Stocking Fillers

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Christmas is my ultimate holiday and there’s nothing I love more than going Christmas shopping. But for those of us that can think of nothing worse than scouring the shops for the perfect present, I’ve compiled my picks for the best Secret Santa or low cost stocking filler presents. This edition is a combination with a couple of things for the younger and older ladies in your life, with my male edition coming next week!

For The Beauty Guru: This Cowshed Cracker is the perfect mini luxe Christmas gift with a hand cream and lip balm duo to protect against the harsh Winter weather and comes in perfectly at £10!

For the makeup lovers: This novelty lip balm to me is the epitome of a perfect stocking filler as it’s cheap and cheerful and will keep you feeling Christmassy every time you go to put it on. Not to mention that at £3 you can afford to get the mince pie and gingerbread versions too!

For the stationary hoarders: These highlighters are the perfect combination of being adorably kitsch while being incredibly useful. For those heading into the heavily workloads of Christmas or the impending January exam and essay deadlines, anything that can make it easier is that much more aprreciated and for £3, who could resist these cuties?!

For those who like to be organised: We all know them, those who are constantly late or forgetting things and then those who like me are avid list makers. This gift is perfect for both as it can be used for everything from organising school lunches, homework, to day to day tasks, and in classic Emma Bridgewater style it’s incredibly cute and great value at £7.

For the one who’s constantly on the go: I swear not a day goes past that I don’t walk past Cath Kidston and fall in love with one of their latest offerings. This adorable London printed travel mug is perfect for those early starts and to keep you looking cute while you travel. Not to mention the £8 will save you money in the long run compared to all those daily Starbucks runs.

For the cutie who deserves a break: These stress marshmallows from ASOS are the perfect relievers to get you through the stressful Winter months, and are a super cute edition to any desk at a bargain£7.

For those who aren’t a fan of the Christmas jumper: There’s nothing better than a beautiful manicure to make you feel great during the Christmas season, but for those of us like me whose manicures usually leave more nail varnish on our fingers than actual nails these are a great alternative. Not to mention they’re perfect for those who love to add a festive feel to their look at a price that’s a lot cheaper than a manicure or jumper, £8.99!

For the jewellery maven: There’s something about stags that are really Christmassy to me and this ring holder provides an great useful gift while looking incredibly stylish, and way more expensive than its £4.50 price tag.

For pretty much everyone: Okay so I know this isn’t for literally everyone, but doesn’t everyone love a candle at Christmas time and where better to look than the old favourite Yankee. My personal favourite is this Christmas Cookie smell but with Yankee providing 10 Christmassy scents, there’s something for everyone at £7.99 for a small jar or £1.80 for a selection of votives.

For The Wannabe Chef: We all know that one person who is a devotee of fast food and ready meals and who, try as they might just can’t cook. Well give them this and they’ll be creating good food in no time, and the best part is that all they’ll need is a microwave and a mug and all for £7.99.

For those who need to relax: Lush is a shining beacon to those of us obsessed with bath goodies especially at Christmas, where they have a range of gorgeous seasonal soaps, bath bombs and shower gels to leave you feeling festive and smelling good. My personal favourite is this Father Christmas one which creates a fantastic red and green bath with the gorgeous Snow Fairy scent, and £3.50 is a cheap price to pay to provide some relaxation for the ones you care about this holiday.

For the all seasons bronze goddess: You know the one, the girl who enviably spends the whole year looking as though she’s just gotten off a plane from St. Tropez.  This set is perfect for the Christmas season where you want to look your best, and as a massive upside this is one of the few tans I’ve found works well on pale skin as well, and at only £9 it’s much cheaper than a holiday.

For those who feel the cold: Who doesn’t love a novelty gift at Christmas, m,        nmnm especially if it’s covered in Christmas trees! I might be a weirdo but I love to match my socks with the season as I think it’s a great and cheap (£3.50) way to get into the swing of things, plus who doesn’t love some thick cosy socks to keep them warm during Winter.

For the Chocoholic: It’s universally known that Christmas is the time of year we stuff ourselves with  goodies and these Prestat truffles are the most gorgeous high quality gift. Not to mention they come in a cute little stocking which is great for those of us that are wrapping present inept at £6.95.

For the pop culture obsessive: This is my favourite of the bunch as I love these POP! figurines and with them featuring characters from pretty much every show or film from Kill Bill to Game of Thrones to The Big Bang Theory, there is quite literally one for everyone in your life. The Frozen characters are one of the latest editions and this Sven one is too cute to resist at £8.99.

For every cat person everywhere: There has to be a reason the internet is obsessed with cats and what better addition to the cat lover in your life than this hilarious mug, because come on, if it’s good enough for Taylor Swift, £9.

So that’s it for my first Christmas gift guide! I hope you guys like it and I’d love to know what ideas you guys have for your Christmas presents.

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Christmas Baking

WP_20141121_22_02_10_ProWP_20141121_22_09_29_Pro WP_20141121_22_02_37_ProWP_20141121_22_08_43_Pro  As a devotee of The Great British Bake Off and an aspirational baker myself, Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year to whip out that mixing bowl and get baking. There’s nothing I find more homely than a house that is full of the smell of baking and seeing as our student house celebrates Christmas a little earlier than usual, I thought it was the perfect time to share some of my favourite Christmas recipes with you to practise just in time for Santa.

My first is a chocolate chip cookie recipe which is a firm favourite for me as it’s what Santa received from our house every year when I was younger. My personal favourite are those gooey, chewy versions so I borrowed this recipe from Tanya Burr’s website,adapting it slightly for a little less chocolate as I didn’t want too much added sweetness. Not to mention it’s incredibly adaptable so you can include any of your favourite chocolates that you like!

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My second recipe had to of course be gingerbread, as what is Christmas without gingerbread?! Although I am a great favourite of the gingerbread house, I tend to cheat nowadays in favour of the ikea flatpack version but I am still a traditionalist when it comes to the original cookies themselves. Thanks to this cookie recipe from the good old BBC themselves and some cookie cutters from the oh so glamorous Poundland, I ended up with these beauties.WP_20141121_22_08_54_Pro

If you give either of these a go or have any of your own traditional Christmas bakes let me know as I’m always on the lookout for some new offerings to leave for Father Christmas under the tree!

Only Time Will Tell With Hourglass’ Blush Palette

WP_20141107_11_21_38_Pro WP_20141107_11_22_18_Pro WP_20141107_11_22_42_Pro WP_20141107_11_24_08_ProFor my birthday the other week I was lucky enough to receive from my extremely generous friends the BRAND NEW Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette! Up till about three months ago I hadn’t even heard of the brand but after a chance encounter at the Space NK counter and a casual swatch or two, I fell in love. I can honestly say I have never in my life felt any pressed powder that is that creamy and soft on the skin.

While I saved my pennies to reach the £56.00 price tag, Hourglass brought out their blush version of their famous Ambient Lighting Palette and some sneaky friends of mine realised that they could kill two birds with one stone, and give me not one of the blushes, I had lusted after but three!

One of my favourite parts of Hourglass’ blushes is that due to the swirled nature of it, every single blush is unique. Not to mention the pigment, oh the pigment. I decided to use the darkest shade of the palette as a bronzer, picked up the amount I would usually use, and ended up with tiger stripes across my face! Seriously less is definitely more in this case, but use with caution and it will create the most beautiful glow. Incandescent Electra is the coolest toned of the three providing a perfect light pale pink highlight, with Luminous Flush providing the warmer typical pink toned blush. Mood Exposure (aka the tiger stripes culprit) being the warmest of the bunch would be a great holiday beauty blush, but for me it is being solely reserved as a bronzer alternative.

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Not to mention the packaging is incredibly preeeeetty? I’m a sucker for anything rose gold and this palette is flawless, definitely deserving it’s expensive price tag but it is worth every single penny. And with it being the run up to Christmas, you never know, if you’re good you might be able to persuade Santa to pop one under the tree.

The Perfect Sunday

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WP_20141116_10_31_32_ProLike the majority of people I am a BIG fan of Sundays. With the combination of me being a full time student Monday to Friday, and work taking care of any Friday or Saturday fun, Sunday is my one day a week where I can completely chill out without feeling guilty. Luckily for me Belfast is home to one of the best markets I’ve ever been to, St George’s market, and to make it even better Sunday is devoted entirely to food!

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As well as a smorgasborg of delicious treats there’s a range of other stalls with everything from art to adorable homewares, and some awesome vintage clothes. It’s the perfect place to do some potential Christmas shopping as well as some adorable trinkets like these cards, which are definitely going to be given to some lucky friends soon.

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You have to make sure you head there early to get your pick of the produce, but you can always play the maverick and wait until the end to get some of the best deals. But my incredible FOMO tendencies meant I dragged my unwilling flatmate up at the crack of dawn to get my hands on the goodies before the masses flocked in. Boy it was worth it. If you live in the area or are planning on visiting Belfast I highly recommend you swing by, especially on an empty stomach as there are some delicious food stalls (four of which are mentioned in this Buzzfeed article). Me being the piggy I am opted for not one but four cupcakes from the amazing Lily Pink Bakery. Although I am completely over the cupcake fad these are the exception to the rule with the Dulce du Leche being the best of the bunch.

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After picking up some fruit and veg and resisting the urge to grab yet another tasty treat, I regretfully headed home but at least with that contented feeling of a Sunday well spent and many tasty treats to last. Well at least till next week……

Zoella Beauty

WP_20141027_12_28_46_ProWP_20141027_12_24_26_Pro WP_20141027_12_24_42_Pro WP_20141027_12_26_44_Pro By now unless you’ve been living under some sort of internet rock I expect you will have heard about Zoella. With over 6 million subscribers on Youtube, an upcoming novel, a beauty range as well as a multitude of collaborations with the likes of Simple skincare and Boohoo.com she’s pretty much Queen of the internet at the minute. As a regular watcher and reader of her content I was pretty darn excited when she announced her new beauty range with Superdrug, and although it unfortunately isn’t available in Belfast where I spent most of my time, as soon as I got home I went a little bit crazy… The range includes makeup bags, shower gels, body lotion, candles, a body spray and her patented fizz bar. As an absolute sucker for a candle it was first on my wish list especially with its gorgeous smell which has “white wood accents, sweet vanilla and soft floral notes,”. It gives the perfect combination of sweet scents while still smelling incredibly fresh and for £5, although I wasn’t expecting much I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only does it burn for a pretty long time, but the scent also fills the room. My second choice was the “Blissful Mistful” body spray which again was surprisingly cheap at £8. It’s a very girly sweet scent much like the candle, but with some fruit notes as well which I really enjoy as I think it stops it being too sweet. For the price I think it’s an incredibly rich smell compared to other body sprays, and although I would say it doesn’t last as long on my skin compared to more expensive sprays, for the price it’s still incredibly good value. My last choice was of course the fizz bar as I am an absolute sucker for Lush and anything bath bomb related. It has the same floral, sweet, fresh scent that is present in her other products which creates a really nice scented calming bath. I would definitely recommend using at least two pieces for a bath to give the full effect, and I am completely in love with the chocolate bar break off style of it. Overall I think for the price it’s incredibly good quality and it’s a great range of products which have obviously been targeted to her main audience of those under 18. I love the scent and the packaging which makes it look really classy and I can’t wait to see what she brings out next!

Makeup for “No Makeup Days”

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You know those days when you’re not feeling so fresh so no makeup isn’t an option, but you don’t want that full face heavy foundation look either? Well fear no more as this is the ultimate compilation of my top picks for those low key skin makeup looks.

Starting at the lowest of the price range we have the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream which is £7.99. This only comes in Light or Medium colour options but although this may seem incredibly limited it doesn’t actually matter as the formula is so light it blends in well to the skin and just leaves it with a general glow while hiding those mild blemishes. This isn’t perfect if you suffer from extreme spots or blemishes and I usually find myself adding some of my favourite Collection 2000 concealer under my eyes, but gives a brilliant subtle dewy glow.

A slight step up at £9.99 is the Bourjois 123 Perfect Colour Correcting cream which I mentioned in my June favourites a while ago, but it’s just so great it’s become a firm favourite in my makeup bag. Its main selling point is it’s 3 pigments which help target fatigue, redness and spots and it has to be said it gives the best concealing coverage of any BB or CC cream I’ve used. It still feels incredibly light on the skin whilst giving impressive long lasting coverage. I have never usually been a fan of Bourjois face makeup as it’s usually way to dark for my skin and like the Maybelline it only comes in four shades, but the lightweight formula again means it blends so well into the skin that it suits way more skin tone than initially appears.

At the high end of the price bracket we have the Dior DiorSkin Nude BB Crème which was my casual birthday present to myself as it’s £30 which is a lot for a BB cream. Although I would be more inclined to recommend the Bourjois one if you’re looking for a heavier coverage, this is absolutely the best cheat I’ve come across achieving that flawless skin look. Everytime I’ve worn this I’ve had people commenting on how great my skin looks without thinking I have foundation on, which for me makes it worth every penny. Although I have found that the Maybelline goes on best with fingers, the Bourjois with a sponge, this I feel is worth the extra effort of using a stippling brush to just go the extra mile in getting that flawless finish. So what are you waiting for, get out there and glow!