Friday, 9 December 2016

A December To-Do List: In Search of Festive Cheer

In a bid to finally locate my (seemingly lost forever) Christmas spirit, I've made a list of a few small things to do that will hopefully encourage a little bit of festive cheer to wander in my general direction. I've got some gifts I need to wrap and at least part of me is quite looking forward to getting myself into a mess of sticky tape and sparkly gift tags. 

December so far... 
1. I submitted my first MA essay and I'm quite keen to never think about it again. I absolutely adored dipping my toe back into the world of academia, but the essay writing part was a bit of a struggle. To say I'm not confident would be an understatement, but I'm focusing on how I at least managed to get something on to paper. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck, I'll pass and it will be onwards and upwards to the next one. 

2. After a little bit of searching I finally located the tiny tacky tinsel tree that I bought several years ago for 84p and it still seems to be going strong. It's currently adding a touch of festiveness to my desk and it's making me smile. 

3. I bought my Mam a new Christmas tree because she must have had hers since my age was still firmly in single digits. It held up incredibly well considering, but it looked a bit sparse last year so it was definitely time she got a new one this year. 

4. We decorated our Christmas tree and will be happily spending the next month or so tripping over it because it's definitely a bit too big for the space we have. It was nice to see some of our favourite decorations again, some of which I had completely forgotten we had. 

To do throughout the rest of December...
1. I'm making it my mission to make multiple mugs of chocolate orange hot chocolate over the next few weeks and thoroughly enjoy every single one, with no regrets. This time of year can be difficult if food is sometimes a bit of a difficult thing, but just know that if you feel the same I'm with you and we'll get through it. 

2. We're visiting Hogwarts in the Snow next week and I'm fairly sure that if anything is going to inject some festiveness into me, it's going to be the sight of that magnificent castle complete with dusting of powder white snow. If they have Queenie's wand in the gift shop I might find myself quite tempted to buy it but I have absolutely no idea what I would do with it, so perhaps I'll settle for a new keyring and a postcard or two. 

3. My Fitbit stopped working a few weeks ago and I think my generally quite static state since then probably has something to do with this grey cloud over my head. I didn't realise how much of a positive impact a simple fitness tracker had on my life so a few days ago I bought a Fitbit Alta as a replacement. It's fancier than my old one (it actually has a screen!)and I'm looking forward to incorporating more walks back into my routine, even if it means wandering around the house to make sure I hit my step goal each day.  

Do you have any exciting December plans? 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Making a list, checking it twice... | How I'm tackling my holiday shopping

Finding the perfect gift for someone easily makes the list of my all time favourite moments in life. I believe that you could throw every single penny you have at a present but if it doesn't really mean anything or isn't something you know they'll absolutely adore, it won't ever be truly special. I usually have at least a vague idea of what I'm looking for, but this year it's been a little bit trickier and I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps I'm simply overthinking everything, but my initial wander around the shops left me feeling a little bit uninspired and apart from a bottle of my mam's favourite perfume I came away empty handed. Instead I turned to the internet, and it came through for me!

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Shop Independent.
Gift sets are great, in fact there have been many occasions where I've quickly run into Boots and picked up a beautiful Soap and Glory or Sanctuary Spa gift set as an emergency present for someone knowing that they'll like it and that everything inside will be used. However I buy for a few particular people quite frequently and I knew that I wanted to branch out a little bit this year. Independent retailers are a brilliant way to find unique items and show support for small businesses.

I've been into a couple of indie bookstores to top up my mam's book stash, and I'm going to pick up a couple more and perhaps some DVDs from Hive, which is a great website that provides all the convenience of shopping online but also allows you to support a local bookshop of your choice at the same time.

To avoid getting too specific and risking pairs of peeping eyes spoiling their surprises here are a few of my favourite websites to find unique and beautifully made pieces:

+ Rockett St George
Dianne Tanner 
Oh My Clumsy Heart 
+ Matt and Nat 
+ Quill London
+ Nomads Clothing

Also, Sophie from The Private Life of a Girl has put together a comprehensive guide to independent shopping in the UK, which has been very helpful and introduced me to a lot of different websites I haven't come across before.

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Getting by with a little help from the internet.
This year I've been especially grateful for the plethora of gift guide inspiration posts that I have been greeted with daily when looking through my bloglovin' feed. Sophie from Sophie's Makeup has put together some really lovely (and beautifully photographed!) gift guides this year that I have found very helpful. When I think about shopping online my mind immediately goes to the same handful of brands, but I must admit that it's been nice to browse some websites that I wouldn't usually, such as Anthropologie and West Elm.

Through gift guide posts I've also been introduced to websites like WozNow, Octer and Lyst, which collate items from a number of different retailers and let you bookmark things to look at again later/compare with other items or show you what's gone on sale. It's been so incredibly helpful to browse by category and see everything in one place without having to have a million and one tabs open at the same time because I haven't really known exactly what I was looking for. I've managed to find a great deal on something for Mark that I think he's really going to love and although Christmas isn't about the presents at all, I'm looking forward to wrapping it and putting it under the tree because I don't think he'll be expecting it at all.

Getting Personal.
There's still something about the novelty of having my name on something that hasn't quite worn off, that began with those personalised headbands that were incredibly popular when I was in Primary School, and I know I'm not the only one. I mentioned a few posts ago that after being given the chance to pick out some personalised Mr Men pieces that I was going to buy a few things as Christmas gifts and I'm so pleased with how they've turned out. I can't photograph them because I don't want the recipients to see them before Christmas morning but I think they're going to be a big hit and bring a lot of smiles!

Did you know which holiday gifts you were going to purchase ahead of time, or have you turned to the internet for a little bit of inspiration this year too?


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Some New Things #2

This post is sponsored in part by Mr Men (I know, right?)

This is a classic case of spending a long time looking for a great black t-shirt, and two coming along at the same time. The nasty woman tee was a redbubble purchase pretty soon after the US election results and I'm going to wear it with pride. Then I was in Primark after watching Fantastic Beasts and feeling pretty bloody magical so I couldn't stop myself picking up a Hogwarts Alumni tee, which I've forgotten to photograph, and walking merrily to the till.

You know, it's a really good thing that I'm only collecting Harry Potter related pops because I now completely understand anyone who has a whole room in their home dedicated to their collection of these little plastic figures. Dobby in pop form is a little creepy but my collection wouldn't be complete without him. I also recently got Professor Snape, who I keep referring to as Snap after seeing this HP meme the other day and chuckling all afternoon. Finally, after I saw Fantastic Beasts earlier in the week, I immediately skipped to Forbidden Planet to buy Jacob because he. is. everything.

I was in TK MAXX a few weeks ago and when I'm there I always like browsing their book section because they tend to have quite an unusual selection. Amongst the typical selection of cookery books I came across a copy of The Shakespeare Book, which breaks down each play into easy to understand sections. Shamefully my knowledge of Shakespeare is very limited so I'm looking forward to expanding my Shakespearian horizons. Coriolanus is also on my MA reading list so I think I'll be grateful to my past self for purchasing this when that study block rolls around.

A Most Magical Girl has a truly beautiful cover and I'm hoping that the story inside is packed full of magic and adventures that will be perfect to read on a chilly afternoon at some point next month. I'm also looking forward to reading The Thornthwaite Betrayal, after I finally finish my essay, because it sounds like it's going to be a riot.

During the same TK MAXX trip that brought The Shakespeare Book into my life I found a beautiful sun, moon and star wind chime, and I couldn't leave without it. Anything that looks like it could be found at the back of one of Albus Dumbledore's dusty cabinets completely embodies my aesthetic and I don't think it was more than £8 or so.

Growing up I absolutely adored the Mr Men and Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves, which means that I immediately think that being able to buy personalised Mr Men things is pretty exciting. I was given the chance to choose a few items and I opted for three magnets and a Mr Bump tote bag because Mr Bump is my favourite Mr Man. I got a magnet each for Mark and myself, as well as one for my mum's dog Mister Bailey as Mr Nosy because he has the biggest pup nose we've ever seen. I'm so impressed with the quality of everything that I've since made another order for some pieces that are going to make excellent Christmas gifts!

After reading endless positive reviews of the Too Faced Born This Way Concealer, it was only a matter of time before I finally got around to trying it for myself. The shade 'Extra Fair' is a pretty great match for me, the formula is nice and the coverage is pretty good. It's certainly a nice concealer that I will continue to use, but I'm not sure that I'm head over heels for it and it isn't the perfect replacement for my favourite Seventeen Stay Time Concealer.

My skin is in for a treat now that the Tropic Skin Care Super Greens Serum is part of my nightly routine. Tropic are a cruelty free and vegan brand, believing in pure ingredients and honest labelling. This serum in particular is packed full of nourishing oils to hydrate, calm and protect the skin. I've been using oils regularly in my nightly skincare routine for around a year now and this serum feels incredibly luxurious. They encourage you to massage the serum into your skin for at least a minute, which is beyond relaxing and the perfect way to end a busy day.

So, I have absolutely no idea how I ended up on the Urban Decay PR list, but two beautiful palettes arrived last week and I'm certainly very grateful. I don't buy a lot of make up anymore and I'm generally quite out of the beauty loop in many ways, so these were a lovely surprise. The Vice Lipstick Palette is a thing of beauty. I'm not yet sure whether I'm going to keep it for myself or give it to my boyfriend's mum, but either way it will get a lot of use and will be very well loved. Despite its beauty I already know that I won't use the Full Spectrum Eyeshadow Palette nearly enough to justify keeping it, so I'll be doing a little holiday giveaway sometime in early December and I hope it finds a home where it will be thoroughly enjoyed.

Have you bought any new things recently?