Merry Kissmas with Sensodyne

Thursday, December 29, 2016
Merry Kissmas with Sensodyne
Christmas has just ended but I think we are all still in the christmassy mood of tiredness, cosiness and a constant food coma *the struggle is real, right* but I am coming to you today with a brand new post; it feels like ages since I just sat down and wrote a blog post but it's actually been just over a week or so.

Christmas to me has become less magical over the years, it was always so incredibly exciting as a child but now...not so much, I've just bought a car vacuum in the sale. However, while it isn't nearly as magical at the grand old age of 24, there are still a lot of things I adore about the festive season including the christmas markets, constant movies, fairy lights (which I think should be mandatory all year round), festive decorations, gift giving and receiving and the food or should I say, the acceptability of being able to eat ALL THE FOOD.

I'm a vegetarian, as is my grandad so christmas food isn't that exciting to either of us as traditional christmas food usually involves meat but there are treats that we both like such as warm chocolate cake with custard (which I definitely didn't eat for dinner yesterday), gingerbread biscuits, hot chocolate and mince pies. Rather annoyingly I have really quite sensitive teeth and some festive treats that include anything cold, such as ice cream or even just cold drinks will have me running to the kitchen to find something warm to reduce the pain.
Merry Kissmas with Sensodyne
In comes Sensodyne to the rescue (cue angels singing) with their new *True White Mint Sensitive Toothpaste (£7.99, 75ml). The new toothpaste is the lowest abrasion formula from Sensodyne (it's ten times less abrasive than other Sensodyne toothpastes) and is a specialist whitening toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Most people, myself included, want whiter teeth especially at this time of the year when you're meeting new people, visiting friends and family more and having Christmas/New Year parties to go to. I've tried a few whitening toothpastes and they don't seem to do that much for me personally and they can be so minty that it almost leaves a raw, burning feeling with my teeth and gums feeling even more sensitive than before but this new offering from Sensodyne is so incredibly gentle and it doesn't have a very minty taste either which is amazing for me!

I've been using it for about a week now and I'm loving it; it's so much more pleasant to use compared to the Colgate one I was using previously which by comparison is just mouth burningly minty and harsh. I also love the packaging as it keeps the tube less messy. I haven't noticed a massive change in terms of the whiteness of my teeth but I definitely think it's starting to help and it's also helping a little with sensitivity even though I haven't been using it for very long at all.

Here are Dr Amit Rai's top tips for a kissable Christmas and New Year:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day and using floss or interdental brushes in-between can help remove plaque and prevent bad breath 
  • Research shows that 75% of people asked want their teeth to be whiter so give your teeth a top up with a gentle, low abrasion whitening toothpaste 
  • Don't skip brushing your teeth as it can lead to an increased risk of gum disease, decay and acid wear 
  • Keep your breath kissmassy fresh with a mouthwash but use it at a different time to brushing your teeth as if you use it straight after brushing, you could be washing away your toothpaste's beneficial ingredients 
  • Don't go too overboard with the sugar treats as it can lead to a risk of decay 

I was also very kindly sent an amazing Instax Mini 8 Camera and film from the super lovely and thoughtful people at Sensodyne as well as some christmas photo booth props which I did force everyone to wear on Christmas day! I adore the camera, I have wanted one for ages and I couldn't be happier with it! Highly recommend, as well as the toothpaste! 

Overall, I'm not only over the moon with the camera but I am so happy with the toothpaste as well and I really don't think I could go back to using another toothpaste as this one is not just really effective and so gentle but it isn't painfully minty either and with sustained use it will definitely continue to help with my teeth whitening needs and my sensitivity as well - what more could you ask for! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5 (obviously). 

Have this tried this toothpaste or others from Sensodyne? Have you had a nice christmas? What do you think of the top tips? 

(Very Late) October Book Reviews

Saturday, December 24, 2016
(Very Late) October Book Reviews
October has been an amazing reading month for me (actually the past few months have been amazing!) as I've read 10 books this month although I did want to read a couple more but I didn't have time and I had a mini reading slump halfway through the month! I've read eight books and two cookbooks.

*Granny Yaga by Vitali Vitaliev - ★★★★☆, 4/5. 
I visited Russia a couple of years ago and since then I've been interested in Russian history and folktales so when this book arrived I was very excited to give it a go as it's inspired by the Russian folktale of Baba Yaga; I've heard of Baba Yaga but until now I hadn't read anything. The book follows Granny Yaga (Yadwiga) and her kind of adopted family the Sablins. It's very quick and easy to read, with some illustrations and it has an almost magical, mystical feel to it. I loved Yadwiga, Danya and Bulokov the cat especially as their travels through London and Yesterldayand. Yadwiga's character seems to me like a character Terry Pratchett would conjure up and I loved that - it's an entertaining and enjoyable story with interesting references to soviet culture/society, Russian folktales and classic literary fiction! It read like a modern childrens classic that any adult would also enjoy.

*The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey - ★★★★☆, 4/5
It was a quick, easy and entertaining read and I loved it much more than I thought I would. It's great to go into it blind, it kept me wanting to read on and on and it is perfect for this time of year. It is a little gory and gruesome at times, which I wasn't fully expecting, and it has strong apocalypse/dystopian themes so if that's not your thing then possibly skip this book but if you like action, adventure and dystopian books with some fighting, survival and more then definitely check it out! My only main problem is that although the ending was quite heart felt and emotional, it was also a little convenient for me and I still had a lot of questions when I finished reading.

I adore the book cover and design - it's so beautiful and I definitely need more! I have another copy from this range from Pan Macmillan, English Fairytales, which I can't wait to start around December. This edition is part of the stunning Macmillan Collector's Library range. I loved both of the stories in this edition, they are unique, interesting, very entertaining, familiar (although there are massive differences between the books and the adaptations) and intriguing. I think I do prefer A Study in Scarlet but they are both fantastic and almost fantastical at times. If you are familiar with the films and TV series and think you know the stories so you don't need to read the books - think again, the books are definitely worth reading!

*Heap House by Edward Carey ★★★★☆, 4/5
I love the writing style, it's incredibly easy and quick to read and I also love the illustrations throughout the book even though some are a little creepy to say the least. You get so many points of view from the family members and servants, each one with an illustration, so it can be a little confusing just because there are SO many characters but it is an unusual, essenctric and easy read that has such a fantastic quirky and victorian atmosphere. There are a few twists and turns all of which are a little predictable and I wasn't massively happy with the ending but I would definitely recommend it - I think it would be an incredible film, if done correctly and if Tim Burton directed it as this is definitely Tim Burtonesque already! I definitely want to carry on with the trilogy!

*The Witches of New York by Ami McKay - ★★★☆, 3/5
I read this e-book on the Kindle app on my iPad in October as anything to do with witches and the supernatural during this time of the year is a must; also I love YA paranormal or magical books so I was excited to give it a go and in some ways it was fantastic, at times it was very different to what I thought it would be and during other parts of the book I felt as if interesting storylines were glossed over or forgotten in favour of a more simplistic and more graphic/shock factor option. 

The book follows Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and Beatrice Dunn, all of which possess supernatural, unexplainable and magical abilities such as seeing ghosts, concocting 'potions' and reading fortunes. I love the relationship between the three and my favourite characters were definitely Eleanor and Beatrice; however all of the characters were vivid, believable and interesting. The storyline has have quite a lot of tangents to magical books, quotes and back stories, I felt that while it did add a lot of interesting information, it also bogged down the story and I would have preferred a little less of it. 

There were some lovely characters, awful characters and downright evil characters, the setting was fantastic and I love the whole premise but I thought before I started reading that it would be different to how to turned out - for me it turned out to be a modern day witch trials book with a one man vendetta against witches. I hope there is a second book as there were so many storylines and so much progress still to make with the characters relationships that wasn't covered nearly enough in the book. Having said all of that I did find it to be enjoyable, quick and easy to read particularly during October but I did find it lacking and I was left with questions and wanting to know more. There's a lesbian relationship/characters in the book which seemed to be of little consequence to the story as a whole, it seems it was added in to make the book more rounded, in my opinion. 

*Crane Pond by Richard Francis ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have been interested in American history and particularly about the Salem witch trials so I couldn't wait to read this, thanks to the lovely people at Europa Editions. The book isn't a non-fiction account of the trails but it is inspired by the witch trials and includes the names of a few of the individuals involved with it and some events from the trials. 

The book follows Sewall and his family throughout this uncertain, suspicious and tumultuous time and we see the family and community before the start of the witch trials, during and after which is really interesting and surprisingly very gripping, at least to me! From the first chapter or two, I found it surprisingly quick and easy to read which I wasn't fully expecting (I thought it might be slow and a bit dry but it isn't). As I am kind of familiar with the events of the trials, I knew what to expect generally but I still found the book really enjoyable; however the way the community on the whole in the book (and at the time) believed the young girls against all sense, was quite frustrating to read about. 

There were some more atmospheric sections, slower sections, odd sections (the man farming naked...) and some emotional and upsetting sections, especially towards the end of the book. By the end of the book I really felt for Sewall and his family, who have been through so much. Overall, I'm really glad I was able to read and review this book and it's so enjoyable to read, it kept me wanting to read on and it was a quick and easy read which is perfect for this time of the year; I cannot recommend it enough!

*The Canterville Ghost & Other Stories by Oscar Wilde ★★★★☆, 4/5
This year I have surpassed my 30 book reading goal by over double but one of my secondary reading goals was to read a few classics and some famous authors so I couldn't wait to read some of Oscar Wilde's short stories in this beautiful Alma edition. The book is only 113 pages, not including the notes/author information at the back, so I read it in one day. 

I adore the cover design, it's amazing and perfect for this time of the year! There are four short stories in this edition including The Canterville Ghost, The Sphinx without a Secret, The Model Millionaire and Lord Arthur Savile's Crime. My favourite story is The Canterville Ghost as it's based in a haunted house, it's atmospheric but it's lighthearted and entertaining too. As it was first published in 1887, I thought it would be really formal and difficult to read but it is really quick and easy to read as well as being enjoyable and entertaining. It would be perfect for a atmospheric, crime filled short read for halloween but it isn't scary! My least favourite was Lord Arthur Savile's Crime which was a bit ridiculous but still entertaining on the whole. I definitely want to read more from Oscar Wilde now; also I can't recommend Alma classics enough! 

*After Supper Ghost Stories by Jerome K Jerome ★★☆, 2/5
I'll keep this review very short as I only have a couple of things to say about it - firstly, I love the cover as with all Alma covers I've gorgeous and unique. Secondly, the short stories are so boring, I only really liked the first; I skim read the others as they just weren't at all interesting to me.

*The Book of Greens by Jenn Louis - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I love green vegetables, I eat them with so many meals in different variations but I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy green veggies and this book is great! It's kind of an encyclopaedia of information about how to cook veggies, what to pair with certain foods, seasonal vegetables, how to construct a filling salad and more. I found some of the information useful and practical but some of it is common sense and quite basic. I love the food photography and some of the recipes are fantastic; also I love the information about specific greens which I have never even heard of before! 

*Mighty Salads by Food52 - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
Since I started incorporating vegan meals into my vegetarian diet I've found out how versatile sales can be (thanks mainly to Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her amazing vegan cookbooks). This book is a great addition to my kindle library of cookbooks! I adore the photography and the salad recipes sound amazing and I've already made some although I think the recipe steps are a little long winded and could be shorter considering most aren't complication or difficult. As it's an American cookbook, some of the terms are familiar to me and I end up googling some but overall it's a great cookbook to have. 

*Food Anatomy by Julia Rothman - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I was drawn to this e-book because of the cover - the cover is so unique and gorgeous! I read the e-book via Adobe Digital Editions which is the worst book reading platform ever, it takes SO long to download one book and then the app will usually crash just as the book finishes downloading so you have to start again (it's beyond frustrating!). Anyway, rant over, the book beautifully illustrates food history, cultural differences regarding food and cooking, ingredients and methods of cooking. I loved the illustrations throughout although the handwritten font was a little difficult to read at times especially on a iphone/ipad screen. 

I found the food history really interesting as well as the ways different cultures will cook/bake and the variety of dishes that are created around the world. I also like the little recipes in the book although some are a little patronising such as how to cut an avocado...I think this book would make a perfect christmas gift for book lovers and foodies - it would be a great coffee table book and I'm definitely tempted to buy the paperback. 

*1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted by John Lloyd - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have purchased one of these QI books for the Kindle app on my iPad before and I loved it so when I saw this e-book on Netgalley I had to request it immediately. I love little facts, which is why I loved the previous one so much (I have the 1,339 Facts To Make Your Jaw Drop). It's a fantastic book to flick through and obviously you have to recite all of the facts to friends/family as you go! The format of this e-book wasn't as spaced out as my preview one which makes it less easy to read but that's my only negative!

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading recently? 

Hygge Haul ft. Zaful

Friday, December 23, 2016
Hygge Haul ft. Zaful
Cosy and comfy clothes are basically all I buy as I work from home and I want to be dressed but I also want to wear comfy clothes too so loungewear, leggings and jumpers are perfect. I need more ASAP as it is getting super chilly in Manchester recently and I've been wearing these items non-stop since I received them a couple of weeks ago from the lovely people at Zaful.

*Zaful High Neck Sweater ($19.49, SALE)
I pretty much live in leggings and dresses or longline jumpers as they are so comfy especially at this time of the year when it's cold and grey outside and you just want to be warm and cosy. I'm petite so I can get away with wearing longline jumpers and sweaters as dresses with leggings and this one is perfect. I love the colour (I love anything grey, as you'll see from this mini haul...everything is grey) and I love the super thick and cosy material. I love the high neck, it's high but not so high that I feel like a snowman with no neck at all. I have been wearing it constantly and I'm really happy with it; I have a size M which is perfect for me and I'm a UK size 10.

*Zaful Knit Hat ($6.01)
I have been looking for a cute beanie with a pom pom for so long and I may have found the perfect one. I hate massive pom poms but this one is great and obviously I love the colour. The material is stretchy, thick and cosy so it will keep you warm which is definitely needed now (hopefully it won't snow!). I love the simple design, the fit and the size - you can go wrong and the price is great! If you don't like the grey *then what's wrong with you*, they do have other colour options to choose from instead.
Hygge Haul ft. Zaful
 *Zaful Hooded Fleece Coat ($21.99, SALE)
I have a thing for short dressing gowns, they are so much comfier and cosier than the full length ones which I just feel restricted in. I have a similar one to this from Marks and Spencers but it is lighter grey and it definitely isn't as soft or as warm as this one. It's honestly the softest and cosiest short dressing gown (or house coat if you call them that) I've ever owned. I can be wearing it for only a couple of minutes and I'll be so toasty warm, it's amazing! I love that it has a hood and pockets too; I'm so tempted to wear it in the car as it's freezing to drive and the heating doesn't come on for a while. Definitely recommend!

Overall, I couldn't be happier with all three cosy, hygge inspired items from Zaful. I know online stores, particularly ones that are abroad can be a little underwhelming when it comes to quality but the quality of all the items I've had over the past few months from Zaful have been genuinely fantastic! I am currently wearing the fleece coat and I couldn't be warmer or cosier! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

What do you think of my mini Zaful haul? Have you bought anything from Zaful? 

Irresistible Me Straightening Hair Brush

Thursday, December 22, 2016
Irresistible Me Straightening Hair Brush
Forget straighteners, hair straightening brushes are here! I tried one a few months ago but this is the first one I've tried that I think is actually worth the money, for me anyway! Back in high school I used to wash and straighten my hair every single day which surprisingly didn't leave my hair permanently damaged but now I rarely fully straighten it but there are a lot of days when I want it to be a little less frizzy, crazy and generally unmanageable, in comes Irresistible Me to the rescue *cue superhero music*.

The *Irresistible Me Jade Hair Straightening Brush ($45, SALE) features an 8ft 360 degrees power cord, ceramic technology, an LED screen and an auto shut off as well as being able to heat up quickly to 230 degree Celsius. It has a universal voltage and a 40 watt american plug so you do need an adaptor.

I have to be honest and say that I'm not crazy about the colour, I think it makes it look a little cheap but the device itself is fantastic and a lot cheaper than other alternatives. It has a large hair brush design which feels quite natural to use, rather than straighteners and it is quite lightweight. The teeth of the brush are 'anti-scald' teeth so you won't burn your hands or scalp while using it.

It's really quick and easy to use but you can't just use it like a regular hair brush, if you did, you wouldn't get the best results from it. You have to take sections and physically push the hair through the teeth of the brush so they come into contact with the heated teeth otherwise it won't do anything to your hair. It takes a little bit of practice but on my first attempt, by the time I'd finished half of my hair, I felt like I'd got the hang of it.
Irresistible Me Straightening Hair Brush
The way you use the device and what you want from it will determine how well you think it works. If you don't make sure to get your hair is in contact with the teeth then it won't work nearly as well and if you think it will fully straighten your hair as well as your GHDs then in both cases you'll probably be a little disappointed. But if you use it correctly and if you understand that it will only straighten your hair partly then you'll love it like I do.

I don't want poker straight hair, I think that trend can just stay in the 00's, like my awful stick straight bob but if you want your hair to look less frizzy, smoother, more manageable, sleeker and yes, straighter then definitely check out this hair brush from Irresistible Me. I've been using it quite a lot to really help reduce frizz, to make my hair look so much more smoother and presentable but not ridiculously stick straight! You can see from the before and after photographs, yes from my Snapchat, above that my hair looks 10x better after using the Irresistible Me brush (I didn't use my GHDs or any products on my hair, it's just from using the straightening brush)! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried a straightening hair brush? What do you think of my results? Also how cute are the festive Snapchat filters?! 

Pulse Light Clinic Cellulite Treatments

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Pulse Light Clinic Cellulite Treatments
Image from Pulse Light Clinic
Today's post is another featuring the amazing Pulse Light Clinic, which is a London based clinic with over 15 years of experience focusing on laser hair removal as well as other treatments such as rosacea treatments, tattoo removal, acne scar removal and more including cellulite reduction treatments. I've already posted about their laser hair removal and rosacea treatments which you can check out if you want more information.

Anyone can have cellulite and it isn't necessarily related to being overweight but it can be caused by so many different factors including pregnancy and stress. Their cellulite reduction treatments claim to give dramatic results without any downtime or time off, improvements in skin texture and a reduction in cellulite. The treatment is non-invasive with minimal discomfort which is fantastic! I thought cellulite treatments would be invasive but the VelaShape III machine is a completely non-surgical and non-invasive method for fat reduction, cellulite reduction and body contouring.

The treatment consists of four different methods/technology such as infra-red light, vacuum and roller massage and radio frequency energy to apply heat to the skin and spread the heat which stimulates newer and therefore more efficient cells. The vacuum and roller massage stimulates blood circulation and lymphatic drainage which all together help improve skin texture and reduce the fat and cellulite. You can check out the Pulse Light Clinic site for more information including their FAQ page related to cellulite treatments. This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Pulse Light Clinic.

They also have a great short video explaining the VelaShape III treatment

Have you ever considered cellulite treatments? Have you looked into any treatment with Pulse Light Clinic? 

*collaborative post
please always do your own research before considering any kind of treatment anywhere 

Last Minute Gift Guide: Part Two

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Last Minute Gift Guide Part Two
Today's post is my final christmas gift guide of 2016! How has 2016 gone by so quickly, it feels like it was new year a couple of months ago! I've posted a few gift guides this month and back in November which seems like ages ago now. I've posted my Lush, The Body Shop, Tisserand and Snapfish gift guides as well as my MensLuxury, Under £15, Womens, Stocking Filler and Last Minute guides.

This post is for those last minute gift buyers as most online stores have their delivery deadlines either today or over the next two days so you still have time to order or pick up a gift for friends, family or neighbours. This gift guide features a range of beauty, book and lifestyle gifts.

*Beauty Kitchen Everlasting Radiance Moisturiser (£19.99, 60ml)
Winter skincare would make a fantastic practical gift as this time of the year can be damaging and harsh to the skin. I always change up my skincare routine and products during the colder months and this gorgeous, natural moisturiser would be a perfect addition. It contains 100% natural ingredients including seahorse plankton, sea kelp, blue chamomile, bergamot, lavender and more, you can't go wrong. It's blue in colour, smells amazing and it is packaged beautifully so it would make a lovely gift to beauty lovers!

*Susino Wind Resistant Floral Ladies Automatic Compact Umbrella (£19.99)
Again, another practical but cute gift; I think practical gifts are some of the best gifts as the recipient doesn't need to buy them themselves. The umbrella has a pretty floral print, simple design and it is fairly compact so it would be great to keep in your bag or in the car. It has a switch on the handle so it automatically opens (it can be a bit lethal so give it room!) so it would be really useful, instead of fighting with an umbrella that won't open. I can't recommend it enough; I've featured the mini compact umbrellas in my previous gift guide. Next day delivery is available on the Susino website.
Last Minute Gift Guide Part Two
 *The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I have been reading so many books this year especially compared to last year when I read just a handful of books but I'm currently reading my 75th book of 2016! One of my reading goals for next year is to read more classics, hopefully at least one per month and this is one at the top of my list. I have watched a few TV shows and films that feature a Dorian Gray type character so I am familiar with the general story but I want to read the book and this Alma edition is gorgeous. They have some amazing book bundles to choose from! Tomorrow is the last delivery date for Christmas!

*Someone Is Watching by Joy Fielding 
I was very kindly sent a couple of new releases from the lovely people at Bonnier Zaffre Books which along with Alma Books and Pushkin Press are some of my favourite publishers of 2016. I am a fan of a lot of genres but one in particular is thrillers. This thriller sounds fantastic and if you have a fan of thrillers in your life then definitely check this one out. You can still get this title in time for Christmas if you use next day delivery on Amazon.

*The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking 
How gorgeous is this book, it's definitely one of the prettiest books on my bookshelves! I have a full review of this Hygge book on my blog already, if you want more information. Hygge seems to be the new big lifestyle trend of 2016 and I'm all for it as it's about being cosy, comfy, happy and spending time with friends and close family. The book is gorgeous, well laid out and a great mini coffee table book. It's available on Amazon for only £5 which is such a low price considering that it's a hardback and SO pretty.

*A Study in Scarlet & The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This pretty edition is part of the Macmillan Collector's Library range and it's gorgeous! It is a stunning cover which underneath is a duck egg blue clothbound book with gold edges *heart eyes emoji*. It would make a lovely gift for any book lover especially if they like classics as the range is pretty much all famous classics. I've reviewed it already and it's a great read, even if you are familiar with the Sherlock TV shows/films as the book is quite different.
Last Minute Gift Guide Part Two
 *Dr Botanicals Total Repair Healing Lip Complex (£99) 
My lips are annoying and stubbornly dry all year round so lip balm is an essential for me which explains my rather massive lip balm collection but there are only a few that are actually deeply moisturising, most just wear off and only work for a very short period of time but this one is amazing! The balm is really pricy, in my opinion but it would make an effective, natural and luxurious gift. The balm feels very nourishing but lightweight on the lips and it pretty much instantly makes my lips feel so comfortable, moisturised and very smooth and that feeling and appearance lasts for so long - I only need to reapply twice a day, whereas with other lips balms I have to reapply ten plus times a day. I cannot recommend it enough!

*Dr Botanical Advanced 8 Hour Overnight Renewal Cream (£106.70 - now £24.99 - SALE)
This cream is actually more balm like which is perfect for my very dry skin as it's so nourishing and smoothing on the extra dry areas of my skin. It is made in the UK as is the lip balm and contains lots of lovely natural ingredients such as pomegranate oil, goji berries and shea butter. It doesn't irritate my sensitive skin and when used as part on my evening skincare routine, it leaves my skin incredibly moisturised, smooth and deeply nourished in the morning. It's a winter skincare staple, even though it's a little pricy but it is currently on sale so GO, GO, GO. There are quite a few products in their amazing over 70% off sale so hurry!

What do you think of my final gift guide? Do you have any of the products I've featured? Do you still have presents to buy? 

#HyggeHappy + Giveaway

Monday, December 19, 2016
2016 has been a pretty awful year for everyone with brexit, Trump, all of the conflict around the world and so many amazing celebrities passing away *Alan Rickman, cries* but one of the only positive things to come out of this year is a Scandinavian lifestyle that I'm all for, Hygge.

There are so many pronunciations of the word 'hygge' but I think it would be pronounced 'hoo-ga', although maybe I'm wrong. Hygge is one of the many amazing things to come out of Scandinavia and it is all about creating a comfortable, cosy and happy environment at home, with friends or at work. I've read a couple of books about hygge and they all seem to be focused on a few key items and concepts such as lighting and candles, cosiness and comfort, friends and family, good food and trying to be content whether by yourself or with a small group of friends or family. Baking together, playing games and movie nights are all hygglig activities.

I'm an introvert *I'm 78% introvert according to the Myer Briggs test everyone seems to be doing recently* so I'm much more comfortable staying in at home or friends houses than going out so obviously I love anything to do with hygge. I'm at my most content when I'm reading with candles lit, baking, having a bubble bath with a good book or when I'm spending time with friends and close family so anything that encourages that I'm all for.
I was very kindly sent a #HyggeHappy kit from the super lovely people over at Bed Guru which contains some gorgeous hygge essentials such as a festive *Yankee Candle Votive Set which is perfect for creating a cosy hygge environment, a soft and fluffy *Snug Rug Throw Blanket which to be honest I will use all year around and a set of pretty *Filigree Heart Lights which will look amazing on my book case or on the mantlepiece. I also received an indulgent box of *Thorntons Continental Chocolate and finally Hygge: The Danish Art Of Happiness by Marie Tourell Soderberg which is one of the prettiness books I own!

Incorporating a few lifestyle changes or some hygge essentials is so quick and easy and are perfect additions to your home this winter. Candles are the easiest way to make your home look and feel more cosy, homely and inviting; apparently the Danish mainly use unscented candles but I prefer scented candles - the 'all is bright' and 'festive cocktail' samplers from the Yankee Candle set smell amazing! Throws, blankets and cushions are another quick and easy way to make you feel cosier and they would be great for a family movie night or a night in with friends or neighbours. We all probably have some form of fairy lights or Christmas lights up at this time of the year - it's one of my favourite things about around the festive season as everywhere looks so pretty!

Hygge activities can be so relaxing such as taking some me time to read with candles burning, taking a long bubble bath with a book or cooking and baking with friends or family. I love movie nights, especially at this time of the year but all year round and I need to organise a festive one soon with friends. I also need to invite friends round for a baking day together as well, I think my friends toddler would love it too!

I adore the concept of hygge, especially during the colder months, as the feeling of cosiness, being content and spending time with friends is so rewarding and to be honest I think it really helps with my anxiety and stress levels too! Incorporating hygge ideas and products into your life is so easy and very festive so why not try it! This is not a sponsored post but it was created in collaboration with Bed Guru.

Now onto the giveaway! If you want to win all of the items in this post then make sure you fill out the Rafflecopter form below! The giveaway is UK only and will run for two weeks.

This winner has been contacted - thanks for entering!

What do you think about the idea of hygge? Do you love movie nights, if so what have you been watching recently? Have you been adding hygge ideas into your lifestyle? 

House Of Florrie Rose Gold Watch

Saturday, December 17, 2016
House Of Florrie Rose Gold Watch
To be honest, until recently I wasn't really a watch person, I found then awkward to wear and I could just use my phone for the time but now I love wearing them as they act as a practical accessory so I don't have to get my phone out all of them time and it adds an extra detail to my usual basic but classic and minimal outfits. Like pretty much every blogger on the planet, I'm obsessed with rose gold, I would have everything in copper/rose gold if I could and I think during the festive season it is perfect!

I was sent this incredibly beautiful watch from the generous and lovely people at House Of Florrie; I chose the stunning *House Of Florrie Pearl Rose Gold Expander Watch (£75) which I cannot stop staring at! The watch features rose gold plating and an iridescent mother of pearl sub dial. The watch comes in one of the most beautiful boxes ever - when products look this good, it makes photographing them ten times easier *no editing required*.
House Of Florrie Rose Gold Watch
This watch is from the 'pearl expander collection' and there are two others in the collection including pretty gold and silver options. All three watches have an elegant 1920's inspired design that looks so classic but the rose gold plating gives it is a contemporary and on-trend look. One of my favourite details about the watch (as well as the pretty box, rose gold finish and design) is the unique mother of pearl sub dial. I own a few watches but none of them have a sub dial feature which makes it look very luxe and expensive!

It has a expandable, stretchy bracelet/strap so you don't have to worry so much about choosing the correct size, if you are buying it as a gift because it can fit a range of wrist sizes. Although I have ridiculously tiny wrists and all watches are too big on me so I will have to get this one adjusted very slightly to make it fit more snugly on my wrist.
House Of Florrie Rose Gold Watch
I think this watch would make a heavenly and very luxurious gift this Christmas and I can't think of any one of my relatives or friends who wouldn't want to find this stunning gift under the tree on Christmas day! I adore the rose gold finish, unique and almost vintage design and the mother of pearl sub dial as well as the beautiful presentation box which could be used to store it while you aren't wearing it. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5!

What do you think of this watch? Are you giving or hoping to receive a watch this Christmas? 

My Little Box: December 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016
My Little Box: December 2016
My Little Box has been one of my favourite subscription boxes this year and last year; I cancelled my subscription earlier this year as I needed to save up for driving lessons, insurance and the tests (I passed my practical driving test on the 9th December, yay!). I was very kindly sent the November and December boxes from the super lovely people at Yves Rocher as a Christmas treat *merci!* and the December box arrived just before I left for my driving test so it was a nice surprise that distracted me from feeling really nervous!

The November box was the 'Goodnight' box which was incredible with a gorgeously designed box, a cute moon shaped dish, skincare, an eye mask and a large sample size of the beautiful Yves Rocher Accord Chic EDP. The December Christmas box is equally divine and perfectly festive so it would make an amazing gift. The box contains jewellery, makeup, skincare, perfume, tea, food and a heavenly candle. As always everything in each box is perfectly selected, unique and gorgeous.

Lou Yetu X My Little Box Bracelet 
I'm not a massive fan of bracelets and bangles so I won't be wearing this as it's just not something I ever wear but I adore the hessian bag it came in and the design which is subtly festive and minimal but also luxe. It is gold with a forest green line around the middle of the bracelet. It will be great for a formal or casual christmassy outfit this season.

Kusmi Tea 
I adore tea, especially green, herbal and mint tea so I'm always happy to receive tea or coffee in subscription boxes. This one is a christmassy blend composed of black tea, ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, liquorice root, orange peel and aniseed so it smells like the essence of the festive season. It's a loose tea so you need an infuser, it's the 150th anniversary packaging and I can't wait to try it.
My Little Box: December 2016
My Little Beauty Christmas Melody Smoky Eyes Duo 
There are always a mixture of lifestyle and beauty products in the boxes which is fantastic and this month there is a makeup item from the My Little Box's own makeup brand. The eyeshadow duo comes in a really cutely designed package with a magnetic closure so it would be great to keep in your makeup bag or for travelling. There's a metallic, glittery pink shade and a matte taupe, both of which are great for everyday, smooth and easy to blend.

Wilkin & Sons Ltd Salted Caramel Spread 
I adore anything that contains salted caramel, I've recently bought the Alpro Salted Caramel Ice Cream and it's heavenly (it's also vegan). The spread tastes amazing, it has a toffee/butterscotch flavour that would be great on Belgian waffles or on warm chocolate cake, sticky toffee pudding or warmed on vanilla ice cream.
My Little Box: December 2016
Delices De Noel Gingerbread Candle 
I adore candles, especially at this time of the year when I'm burning one pretty much everyday. I have tried a few cinnamon and gingerbread scented candles and none of them actually smell like gingerbread but this one does. To me it smells like vanilla, buttery cookies and gingerbread men - it's divine. I love the packaging, everything in the box (and the November box) is very pinterest worthy which is one of the reasons I love these boxes.

You also receive a cute, unique print with each box and the ones for the November and December boxes are lovely. Additionally, there's also a short magazine in the boxes and canvas bags that have a different illustrated design on each monthly box - I use them for emergency items in my bag and for camera accessories. I definitely want to start my subscription again...but I need to pay for car insurance first *being an adult is so fun!*. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

What do you think of the gorgeous December box? Are you subscribed to any boxes? 

Last Minute Gift Guide: Part One

Thursday, December 15, 2016
Last Minute Gift Guide: Part One
How it is almost Christmas! This year has been pretty awful, generally with the world and it has gone by so quickly! Today's post is my penultimate gift guide for 2016 and it features so many lovely gift ideas, most of which are beauty related but there are some fantastic accessories and lifestyle gifts too so hopefully you'll find something for friends and family...or yourself.

*Bodhi & Birch Unwind Set (£20)
In my previous gift guide, the Under £15 Gift Guide, I featured the gorgeous Bodhi & Birch Allure Set which I definitely recommend as a lovely gift for mums, aunties, friends or grandmas but in today's post I have the equally gorgeous 'Unwind' set which contains: Rosemary Chai Bath & Shower Therapy, Rosemary Chai Lotion, Jasmine Falls Bath & Shower Gel and the Jasmine Falls Lotion. All four are 50ml each so they'd be great for anyone who travels a lot or as a trial set for anyone who hasn't tried the brand before. My favourite scent of the two is the Jasmine Falls scent but they're both heavenly.
Last Minute Gift Guide: Part One
Now for a couple of lifestyle gifts including this gorgeous *STM 'Grace' Laptop Case (£24.95) in the colourful but not too colourful option called Coral Dove which is my favourite of the four available. I have the 15" option but there's also a 13" one too. The case is really well padded and cushioned and it has an incredibly soft interior so your laptop is going to be really well protected on the go whether you take your laptop to work, school or travelling. I adore the design and I think it would be a perfect practical gift for workoholics, travellers, commuters or students - you can't go wrong. It can be bought from Amazon or Currys online.
Last Minute Gift Guide: Part One
*GANT Women's Cashmere Blend Gloves (£45)
I LOVE giving practical gifts and more luxurious gifts and these glove tick both boxes! Winter accessories are great gifts for Christmas as they're going to be needed with the gloomy and chilly English winter. These gorgeous and cosy gloves from Gant came in such a beautifully presented box with a ribbon so aesthetically it would make a luxe and fancy gift! The gloves are made of a wool and cashmere blend which makes them feel so soft, smooth and cosy. The design is simple and the colour will go with everything; my mum would love these gloves. If you want to give a practical and useful gift that is also really luxe, high quality and cosy then look no further! They have a lot of other gloves and products to choose from for men and women so I'm sure you'll find one...or ten things that catch your eye.
Last Minute Gift Guide: Part One
*Yves Rocher Ambre Noir EDT Pour Homme & Neroli EDP (£16.40 sale - 50ml, £18.40 sale - 30ml)
I have been lucky enough to try a few Yves Rocher perfumes and I have loved all of them, you can check out my reviews of them if you want more info! They also make gorgeous men's aftershave, the Ambre Noir EDT contains notes of patchouli, vetiver, bergamot, cardamon, lavender and tonic bean absolute. I love the packaging and I adore the fragrance, it's very musky, rich and typically masculine so I think it would be a hit with so many recipients this Christmas! Also the price is amazing!

The Neroli EDP contains notes of orange blossom, neroli, bergamot and orange. Again, the packaging is just gorgeous as is the bottle - they're very photogenic! The fragrance to me is very unique which is an unusual to come across with SO many fragrances on the market. It's sweet, floral, fresh and just gorgeous; I know I'll get so much use out of it, especially during the spring months. I cannot recommend both enough!
*Truffle Shuffle Stranger Things Tote (£6.99)
Is anyone else a bit obsessed with Stranger Things? I know I am! I have watched the series a couple of times already and I cannot wait for the second series which will be released sometime next year. *hurry up!*. I was very kindly sent this amazing tote from the lovely people at Truffle Shuffle. I use tote bags all of the time for blog products to be photographed, books and groceries. I can't recommend it enough and I think it would make a great present or a gift bag for fans of the show!

*Roger & Gallet L'Homme Sport Wash Bag (£22.50)
I love Roger & Gallet gifts, they all look so gorgeous and this offering is no exception. The practical and wintery wash bag comes with the shaving foam (150ml) and the after shave balm (75ml) so it would make a great gift for travellers or for anyone who hasn't tried the brand. I love the wash bag, it's really spacious so it would be perfect for a weekend away. The L'Homme Sport products have a fruity, woody and musky fragrance that I think will be a hit with most, I know my dad will love this set!
Last Minute Gift Guide: Part One
*Warner Bros DVD Set 
I was very kindly sent a range of DVDs from the super generous people at Warner Bros that would be perfect gifts for the men in your life. I received Batman vs Superman, Black Mass, Creed, Point Break and Mad Max Fury Road, none of which I've watched before so I can't wait to have some family and friend movie nights over the festive season to watch these! I've heard great thing about Batman vs Superman. I'm currently hosting a giveaway on my Twitter (@ofbeautyand) with Warner Bros in which you can win all five of these DVDs!

What do you think of my last minute gift guide? Do you have any of these products? Have you finished your Christmas shopping? 

*Christmas Decor Wish List

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Christmas Decor Wish List
One of my favourite things about Christmas are all of the gorgeous and sparkly tree decorations, fairy lights, outdoor lights and the lovely, glittery homeware that is very hygge (forget about thing life, I'm all about that hygge life!). I personally love metallic (rose gold/copper/gold) decorations and lights at this time of the year especially so I want pretty much everything from Cox & Cox!

Cox & Cox have an incredible range of gorgeous homeware and Christmas decorations, trees and lights that I'm kind of in love with. I love Nordic and Scandinavian style homeware, minimal designs and mixed textures so this site is perfect *I can't wait for their Boxing Day or January sale as I'll be buying everything*.

Miniature Birch Tree  -  Copper Glass Stars  -  Wooden Frosted Tree  -  Copper Wire Stars  -  Copper Star Tree Topper

Can you tell that I love copper and stars...I'm a blogger cliche! I think everything I've chosen would be perfect for christmas, I love everything and I'll definitely be picking up some of these items for next year (I wish I had known about this amazing site sooner as their products and product photography is genuinely gorgeous). They'd also made lovely Christmas gifts for new home owners! This is a collaborative post.

What do you think of the gorgeously festive items from Cox & Cox? Have you visited their website before? 

Tigi Bedhead Twin Sets

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Tigi Bedhead Twin Sets
I'm always changing up my hair products and one of the brands that I'm constantly drawn to is Tigi. As a teenager, I always wanted to try their products and I have tested out a few of their shampoo/conditioners but I've wanted to try more for ages! I was very kindly sent one of the massive Tigi Bedhead Twin Sets from the lovely people at QD Stores.

*Tigi Bedhead Resurrection Twin Pack (£12.99, 2x 750ml - available online and instore)
Tigi have so many ranges to choose from depending on what you want and your hair type; I chose the 'resurrection' range which is designed for brittle hair to help keep it strong and healthy. Both bottles are a huge 750ml so they are going to last forever! I have been using them for almost a couple of weeks now and my hair is loving them. As with all Tigi products they smell really unique and I love the scent, it's fruity and sweet (the previous range I tried had a sugary, candy scent).

It lathers so quickly and easily but it doesn't feel like it strips or dries out my hair, actually it's really detangling, smoothing and moisturising which is perfect for my dry, colour treated hair. It leaves my hair so smooth and tangle free which is definitely needed at this time of the year when my hair is even drier and more manageable! I couldn't recommend this duo enough and I definitely want to try more of the amazing Tigi Bedhead ranges. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried any of the Tigi Bedhead ranges?

Christmas Gift Guide: £15 + Under

Monday, December 12, 2016
Christmas Gift Guide: £15 + Under
Today's post is one of my last gift guides for the year *how has 2016 gone by so quickly, especially the past couple of months!*. Blogmas is coming to an end and it's gone by really fast but I still have some christmassy posts coming as well as another gift guide after this one so there's still some festive posts to look forward to. Today's post features some incredibly lovely gifts that would be great for mums, friends, aunties, brothers or dads from lots of amazing brands. 
*Bodhi & Birch Allure Gift Set (£15)
I've tried a couple of products from the natural brand Bodhi and Birch and I couldn't recommend their products, I tried the ylang-ylang shower gel and lotion which are both heavenly. So when this set arrived in the post I had to rip it open and smell everything immediately. The set contains: ylang-ylang body therapy bath and shower gel, ylang-ylang lotion and the camomile sky bath and shower therapy. All three for large minis, so they'd be great for travelling and they all smell divine. Bodhi and Birch products are a treat for the senses and the mind as they all make me feel so relaxed and pampered! I couldn't recommend this set enough and it comes beautifully packaged too. 
Christmas Gift Guide: £15 + Under
Candles are a really safe gift for me personally and also for me to give to friends, cousins and my sister - I am gifting quite a few candles this year. I've tried a few brands of candles including the famous Yankee Candle but I'm loving the Gift Company/Flame Homeware candles just as much. I was kindly sent a couple of their Christmas candles. 

*Gift Company Cinnamon Spice Candle (£6.99, sale)
The packaging of mine is slightly different to the one online but I'm glad as I do prefer this packaging. I love the large jar size, it makes a really substantial and heavy gift and I know so many friends that would love this! It smells so nice, I love cinnamon scents at this time of the year and it's lovely. To me the scent is a bit more of a musky cinnamon rather than a generic sweet/strong cinnamon scent. 

*Gift Company Christmas Candle (£6.99)
This candle is one of their best sellers and I can see why as it looks festive and it smells like the essence of Christmas to me as it has a cinnamon/clove scent mixed with Christmas potpourri which is really nostalgic to me as my auntie always had potpourri that had a similar scent every Christmas. It's quite sweet but I really like it and the scent throw is pretty good. I'd definitely recommend both candles and for the low price, you really can't go wrong! 

*Gift Company Gingerbread House Diffuser (£6, sale)
My mum is quite paranoid about candles so they are a no no for her but that means I can pick up some cute diffusers! I was kindly sent two and this 'gingerbread house' one is my favourite of the two. The diffuser looks so nice, unlike most which can be quite ugly! It has a subtle gingerbread/cinnamon scent so it's not overpowering but if I'm complete honest, I wish it was a little stronger. 

*Gift Company Mince Pies & Brandy Butter Diffuser (£6)
I haven't opened this one yet and I also don't have photos of it or the Christmas candle as my SD card became corrupted so I've lost over 500 photos and I haven't had time to re-take - this past week or so has been really stressful with driving lessons and my test (I passed!). However, it has the same lovely and festive packaging design as the other and it smells just as nice! The candles and diffusers should should have been £15 each but they are all reduced!
Christmas Gift Guide: £15 + Under
*The London Sock Exchange (£15 - £60)
Next up a gift for the men in your life and as for the previous gifts, it's a lovely presented practical gift (my favourite kind of gifts!). The London Sock Exchange is a new men's sock subscription service in which for £15 per quarter you or your gift recipient will receive three pairs of socks or you can choose the yearly subscription which is £60. They come really nicely packaged and the box can easily fit through the letterbox so you don't have to worry about being home for the delivery. 

The socks in the box I have come in really modern and unique designs, I personally love the centre zebra head design the most but from the website their is a large range of designs that you could receive. I think it's a great idea for a gift as they're obviously useful and really well made but the designs are quite unique - also no more boring sock shopping! You can use the code OBANYEAR for 10% off a yearly subscription or OBANSUB for 10% off a quarterly subscription! 
Christmas Gift Guide: £15 + Under
Beauty gifts are always safe options as most people use beauty products daily anyway and I think these four offerings would be great for makeup lovers or anyone really! I haven't tried any of these brands until I received these products and I'm really happy with everything especially the lip balm!

*Dr Paw Paw Lip Balm (Original + Red Sparkle, £6.95)
I have seen this brand on twitter so many times but I haven't until now tried their famous lip balms. The balms are multi-use so you can use them as lip balms, cuticle balms or a general skin balm; I've been using them as a cuticle balm and lip balm. The original is really useful and I have been keeping it in my bag for on the go. The limited edition 'red sparkle' version has a very slight red tint as well as glitter for a festive touch (due to the glitter I'd only use it as a lip balm). They're really inexpensive and great as stocking fillers!

*Look Good Feel Better Makeup Sponge (£7.49)
I use my Beauty Blender so much for foundation and concealer application but I'm always happy to try new ones especially as the Beauty Blender is really expensive for what it is. This sponge is made by LGFB which is a worldwide cancer charity and between 8-12% of the price of the sponge will be donated. The sponge is fantastic for applying and blending my foundation.

*Magi Bobble (£2.95, pack of five)
I love giving practical presents and these would make a great stocking filler or as part of a beauty hamper! The bobbles are designed to tie your hair up in a ponytail or bun easily without snapping. I have the white ones from the new pastel collection but they have a range of hair colour or fun colour options to choose from.
Christmas Gift Guide: £15 + Under
Sticking with the theme of super cute but practical presents, these next few items are favourites of mine. The cute compact umbrellas are from Susino and I love the floral design of both as well as the small size. Umbrellas are a necessity in the UK as it is constantly raining, as I'm writing this it is currently raining (it's that fine rain that soaks you through, ten points to you if you know which British comedian said that!). 

*Susino Floral Filk Super Mini Umbrella (£14.99 each, white/black)
Both of these cute, floral umbrellas are perfect gifts for anyone and I know my mum would love the design and as she works in the primary school I went to, she'll use it so much! They're both made of lightweight fibreglass and aluminium with a wooden handle so they are light, portable and easy to travel with. Both look very colourful, fun and bright when opened to add some colour to the typical grey, dull and gloomy English weather! I can't recommend them enough and they'd make great practical gifts this Christmas. They offer next working day delivery on all orders made before 2pm - the last day for Christmas delivery is the 22nd. 

*Roger & Gallet Bois d'Orange Set (£6)
This adorable set contains a sample of the Bois d'Orange fragrance as well as the hand and nail cream which is amazing - I've tried a couple of their hand creams and I love them as they absorb quickly and have a gorgeous scent. The hand cream also don't irritate the eczema on my hands. I love the design of this little set and I think it would be perfect for beauty lovers, as a secret santa gift or as a stocking filler.
*Inspired Colouring Christmas Book
I was very kindly set this colouring book which came as a cute Christmas present via the Parragon 'blind date with a book' blogger programme. I love the packaging and it was so nice to receive a festive surprise package! I received a really cute coloring book as well as some wooden colouring pencils. The colouring book has so many fantastic festive themed pages and designs to colour in - it would make a great christmas gift! 
 *Essence Cosmetics 
Essence is one of my favourite makeup brands! I love their lipsticks, polishes, mascaras, liquid liner and cuticle oil. All of their products are extremely inexpensive so you could make a personalised makeup hamper or set of products for friends or family. I'd love Essence makeup and I think so many other would too; the products may be cheap but they're very effective! You can buy from the Wilkinsons website or in-store. 

What do you think of these affordable gift options? Have you finished your Christmas shopping?