December 15, 2016

the christmas gift guide: for mums


Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur - £18
Neal's Yard Rejuvenate Frankincense Organic Collection - £42.50
Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy Gift Set - £10.50
Montezuma's Dainty Dollops - £7.50
Jo Malone Earl Grey and Cucumber Cologne - £86
Neal's Yard Oil Burner - £16
Printic Photos - 29p per print
Mondaine Mesh Bracelet Strap Watch - £269
The Savoy Cocktail Book - £21

I'm back with a Christmas gift guide once again but this time it will be my last of the season (sad face). I've had so much fun creating the gift guides and have been thrilled to hear so many of you finding them to be useful. This time around, I've put together a few ideas for mums, or any special older lady in your life. That being said, I'm 22 and would still love to receive anything featured above.

My all time favourite watch that I own is my Mondaine. I received it as a special gift for Christmas in 2014 and have since treated my mum to the leather version for her birthday. Both are equally as stylish and have it nailed with their minimal design. 

As an alternative gift, downloading the Printic app and selecting a load of meaningful photos to be sent over to a family member is a truly thoughtful idea. You could also invest in a fancy frame to arrange them all nicely into. 

If you're stuck for ideas, check out your local charity and antique shops for vintage gifts. I always manage to find something out of the ordinary including this 1930's Savoy Cocktail Book which includes all of the classics. You can't beat a good coffee table read.

Neal's Yard offer wonderful skincare gift sets that make for the perfect luxury present. Included in the Frankincense set is everything needed for a daily skincare routine and is packaged beautifully. Other beauty ideas that I'm a fan of is these festive themed Crabtree & Evelyn hand creams and of course my favourite Jo Malone scent, Early Grey and Cucumber. 

I'm super nosy so would love to hear what Christmas gifts you all picked up, I hope my gift guides have been of some use! Bring on the wrapping.
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December 13, 2016

the christmas gift guide: for her


Artis Five Brush Set - £132
Origins Feeling Rosy Comforting Body Cleansing Mask - £25
Origins RitualiTea Comforting Powder Face Mask - £30
Moet Champagne - £18
Make Up For Ever Artistic Eye Must-Haves - £17
Wonderbra Luxe Collection Lingerie Set - £56
Ray-Ban Erika Tortoise Sunglasses - £88
Neom Tranquility Candle - £36

Ladies, send this gift guide to your other half pronto. Or if you happen to be a single agent, you now have the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a few goodies this Christmas. 

Pretty lingerie sets are perhaps my ultimate favourite gift to receive, and although I usually opt for Victoria's Secret, I recently tried out Wonderbra for the first time and have been super impressed by the quality and fit of this set. Plus I've absolutely fallen in love with the festive burgundy colour. 

If you're hunting down a big treat for either yourself (holla single ladies) or for your special one, there's no gift more impressive than the Artis Five Brush Set. As they'll be used daily, they're a great investment and are the Ferrari of the make-up brush world. 

I've now gone through two of the Neom Tranquility Candles and will most likely repurchase it for the rest of time. Not only does it fill the room with the most beautiful, relaxing yet delicate scent but it also burns into a warm oil that can be used all over the body just before bedtime. 

Although it feels as if the sun has well and truly deserted us all, wintertime can still have its fair share of bright spells and I couldn't be without my pair of Ray-Bans even this far away from summer. The Erika Tortoise version are one of their bestselling pairs and are guaranteed to be treasured by any fashionista. 

A couple of lovely stocking fillers are this set of Eye Must-Haves from Make Up For Ever (set at an incredibly reasonable price) and of course you simply cannot go wrong with skincare from Origins. Their face masks are always a firm staple in my skincare routine and make for a great pamper incentive.
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December 11, 2016

the christmas gift guide: for him

Beano Mug - £8.95

I'm clueless when it comes to men so I won't pretend I know what in the world they'd be after for Christmas, but I've given it my best shot. Perhaps the ultimate of all safe bets is the Cornerstone Shaving Gift Set. It includes everything a man could need to ensure his skin is left feeling soft and smooth, and most importantly is set at a really reasonable price point (hello free shipping!). 

Talking of keeping skin looking its best, I always find myself pushing skincare onto any man nearby and pimping out brands such as Kiehl's, Aveda and Dermalogica. Male or female, a skincare routine should be just as essential for one as it is the other. Which leads me onto the priciest gift idea in this post, the Foreo Luna Mini 2. If you're sticking to a more sensible budget for your other half this Christmas, then look away now. To the big spenders of you all, the Foreo has countless benefits such as deep cleansing, brightening skin and prepping skin for a closer shave. It's a device guaranteed to leave him wondering how he ever coped without it. 

If your gift recipient is on the lazy side when it comes to haircare (aren't they all?), check out the Purifying Finishing Lotion from Christophe Robin which works as a lightweight dry shampoo and also rids hair of product buildup and dandruff. 

Drifting away from the grooming theme and onto lifestyle, I absolutely adore this silver plated pen from Thomas Lyte. For someone who writes daily, or works in an office, a high quality pen would make the perfect gift and is guaranteed to be something completely unexpected. The pen comes in a beautiful wooden box and is far superior to any you've pinched from a hotel that's half dried out of ink. 

A couple of smaller gifts that would make for great stocking fillers would be a box of tea from Teapigs, a beano mug, or perhaps a Lush shower gel. My best advice is to look at gifts that you'd like for yourself and then try to find the manly version of that gift.
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December 07, 2016

the christmas gift guide: bluebird tea co.


Mulled Cider Cocktail Kit - £7.50
Hey, Sugar Plum - £6
Gingerbread Chai - £5.70
Snowball - £6
Christmas Cake Tea Bauble - £7

Amongst all of the Christmas themed goodies that have landed on my doorstep in the last couple of months, the most exciting of them all was the Christmas collection from Bluebird Tea Co. I've recently become an absolute addict when it comes to high quality teas, and have never looked in the direction of cheap dusty tea since. Since making friends with the guys over at Bluebird, I've been sent a fair few teas by them to test out but have also made many orders of my own to ensure I'm always stocked up. My all time favourites are Cherry Bakewell and Rooibos Earl Grey, which I drown myself in on a daily basis. 

I'm so so impressed at how decently priced the whole range is and could easily see myself creating a Christmas themed tea hamper as a special gift for a family member. Luckily I'm the main tea obsessive in my family, so this lot is for keeps. I absolutely cannot wait to crack open the mulled cider kit after a frosty walk on the weekend.
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November 18, 2016

urban outfitters marble tech covers

urban outfitters tech accessories
pink marble iPhone 6 case

After two years with the same phone case and having recently broken the side of it by dropping my phone, I scoured the internet for a new one. I say scoured, because I'm hugely picky when it comes to phone cases and hate any kind of branding along with fussy designs. I made a point of avoiding the typical blogger cliche of white marble, and instead went for pink. I then spotted the keyboard cover whilst browsing the new in section and being the retail therapy addict that I am, added that into my basket too. The quality of both isn't the best in the world but at the price they're set at I'm pretty pleased with them and would definitely recommend checking them out. 

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August 03, 2016

desktop calendar wallpaper/screen saver: august 2016

Whilst searching for calendar screen savers a couple of nights ago, I couldn't find any that suited my style so being the graphics nerd that I am, I decided to create my own. I set out to design it with a minimal look whilst at the same time being bold and eye-catching. I have no idea if any of you will like it as much as I do, but just in case, I thought I should share it so that you can use it too.


To download the wallpaper, all you have to do is click here and save it directly to your desktop in a new folder. It's important to save it into a new folder of its own as this is the easier way to be able to use it as a screen saver later on. I'm not too sure what it will turn out like on other screen sizes or computer platforms, but as I created it as a huge image it should work out just fine. Plus it's retina ready too.

Wallpaper: system preferences > desktop & screensaver > desktop > + symbol > select image

Screen saver: system preferences > desktop & screensaver > screen saver > select classic style > source > select folder > click choose

I've also made an iPhone version which you can download by clicking here. Just made sure you pinch your fingers on the screen to zoom out when setting it as your wallpaper/lock screen.

Do let me know if you'd like me to continue doing the rest of the months of the year, and I'd really love to see photos if any of you use this design.
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August 02, 2016

what I got for my 22nd birthday



I don't tend to do these kind of posts, but as I received some truly wonderful gifts this year I thought I should share most of them with you. The most special of which was a Mulberry purse, which goes perfectly with the black Bayswater Satchel that I got for my 21st last year (which I paid half towards myself). Madly enough I haven't had a proper purse for years, and have instead been using a suede pouch to put my cash and debit card in for whenever I use them, so I was long overdue an upgrade. 

Talking of firsts, I also put a Charlotte Tilbury lipstick on my whishlist as I've been desperate to try out the brand for months. The shade Bond Girl is undoubtedly the prettiest I now own, and compliments my green eyes and olive skin tone beautifully.  

My lovely mum had some incredible ideas of her own though, and surprised me with an oil diffuser and some loose leaf teas to try out. I've used my oil diffuser every day and night since owning it, choosing a different oil each time depending on my mood. I also got treated to my favourite chocolate truffles of all time from Booja Booja. 

July 06, 2016

milo's favourites: food


When it comes to spending on Milo, I'm one for splurging more on toys rather than the food that he eats. It may sounds silly, but I just never thought about the nutritional value of what's found on the supermarket shelf versus the higher end and better quality brands. Soon after the lovely people over at Beco and Lily's Kitchen sent over some tasty food for him to give a try, I had an in-depth read of the packaging and have since been converted to the good stuff. Not only do I care about my little pal's general health and wellbeing enough to want to fork out a little extra for the grub he scoffs, but I've never seen him wolf down a meal quicker than when he was given the fancy stuff. 

As he's such a tiny little fella, he will only need one 2kg bag per month (along with half a can of wet food per day), which at £14.99 is super value. His brother Billy is bigger in size and greedier in nature so will also be treated to a bag per month but with a full can of dog food throughout the day. Whilst this works out at double the price for their dry food than the brand they're used to, it also works out at many times more for quality, and that's the key. As someone who cares a lot for animals, I'm so impressed that animal welfare is taken into consideration for the food and is another big reason for me making the switch. I can only bang on about dog food for so long, but honestly, it really is so refreshing to see a brand actually putting a real and true effort into both the nutritional and ethical aspects of the food we feed our dogs. 

If you fancy reading more about the benefits of Beco dog food and to order a free 100g sample pack for your pup, head to their website here

Milo is also a big fan of Lily's Kitchen canned food for his evening meals, and their Breakfast Crunch as his pup version of cereal. If I'm staying over in a dog friendly hotel or out for a pub lunch, I take along his harris tweed dog carrier and a few Lily's Kitchen treats and snacks to keep him occupied. 

June 18, 2016

burley manor, the new forest

After a long old drive from Norfolk down to Hampshire, and the night before we were due to set sail from Southampton to Norway, we had the sheer joy of driving through the New Forest for stay at Burley Manor. I've only ever been past the outskirts of the New Forest in the past, on the way to the Isle of Wight, and have always wanted to have the chance to explore it further. Burley Manor just so happens to be situated deep in the heart of the area, so beautiful views are to be seen all around.
burley manor blog review
burley manor blog review
burley manor blog review
burley manor blog review

The rooms are the perfect combination of luxury details, understated yet vivid use of colour and gentrified furnishings. I also found the bed to be insanely comfy which made rising for breakfast in the morning a task in itself.

burley manor blog review
burley manor blog review
burley manor blog reviewburley manor blog review
burley manor blog review
burley manor blog review
burley manor blog reviewburley manor blog review

Dinner was of top quality too and we even had the pleasure of having a mini wine tasting session from the wonderful waiter who made it his mission to convince me into considering something besides pinot grigio for a change. Considering I was only buying two glasses worth and not a full bottle I was super impressed to be treated to some expert wine knowledge before our meal. I always think the staff make or break a place and as everyone we met was so warm and friendly it made the stay that bit more special. 

A stay at Burley Manor on a Bed and Breakfast basis will start from £119 in a snug room. To book or for more information see www.burleymanor.com.

June 14, 2016

norway fjords cruise: olden and stavanger

For the second half of our cruise to Norway, we stopped first at Olden, a tiny little village hidden between the mountains.  Although this was our first real taste of colder weather as the sunshine had decided to desert us, I really enjoyed the fact the weather was so mixed and gave us a feeling of each season in the separate locations. It was truly so magical to experience landscapes so vastly different from one another all within the same few days. If you've never been to Norway before and imagine what a traditional, unspoilt and quaint little village will look like, Olden is exactly that. 

Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O

The final port of call was Stavanger, on yet another bright and sunny day. If you're in the mood for shopping and eating (which if you're like me, is always) then there's plenty of trendy places to explore. Though be careful when it comes to food as I somehow managed to spend just over £10 on a starter sized portion of nachos. Stavanger really has it nailed when it comes to being everything I love about Scandinavian cities, ultra clean looking and decidedly monochrome architecture along with the odd edgy graffiti artwork and of course a huge amount of plants and trees. 

Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O

Stavanger's answer to a Scandi hipster version of Selfridges comes in the form of Høyer, and if you have cash to burn, it's unmissable. It just so happens that I managed to stumble across a rather pricey bomber jacket and kissed goodbye to an eye-watering sum all at once. Enter with caution. 

Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O

I truly had the most incredible and memorable experience in Norway, and having the luxury of being able to see so many wonderful places all whilst hopping back onto the Britannia at the end of each day was an absolute joy. I know only too well that cruising can have the rep of being an older person's thing, but I strongly believe it's a gem left to be discovered for younger generations and I'm convinced that it's by far one of the most efficient and enjoyable ways to travel. As for Norway itself, I'm already hoping that I get to visit again one year soon! 

May 30, 2016

summer berries chocolate birthday cake

chocolate birthday cake

With my mum's birthday coming up, I decided to take on the yearly task of baking up a special birthday cake. I say yearly, but in fact it only became a tradition after I spent an entire day making a rainbow cake for her 50th last year. As we usually have family over to celebrate, it always feels like the prime time to roll up my sleeves and attempt to create a masterpiece. I'm comfortably familiar with the ins and outs of a classic vanilla sponge recipe, so this time opted for a rich and fudgy chocolate cake as oddly enough I've never once given one a go. I nabbed the recipe from bbc good food, except I made the slight alteration of making it two layers instead of three and I added summer fruits as a topping as they're bang in season. I also decided to make a raspberry coulis (fancy huh) to pour over the slices of cake too, but it really is just as delicious on it's own. I picked up the golden cake board and Happy Birthday cake topper from Hobbycraft, and the candles from Waitrose.
METHOD

- Butter a 20cm round cake tin (7.5cm deep) and line the base. Preheat the oven to fan 140C/conventional 160C/ gas 3. Break 200g good quality dark chocolate in pieces into a medium, heavy-based pan. Cut 200g butter into pieces and tip in with the chocolate, then mix 1 tbsp instant coffee granules into 125ml cold water and pour into the pan. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – don’t overheat. Or melt in the microwave on Medium for about 5 minutes, stirring half way through.

- While the chocolate is melting, mix 85g self-raising flour, 85g plain flour, ¼ bicarbonate of soda, 200g light muscovado sugar, 200g golden caster sugar and 25g cocoa powder in a big bowl, mixing with your hands to get rid of any lumps. Beat 3 medium eggs in a bowl and stir in 75ml (5 tbsp) buttermilk.

- Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, quite runny consistency. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1 hour 25-30 minutes – if you push a skewer in the centre it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

- When the cake is cold, cut it horizontally into two/three. Make the ganache: chop 200g good quality dark chocolate into small pieces and tip into a bowl. Pour a 284ml carton of double cream into a pan, add 2 tbsp golden caster sugar, and heat until it is about to boil . Take off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

- Sandwich the layers together with just a little of the ganache. Pour the rest over the cake letting it fall down the sides and smoothing to cover with a palette knife. Decorate with fruit whilst chocolate is still unset. The cake keeps moist and gooey for 3-4 days.

If you want your cake to have an expert finish, I'd say first make a batch of 2/3 of the chocolate ganache recipe, cover the cake and leave to set, then add on a final layer to smooth out any imperfections. I was more than happy for my cake to have a homemade feel so wasn't overly fussed about attempting something that resembled a bake off showstopper. All in all the cake turned out to be a real success and was surprisingly easy to make, making it both super pretty to look at, delicious to eat and doable to bake. 


May 29, 2016

norway fjords cruise: bergen and flåm

Our first port of call in Norway was Bergen, the second largest city in the country. It's also said to typically be one of the wettest cities in Europe, but luckily the sun was shining for us and the day felt similar to mid-summer. Bergen seemed to have a mixture of every element of Norway itself, with sharp looking business buildings, along with dainty houses blending into the hillsides and masses of trees and manicured flowerbeds everywhere you looked. If you're on the hunt for super cool independent clothing stores and chilled places to eat then this a city well worth a visit. As the day was so warm we decided upon a picnic by the lake, of which monster sized juicy strawberries were the highlight.

Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O

A day later and the Britannia had made it's way through the fjords and had docked in Flåm, a tiny yet beautiful village overlooking the snow capped mountains. The weather was still on our side by this point so we were able to spend most of the day sat by the water and wandering around without feeling chilly. Sadly we had just missed out on being able to hop on a train ride as the trips had all sold out, but there are also speed boat tours and kayaks for hire if you're in the mood for adventure. I always think there's something captivating about playing it low-key and turning up to a new destination with zero plans whatsoever and seeing where it takes you. 

Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O
Norway Fjords Cruise P&O

My next post on Olden and Stavanger will be up this time next week!