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Saturday, December 16, 2017

There are gift guides a plenty going round at the moment, and whilst you probably don't need another list of things you 'have' to buy, I thought I'd put together a few things that I, a creature of habit and comfort, would like to receive this Christmas; whether you're a fan of keep warm, getting your s**t together, having nice skin, or purchasing something via a helpful cause, here's a few last minute gifts and ideas to wrap up asap!

For The One Who Likes Self-Help Reads

I love a good self-help book, especially during that end of year/start of Jan slump where you're like 'what am I doing with my life?!' One I picked up for myself recently is about Ikigai, a Japanese concept of finding purpose in our lives. I had a tab open about the practise for months (cough, since last Christmas) but only recently found a book I can absorb without tech getting in the way, and it makes you approach life in a more fulfilling way than hygge, where you can combine passion, vocation, profession, and mission to find your true 'reason for being'.

It can sound a little fluffy, but if you're a more practical person or want to compliment your hygge time with a better work life, this may be the treat!

Other books: You Are A BadassThe Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**kBig MagicPlaying Big

For The One Who Likes Pampering

Of course my faves Pai have a Christmas offering that is well worth popping in everyone's stocking - their Landmark Collection contains 4 of their hero products (including their face cloths which I love) and is a great starter pack for any skincare newbie or someone looking to switch to cruelty-free/vegan skincare that really cares and calms - plus it saves £20 off the usual price!

They also have a Cleanse and Tone Starter Kit is you want to really treat a pal, and also a special mini-Rosehip Oil which has been redesigned specially for Christmas!

Other lush beauty to buy: Oskia CityLife Detox MaskAromatherapy Associates Bath Gift SetCowshed Bath OilsMauli Oils Trio

Last Order Dates - Pai: 21st December (UK) • Naturisimo: Unlisted but suggested 21st • Cult Beauty: 20th (Express available only)

For The One Who Likes Pretty Organisation and Stationery

I'm a sucker for a notepad, and whilst next year I'm trying to go journal-free to save paper, I still get heart-eyes over diaries and planners galore. If you want a simple statement to keep track of dates that also looks pretty on your desk (not for writing on of course!) then this Rifle Paper Co. option from Anthropologie (sold out online but still in stores! Might be available here) is gorgeous, plus the constellation version will make you want to buy both as bookends for your desk, or maybe one for the kitchen ;)

If you prefer to go all out on the organising, then your best options are Rifle Paper Co. Planners and Small Diaries via PaperMash for pretty scheduling, Ohh Deer's fab undated planners which can be used for planning your days, tasks, and timings in an organised-unorganised fashion with check boxes, or the beasty and beautiful CEO Of My Life Planner by Ella Iconic which is such a stationery fan's dream that I may have talked myself back into a planner for the new year; again these can be 2018 or undated, and even come with expenses and budgeting sections which are a must for the self-employed!

Last Order Dates - Papermash: 19th December • Ella Iconic: 20th December (Express) • Ohh Deer: 18th for Standard, 19th for Premium, 21st for Next Day

For The One Who Likes Summin' Fancy in Their Stocking

I'm not usually one for watches or buying someone something big without their input because everyone has personal taste, but I recently received a Daniel Wellington Watch* and I'm really impressed with the style and quality. There are the usual leather options if you swing that way, but I opted for the Cornwall style which has a NATO fabric strap and adds a nice casual edge to a big watch face.

There are also plenty of vegan friendly options from Votch, Olivia Burton, and Aubry which are well worth checking out too as their brands are fully aimed at producing ethical alternatives!

For one last stocking filler that goes a bit further, there are some fabulous treats on the Oxfam Shop including Divine Chocolate, Faith in Nature soaps (which are my fave), and also donating money to help farms, send soap, and provide water to those in need. Some Divine chocolate and a donation to hungry families will do so much for a small price at Christmas - tis the season of joy and giving after all!


Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Winter is definitely the cosiest time of the year, mainly because we're finding anything to keep toes warm and prevent our lower back from exposure to the wind, but it's cosy nonetheless with hot chocolates, coats, and scarves a plenty.

After years of bad shapes, practicality over style, wrong lengths, and materials that got soaked through as soon as they touched the snow, I'd like to think I have my winter accessories down now; they might not all match, but they do keep me super warm and 'stylish' during a festive season which is a plus ;)

I'm really glad I followed my heart with this coat last year, as I've been a huge loyal fan of blue for years and wouldn't wear anything else, but as soon as I spied it in the shops I knew it would be like a huge bear hug. I like that it's neutral enough that it can look more beige/pink/grey depending on what you wear it with, and even though sizing up made it a little baggier that I would've liked, it does mean more thick knitted jumpers which I'm all for.

Another M&S find from this year (thank lordy) is this multi-coloured blanket scarf which has a lush mix of pinks, yellows, whites, creams, and purples so that it can bring together pieces in your wardrobe that might not 'flow' naturally into one another, and also adds a pop of colour to a palette which is sometimes uniform. It's big, it's fluffy, it keeps my neck super warm (and wipes makeup off my chin but what scarf doesn't) and it was only £25 which is pretty darn good for a big ol'blanket to keep your chest and neck warm.

Hats are something I like to switch between depending on mood - a Christmas pudding option for fun novelty days, a double pom-pom one I got back in 2010 that I always think makes me look like a mouse, and this little number I *borrowed* off my mum (because it looks more sensible than being a mouse and keeps my ears warmer than a pudding) - a fab TK Maxx find.

When my gloves aren't in my pocket like in these pictures, they're usually blazingly on display as due to being bright blue with a floofy lining that keeps your fingers warm beyond belief. I picked them up a few years ago at Oliver Bonas and yes, they're out of stock because I don't buy things new anymore and tbh they should be re-stocked as they're so insulating and just a fab colour to make any coat colour pop (would recommend a pink pair if they ever make them again, just saying).

Now these aren't something that keep me warm (although cheese plants do signify warmer climates) but I've recently dabbled back into the world of piercings with these beaut Farfara earrings from Maravilo*.

Both wearing gold and earrings are things I haven't done in yonks, but I love how much of a statement these make without being too much (plus the gold let's me get away with a summer leaf in winter because festive golds!) and what else is great is that Maravilo support independent designers to keep creating and highlights their unique pieces to wider audiences - truly a fab purchase for all parties!

Now with a bit of extra chill coming in the air as I type this, I might have to grab my trusty blanket scarf (and extra blanket) and go make myself a hot chocolate - because sometimes, that's a much tastier option than gloves ;)


Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

I think Christmas decor is my favourite, it just radiates cosy warm comforts and magic if we're going to push it that far, and it allows me to push the limit on candles which is also a great because I do love to smell of cinnamon as much as I can.

There's been a few updates since my last post, including this stellar desk set-up I've had since mid November - I found both the Santa and mini tree in Homesense (of course), the lights are last year M&S, and the pine cones are actually scented with winter spice which is lovely alternative if you find candles a bit much.

Speaking of candles, I've burned through a fair few but my favourites that you can still buy are Yankee Candle Cinnamon Stick and White Company Winter - I've had the fancy botanical one since last year as well as the 3-wick which is still waiting to be burned over the next few weeks, but they honestly smell deliciously cosy and are a worthy investment.

Also in my bedroom I've gone to down on the red and gold which is a huge contrast to my usual blue (don't worry, there are still some Christmas blues in there) - these again are all Homesense last year but the wooden 'Merry Christmas' is still one of my favourite ever finds, I just wish I could nail it to the wall and display it in all it's glory!

Something I've never had but always thought looked beautiful were garlands and when I found this Gisela Graham design on Amara I knew it would be perfect for our fireplace.

The mixture of golds and greens are so versatile, and through the last month it's been a table centre piece and taken it's final place on the fireplace, where I wove some fairy lights around and styled it with bigger candles and a few statement ornaments - I finally feel like I'm living in Pinterest ;)

And then we come to trees - we do have 3 main ones in total (a real one we got this year and two fake ones from last year's sale YAAAS) we different themes which is great because I can never decide on one colour scheme.

The one by my desk is red and white which goes nicely with the Santa lights and also the red chalk on the blackboard, but I've mixed it up with white crackle baubles and striped red and white ones which make it feel less traditional and v fun. Again, the majority (okay all) were Homesense finds and also Homebase which is surprisingly good for decs so recommend checking them out!

The 'main' tree is a culmination of decorations from years gone by, and we went with a nice light caramel and gold theme, but I did take a risk by mixing white lights with warm ones and it actually worked out and makes it feel like 3 trees in one when you have either set on at once or together, which is quite nice. Plus, all the more fairy lights amiright?

My ever faithful blue baubles have found a place on the kitchen tree, and I do think the packed silvers and blues look fab on a pencil tree - it gives it more shape and makes it feel full of festiveness. Luckily my white lights have gone a bit more purple/blue so when it's about 4pm the decorations and lights look SO GOOD together - I'm in peak Christmas festive mode right now, I'm so excited.

Finally we have the table, and all those dried oranges finally came to good use, and make quite the centrepiece when coupled with candles and gold-painted leaves. Itgave me a good excuse to tidy everything up and also prep the table for all the upcoming games of Monopoly and roast dinners I'm going to consume in the next few weeks - only 15 more days to go....


Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

Website | Flickr | Tumblr | Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest


Thursday, December 07, 2017

I've wanted to visit Scotland ever since I saw the amazing Christmas markets years ago, and as someone who hasn't been past Durham nor been across the sea to Ireland, I thought it was high time I get my act together and explore parts of the country I'd often brushed over.

Earlier this year I thought about how crazy it is that Scotland is right on our doorstep yet we tend to go elsewhere in Europe for short trips, so a few months ago I finally made a plan to head up over Christmas and get to experience true Scottish weather and culture for myself.

Very kindly, Travelodge offered me a night's stay in one of their central locations (we opted for Prince's Street, set right on the doorstep of the Christmas Market but tucked down a side street) which was great for a whirlwind trip - we knew we'd have minimal time in the room due to exploring, so it's a great central hub where you can drop off bags, have a little sit-down between exploring/getting over the cold, and all rooms come with king beds too which is good if you need to stretch your weary legs.

Due to a 4pm wake-up call and the smell of roasted onions coming from the markets, we headed straight to the food stalls in East Prince's Street Gardens to grab something to quieten our rumbling bellies. I'd luckily done a lot of research for vegan food via VeganEdinburgh's blog which is so handy if you're vegan and looking for great places to eat in the city, and managed to hit up almost every stall serving yummy vegan treats.

First up was Babu Kitchen, a Bombay street food stall that had some delicious chai spice and pistachio brownies - it was a good texture although I have had fudgier, but the flavour more than makes up for it. Lighter than a gooey brownie, it's good if you're sweet tooth has boundaries and you want something you can eat in one go and feel okay/not sick afterwards ;)

Another highly rated stall was Mimi's Bakehouse, literally round the corner from Babu; their vegan hot chocolate is highly rated (and sadly they were all out of brownies the day we visited but I'm assured they're delicious) and it was a lovely smooth pick-me-up after being out in the cold for a while. They have lots of other yummy treats including cakes and fancy hot chocolate flavours so it's well worth a visit just to marvel at them - and maybe take home a cupcake or two.

A stall we sadly missed because we were full/fools for not going back was the French Crepe stall which I sadly don't know the name of but they did serve up some pretty delicious looking galettes (which I kept calling croquettes. I would have enjoyed either) so maybe a reason to go back next year.

Finally for the potato lovers out there, there's Chip on a Stick, which basically sells a whole potato twirled into a spiral and flavoured with whatever you choose. It's great. They are pricey at £4 a stick but it's potato and I love potato (albeit a very salty potato) and something you could share as you walk around the market - just don't take a photo of you eating the top of it as it's very phallic...

After an hour or so exploring the stalls, we headed east of New Town to Broughton Street where there were some shops I'd been eyeing up. Sadly Life Story was closed both days we went but I've heard great things about it so if you're in town on a Wednesday onwards, pop inside!

I'm going to do a more in-depth post on my favourite shops I visited but we picked up some lovely treats from Curiouser and Curiouser, smelt all the coffee in Artisan Roast, plus wished we could take home the festive plant displays in Narcissus (which were frankly too beautiful and the reason I can't look after plants.)

After a lot of shopping and a hot chocolate stop (second of five) we decided to venture South towards the Old Town for a bit of architecture porn so to speak.

It required walking up a lot of stairs but the view of the park and also the centre of town was so beautiful it was worth the huffing and puffing - I think.

We walked towards Royal Mile which just housed some beautiful buildings that I could've photographed all day, before walking around to the bottom of Candlemaker Row, a truly unique and quirky curved street that is rightly photographed and Instagram daily. The lights up and down the street were so festive plus at the time of day we visited, the sun was casting a glorious glowing orange light through the gaps of the buildings that made it feel so warm and cosy and truly Christmassy (plus I got an epic shot of the street with 4 guys taking a selfie in the corner - truly captured a moment there ;))

We finally made it to the castle in time for sunset and BOY did it look amazing - the whole sky was orange, the light was incredible, and you could see for miles which was breathtaking as one side was the busy city and on the other in the distance were huge hills and mountains. We didn't go inside but I'm sure in warmer weather or by actually booking in advance you can explore even more and learn about the history, but at that point, hot chocolate three was calling me...

We ended the night at Dishoom, which again I'd never been to after much raving from others, and after fobbing off another reservation we managed to get in at 5:30pm when it was near-empty inside, which really meant we'd get our food quicker and I was super excited for that.

We opted for vegetable samosas (puff pasty with potato, peas, and cinnamon aka me), Bedmi Puri curry (which was super hot but delish), Bhel, Gunpowder Potatoes, and fresh greens. The staff were amazing and found us some coconut yogurt when we asked for something to knock back the curry, and I think it's being stuck south so long but everyone was SO FRIENDLY!

Finishing it all off with mocktails, we flopped on our bed at 8pm (!!) and slept until 7am which was pretty impressive (minus some late night partiers coming back late) and set us up for a pretty chilled last day.

We only had a few hours so after breakfast we walked back to a few shops we'd previously visited for last minute gifts, walked along the side-streets to grab a pizza which was very yummy, and then finished it all off with - you guessed it - a hot chocolate and a long sit-down.

Looking back, it's seems crazy how much we fit in and I think with an extra day you could do it all at a slower pace, but it's greta having a central base to drop heavy bags off and also a fab variety of cafes to visit and top up your energy levels.

In a short space of time, I fell in love with Edinburgh's beautiful architecture, beautiful food, and even more beautiful people, and I'll definitely be back again come summer and Christmas - just don't forget to wear tights under your jeans, because it's a wee bit chilly!

Now if you're wondering about all my hot chocolate recommendations, well you'll just have to stay tuned a little while longer...


I was a guest of Travelodge on this trip, all thoughts are my own.

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

Website | Flickr | Tumblr | Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest

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