Sunday, 29 December 2013

New Years Eve Pamper Tips

Hi guys, I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas! I have had a little bit of time off from blogging due to being incredibly busy over the the past week or so. However, now that all of the festivities are over, hopefully my posts will become regular once again. So, seeing as New Years Eve is only two days away now, I thought that I would share with you all some of my favourite things to do to pamper myself prior to nights out. Making sure that you are fully prepared will ensure that you are feeling and looking your best, as well as keeping last minute stress and worries at bay. So, let's get started!

1. Exfoliate your skin
Prepping your skin the night before is a really great tip as everybody wants their skin to be silky smooth, especially if your New Years outfit is a little revealing. In addition, if you are planning to apply fake tan before the big day, exfoliating is a key step to include. As most of you will already know, fake tan clings easily to dry patches on your skin and that is not a good look! I simply like to use some exfoliating gloves which are pretty inexpensive or a body scrub, (my favourite is Soap & Glory's Sugar Crush Body Scrub,) and gently buff my skin in circular motions before applying some body butter and viola... smooth skin in seconds! 

2. Look after your lips

Making sure your lips are prepped before applying your lip product of choice is another crucial step. There is nothing worse than flaky-looking lips, especially if you are planning on puckering up at midnight ;) A great way to banish flakiness is to use a lip scrub and Lush do some great ones, (Bubblegum and Mint Julips,) which are extremely popular amongst beauty bloggers. However, an excellent and cheap alternative is to make your own lip scrub. I simply slather a little bit of Vaseline mixed with some sugar granules on my lips to make a simple (and tasty) scrub. Afterwards, I apply a liberal amount of my favourite lip balm, Carmex, and my lips are really smooth and plump in no time!

3. Prime the face
As many of you are probably aware by now, using a primer before applying foundation is a great way to ensure that your make-up stays put all night long. All you have to do as apply a layer of primer onto your face and then do the rest of your make-up as normal. For Christmas, my parents bought me Clinique's Universal Face Primer (£20.00,) which I have had a tester of before and I absolutely love it. If this primer is a little too expensive for you, there are some great high street alternatives out there. A few of my favourites are Revlon's Photo Ready Primer (£11.00) and Rimmel's Match Perfection Primer (£6.99.)

4. Paint your nails

Last but certainly not least, having nicely painted fingernails and toenails is essential on a night out on the town! In my opinion, having a pretty manicure really finishes off your look and pulls everything together. There are typically five steps to a manicure/pedicure that you can do at home, which are; pushing back the cuticles, filing the nail, applying a base coat, applying two or three coats of polish, followed by a top coat. Alternatively, if you fancy treating yourself, do not have a steady hand or you have a bit of extra cash, getting your nails done professionally could be another way to go!

I hope that these tips help you to prepare for whatever you are going on the 31st. Also, I would love to know what is your favourite thing to do to pamper yourself? I love listening to your suggestions and sharing tips with fellow bloggers. I hope that you all have a fabulous New Years and I wish all of you the best of luck going into 2014! 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

DIY December: Chocolate Orange Cookies

Hi guys. Today I thought I would do something that I have never done before...a food-related blog post! Over the past few weeks, I have been heavily influenced by Miss Glamorazzi's (Ingrid Nilson's) DIY December videos on YouTube. She has been making lots of yummy Christmas themed treats, as well as cute homemade presents and decorations, so I thought it would give it a whirl myself. I have been meaning to do something like this on my blog for some time now and I've finally gotten around to it. Normally, I tend to stick to baking cakes or cupcakes but sometimes is nice to branch out and try something new. With that in mind, I decided to bake some Chocolate Orange Cookies. 

Although these cookies are not technically Christmas themed, I think they are a lovely little treat for this time of year and would be great accompanied with a cup of tea or coffee whilst sheltering from the cold, winter weather too. I originally got this recipe off of the BBC Good Food website which you can view here, however, I altered the recipe slightly as I did not have any white chocolate at hand. 

To make 15-18 small cookies or 10 larger cookies, you will need:

125g dark chocolate
150g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp salt
75g light brown sugar
125g softened butter
Zest of one large orange
200g milk chocolate chips
1 egg

At this stage, you will need to pre-heat your oven to 170°C (Gas Mark 6) and line a baking tray so that your cookies do not stick.

Step 1
Break up the 125g of dark chocolate into a microwave-proof bowl and melt it in the microwave in 30 second intervals, checking and stirring it as you go, until it is completely smooth. Alternatively, you could do the same over a pan of simmering water until fully molten. Then, leave the chocolate on the side to cool.

Step 2
Measure out the plain flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and set aside for later. Cream the 125g of butter and 75g of light brown sugar and beat it in a bowl until it's light and fluffy (using an electric whisk for this step makes it a lot easier!) Then, add the melted dark chocolate into the mixture and whisk once again.

Step 3
Add in the orange zest and egg and whisk until the mixture is combined. Then, fold in your flour mixture which will eventually create a sticky dough. Throw in the chocolate chips and give the mixture a final stir to ensure that the chips are evenly distributed. 

Step 4
Now for the messy bit! Roll the dough into small or large balls (depending on your preference) and place them onto the lined baking tray. Bake for roughly 15-18 minutes or until a skewer or knife inserted into the middle of a cookies comes out clean with no mixture on it. 

Step 5
Once the cookies are done, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool on the tray for up to 10 minutes. Then, you can transfer them to a cooling rack or a plate. At this stage, the cookies may seem quite soft and may appear un-cooked but I can assure that they are. As they cool, the cookies will harden. Do not try and cook them for any longer otherwise they will either burn or become dry.

And viola, that is how you make delicious chocolate orange cookies! I hope that you enjoyed this post and please let me know if you give this recipe a go yourself, I would love to see the outcomes! Hopefully I will be able to start incorporating some more food-related posts into my blog on a more regular basis as and when I can :)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Christmas Tag

Hi guys. Today I thought that I would do a Christmas tag after seeing so many bloggers do one. I thought that it would be nice to share with you some of my family's traditions and see how they differ from everybody elses. Let's get started!

Do you prefer a real Christmas tree or a synthetic one?
My Mum is quite fussy and always demands that we get a real tree as they look much nicer. I always tag along with my parents to our local Christmas tree farm each year and help them pick out a tree. This year, my Dad accidentally knocked over a bunch of trees whilst we were there and I literally could not stop laughing. I cannot take him anywhere!

You're in a coffee shop, it's December, what do you pick up?
I have become addicted to Costa's Honeycomb & Cream Hot Chocolate this year. I definitely recommend it!

What's your favourite colour scheme for decorating the tree?
As our living room is quite neutral in colour with a few green pillows and so on, (I promise it looks nicer than it sounds,) we tend to match our decorations to that. So our colour scheme is gold, browns and greens. It looks really elegant and classy I think!

Giving or receiving?
Definitely giving. I get really into buying presents and I get so much excitement out of doing so. I always really try and make my gifts personal whenever I can, especially when it comes to my closest friends.

To mince pie or not to?
Unfortunately, I do not like mince pies.

What's your traditional Sunday lunch?
On an average Sunday we will have some form of meat with roast potatoes, an assortment of vegetables that Mum honey glazes and cooks in the oven (yum!) and Yorkshire puddings. However, at Christmas, there are obviously plenty of trimmings such as chipolatas and sausage meat.

What do you wear on Christmas day?
I try to dress nicely on Christmas day in a dress and tights but this year, I think we are all wearing Christmas jumpers for fun. Also, even though we spend Christmas day at home and do not leave the house, I still like to make an effort with my hair and make-up.

What's your favourite Christmas song?
I'm not a huge fan of Christmas songs because when I worked in retail, they were all I heard for about three months on a loop. If I had to choose it would probably be 'Last Christmas' or 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.'

What's your favourite Christmas film?
Elf without a doubt and I'm sure most people will say the same! It's so funny and I can quote so much of it.

Do you open presents before or after lunch?
We normally open them around mid-morning once my Nan has arrived. We usually all take it in turns to open one present each and go around in a circle.

I hope you enjoyed reading this fun, little tag and please feel free to link me if you have done this tag or a similar one, as I would love to read them and see the similarities and the differences between everybody's Christmases! Also I would like to tag my best friend, Laura, to do this tag too. She has a great blog called 'Just A Random Rambler,' which I recommend you take a little peek at. Thank you :)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

My Favourite Festive Nail Varnishes

The festive season is well and truly in full swing now and I absolutely love it! For me, my favourite thing about this time of year is all of the gorgeous decorations and lately, I have become obsessed with all things sparkly. So, I thought that I would share with you some of my favourite glittery nail varnishes that I will be wearing over the Christmas period. I have always been a hoarder of nail polish from a young age and now that I have recently acquired my nail qualification, (which you can read about here,) my collection is always increasing. Three of the polishes I will be talking about today are from a China Glaze Christmas set called 'Be Merry,' which I picked up from my local beauty supplier but you can also buy it from Beauty Bay. In my opinion, sparkly nails are a great edition to any outfit over the festive period and it really adds a little something extra. So, without any further ado, lets get started!

China Glaze Nail Polish in Santa Red My List
This magenta pink polish is the first from the aforementioned 'Be Merry' China Glaze Set and it is gorgeous. The glitter is very fine and is the most understated of the bunch, which is great if you only want a subtle shimmer as opposed to going the whole hog!

Barry M Nail Paint Limited Edition in 347
Next up is this extremely bright silver shade. I got this product free in Boots as I spent over £6 on Barry M cosmetics whilst picking up some little gifts for my friends Christmas goodie bags. The glitter in this polish reflects a whole bunch of colours and gives a really pretty, rainbow effect in certain lights.

China Glaze Nail Polish in Be Merry, Be Bright
This polish has both bright pink and violet/blue glitter running through it, which gives such a lovely effect. This is another one of the colours from the China Glaze set and it is definitely the most in-your-face of the bunch. This particular varnish would look great either as a built-up colour after a few layers or simply as a top coat over another polish.

China Glaze Nail Polish in Mingle With Kringle
'Mingle With Kringle' is a very traditional gold-coloured polish with an extremely fine glitter. This particular gold is quite bright and could be seen as a little garish, but I think it is perfect for this time of year as it really makes a statement!

Essie Luxe Effects Nail Polish in 'A Cut Above'
This polish was mentioned in my November Favourites post recently and I absolutely love it! The baby pink glitter is really pretty and as this varnish has the chunkiest glitter of the bunch, it doesn't chip and is very long-lasting. I highly recommend this product and there are a few colours in this range, so there is one to suit everybody's taste!

China Glaze Nail Polish in Put A Bow On It
The third and final polish from the 'Be Merry' China Glaze Set is my favourite of the bunch, as purple is my all time favourite colour. This varnish builds really quickly and so it is hassle-free in terms of application. This polish probably has the finest glitter of the bunch and it is very striking on the nails.

China Glaze Nail Polish in CG In The City
Last but not least is this beautiful charcoal-grey colour. The shade is actually a lot darker in real life, however, my camera didn't pick it up so well. I love wearing this nail varnish rather than black, as I think it looks a little too harsh on the hands. I love this product because it goes with every outfit and has just the right amount of shimmer in it.

I hope you have all enjoyed reading about my favourite festive, sparkly nail varnishes. I would love to know what your go-to nail varnishes are at the moment, so please do not hesitate to leave a comment below :) 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Boots Christmas Gift Guide 2013

In a few days it will be the first full weekend of December and so, many of us will be starting our Christmas shopping (if we haven't done so already!) I, for one, like to make my Christmas shopping as stress-free as possible, as we all know how busy the hustle and bustle of our local high streets and shopping centres can be at this time of year. With that in mind, I am very happy that I picked up a Boots Christmas Gift Guide this year because I can now look at and plan what I am going to buy for each of my loved ones before I hit the shops. Now, don't be fooled, Boots doesn't just cater for those who love beauty and personal care items. Boots has a wide range of products in the following categories: gift for women, gifts for men, gifts for kids and general gifts for everyone to enjoy.

In addition, the guide also has a Christmas Gift List where you can write down what you want to buy for each person. I think that this is a great way to keep yourself on top of everything, crossing off the presents on your list as you buy them. So, without rambling on for too long, let's see what gifts that I recommend from this amazing catalogue!

Gifts for beauty lovers

First up is this lovely Soap & Glory Bubble Barrelled kit (£18.00) which features some of the brands most coveted products including a shower gel, hand cream, foot cream, body butter, body scrub and shampoo. This bundle also has a cute headband thrown in for good measure, which you could wear during your huge pamper session! I think that this would be the perfect present for any beauty lover because not only are the products amazing, but the packaging is really gorgeous too! There are also many other Soap & Glory gift sets to choose from in the catalogue covering all price ranges, so I recommend having a look at what's on offer!

Gifts for fragrance lovers

If you have a slightly higher budget to spend, why not buy your loved one this lovely Marc Jacobs Dot Gift Set? This product includes the eau de parfum (50ml,) plus a body lotion and shower gel (both 75ml.) I think that this gift set is excellent value for money as it is the same price that the fragrance would be if sold separately, which is £49.50. This perfume is a very floral scent with hints of vanilla and jasmine, which smells divine. I would also recommend a few of the other Marc Jacobs perfumes such as Daisy, Honey and Lola.

Gifts for £10 and under

Next up, the Boots Extracts range offers many gifts for those of us with a slightly smaller budget. The Extracts Super Cranberry Collection (£10.00) includes a body wash, body butter and body scrub. This range feels really luxurious on the skin despite its value for money. Plus, the lovely cranberry smell is perfect for Christmas. The Extracts collection has many other scents to choose from. Another favourite of mine is the Mango Collection Wash Bag which is even more affordable at just £6! This set is essentially the same as the Cranberry Collection minus the body scrub and it is packaged in a vibrant wash bag instead of in a box.

Gifts for men

This Topman T-Shirt Gift, £25.00, is a great gift for the man in your life. This set includes a 100ml bottle of Topman's No.27 eau de parfum, which I have actually smelt before and I love it! The t-shirt is plain black with a white V-shape motif on the pocket. Unfortunately, the only down side to this gift is that the t-shirt is only provided in a medium (if only there were size options!) If you wanted to go for something a little cheaper, the Boxer Shorts Gift Set features a pair of boxer shorts (again only medium sizes available) with the same design as the t-shirt and a body spray for £12.00 instead.

Gifts for food lovers
Last but not least is the selection of Nandos gifts on offer. The Chilli Planter and Sauce Set (£12.50) contains a hot sauce, a packet of chilli seeds and a ceramic pot to grow your own chillis in - which is kind of cool in my opinion! For the same price, you could also treat your food lover to the Nandos Table Trio. This set contains both the medium and hot peri-peri sauces along with a pot of the ever so popular peri-peri chip sprinkle. If none of these presents tickle your taste buds, Boots also have many other food brands within the gift guide including Wahaca and Food Nation.

I hope that both this post and the gift guide makes your Christmas shopping a stress-free experience by giving you plenty of ideas as what to buy for your friends and family. I hope that you are all getting into the festive spirit as I have plenty more Christmas-themes posts coming your way this month, so keep your eyes peeled!