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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Christmas Gifts for Her ♥

Following on from my previous gift guide blog post, this one features lots of goodies that make great gifts for her.  If you need a little bit of inspiration on what to buy her this year then hopefully this will help. You can never go too wrong with jewellery, alcohol, or pampering treats!

Hot Diamonds

This stunning rose gold and black bangle is part of the Emozioni collection from Hot Diamonds.  The bangles are available in an array of different styles and colours depending on your preferred look.  This one has little black and rose gold beads and has been finished off with a heart charm and a dainty Emozioni charm.

The bangles are designed so that you can attach a coin pendant from the Percoso collection onto the ring supplied.  This would make a wonderfully thoughtful gift this Christmas, and it arrives beautifully packaged in a gift box along with a little gift bag too.


Pip Studio

Pretty crockery is perhaps a bit more of a 'niche' gift, as it's maybe not something that everyone is into. But I feel like a beautiful set such as this one from Pip Studio at Amara is something that anyone can be appreciative of, and it's not usually something someone would buy for themselves but it would still make a wonderful gift.

Sometimes if you just wants to enjoy an extra special cup of tea, or treat yourself to a slice of cake or a luxurious breakfast in bed, then a stunning tea set is perfect! The pieces can be bought individually so you can make up your own set, but my favourite pieces are the water glass which is decorated with little gold polka dots, and the elegant curved edged cake plate. I absolutely love the beautiful pink and blue pattern which is finished with gold touches.. just stunning! And how cute is the little egg cup?  





Disaster Designs

I am perhaps a little bit biased because my kitty Merlin looks just like the cat on this wash bag.. but how adorable is this?! This faux leather Meow Cat Wash Bag by Disaster Designs from Hurn & Hurn is perfect for storing beauty essentials and toiletries with a large inside compartment as well as a little zipped pocket.

I just love the charming detail that has gone into the design of this product; the cats with bow tie print, pretty scalloped edge, and the big kitty even has its own little gold metal bell (just like my Merlin!). The back has a navy and white polka dot print and a gold foil Meow logo on the back. The perfect gift for any cat lover!

 

Burleighs Gin

If you're stuck for ideas this Christmas or maybe you need to buy something for the girl in your life who already has everything, then why not get her something a little bit different this year. English distillary 45 West has been producing Burleighs London Dry Gin in in Leicestershire since 2014.

This sleek black bottle is their Distillers Cut gin which has been distilled with 11 fine botanicals including silver birch, dandelion, burdock, elderberry and iris. The fresh flavours in this bottle leaves a soft, sweet taste making it perfectly suited to cocktails, or a classic G&T.  Why not try out Burleighs Rosemary Rickey refreshing cooler drink, combining the gin with rosemary syrup, lime juice, soda and finishing with a slice of lime. Want something really special? Check out their pink edition gin too!

I think this would make a really unique gift at Christmas which you could combine with something a little extra such as a cocktail shaker or drinking glasses. I can't wait to crack this open on Christmas day!  Plus, use discount code VINTAGE20 which gives you 20% off all bottles of Burleighs online.

 

Emma Bridgewater

Pretty treats such as scented candles make lovely little stocking fillers and there are so many available on the market to chose from at the moment. This Emma Bridgewater candle from luxury living brand Rooi smells amazingly fresh and clean and burns for over 55 hours.

The fragrance is a mix of camomile, lavender and orange blossom and is very refreshing and homely. The candle comes in a glass and is then boxed with the dainty floral design. You could also check out the other matching Emma Bridgewater products such as the hand cream or hand wash to make up a lovely gift set.

  

Bomb Cosmetics

One of my favourite types of gifts to receive is pampering treats or body products. Bath bombs are very popular at the moment and make ideal presents at Christmas time. These two sets from Totally Funky are festive themed gift sets containing a whole bunch of scented bath bombs.

The Santa Says Relax Gift Set is a hessian Santa sack that contains seven bath blasters, all made and decorated by hand.  When dropped into a warm bath tub the bombs fizz and release perfume and essential oils into the water. The fizzers are beautifully decorated with glitter and sparkles and a Christmassy theme.

The Rockin Robin Bath Gift Pack is a gorgeous handmade gift box selection that comes ready wrapped with pretty pink paper and tied with ribbon. This set contains five bathing goodies including a 'Rockin' Robin Blaster', a 'Berry Crush soap', a glittery creamer and two little cupcake mallows. The stunning packaging makes it a lovely gift, and no wrapping required!


Sass & Belle

One of my favourite places to get gift ideas is Sass & Belle.  They do so many adorable little stocking fillers with cute little designs on! I will be doing another blog post featuring stocking filler ideas with more goodies from Sass & Belle but for now, check out this cute little cushion!

This anchor cushion would make a lovely gift for the girlfriend or bestie in your life. It comes in a lovely deep blue and cream colour scheme in the shape of an anchor and reads 'you are my anchor'. This fun nautical themed cushion is great for someone who loves homeswares and home accessories.


Sanctuary Spa

If you're really stuck for ideas this Christmas, why not get her a little pamper gift set? Sanctuary Spa do a range of different sets which make great pressies for Mums, Sisters, Nans etc.  This set is called 'Take 5' and is designed to encourage taking 5 minutes to catch your breath, gather your thoughts and let go with a cup of tea and a soak in the bath. 

The set includes miniatures of the following: Gentle Polish Body Scrub, Foaming Creamy Bath Soak, Luxurious Body Butter, and Luxury Bath Float.  This is all tucked into a giant polka dot drinking mug and packaged up in a metallic gold box.. the perfect pamper treat!


Neal & Wolf 

Neal & Wolf are passionate about beautiful hair and they offer a luxury hair care product collection that redefines indulgence.  They offer beautifully packaged boxed gift sets that each make wonderful Christmas presents for those who want the gift of great hair.

 The Nurture Duo set from their Elysian Collection includes a hand wash along with a hand and body lotion. It makes the perfect gift set to clean, cleanse, and soften hands and body. I love the beautiful packaging and the scent is unique and soft. The Cherish Duo is from their Harmony Collection which offers a shampoo along with an intensive care treatment. The ideal duo for dry or damaged hair that will be left looking and feeling healthy and smooth. I've used Neal & Wolf products in the past and I am always really impressed with the salon finish results!


Bedroom Athletics

 And last but not least.. loungewear and PJ's! Honestly, a nice set of good quality pyjamas or a fluffy dressing gown is probably my favourite type of gift to receive. These gorgeous cosy goodies are from Bedroom Athletics and are definitely my new favourite thing.

The hoodie dress is nice and oversized so it's all snuggly to wear over my normal PJ's in the evening. It's so so soft and fluffy and keeps me nice and warm. And I love the little pom-pom drawstring and kangaroo pouch pocket too! The matching slipper booties are equally snug as they have a super soft faux fur lining. So cosy! 



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Monday, 28 November 2016

My Christmas Wish List ♥

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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Bottomless Brunch at Bar + Block, Birmingham ♥

Following on from my blog post on our micro break in Birmingham, I wanted to share with you our amazing meal at Bar + Block Steakhouse in the city centre. We were invited along to try out their new 'Bottomless Brunch' which includes unlimited prosecco, hot drinks and juice for £15 for 90 minutes when you order any dish.


Although the restaurant looks like a trendy independent restaurant, it is actually part of the Beefeater Grill chain, although it had a better menu and generally a much warmer atmosphere. The space is nice and large and airy with funky furniture, and I loved the bare brick walls and simple decor.

We were seated by our lovely waiter in a cosy booth table behind the bar in the middle of the restaurant and we were given a little tub of popcorn which was a cute touch. The waiter kept our glasses topped up with prosecco, and as part of the Bottomless Brunch deal you can also go up to the drinks station and help yourself to the juices on offer or the coffee machine.


To kick off our meal we decided to share the highly recommended Ploughman’s Block which is basically a sharing board with lots of delicious finger foods including a homemade Scotch egg,  sausage roll, cheddar cheese, salt beef, pickles, chargrilled red peppers, pulled beef (my favourite!), onion marmalade and crusty bread. This was the perfect way to start off our meal and we thoroughly enjoyed trying a little bit of everything, and it was beautifully presented on a thick wooden block.

The menu at Bar + Block mainly consists of various meats and steaks, although there are a few vegetarian options available.  We both decided to order the Butcher's Block for our main course, which is their special cut of the day, and on our day of visiting the cut was a massive T-bone steak! Yum! 

This was served along with beef dripping chunky chips by standard, although I opted to get regular French fries. The steak was definitely the biggest I have ever eaten, and it was devine! On one side of the bone was a piece of tender fillet and on the other side was a piece of flavoursome sirloin steak and it was grilled to perfection. I also could not resist ordering a mini side of mac and cheese which was served in an adorable little pot and had a delicious crispy topping and plenty of creamy cheese... mmm!


After having such an enjoyable starter and main course I thought we had also better give the dessert menu a try.. and it did not disappoint! I opted for the Triple Chocolate Brownie which was served warm with chunks of chocolate throughout and topped with chocolate toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream. 

This is possibly the best chocolate brownie I have ever had (and I've had a lot of brownies in my time..). Often when you order a brownie dessert in a restaurant it comes out all crumbly and dry and not really very nice. But I was so in love with this gooey chocolatey piece of goodness I cannot wait to go back and try it again! 

Terri went for the Churros Sundae which included two big churros coated in cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, brownie chunks, biscuit bites, clotted cream and chocolate toffee sauce. I absolutely love the way that this was presented in a little glass mason jar, it was very instagrammable!


In our 90 minutes of the Bottomless Brunch we managed to down 3 glasses of prosecco and 1 orange juice each, which isn't bad for the £15 price tag of the drinks, although I'd only really recommend this if you plan on having more than 4 glasses. We really enjoyed all three courses of our meal and the staff were brilliant at keeping our drinks topped up and bringing us the beautiful and delicious food. I would thoroughly recommend giving Bar + Block a visit and I plan to return very soon!



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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Christmas Gift Ideas for Beauty Lovers ♥

In case you guys haven't already realised... Christmas is upon us! I cannot believe how quickly November has gone and that December is so close.  Therefore this blog post is a little bit different to normal; this is the first part in my series of Christmas gift guides! 

I love reading these types of posts on other peoples blogs as I find them really useful for getting ideas on the latest pressies available and hopefully you will find this gift guide helpful if you need ideas for a beauty lover.  Aside from the typical gifts of the latest eye shadow or contour palette, here are a few other ideas... 

Soap & Glory

Soap & Glory are basically my go-to brand when it comes to buying gifts for girls! I have been a massive fan for around 10 years now when they first appeared on the shelves in Boots. Pretty packaging.. check. Quirky puns.. check. Amazing smelling and affordable treats... double check!

This little beauty is the Soap & Glory Foam & For-tune magical, musical gift set which features 6 miniature products along with a Sudsy Puff body polisher, all snug inside a pretty little tin (the tin also sings you a S&G Christmas tune!).

The minis include my all time favourite shower gel Clean On Me, the equally delicious scented Righteous Butter and Scrub Of Your Life body buffer. The other three products are from the Sugar Crush range, the body wash, body buttercream, and body scrub. An all-round great gift!


Real Techniques

What beauty lovers can never have too many of is make up brushes! Even I can never resist something shiny, and this Bold Metals Spotlight Essentials Set from Real Techniques is super shiny! The ultra soft bristles on each of these brushes are designed to work with cream, powder, and liquid make up.

The set includes the large copped coloured Tapered Brush which can be used to highlight and sculpt across cheeks, the gold Triangle Concealer Brush and the silver Tapered Shadow Brush. As a little extra, the set also comes with a brush roll that doubles as a clutch bag.  Real Techniques have created brushes that are weighted for perfect in-hand balance, optimal control, and comfort.

 

Pebble Grey Mirror

My favourite new product is this Sara LED Magnifying Vanity Mirror from Pebble Grey which I think would make a perfect gift. This has made my getting ready routine so much easier since the dark wintery mornings have drawn in.

I find it really useful when applying my make up as the energy saving LEDs around the edge of the mirror provide a bright but neutral coloured light. The mirror is mains powered and includes a 3x magnification side, the ability to rotate the mirror, and a handy toggle switch. I love the polished chrome finish!


No7 Cosmetics 

If you're looking for stocking filler ideas this Christmas then check out these little beauties! The No7 Gifts For The Girls Cracker Collection comes boxed with four little crackers filled with festive beauty treats.

Each cracker contains a full size No7 Nail Colour or a No7 Lovely Lips Tinted Lip Balm, along with a paper crown and a joke too! The perfect little pressie to give as a set, or why not divide them up and share them between a few girlfriends!

 

Dr Bronner Stocking Fillers

 Another stocking filler idea, this time organic goodies from Dr. Bronner. Their lotions are based on pure organic oils free of chemically modified ingredients and preservatives. The Lavender Coconut Organic Hand and Body Lotion leaves skin soft and hydrated and has a devine coconutty scent.

Why not pair this with one of their Organic Lip Balms made from organic bees wax.  They are available in 3 flavours:  Naked, Orange Ginger, Lemon Lime, and Peppermint. Natural products make great gifts at Christmas time, and Dr. Bronner do a range of different products including cult favourite: Castile Liquid Soap which has 18 uses in 1!


ghd

A classic Christmas gift.. why not treat her to a hair styler from ghd? The Air Hair Dryer has a professional-strength motor and high pressure air flow for super-fast drying. It also uses advanced ionic technology to reduce frizz and flyaways to give a smooth salon-style finish in half the time.

The ergonomically designed dryer has variable power and temperature controls, plus the choice of two nozzles and a cool shot button to lock the finished style in place with a blast of cold air. This hair dryer has been highly rated and reviewed online, as well as being used by top salons worldwide. A wonderful gift for those who like to take care of their hair and want salon style at home.  
 
 


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Sunday, 20 November 2016

A Micro-break Weekend in Birmingham with Marriott ♥

Last weekend Terri and I got the train into Birmingham to have a little mini break in the UK's second city courtesy of Marriott. We were invited along to spend the night in their hotel which is located at the top of Broad Street, and we also had the chance to look around a couple of the cities most popular attractions. 


As great as it is to take a holiday or city break abroad, sometimes it's nice to spend some time and learn new things about the places on your doorstep.  I went to university in Birmingham for three years and yet I never took the time to visit the local attractions or look at the history and culture in the area. The city is less than an hour away from me now on the train, and so I do like to make the occasional visit for a little shopping trip or night out.

But this time on our little mini break, we did something a bit different and visited both the National Sealife Centre as well as the Back to Backs Museum in the city centre.  The Sealife Centre is located alongside the canal just off of Broad Street and Brindley Place; it's in an ideal central location and was really easy to walk to from the train station. 


Inside we explored the aquarium and spent an hour or so discovering and learning about the fish and sea creatures. My favourite thing to see was probably the penguins, who all seemed to be enjoying themselves playing together and messing about in the pool. 

I also touched a starfish, and saw the stingrays, jellyfish, and sharks.  Unfortunately we were disappointed to see that the otters were all asleep on our visit, but they looked so cute all cuddled up together! 


 For lunch we visited Bar + Bloc Steakhouse but I'll put up a separate post on that shortly! After visiting the Sealife Centre we walked up to the Marriott Hotel and had the chance to relax after spending all afternoon walking around the city. We shared a twin room on the second floor which was the perfect base for our weekend of adventures! 

Although we didn't have the time to take advantage of all the facilities, the hotel has a fitness centre, indoor pool, and a spa. The hotel is a little bit further outside the city centre than other hotels that I've stayed in before, but this isn't an issue. We used the Uber app to get a taxi to and from the city centre a couple of times which was only about £5 each way. 


Once we got back to the hotel (and I had a little nap!) we got ready for our evening out. We had a table booked at The Botanist restaurant on Temple Street and I was very excited after hearing so much about it!  It's a botanical themed bar and restaurant offering a huge selection of cocktails, craft beers and ales, champagne and wine. 

Their food menu is inspired by the deli, rotisserie and BBQ and they have live music on every night. The decor and styling in the restaurant is just amazing; I love all of the quirky touches and funky decorations. The place was heaving with people as it was a Saturday night so unfortunately I didn't manage to get any photographs of the place, but check out the gorgeous photos over on Tereza's blog. Also apologies for the awful food pics, the lighting was so dark and my camera really struggled to focus! 


Here we had a little feast as we each selected a deli board where you can pick your own pieces to make up the board. I selected houmous, greek salad, Camembert, chorizo balls, prosciutto ham along with a fougasse bread and a side of sweet potato fries to share.  The food was all great and just to my taste, although I would have preferred it if the Camembert cheese was not cold. My favourite was the warm chorizo balls which were delicious and not too greasy like choizo often is! 

To go with our meals we ordered a few of their famous cocktails to get us through the evening. I loved that the food and drink menus were presented on lovely old fashioned paper and books, the little touches really were charming. For the cocktails we decided to start off with a whole watering can of gin mixed with apricot and basil. The massive drink was served in an actual watering can which supposedly gives 4-5 servings although I believe we managed to get much more out of it! 



We also decided to try one of their 'Flights of Fancy' paired flight boards. This is basically a mini cocktail topped up with beer served with the can. We were really curious as to what this would be like although I must admit, I'm not a beer drinker so this was not the choice for me! I went for the Betty flight board which was a mix of lemon, mint and blackcurrant paired with a dark India pale ale, although it was a bit too dark for me.

To finish off our meal, we decided to share a cookie dough dessert which was divine.  The big soft gooey cookie was served on a hot dish along with salted caramel sauce and toffee ice cream.. yummy! I also enjoyed a blackberry and rosemary fizz cocktail, which is a very refreshing mix of blackberries, rosemary, sugar syrup, lemon and apple juice shaken with gin and topped with soda.  Overall we had an amazing evening out at The Botanist and can thoroughly recommend it!  


After a drunken Uber ride back to the hotel, we enjoyed a well earned sleep in the worlds comfiest beds. On Sunday morning we had a little lay in and then went downstairs for breakfast before the next part of our adventure. The breakfast at the hotel was a nice simple classic buffet serving a full fry up, continental, or you could even ask for an omelette to be made just for you. There was also an array of fresh fruit juices and teas available, so it was the perfect start to our day. 

According to new data from Birmingham Marriott Hotel’s Great British Break Report, city residents say The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, British Motor Museum and The Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum are the top three places they’d like to see but have yet to explore.


The next attraction we were due to visit is the Birmingham Back to Backs which is located near to the Arcadian and opposite the Hippodrome Theatre. I had never heard of this 'museum' before we booked our trip, however it is rated as the number 1 place to visit on TripAdvisor. Although I have described it as a museum, it's actually a guided walk around a very carefully restored, atmospheric 19th-century courtyard of working people's houses.  

This may not sound that interesting, but it was actually surprisingly good fun whilst also being very educational. We learnt so much about the history of the people living and working in Birmingham and the National Trust has worked really hard to create a great attraction for visitors. This is certainly not the type of place I would usually consider visiting but I am so glad I did. 

I was fascinated to learn about the lives of some of the former residents who crammed into the small houses and it was all extremely realistic and very well recreated. The tour did last about an hour and a half which did begin to drag after about an hour, but our volunteer guide Anne did a great job of keeping everyone engaged and making the walk interactive.
 

Overall we had a great little weekend in Birmingham and it was wonderful spending time doing something a little bit different to usual.  There's so much culture and history to see in Birmingham, it's got so much more than just the bars and shops I usually frequent! 

 Have you ever taken a micro-break somewhere local to you?




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