*Win A Yankee Candle Gift Set

Friday, November 30, 2018
Today's post is very short and sweet as I'm letting you know about a fantastic competition on Wow FreeStuff in which you can win a gorgeous Yankee Candle gift set. You can see the set above which includes three votive candles and a candle holder, all of which are christmas themed - I love the Yankee Candle christmas range. There are 50 sets up for grabs so you have a good chance of winning!

Check out the link above to enter the giveaway but you only have until the 14th December to enter. Additionally, you have to be over 18 to enter the competition, you must live in the UK and by entering the competition you are agreeing to sign up to the Wow FreeStuff newsletter.

Will you be entering this competition? 

*This is a collaborative/sponsored post

Christmas Gifts For Him 2018

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
I've posted a few Christmas gift guides already but today's will hopefully help with the people who are the most difficult to buy for, men. My dad and grandad are two of the most difficult people to buy for as they never really want anything and they are both fairly picky so I can't really choose anything they haven't tried before. My choices are pretty much limited to food gifts, books, cookbooks and basic toiletries and aftershave; however I think they'll love all of the gifts in todays post!

*Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime Hair and Body Wash (£16, 300ml)
One of my favourite brands for gorgeous and slightly more unusual and luxe gifts has to include Crabtree and Evelyn. I've been lucky enough to work with them a few times over the past three or so years and for todays gift guide, I'm recommending their West Indian lime hair and body wash which smells incredible. The hair and body wash smells so fresh, vibrant and refreshing which I think will be ideal for dull, dreary wintery days. You also know by now how much I love practical gifts and toiletries and aftershave are ideal safe gifts to give.
*Half Ounce Whisky Scented Beard Grooming Kit (£16.98)
Another safe but wonderfully scented grooming gift is from Half Ounce which again is a fantastic and unique brand that your gift recipient might not have tried before; it's always great to try new brands! This set comes in a tin and contains a range of travel sized beard grooming products such as a beard balm, comb, beard oil and scissors, all of which are whisky scented. All of the items contain 98% organic ingredients which is fantastic!

I love the idea of this kit, from the practical tin, product design and the scent to the range of items within the kit and the price. I think the price is great for the number of items and the presentation. One of my favourite things about this kit is the gorgeous, almost victorian style packaging design which I love and makes it stand apart from other kits on the market.
*Plug and Play Retro TV Games (£12.99)
One of the things I miss about Christmas growing up is the absence of toys and things to make or do on Christmas Day! However, IWOOT is here to save the day with the 'plug and play retro TV games' which is a great gift for those big kids in your life - my dad is one of those. The mini controller that plugs directly into your TV contains over 200 games to play such as retro games from the 1980's. Some of the games included are Pong but as a 90's baby I haven't heard of most of these games.
I think this gift would make a fantastic and more unusual gift idea for so many people, from big kids, teens and gamers as well as those who grew up in the 80's and will remember these games from their childhood or teenage years. It's also compact, light and an all in one product so you don't need to buy games, a controller or console as it comes in one simple device.

My only negative is that the actual controller is quite small but that has it's advantages and disavtanges - it's still pretty comfortable to use though. If you're stuck buying the same gifts over and over again, why not opt for something fun for Christmas Day. IWOOT has an amazing range of gifts for all ages, occasions and price ranges so you're bound to find an unusual gift!
*Popcorn Shed (£2) 
One of my favourite ever snacks is popcorn! I could easily eat popcorn every single day and my current favourite brand has to be Popcorn Shed and that's not just because the packaging is absolutely adorable but also because the flavours are amazing. Let's just rave about the packaging for a moment, the mini packs are well designed (and they'd make great stocking fillers or stocking stuffers, if you're American) but the larger boxes are even more amazing. The large 80g boxes are in the shape and style of a cute little shed which I love! Additionally, they also have massive jars of popcorn too that I need to get my hands on.
I was very kindly sent a range of their mini packs, larger boxes and a variety of flavours but before I received the amazing box of goodies, I did buy the chocolate flavour myself and I loved it! As well as the chocolate flavour, I've now also tried the salted caramel, pecan pie and the 'say cheese' flavours, all of which are amazing. I'm so glad that more unusual flavours are becoming mainstream as I'm a little over plain sweet popcorn or butter flavoured popcorn and I'm now all for cheese, pecan and salted caramel flavours as well as chocolate popcorn which is as delicious as it sounds. Out of all of the flavours I've tried the 'say cheese' flavour has to be my favourite - who knew that popcorn and cheese would go together so well! I cannot recommend this brand enough as the flavour options are quite unusual, they're low in calories and they'd make great stocking fillers.
*Any Sharp Multi 5 in 1 Scissors (£14.99)
Now onto a bit more of a unique but very practical gift, scissors. Now, stay with me, my dad is one of those dads who is always tinkering with items around the house and is always fixing things so tools would be a perfect gift but he already has so many; however now here is an item that he doesn't have. One useful household item that he is aways complaining about is that we have never had a 'good' pair of scissors (this is the kind of dad he is).

Thankfully Any Sharp has the answer to a question no one has ever asked, is there a good pair of scissors out there? The answer to that question is the Any Sharp Multi 5 in 1 Scissor as it's not just a pair of good pair of tempered steel scissors but they can also be used to cut wires, crush garlic or nuts, open bottles and even cut through fabric, bone and cord. If your dad or grandad has everything, check out this amazing and very practical tool as it's something they didn't know they needed.
*Duvel Devilish Duet Gift Pack (£12.99)
It wouldn't be a mens gift guide without mentioning beer and this gift set not only looks like a substantial gift but it's well presented and contains two bottles of beer and a Duvel branded glass too. I've been on the look out of a beer gift set for a couple of months as it will go down very well with my dad this christmas - we visited Belgium this year and he loved their beer!

The Duvel-Moortgat brewery was founded in 1871 and amazingly it is still family owned and run which adds a little more history to your gift rather than a generic set from the supermarket. The set contains their Belgian golden ale as well as their triple hop 'citra', both of which are 330ml each.
I love the appearance of this set, it's one of nicest, least tacky and well put together beer or ale sets I've seen this christmas. I've been looking at so many recently but they fall into two categories, either they look cheap and tacky or they are quite expensive but thankfully this one looks great but it doesn't cost the earth. I know my dad would absolutely love this set for christmas and I think a fair few of my cousins and friends would too! You will be able to purchase from Amazon UK very soon.
*Shore Seaweed Puffs (£1.19)
Let's move onto a stocking filler item! In my stocking growing up, there was always chocolate and a few little treats but I think they are mainly for sweet treats, snacks and chocolate as well as savoury offerings so I think these delicious Shore Seaweed Puffs would be ideal. Firstly, the packaging because you know I'm a sucker for great packaging; I love the packaging of these snacks as well as how clear the labelling of 'vegan' etc is.

The seaweed puffs are made of Scottish seaweed which contains lots of natural nutrition in the form of fibre. They are suitable for vegans and they are also gluten free so they cater to a wide range of dietary needs. The snacks are also under 100 calories per bag and they taste delicious; my favourite flavour so far is definitely the sweet and smokey option. I'd definitely recommend them as a healthy alternative to crisps.
*Three Wheel Ab Roller (£11)
This is a gift for those health and exercise conscious people in your life, whether they are frequent gym goers, if they're trying to loose weight or if they like to exercise in the comfort of their own home. If you're looking for an exercise related gift for a friend or family member but don't want to break the bank as larger exercise equipment and machines can be very expensive, then check out this ab roller from Jump Up Online.

I have wanted to try something like this for a while as a supplement to using my large and fairly heavy crosstrainer which isn't the easiest to move around when I need it but an exercise tool this small is much more convenient to use. I'm excited to start using this ab roller as I've been neglecting my exercise routine over the past couple of months and I need to get back into it.
*Hungry Soul by Jacques Brennan (£16.99, paperback)
Cookbooks are such safe and easy gifts but so many of them are very generic! As a vegetarian and occasional vegan, I'm always looking to try new recipes and to share delicious vegetarian and vegan food with friends and family as for me both of those diets are very healthy and better for the environment; therefore I'm always very gently encouraging people to opt for vegetarian meals! A vegan or vegetarian cookbook would make a fantastic gift, especially for those interested in vegetarian or vegan lifestyles - or those who'd like to consume more veggies!

This cookbook would be ideal for cooking beginners as it goes back to the very basics, most of which is just common sense to me but I guess those who don't know how to cook would find it very useful. A very unusual aspect of this cookbook is the complete lack of photographs, it just contains cute illustrations and to be honest, I don't know how I feel about it as it's true that we eat with our eyes and for a cookbook to contain zero photographs is very odd. Additionally it contains blank pages throughout the cookbook so you can add notes etc to it which is a genius idea. However, if you know someone who loves cooking and cookbooks, this would be great as it's the most unique cookbook in my rather large collection. I personally can't wait to try making the sweet, sour and tofu recipe!
*Bastet & Bee Notepads (€12.90 each)
I am one of those people who can never have enough notepads, I have a drawer full of them but I always need more. I'm a little picky when it comes to stationery; however these two gorgeously minimal notepads from Bastet and Bee are perfect! Not only do they look so cute and colourful but they are really well made and they perfect for jotting down ideas, brainstorming or for a to-do list.

I was very kindly sent the Wallpaper design which is filled with cute yellow and grey polkadots and the Seeds design which is more geometric. They are both quite unusual as they don't have lines, they don't have covers and they are glued at the side. I just love how creative, bright and refreshing they are compared to all of my other stationery items and notepads - I'd definitely recommend them!
*The Nomad Factory Travel Journal (£29.99 - SALE)
The penultimate item in today's gift guide is a gorgeous leather travel journal from The Nomad Factory. It's currently on sale with £10 off the retail price and if you are looking to buy something like this then going to check out their website now while it is on sale! I have the black version but it also comes in brown, rustic and even purple. The travel journal is composed of British-made real leather so it would make quite a special and luxurious gift.

The travel journal is beautifully packaged in a box and also a 100% cotton bag. The actual product is also very well-made and of a very high quality which you can tell in the feel and appearance of the journal. It contains 32 pages and you can also add in extra inserts so there's lots room for travel stories and souvenirs such as tickets. You can buy extra paper refills for your travel journal, kraft file inserts and PVC file inserts.
In my opinion, the travel journal as a whole just looks very luxurious and unique; it would make a very special and unusual gift to give this Christmas, especially if you know someone who loves to travel or is planning a big trip in 2019. For more specific information on the travel journal check out The Nomad Factory website. They don't just produce travel journals, they also offer a range of stationery items such as stencils, beautifully made clips, bookmarks and more so you're bound to find something unique and practical for someone special this year. Check out my video below for a more detailed look at the journal and the extras I was very generously sent.
*Merry Christmas Wine Glass 
Last but not least is a 'merry christmas' engraved wine glass from Jackson Tropies which is a site that not only makes specialist trophies but also a range of gorgeous engraved glasses. I have the merry christmas engraved wine glass but there are so many to choose from, some of which come in beautifully presented gift boxes - they'd make amazing gifts. This wine glass would be ideal to pair with a bottle of wine and maybe some festive chocolates! I think it would be a great gift for a friend or even as a christmas gift for teachers!

Lastly I wanted to mention, not a gift exactly, but something that would be a perfect addition to any christmas work or family party, a selfie frame. Selfie frames are great for unique and memorable Christmas group photos! You can choose from a range of styles varying from an instagram style frame, facebook frame or you can even make your own to suit your party and theme.

What do you think of my mens gift guide? 

*This is a collaborative post 

*Top Tips for Entertaining Guests Over Christmas

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Image from Cox and Cox
The festive season is well and truly upon us, with only four weeks left until Christmas, the prepared amongst us will have already started making plans for the holidays. Christmas is about spending time with our loved ones, eating, drinking and being merry. However, with several guests to entertain, hosting a shindig at your house or flat can prove stressful. Read more to understand my top tips for entertaining guests over Christmas so that each and every person (including yourself) can have an enjoyable time.

Create a to-do List
Creating a to-do list is useful, as it helps you to organise all of the things you need to prepare and buy, as well as listing the key tasks which need to be carried out before hosting your festive event. It might seem straightforward, but a lot goes into hosting a stellar Christmas party. From drinks and nibbles, to music and games – being prepared ensures you don’t forget anything and the party goes off without a hitch.

Sort your tasks in order of priority, starting well in advance, as leaving things too late can result in essential items being sold out, which can cause unnecessary hassle. Moreover, you shouldn’t feel pressured into making everything yourself from scratch. There are plenty of ways to take the load off, like buying your Christmas desserts from a bakery delivery in the UK, or purchasing ready-made cocktails, which are often just as tasty.

Share Responsibility
Just because you’re the host, doesn’t mean you can’t ask your family for a little help. Ideally, each member of the family (with the exception of the kids) should have a task, like tidying rooms, doing some washing up, or decorating the dining room table. This means everyone gets time to relax and enjoy themselves, rather than all of the responsibility falling on one person. Also, don’t feel cheeky asking your guests to bring something with them, like drinks, chocolate or a cheese board. It’s an expensive time of year and spreading the cost can really help - Christmas is about giving, after all!

Get Creative
Christmas doesn’t have to be the same every year. This year, why not get creative and add a few personal touches which your guests will certainly appreciate. Tying napkins in a pretty ribbon or lace, writing personalised cards, adding candy canes or placing small gifts at the table for each guest are just a few cute ideas of how to add something extra special.

Set up a food and drink area 
Having a designated area where guests can help themselves to snacks and drinks throughout the day/night will make them feel comfortable and means the hosts can sit back and relax, without the stress of having to serve guests all night long. Be sure to consider all your guests when choosing snacks and beverages, not everyone has the same tastes. For instance, some people might be vegetarian, while others might prefer soft drinks over alcohol.

 Do you have any special tips for entertaining gifts over Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

*This is a collaborative post
*Image from Pinterest 

*What They Don't Tell You About Learning To Driving

Monday, November 26, 2018
Image from Bridal Musings
I've already published a range of posts about my experience of learning to drive but I don't think I've mentioned all of the things they don't tell you about the process of learning to drive! My experience of learning to drive was quite straight forward but there was so much information and experiences that I wasn't expecting at all, especially how much waiting I'd have to do! Everyones experiences will differ but maybe those of you who have experienced driving lessons can relate to todays post.

It Can Be Terrifying 
Before I booked driving lessons I was very fortunate to be able to have access to a small area of unused land that I could practice a little on beforehand which definitely helped me feel less terrified by the prospect of driving on actual roads with other cars and people who you could crash into. I was absolutely petrified of crashing which I think is universal with those learning to drive but the possibility of crashing is very minimal as you're not going to be driving at motorway speeds and the instructor has dual control so they'll be able to stop the car if you can't; however that didn't stop me from being terrified every time I set off! However, just bear in mind that nothing will happen and you're allowed to make mistakes as you're learning.

Everyone Will Overtake You
My experience of driving on unused land hadn't prepared me for driving on the road and how many drivers will overtake me, especially van drivers who overtook me at every opportunity! I remember one experience where a van driver thought that it was a good idea to overtake a learner on a blind blend at speed without knowing if a car was coming the other way. I know this will make me sound like the elderly lady that I am but some drivers shouldn't be allowed to drive.

Learning To Drive Is So Expensive 
Every country and every instructor will have slightly different rates and deals but on the whole in the UK, learning to drive is so expensive. I paid for a crash course of eight days which cost me around £720 which is a lot of money especially with the prospect of not passing, having to pay for extra lessons or paying for insurance. As well as the initial cost of the lessons, I also had to pay for the theory test (£50), a second practical test (£25) and then six or so months of learner driver insurance which again was quite expensive and totalled my cost of learning to drive at around £1000...yeah, I wasn't expecting that.

As I've mentioned I opted to practice driving in my dads adorable Renault Clio (which has been sold and I miss it every time I have to drive the new car) which helped so much and I would definitely recommend it if you are lucky enough to have access to a family members car. Learner insurance was fairly expensive and insurance once you've passed can be too so it's always best to shop around for the best deal; GAP Insurance from ALA has received lots of great reviews as well as five stars!

Can you drive? If so, how was your experience of learning to drive? Do you have any tips for finding the best insurance? 

*This is a collaborative post
*Image from Pinterest 

Personalised Christmas Gifts

Saturday, November 24, 2018
Today's post is a little bit overdue but I have been inundated with christmas gifts (which I'm very thankful for) so this post has taken a backseat for a couple of weeks but I'm going to be recommending a few personalised gift ideas today. Thanks so much to the wonderful people over at Signature Gifts, Own A Moment, The Personalised Gift Shop, The Gift Experience and Tesco Photo for the amazing gifts! 

*Personalised Children's Christmas Book (from £29.99)
Let's start with one of the most nostalgic items in today's post and it's a personalised children's christmas book which I was very kindly sent from the lovely people at Signature Gifts. This item is very nostalgic to me as when I was growing up, I had a christmas book that had my name throughout it and as Heather isn't the most common name, it was amazing to have a book with my name in it! That book was so incredibly special to me, I have no idea where it has gone (it's probably in the depths of the attic somewhere) and as it was so beloved by me at the time, I think something similar would make a wonderful gift - this one is so much nicer than mine! 
The christmas book comes in the most beautiful and simple box and the cover is just stunning! I adore the red hardback cover with all of it's gold foiling and personalisation which makes it shimmer in the light. It looks like such an expensive, luxe and thoughtful gift that will be treasured for years, as mine was. The book is so much nicer than mine which was a paperback and it is something that will see you through many christmases.

When it comes to the personalisation, you have the name of the gift recipient on the cover of the book as well as the title paper (along with a message from you) and that's not all! The name of the child is throughout the entire book, whether it's on a stocking, in the sky or in the text which is amazing! I didn't expect the name to be so prevalent thoughout the whole book, I thought it might just be on the front, the title page and at the end but I'm glad it is so frequent as it's more special and surprising! I cannot recommend this gift enough as it's so unique, special and thoughtful. 
*Luxury Towel Set (£45)
For this gift guide, I wanted to include gift ideas for everyone so we have a gift idea for the little ones in your life and we also have a few gifts that would be great for new homeowners, parents, grandparents and special aunties or uncles! One of the more unique but very practical gifts in today's post is this gorgeous personalised luxury towel set which I think is such a great idea and something I hadn't thought of before. 

The Personalised Gift Shop has such an amazing range of personalised gifts, some of which I'd never even considered before such as these towels. Some of the gifts available so are specific and niche that you're sure to find something that even the person who has everything won't have! From personalised champagne glasses, monogrammed jewellery, rugby gifts and experience days to personalised pet gifts, Christmas Eve boxes, keepsakes and personalised food gifts, you will find something for yourself or someone else this christmas. 
I chose the towel set as it's a very practical gift and I love practical gifts but it's a little special and personalised too. It came in a large box and everything was presented so nicely! You probably wouldn't have to even wrap the box as it looks like a wrapped gift already, which is great for me as my present wrapping skills are horrendous. 

The towels are made of 100% cotton, they come as a set of three including a bath towel, hand towel and bath sheet. All three of the towels are personalised with the initials or even name of your gift recipient, if they fit within the three character limit. I chose to have 'I&S' on the towels for my parents as I know they'll love these and as they are having a new bathroom fitted in December, I thought it would be a very timely option to choose. The towels are soft and I love the size of the initials as they aren't huge but they aren't tiny and unidentifiable either. I think this set would make a lovely, unique and practical gift this christmas for parents, grandparents or any new homeowners you are buying for this year. 
*Own A Moment Deluxe Framed Gift (from £32)
There are so many unique gifts in today's post but one of the most unusual and something I'd never even heard of is from Own A Moment which is exactly what it says. You can register a single moment in time from the Official Time Registry and have a certificate either emailed, printed or framed (depending on your budget) to gift to someone special this year to mark an occasion such as a birth, wedding or retirement, for example. 

I have to admit that the concept of this gift did confuse me a little at first as how can you own a moment in time but I think it's such a wonderful idea. I chose the 11am time slot for the 22nd February 1992 for mine as it is the time when my parents got married so as far as I'm aware, no-one else can choose that specific time on that date as I have the certificate for it. How amazing and unique is that! 
It is very easy to buy as you just enter the time (hour and minutes), date and year you want then search to see if that time is available - if it is then you can select a photograph to add to the certificate along with a personalised message that appears at the bottom of certificate. You can have the certificate emailed to your gift recipient which is the most inexpensive option (£23.50) and would be perfect for gift recipients who live abroad, for example, so you don't have to worry about shipping or your gift getting lost in the post. 

The next option is a printed certificate (£26) and finally the deluxe framed gift (from £32) which is the option I have. I chose the real wood antique pine frame as it matched our living room more than the other options including a white frame, brushed gunmetal silver or the dark walnut frame. The pine wood frame I chose is the perfect fit for your living room and I'm so happy with not only the frame but the certificate itself as it looks very luxe and special - it's definitely a gift that will surprise and delight any gift recipient! 
*Gift Boxed Original Newspaper (£39.99)
The penultimate gift in today's post is something that I think would be a hit with grandparents or aunties and uncles as it's an original newspaper which comes in such a beautiful and very festive box. This gift on the face of it doesn't necessarily look like a personalised gift but the personalisation of it comes in a couple of ways; the first is the day and year you choose for the newspaper - I chose the 6th October 1938 which is the day my grandad was born. The second personalised feature is on the certificate of authenticity that comes with every newspaper on which you can add the gift recipients name and a personalised message. 
Firstly, the box, I knew that it comes within a gift box but I didn't know it would be as large or as lovely as it is. The box definitely make it more of a substantial, weighty and luxe gift, rather than just a newspaper. Also the fact that it is a genuine newspaper from the year you choose, whether it's 1938 or 1971, for example, makes it such a special and personal gift. I love gifts like this, I've bought my grandad something similar a few years ago as it gives a glimpse into history and the daily lives, advertisements and news headline of that specific time period which is fascinating. 

Old newspapers and old books have a certain smell to them, which I love and this one is no different -  it smells like it is an artefact almost! I love the idea of gifting an original newspaper as it's not only quite an unusual gift but it very personal and something to read through and look back on. However, be aware that special events are very rare so you won't end up with a newspaper about the moon landing, you'll receive the next available date instead. I can't recommend this gift enough as it's so special, beautifully presented and something very unique. 
*Tesco Photo Gallery Collage Canvas - 30x20 (£30, sale)
Last but not least is the item I've had the longest and I always feel so awful about not posting about items for weeks but I have been so busy! The final gift idea is from Tesco Photo which offers a wide range of photo focused gifts such as photo books and calendars, both of which are currently on offer as well as cushions, mugs, wall art and various other gifts. I was very kindly sent a canvas of my choice from the lovely people at Tesco Photo and I love it!

As well as the canvas I have they also offer a range of finishes, materials and sizes, from fabric canvases and poster prints to aluminium photo prints, banners and high gloss photo panels. Size options for the canvases varies greatly from 10x8 to a whopping 60x40 which would make for a very large christmas gift.
I opted for the large 30x20 size as I knew where I wanted it to go in the house and the size is perfect! It is substantial and large enough to see all of the detail in the photos and the photos in full but it isn't so large that the photographs I choose look blurry or stretched. I chose photographs from our most recent family holiday to the lovely cities of Oslo, Ghent and Lubeck, all of which are gorgeous cities and I cannot recommend visiting enough - I definitely want to go back to Ghent in Belgium!

The canvas is so well made, it's very substantial but it isn't too heavy and one of my favourite things about it is that the photographs all wrap around the sides of the canvas so you don't have unusual looking white sides! The photographs, in terms of the colour and the detail, are all better than I hoped for and it looks amazing on the wall.

As it is currently Black Friday weekend, there are lots of offers on, including some of the websites I've featured in today's post. Tesco Photo currently have deals on their photo books, calendars and makeup bags so check them out! As with all of my gift guides you can watch the short video for a more detailed look at all of the gifts I've mentioned.

What do you think of these gift ideas? Will you be purchasing any personalised gifts this year? 

*The Most Expensive Accessories In The World

Friday, November 23, 2018
Image from Price Scope
There’s something exciting about having an occasion to wear that expensive ring you’ve kept in your jewellery drawer for fear of losing it, isn’t there? A sense of pride when someone comments on your fancy new necklace, how it perfectly matches your outfit. Yes, for some of us, accessorising our outfit is the best part of putting an outfit together. If we had all the money in the world, what glittering adornments could we afford to flaunt? Well, in this article, we’ve put together an outfit’s worth of the most precious jewellery in the world. Ah, we can dream to wear such things, right? Tell the time in style:

Graff Diamonds’ Hallucination This watch isn’t just studded in diamonds. 
It isn’t adorned with them. The wrist piece is positively doused with coloured diamonds. Pink, orange, blue, the list goes on. The miniature watch-face in the centre of it all is set in a halo of pink diamonds. Graff’s website claim that the watch “takes jewellery watchmaking to a whole new level”. The watch’s conception came from none other than Laurence Graff himself, and is a staggering display of craftsmanship. This watch certainly would give you an excuse to say you’re “fashionably late” — you might get dazzled by the diamonds and lose track of time!

Weight: 110 carats
Worth: $55 million (£41,534,625.00 approx.)

If you put this ring on it, you definitely like it: The Pink Star 
According to The Telegraph, this ring sports an internally flawless rare pink diamond and sold for an eye-watering $71.2 million at auction. The buyer, retailer Chow Tai Fook, now possesses the largest Fancy Vivid Pink diamond of a flawless nature ever graded by the GIA. The auction was run by Sotheby’s, who revealed that the oval cut took around two years to achieve. The Pink Star is also twice as big as another well-known pink diamond, the Graff Pink.

Weight: 59.6 carats
Worth: $72 million (£54,372,600.00 approx.)

Broach-ing the subject of diamonds: Graff Diamonds’ Peacock Broach Graff 
Diamonds certainly knows how to make an elaborate accessory, with a second spot on this lavish list. This $100 million broach is in the shape of a peacock, with a stunning tail displaying white and yellow diamonds. For an added touch of royalty, the body of the peacock is made from an extremely rare fancy blue diamond. Forbes observes that the piece actually has an extra clasp, allowing the lucky owner to wear the broach in two different ways. So it’s functional as well as pretty, in case you were on the fence about buying this one.

Weight: 120 carats
Worth: $100 million (£75,517,500.00 approx.)

A higher cost: The Hope Diamond 
The Hope Diamond is a cushion-shape dark blue diamond that currently adorns a necklace setting, and it is probably the most well-known piece of antique jewellery. In the past, the diamond has been set in a number of ways, from headpieces to pins. The necklace is currently in possession of the Smithsonian Institution, though it has had many owners in the past. The story goes that the gemstone is cursed, hence the high number of owners.

According to the myth, the Hope Diamond’s owners were plagued with bad luck and untimely deaths. MentalFloss explored a number of these owners, the unluckiest being:

  • Jean-Baptiste Tavernier; some stories say the man suffered a fever after stealing the diamond, and that his body became dinner for the wolves. Other stories say he died at 84. 
  • King Louis XVI met his end at the guillotine, aged 38. 
  • Marie Antoinette was also guillotined when she was 37 years old. 
  • Henry Pelham-Clinton, died at the age of 45. 
  • Wilhelm Fals, a Dutch jeweller who handled the diamond, was murdered by his own son. A Greek merchant who possessed the diamond drove his car over a cliff, killing himself and his family. 

Even in the modern day, the carrier who brought the diamond to its current place of residence has been plagued with awful luck. Nancy Pope wrote on the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum’s blog that the carrier was involved in two accidents that left his leg and head wounded. Then, his wife sadly passed away from a heart attack. After that, his house caught fire, and his dog was strangled on his leash.

Weight: 45.52 carats
Worth: $200-$250 million (£151,035,000.00 - £188,738,750.00 approx.)

Which of these glimmering prize jewels would you want to wear? Well, in the wise words of Coco Chanel, “before leaving the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Maybe leave The Hope Diamond at home…

Have you heard of any of these famous jewels? 

*This is a collaborative post #ad
*Image from Pinterest 

DegustaBox November 2018

Thursday, November 22, 2018
It's that time of the month again, DegustaBox review time! I genuinely love receiving the DegustaBox boxes as I always discover new brands and products, I love the mystery and I typically find so many products that I want to purchase in the future. I think the boxes are amazing value for money and you can get your box for only £7.99 with the code: KVAA2

*DegustaBox - November 2018 
The November box has a definite festive theme to it, not only with the cute christmas illustrations on the leaflet but also in some of the products which would be great for a festive dinner party or as festive snacks. The product of the month is from Amy's Kitchen which is a brand I've bought and loved perviously but I haven't tried the Amy's Kitchen  soup before. There's a great range of brands and products within the box from breakfast items, cooking ingredients and snacks to alcohol, non-alcoholic drinks and biscuits. 
*The Bees Knees Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Wine (£1.89)
Let's start with the most beautifully designed and packaged item, The Bees Knees Non-Alcoholic Wine. The packaging is just gorgeous and it almost makes me not want to open it! I'm so glad that there's a non-alcoholic wine within the box as even though the festive and new year season is very alcohol focused, not everyone drinks so it's a thoughtful addition to the box. 

*Reece's Peanut Butter Snowman (£3)
The most expensive item in the box is another great festive option and it's one of my favourite chocolate snacks - Reece's. I love chocolate and peanut butter, it's a perfect combination. The Reece's snowman is so festive, I love the packaging and I think it would make a great stocking filler.

*Jules Destrooper Almond and Belgian Chocolate Thins (£2.19)
The final chocolate snack is from a brand that was included in the September box but I'm so glad that it is as it's a really nice brand. This was the first item I had to try as it's an almond biscuit with a Belgian milk chocolate coating on one side. I love the combination and the crunchy texture; however I do prefer the butter crisps from the September box more. 
*Amy's Kitchen Chunky Tomato and Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup (£1.80)
I'm glad that there are a few festive and winter warmers in the box as the weather in the UK has definitely become much colder with snow in some areas of the country so warm soup is a must. I LOVE the Amy's Kitchen Mac 'n' Cheese but I haven't tried their soup options before; I can't wait to try these, especially the chunky tomato soup. 

*Weetabix On The Go Kids (£2.99)
Next up is an item we've received something similar before, the Shreddie 'on the go' breakfast option. I don't know when this 'on the go' cereal option trend started but I like it! This multipack contains four single serve strawberry flavoured pouches which contain a source of vitamins D, calcium, fibre and protein. I think they're a great idea especially for busy wintery mornings!
*Jack Daniels Cola & Light Cola 
We've received a Jack Daniels item in a recent box and I think it's a great inclusion as it's a brand everyone knows and it's a brand a lot of people love. There are two cans of the Jack Daniels cola and Jack Daniels light cola within the November box. I love the packaging, they're a great combination and I think they'd be great to share over the *almost* festive season. 

*Tabasco Original Red Pepper Sauce (£2)
Another very recognisable and well loved brand is Tabasco. I'm personally not a huge hot sauce fan as I just can't handle spicy food but my dad loves Tabasco. Within the box we received the original red pepper sauce in it's famous bottle. I didn't know that Tabasco is vegan but it is which is fantastic! It can be a great ingredient for many meals, rather than just a hot sauce or it can be added to a Bloody Mary! 
*Kallo Organic Vegetable Stock Pots (£1.80)
Next up is another that is a great cooking ingredient, especially for this time of the year are these stock pots from Kallo which are vegan - I thought they might contain gelatine but they don't which is amazing! I've used and loved the mushroom stock from this brand so I'm glad to have another item from them as their stock pots are very flavourful and great to add to soup or stews. 

*Emilys Veg Crisps - Sweet Potato Sticks (£1 each)
I've tried and loved this brand for a year or so as their snacks are delicious, moreish and very healthy which as I've been watching my weight (so I don't put it back on), have been very convenient. I received the sea salt flavour as well as the chilli and lime flavour. Each packet is surprisingly filling and contains one of your five a day which is fantastic - easy and fuss free nutrition. The chilli and lime flavour isn't very hot at all (thankfully) and it has more of a curry flavour, in my opinion. I will definitely be buying the sea salt flavour in the future! 
*Mallow and Marsh Cranberry Marshmallow Pouch 
The penultimate item is one that doesn't appear on the leaflet but it is a brand we received in the September box. Sadly, they aren't vegetarian so I can't eat them but I love the look of them and the cranberry flavour is perfect for this time of the year. 

*Nick's Coconut Bar (£1.45)
The last item is a snack bar and you know that I love snack bars. For me, snack bars are one of the most convenient and filling snacks as they can just be thrown into your bag or car for easy snacking. This snack bar sounds like a health version of a Bounty chocolate bar as it contains naturally sweetened coconut coated with milk chocolate - yum! 

Don't forget to use the code: KVAA2 to get your box for only £7.99!

What do you think of this months Degustabox? Have you tried any of these products? 

BakedIn Subscription Box

Wednesday, November 21, 2018
One of my favourite things to do at this time of the year is to bake as the autumn and winter months are made for staying in, being cosy and baking so you can share your delicious creations with friends and family. While I do love baking, especially with our new kitchen, I always stick to the same recipes over and over again but thankfully there's a new subscription box that's managed to get me out of my baking slump!

*BakedIn Subscription Box 
You might be familiar with this brand already as they make those 'cake in a mug' boxes in various flavours which I've already tried and loved - you can see them below. The cookie dough one is so delicious, they're so quick and easy to make and they would make amazing stocking fillers, particularly as one box contains three sachets so they can be shared. 

Today's post is about their baking subscription box which I hadn't heard of until I received a lovely email asking if I wanted to try one of their boxes. The recipe differs per box and the one I received was the sticky toffee drip cake which was very lucky as sticky toffee pudding and it's variations is my favourite cake/dessert!
The subscription box can be purchased as a monthly box at £8 per month which is auto-renewing, a three month subscription which is £22 so it makes the boxes £7.33 per box or finally the six month subscription which is £42 so the boxes work out to be £7 per box. They are all available as gift options and it includes a 12 month subscription as well. 

Within the box you receive all of the dry ingredients you'll need for the recipe such as dates, flour, sugar etc but you will need to add some ingredients yourself including milk, butter and eggs, for example, as I had to do for this recipe. The instructions are very easy to follow, the recipe didn't take up too much time (although as I was filming everything, it did take longer than it should have) and the bags of ingredients are clearly labelled. It's very convenient to have most of the ingredients already weighted out! 
Despite not having the size of cake pans that I needed for this recipe, I'm very happy with the results from the appearance of the cake to the taste. I've shared slices with friends, family and neighbours and everyone loves this cake - I do too! While I love sticky toffee pudding, I've never tried it in cake form before (although I guess they're pretty similar) and it's so moreish! 

My favourite part about the cake is definitely the scrumptious toffee sauce which I will be making again and again. On the back of the instructions, there are measurements for the pre-weighed ingredients so you can make it again and that's what I will be doing this christmas as it was such a hit with my cake loving friends and family. 

What do you think of this subscription box? Have you tried anything from this brand? 

*How To Bring a Relaxing Spa Experience To Your Home

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Image from A Beautiful Mess
Pampering yourself doesn’t always have to mean venturing out to the spa or salon. In fact, you can get one of the best spa experiences in the privacy of your own bathroom, if you know how to do it! The first thing you need is to set yourself some time alone, free from interruptions to completely relax. A Sunday is usually ideally - no risk of the postman banging on the door with a package, or any unwelcome work calls. After a long, tiring week, set yourself an hour or so to completely indulge in pampering yourself in the luxury of your own home. Not sure how to go about this? Here’s how…

Have a Clean Bathroom
Before we go into the details of creating a spa-like scenario, it’s important you’ll be stepping into a bathroom setting you love and feel excited by. That predominantly means having a clean, tidy bathroom. It’s a mucky job but perhaps the day before, give all the tiles a scrub, the bath a clean, the taps a polish, so everywhere looks sparkling. You could also invest in a few spa-like bathroom extras such as the range of lighting and accessories from bathdisc.co.uk. That way, you’ll enjoy spending a few hours locked away in the bathroom!

Create The Ambiance
When it comes to creating a spa-like experience, it’s all about setting the mood. You can create the ideal relaxing ambience by turning on your favourite calming playlist and grabbing yourself a tasty beverage (champagne is always recommended, but if you don’t happen to have it in the house just chilling, a coffee is just as good!). Lighting is also key. The best way to get the feeling of a spa is to light a few scented candles and place them strategically around the bathroom. If you can, dim the lights too for that added tranquillity. Don’t forget to put your phone on silent!

Warm Up Your Towels
Have you noticed that the therapists at spa experiences will never hand you chilly towels? So why put up with them in your house? Turn your bathroom into its own little spa by warming up your towels before you go into the bath/shower. If you don’t have a heated towel rail or time to switch all the radiators on, don’t worry. Popping your towels into the dryer, or even blasting with them with a hairdryer, will do the job. Here’s a tip: don’t forget about the bath mat, either!

Use Calming Beauty Products
Never underestimate the power of good aromatherapy beauty products for both your body and hair. There is something about the scent of these that will instantly make you feel like you’re at a luxury spa. Look for scented products that contain essential oils such as lavender, ylang-ylang, bergamot, and patchouli - these all help to calm your senses, as well as leaving your skin and hair feeling moisturised.

Indulge in a Hair Mask
Something we rarely give ourselves the luxury of is to let our hair soak up an intense hair mask for around 20-30 minutes. However, when pampering yourself in the bath and having a good hour of ‘me time’, this is the perfect opportunity. Once you have shampooed your hair, take your hair mask and work it throughout your strands. The heat from the bath will help the hair absorb the treatment deeply, resulting in an even softer, repaired finish.

Don’t Forget a Face Mask! 
Whilst you’re lying back in the bath letting your hair mask work its magic, it’s a great time to treat your complexion, too! Select a face mask which suits your skin concerns, and slather a thick layer onto your face. You’ll have open pores from the heat of the bath, meaning a greater chance of the nutrients in your mask penetrating to the deepest layers of your skin. Don’t know what type of facemask to use? If you’re looking to battle a breakout, reach for a purifying clay mask. The rich clay will help to draw out impurities and leave the skin feeling cleansed. Need a bit more moisture? Try using a face mask formulated with vitamin B3 for an instant boost of hydration. Whichever mask you choose, be sure to read the instructions carefully and time the mask accordingly.

Other tips to create the spa experience at home is to make sure you have the biggest, fluffiest dressing gown and a pair of comfy slippers waiting for you when you step out from the bath. You can also continue the luxury by painting your nails and applying a fake tan, to properly treat yourself!

Do you have any tips or pampering product recommendations? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest

*Exploring Manchester This Christmas

Monday, November 19, 2018
Manchester is one of my favourites cities and it happens to be my home city! For me, Manchester has so many things to offer including numerous museums, highly ranked restaurants, countless independent retailers, beautiful parks, art galleries, victorian era theatres, shopping centres and more, including it's world famous football stadiums. If you are planning on visiting Manchester this christmas, there are so many hotels in Manchester to choose from, many of which are within the city centre and easy walking distance for most of the main attractions.

While Manchester is known for being the home of football and rain…It is so much more than that! It holds so much history within it from the roman and viking invasions to more recent history such as the industrial revolution in which Manchester was at the vanguard. There's something for everyone within the city, from shopping, football and museums to country houses, parks, concerts, festivals and the world famous Christmas markets!

Manchester Christmas Markets 
The Christmas markets this year are based in numerous locations throughout the city centre from Market Street to the Town Hall, Exchange Street to St Ann's Square. They have been an attraction for the city since the 1990's and I think that myself and my family have been going visiting since they first began! The markets seem to become a bigger and bigger attraction every year and for the 2018 markets for there are 300 stalls so you're bound to find something for yourself or a gift for someone else as well as delicious food from around Europe.
On Saturday we travelled down to the city centre to visit the markets as part of today's post as I was very kindly gifted spending money by hotels.com but all views are my own. Usually we avoid the city centre during the weekends as it can be extremely busy and this weekend was no different especially due to the markets as they always draw such a big crowd. The crowd were definitely an issue as you can see but there's still so much to see, buy and enjoy in the city at this time of the year.

One of my favourite things about the market growing up were the chocolate strawberries so naturally I had to get some this time round as well! The prices have definitely gone up this year but it is a once a year treat so it's okay to treat yourself every so often, that's what I'm telling myself anyway. The chocolate strawberries were £5 but they are delicious and there are various options to choose from. I also had to buy a sweet hot chocolate in one of the new and very cutely designed Manchester Christmas markets 2018 mugs – if you buy one of the hot drinks you can pay to keep the mug which is £6 or you can get some of your money back by returning the mug.
There are always so many gorgeous handmade items at the Christmas markets and one of my favourites has been the cute candle houses which are all handmade in Lithuania. I've seen these little houses for a couple of years and I've always wanted one so this time I chose a very cute little house which was £18. I think the Manchester Christmas markets are such a fantastic opportunity to buy very unique, special and handmade gifts for yourself or someone else as they're bound to be surprised and it will be something they probably won't already have.

Lastly for my Christmas market purchases I stumbled across the Harry Potter stall which was just off Market Street, near the Football Museum. The Harry Potter stall is part of Moloko at Afflecks and I purchased one of the cute Harry Potter 9 3/4 notebooks which was £12. I'm so glad that there was a Harry Potter stall and it seems very popular – more Harry Potter please! While we're on the topic of Afflecks, it is such a unique shopping experience and something very specific to the city itself. Afflecks is an indoor shopping centre/market place that is synonymous with Manchester and various celebrities so it is definitely worth a visit; although make sure you don't get lost in it's labyrinth of paths and independent shops. You can see all of my purchases and photos from the markets on my Instagram stories under the autumn highlights (@ofbeautyand).
Manchester Cathedral 
The Christmas markets in Manchester do run for quite a while but that's not the only attraction within the city! Manchester Cathedral is such a beautiful place to visit and it is free, although you can pay donation for the upkeep of the cathedral. I have a few hobbies and one of the most rewarding is definitely my ancestry research and through it I have found that a couple of my ancestors were married within Manchester Cathedral which makes it even more special to me. The building of Manchester Cathedral started in 1421 and it was finished in 1882 - it is one of 15 grade 1 listed buildings within Manchester. With it's gothic architecture, beautiful stained glass windows and history, it makes such a rich tourist attraction that is very close to the city centre.

Chetham's Library 
Speaking of history, there is an unknown part of Manchester that is very beautiful, historic and free to the public but not many people know about – Chetham's library. I only visited Chetham's library last year despite having lived in Manchester for almost all of my life. Chetham's library is actually a working school of music so you do have to go in with a guide at specific times of the day although it is free for the public to visit.

Chetham's library is the oldest free public library in the UK and construction was started in 1515 but it was opened as a library in 1653 by Humphrey Chetham. In my opinion Manchester is only viewed in terms of it's industrial past and also it's modern sporting history but the history of Manchester go so much further back than that and it's amazing to see these buildings that were built in the 1500's still standing and being used now. The inside of Chathams is incredibly beautiful and very Hogwarts-like so I would definitely recommend a visit! Check out the link above for a little more information about my visit.

Manchester Museums 
There are so many museums to visit within Manchester and I think I visited most of them; however my favourite has to be the Museum of Science and Industry which I've visited countless times with school and independently. The museum is spread throughout numerous buildings including an 1830's railway warehouse which houses so many vehicles, planes and trains. However it isn't just about transport, there is also a section about the history of Manchester with a rather creepy tunnel to walk through as well as Manchester's industrial history. Their exhibits are changing all of the time so check out their website to see what's on!

Another museum I only visited last year is the Greater Manchester Police Museum which is housed inside the 1879 police station! There are various of items and vehicles to see as well as the original charge office, cells and the 1895 magistrates court room. I would definitely recommend a visit and as again it is a free attraction within the city centre.

The final museum I'm going to mention is The Manchester Museum which is part of Manchester University. It contains many artefacts from the natural world and various cultures around the globe such as Egyptian antiquities, fossils and a tyrannosaurus! Again as with most public museums, this one is free to the public and well worth a visit.

Country Houses & Parks
Last but not least is one of my favourite categories, grand country houses and parks. There are so many around greater Manchester and Cheshire, all of which are a short drive away from Manchester City centre such as Dunham Massey. Dunham Massey is a gorgeous Georgian house and an ancient deerpark. The deer are very tame and you can go right up to them! I'm hopefully going to be visiting Dunham Massey later this week so check out my Instagram stories for photos.

Another couple of country houses that I would recommend visiting in and around Greater Manchester include: Lyme Park (Disley), Gawthorpe Hall (Burnley) and Ordsall Hall (Salford). Additionally, if you're looking for day trips outside of Manchester then be sure to visit the beautiful towns of Hebden Bridge and Uppermill which are less than an hour away from Manchester. There are so many more attractions and sites I could mention such as Salford Quays, the Trafford Centre and Old Trafford but where were you choose to visit in Manchester, make sure you visit the famous christmas markets.

Have you visited Manchester or any of the attractions I've mentioned?