin types and as they're washable, they can be used over and over again. These could be a great gift for any beauty lovers you know, or maybe as a gift to yourself if you've been after some skincare alternatives.
EcoPanda bamboo pads storage tin
EcoPanda bamboo pad held up in front of storage tin
So that wraps up my first Christmas gift guide of 2019! I have lots more planned for the rest of the week so make sure you pop back to see my ideas for men, foodie lovers and pets. I'd love to know if this has given you a bit of inspiration for Christmas, and let me know if you have any other ideas you want to share!

Have you started your Christmas shopping?

*Products marked * are PR samples

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Friday 22 November 2019

Current Netflix Top Picks #12

Yet again it's been a little while since my last Netflix recommendations but around December is always the best for new films and TV shows. We've been binge-watching a load of boxsets recently but mainly I'm all about the festive films at the moment! Christmas24 is pretty much on all day and Netflix have released a few new Christmassy films so it's safe to say I am in full on festive mode and have loads I want to chat to you about.
collage - Netflix logo, Peaky Blinders, Let It Snow, Christmas With The Kranks, The Christmas Prince, The Politician

Peaky Blinders

Okay let's start with something non-christmassy first and I don't think you could much further away from the festive period than Peaky Blinders. I know, I know I'm about 5 years behind but I've finally caught up and I am SO glad I gave it a chance. For a long time I just thought nope won't be my sort of show but to be fair, I thought that about Game Of Thrones too and I ended up loving that in the end, and that's exactly what happened with this too. After seeing one too many clips on Gogglebox, we started it a few months ago and now I'm ready for the next series, though I'm sure they'll be a decent wait for that. Cillian Murphy is incredible as Tommy Shelby but the whole cast are brilliant. It's just a fantastic show and even if like me you think it might not be for you, give it a try!

Let It Snow

This is one of those typical cheesy American Christmas movies but isn't that what we all secretly love? Based on the novel by John Green, this follows a group of highschool students who find their love lives and friendships colliding when a snowstorm hits their town. It's a film I'd have probably absolutely loved as a teenager, it's clearly a young adult story but it was still really sweet. It's got a great cast too including Kiernan Shipka from The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, Isabela Moner from Instant Family, Jacob Batalon from Spiderman and Liv Hewson from Santa Clarita Diet.

A Christmas Prince (and A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding)

I finally watched A Christmas Prince! People I follow on Twitter have gone on and on about this (and the sequel) so when a third film was announced recently, I thought you know what, let's see what it's about. I'm not gonna lie and say they're the best Christmas films out there cos I've seen better but they're a fun one to watch whilst putting up the tree or whilst chilling in the afternoon. If you haven't seen either of them, the first film follows Amber, a young American journalist who has been sent to Aldovia to cover a press conference for Prince Richard but whilst there she ends up falling in love with him. The second film I'm sure you can guess is about their upcoming wedding, and whilst I didn't think it was as good as the first film, it's still enjoyable and I'm excited to see the third one next month!

Christmas With The Kranks

I'm pretty sure I included this in a Netflix post this time last year but who cares, I love Christmas With The Kranks. It's a film I remember watching when I was younger and even now every year I enjoy it just as much. It's cheesy, it's funny and it's heartwarming, it just sums up everything that a festive film should be. I'm going to go and watch it again now!

The Politician

Ben Platt is a star. I was a fan of him anyway due to playing Evan in Dear Evan Hansen, but he is absolutely incredible in this. The Politician is a really unique show that follows wealthy student Payton who knows that one day he will be the president of the United States. Before that though he has to conquer becoming the school's student body president, which might not be as easy as he first thought. I think it's such a brilliant idea, so unlike anything else on Netflix on the moment and it's actually quite Wes Anderson in some aspects (Grand Budapest Hotel) and it works so well. There's also some really beautiful music throughout and it actually tackles some tough subjects too. I am beyond excited for the second series, it's 100% one of the best shows I've watched this year.

Have you watched any of the shows/films I've mentioned? Would love to know your thoughts on The Politician if you've seen it!

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Thursday 21 November 2019

Kathleen Natural Bright Mask Review*

I've spoken many, many times before on my blog about how much I love a face mask. Each week I like to set time aside where I can for a bit of a pamper night and that usually includes a long hot soak, fresh nails and of course some of my fave skincare products and a face mask is always included within that. For a long time I've been turning to sheet masks but as they're single use, it can sometimes feel like a bit of a waste of money so I was thrilled when the lovely people at Kathleen Natural asked if I would like to try out one of their brand new face masks. Of course I jumped at the chance!
Kathleen Bright Mask in centre. Pink candy canes to left, behind is Home Bargains large candle, red and white spiral ornament and silver xmas tree
The new range of masks from Kathleen cover four major skin concerns so hopefully that way, there's something for everyone. There's the Deep Pore Treatment which is ideal if you suffer with blackheads and breakouts. Next, there is the Dead Sea Mud Mask which is great for oily and sensitive skin. There's also the Collagen Mask which stimulates collagen production reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And finally, there is the Bright Mask which is the one I was keen to try out. The Bright Mask can help control acne breakouts due to active ingredients like Hibiscus. The natural acids present help to purify your skin by breaking down dead skin and increasing cell turnover. This mask also contains White Willow Bark which I'd not heard of before, but it's apparently both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial which clears your pores and alleviates irritation. A few other ingredients worth mentioning are Vitamin E which prevents your skin from damage, Sandalwood which is excellent for scarring and Shea Butter which will all know is uber moisturising so softens rough skin.

I've been using this twice a week over the last month and I've been thoroughly impressed each time. It's a product I look forward to using all the time now! I've been cleansing my face with my usual Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash and then applying a thin, even layer of this. I then leave on for 15 minutes and as it's a clay consistency you can really feel it drying on your skin which I strangely enjoy. Once dry, I remove with a warm, damp cloth and rinse my face to make sure any remaining residue is gone. One thing I really love about the Bright Mask is that it doesn't leave my skin feeling dry or tight in any way. I usually find with clay masks that afterwards my skin is in desperate need of moisture but I've not had that with this, and whilst I have still been applying my L'oreal Hydra Genius Moisturiser, that's just more about keeping up with my routine. 
closeup of Kathleen Bright Mask, lid off so can see face mask
I've also found a subtle improvement in the condition of my skin over the last few weeks since using the mask. Whilst I've still had a few breakouts, I've actually felt it's been really drawing our the impurities and the general state of my skin is far better than it was. My skin looks brighter and it feels rejuvenated each time I use this so I'll 100% be continuing with my weekly application. There's just something very spa-like when using a face mask, especially one like this and I think it's so important to take that time each week to just chill for an hour or two and really indulge in some self care. 

If you didn't already know the face masks are 100% natural, 94% organic, suitable for sensitive skin and vegan-friendly so there are many reasons to try one of these. Maybe something to add to your Christmas wishlist if you're a bit of a skincare addict? You can buy all of the masks from the Kathleen Natural website and they range in price from £19 to £28.
Kathleen Bright Mask held up in front of silver xmas tree
Have you tried any products from Kathleen before? Are you more of a sheet mask fan or do you love masks like this too?

*PR Sample

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Tuesday 19 November 2019

The Perfect Meal For Winter - Shepherd's Pie With Schwartz*

Now, I know we're not quite there with Winter yet but god, it feels like we are! It is absolutely freezing! I'm not actually complaining though, I've always said I'm more of an Autumn/Winter gal so give me cold and rain over sun and warmth any day! Maybe not everyone's cup of tea but this time of year is when I feel at my happiest. With cold weather, comes those warm comforting meals too, and let's be honest, the food is definitely one of the best things about Winter. I've shared many recipes over the years that I like to turn to on chilly days - warming slow cooker chilli and chicken pie just to name a few and today I wanted to share a new Shepherd's Pie recipe.
shepherd's pie in dish next to bowl of veg on chopping board
Shepherd's Pie is one of those meals I can make over and over and just never get bored. It's a bit of a staple for us now, you just can't beat the thick gravy, the soft mash and the crispy cheese on top, and recently I've been making it with a Schwartz recipe mix. I'm a big fan of Schwartz and have used their products for as long as I can remember so I was thrilled when they asked if I would like to give their Shepherd's Pie a go, and of course I said yes. I find recipe mixes like this make cooking so much easier - it's clear exactly what ingredients you need, you also get cooking instructions included and they always pack the meals full of flavour. So let's get onto the recipe!
schwartz shepherds pie recipe mix
Ingredients: for 4 people
1 sachet of Schwartz Shepherd's Pie Recipe Mix
450g lean lamb mince (you could use beef if you prefer)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
200ml cold water
100g peas
675g mashed potato
Grated cheese

1. Pre-heat your oven 200 degrees (180 fan)
2. Peel and chop your potatoes for the mash, I used Maris Pipers as I find they give the fluffiest mash and don't take too long to boil. Rinse under the tap then add to a pan of water, boil and then set aside once soft
3. Brown your mince in a pan along with the onion and carrot. While these are cooking, mix your sachet contents with 200ml of cold water
4. Add your mix to the mince once cooked and stir well. Add in your frozen peas and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes so the sauce can thicken
5. When the sauce has started to thicken a little, pour your mix into an ovenproof dish. You can now make your mashed potato (I always add butter, milk and salt whilst mashing) and then top the mince mixture
6. I then use a fork just to neaten the mashed potato and then I add grated cheese. How much is really up to you!
7. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes then serve with vegetables!
mince, onion and carrot in pan
closeup of shepherds pie on plate with veg
Both George and I devoured this shepherd's pie and I can't wait to make it again on a cold Winter's day. The recipe mix added so much flavour, it was full of herbs and spices and I could really tell the difference compared to how I've made it in the past. We had ours with vegetables on the side and Yorkshire pudding because everything is better with a Yorkshire pud or two, and it was incredibly filling. I'll definitely be picking up this particular recipe mix again in the future and if you want to aswell, you can find it in Tesco!

I'd love to know if you use the Schwartz recipe mixes too? if so which one is your favourite?

*This post is in collaboration with Schwartz but all views are my own

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Monday 18 November 2019

Weekend Summary #29 - Emmerdale Studio Tour, Lush Purchases & Our First Five Guys

It's been a little while again since my last weekend summary and as last weekend we had a bit of a busy one, it seemed like another good one to share. I don't do these posts that often but they're always some of my favourites to look back on. The reason I wanted to talk about last weekend was because George and I went to the Emmerdale Studio Tour! Now, if you're not a big fan of the soaps, this post probably won't mean much to you so I won't be offended if you leave now, but for those of you who are a bit addicted to them like me, I hope this is fun to read. Whilst for a long time Emmerdale was never on the same level as Corrie or Eastenders for me, though I still watched it, over the last few years I've actually become a really big fan. Some of the storylines have been incredible recently and I think some of the actors are brilliant, so it's now the one I look forward to the most. If you've been reading my blog for a long time you might remember George and I actually went to the original Coronation Street tour before they demolished the set and re-built it elsewhere and that was so much fun, so once I heard there was one for Emmerdale now, I knew we had to go one day.
Emmerdale cast board
There were two tours to choose from, either the studio tour which allows you to see working and replica sets, get an insight into how the storylines are created, a look at costumes and loads more, and then there is the village tour which shows you the outside set so you see exteriors of places like the Woolpack, Village Hall and more. Whilst I'd love to see the outside set one day, this time we went for the Studio Tour. We had a lovely tour guide who took our group round for 2 hours showing us all sorts of things that you just never know about when watching an episode on TV.
Emmerdale bafta
After an initial welcome video from the famous Val, and a look at some of the awards Emmerdale has won over the years aswell as the cast wall (fun fact, they've had to cover the photos with glass as Cain's photo has been stolen 4 times! There were lots of older women in our group talking about how much they love a bad boy which was certainly an experience) we started off at Beauty and Bernice and this was particularly interesting as this is where we were shown how the lighting works. As the sets are inside they obviously don't have natural light but the trickery that goes on is so clever. It's been so interesting to watch episodes since knowing how they create things in certain rooms. We then got to see the Dingles and there's the chance for you to get your photo taken professionally on the sofa which some people really got into!
collage - Beauty and Bernice, The Dingles
Next up we got to see Rhona's living room, and there was also an area with a shrine to Ashley Thomas which was a little crazy and here we also got to edit a clip of an episode ourselves. I actually think ours was pretty good! That's one thing I think the Emmerdale tour has over the previous Corrie tour, in that it was much more interactive and you had more chance to roam around yourself and take photos. After this, we saw the Cafe and this then led onto the prison and the hospital. Up until this point all the sets had been replicas but both of these are 'real' and filmed in and some rooms were still set up as they'd been filming not long before.
Rhona's house, Emmerdale
The Cafe, Emmerdale
After photos in The Woolpack, you then get a shuttle bus down to the ITV Television Centre. An array of shows have been produced in this studio from Where The Heart Is to My Parents Are Aliens, Heartbeat and Calendar. It's even acted as the main entrance to Hotten General in Emmerdale so this was a really interesting part of the tour. This is also the place they do film each week so here we got to see real life sets that had been used just days before. Some that were available to view (some were currently being dressed for Christmas and a few other things) were Moira and Cain's home which is surprisingly small, it's crazy how much bigger all of the sets look on the TV, Tracy & Vanessa's, and finally Robert and Aarons #robron. After a look at some of the props that have been used in some major scenes over the years, we were whizzed back to the first studio and had chance to check out the model village and gift shop before leaving. I do love a gift shop.
collage - The Woolpack, Emmerdale
Cain and Moira's, Emmerdale
Aaron and Roberts, Emmerdale
Overall, the Emmerdale Studio Tour was a brilliant experience and a great way to start our day together. The tours are 2 hours long so if you wanted to you could drive to the location of the outside set and get both done in one day. Both have to be booked onto separately though and prices are £32.50 each for the studio tour, and £34 each for the village tour so that's something to think about beforehand. If you're a soap fan though, it's so worth doing. I learnt so much about what goes into each episode and I have so much more respect for anyone that works behind the scenes! It's just fascinating to watch now knowing some of the secrets. I'd really like to do the new Corrie tour at some point now just to see what's different there now and see how that compares to this.
Emmerdale model village
After the tour, we headed to White Rose Shopping Centre, where despite numerous trips to Leeds over the years we'd never been to before. It was pure Christmas. So many places were already fulled decorated, there were beautiful lights hanging and look at this adorable display!
Christmas display, White Rose Leeds
We tried our first Five Guys finally which was insane. The amount of chips pleased me greatly. Can you ever have too many? I don't think so. And we got a little bit of Christmas shopping done. I treated myself to a few bits from Lush for the first time in forever, it's usually far too busy and I just can't deal with everyone wanting to help, which I get is their job but it's full on when you have anxiety. Luckily we were left to it this time which made it SO much more enjoyable. Though I could have spent loads in there, I was pretty restrained and just bought the Snow Fairy Bath Bomb and a mini bottle of Snow Fairy shower gel. It's been so long since I last bought it and I've fallen for it all over again.
Five Guys, White Rose Leeds
Lush Store, Leeds
After a festive Costa - their menu is amazing at the moment, we headed to pick Bear up from daycare and then it was an evening of curry, Strictly and a film. It was such a lovely weekend and I'm so glad we decided on going to the Emmerdale tour, it's honestly perfect for any soap fan! Have you been on either the Coronation Street or Emmerdale tour?

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