Coloured Contact Lenses ft. Feel Good Contacts

Sunday, December 30, 2018
Happy *almost* new year everyone! Today's post is going to be fairly short and sweet and it's all about coloured contact lenses. You may not know this about me but I've been wearing contact lenses for over nine years! I have tried out numerous brands, monthly lenses, fortnightly lenses, daily lenses (which were my favourites) and finally coloured contact lenses. Coloured contact lenses aren't something I wear often, they're usually just for halloween but why not wear them more often.

*Air Optix Colors Contact Lenses (£18)
I was very kindly sent a couple of pairs of coloured contact lenses from the lovely people at Feel Good Contacts, who I've been lucky enough to work with a few times over the past couple of years. Just a note on Feel Good Contacts, I've always been impressed with their delivery times, packaging and how they usually include a packet of sweets in their parcels (sadly, they contain gelatine so I can't eat them but it's a nice gesture).
I don't think I've tried this brand of contact lenses before; although I've tried SO many over the past nine years so I might have done! The lenses are composed of silicone hydrogel which allows for a comfortable fit and wear as they are 'breathable' so they allow oxygen to keep your eyes refreshed (if I've understood that correctly). Additionally, the coloured sections of the lenses feature 3 in 1 colour technology which consists of three rings of colour around the iris of the lens to add vibrancy and depth the colour.

You can purchase the lenses as non-prescription lenses (so you just enter '0' on the prescription details pages) or you can have them as prescription lenses, I have the latter. My prescription isn't too bad and I take it from my regular contact lenses so they'll be as effective and wearable as my normal lenses. Despite the coloured section of the lenses, they work just as well and just as comfortably as the lenses I use on a daily basis.
The only difference between the coloured lenses from Feel Good Contacts and my normal lenses is the colour - the fit, wear and how comfortable they are is just the same. The colour does make them something I wouldn't wear all of the time as I personally don't feel the need to change my eye colour every day but it's something different to wear from time to time. I have the 'turquoise' shade which I love!

Overall, if you're looking for a pair of coloured contact lenses that are just as comfortable and easy to wear as 'normal' lenses then definitely check out the Air Optix Colours lenses at Feel Good Contacts as they don't really dry out my eyes (which I have experienced with so many lenses) and there's such a wide colour range to choose from.

Have you tried contact lenses or colour contact lenses? 

Take On 2019: Healthy Eating Goals

Friday, December 28, 2018
Image from Bojon Gourmet 
One of my goals of last year was to start eating healthily which is something most people assume I did anyway as I'm a vegetarian and sometimes vegan but my diet wasn't as good as it could have been. Thankfully I did stick to my healthy eating (for the most part) and continued my exercise routine to reach my weight loss goal of two stone, which I did back in the summer.

However, over the past couple of months my healthy eating plan, meal prepping and exercise routine has pretty much disappeared, oops. So one of my goals for 2019 is to get back on the healthy eating bandwagon and stop eating pizza a couple of times per week which is delicious but not so good when it comes to my health and maintaining my weight loss so here are some of my healthy eating goals for the new year: 

Reduce Processed Carbs
One of my favourite foods of all time, along with pizza, is pasta. Pasta is my go-to easy meal basis as it can be adapted in so many ways from a creamy vegan pasta salad, rich tomato and oregano pasta bake and creamy vegan macaroni cheese to adding it to soup, pesto pasta (this list is making me hungry already) or even a macaroni cheese pizza! However, it isn't the most nutritious food you could eat especially for the very high number of calories it contains for a Heather-sized portion (for reference, a Heather-sized portion is approximately half a bag of dry pasta).

I'll never cut out processed carbs as I love them too much but I definitely need to reduce the amount I eat. Switching pasta to rice is easy and rice is less processed - I love brown rice but it is a little more time consuming to prepare and cook. I won't even suggest that bulgur wheat, quinoa or courgette noodles are even remotely a good substitute for pasta as they aren't but they are healthier and more nutritious alternatives.

Make Healthy Snack Choices
Snacking is my down fall, along with the huge pasta portions, as I always tend to choose the least healthy options possible. Sandwiches are a staple in lunches around the UK but they're not something I reach for and they contain far more calories than you'd ever think! Recently I've started snacking at my desk as I've had so much work to do with the lead up to Christmas so healthy popcorn packets that are less than 100 calories each, fruit, warm protein rich salads and snack bars such as the Naked bars have been great healthier snack options for me and I definitely want to carry that on into the new year.

Switch To A Fully Vegan Diet?
Lastly is a 2019 healthy eating goal that I'm not 100% sure about right now as it's a fairly big step, although my diet is mostly vegan anyway. I fervently agree with all of the points that suggest that a vegan and plant based diet is one of the healthiest and the best for the environment so I should cut out the last few items in my diet that aren't vegan; however it is a little daunting. I will be taking part in Veganuary again for the fifth time so I think that will be my period to decide if switching to a fully plant based diet in 2019 will be right for me.

Do you have any healthy eating or healthy lifestyle goals for the new year? 

*In Collaboration with Dot Dot Loans
*This is a collaborative post

DIY Christmas Cards ft. Stampin' Up

Saturday, December 22, 2018
Today's post is going to be my final before christmas as I'm going to be having a few days off over the christmas and new year period but I'll be back with a few posts after Boxing Day! I have been lucky enough to work with the lovely people at Stampin' Up a couple of times and I've loved their card making kits so I was very excited to receive another but this time, it's one of their christmas card making kits.

I was very kindly sent a wide range of items such as the *Stampin' Up snail adhesive, stamp set, ink pads, paper trimmer, cardstock and more which I've been experimenting with over the past couple of weeks. I love crafting and card making but I'm not terribly good at the latter sadly! However, I always love the process of making something, whether it's cookies, crafts or cards.
The Stampin' Up cardstock, ink pads, stamps and adhesive products always tend to be very high quality and these items are no different so I think they'd make a great gift or a great craft project to get into. The 'making christmas bright' stamp set I received is one of my favourite items from the parcel as the designs are just so cute! I used the star stamp and the light bulb stamps to create the minimal cards, as you can see above. I'm all about minimal but striking designs so I had to create some like that with my kit!

As well as the stamp set and designs, I also loved the rather oddly named 'snail adhesive' which is so handy and would be perfect for so many craft projects and even present wrapping - I'll definitely be buying more. Sadly, as the christmas period has been a little busy and everyone sees to be ill so I haven't had time to create any more cards this year but I cannot recommend the Stampin' Up products enough I'm always impressed with the quality.

What do you think of these cards and Stampin' Up card kits?

*2019 Goal: Recycling + Ethical Living

Thursday, December 20, 2018
Image from Used Kitchen Exchange 
I have quite a few goals for the new year, the full post will be live in January but one of the most general that I've tried to stick to for the past year or so was to make sure to recycle as much as I can where I live and to be more conscious about the purchases I make. Today's post is all about my ethical living related goals for the new year as it shouldn't just end with my diet but my lifestyle in general too.

I'm very lucky in that I receive quite a lot of blogger mail, which I always share on my instagram stories (@ofbeautyand) so I naturally have a fair amount of cardboard and paper recycling which I can recycle at a centre within easy driving distance, thankfully. We also recycle general items and food waste but I think we need to start switching from choosing black plastic food items in 2019 because I believe those items cannot be recycled.

Ethical Purchases 
Additionally, switching to re-useable products rather than plastic disposable items is another goal for the new year; along with making more ethical choices such as purchases from independent and smaller businesses. Smaller items or choices will be quite easy (I hope!) but for larger purchases such as furniture, appliances and units, it might be a little more difficult. However Used Kitchen Exchange offers a great solution for those who are more conscious about recycling and ethical living.

Used Kitchen Exchange specialise in ex-display and used kitchens and are an award winning, family run business. Buying a used or ex-display kitchen is not only a far cheaper option (as we know, having a kitchen makeover and re-design can be very expensive) but it is also a more ethical and environmentally friendly choice too.

There are so many kitchen styles and designs to choose from to suit your home and your own style but at a fraction of the price of a brand new, showroom kitchen would be. Additionally, you can even sell your own kitchen with them! You can easily get a valuation of your kitchen by sending photos and details of your kitchen to them via their website. I think that if you're looking for a more ethical, cheaper or environmentally friendly choice in the new year then Used Kitchen Exchange is a fantastic option to check out!

Do you have any ethical or more environmentally friendly related goals for the new year? Have you heard of Used Kitchen Exchange? 

*This is a collaborative post
*Image from Used Kitchen Exchange 

*How To Wear Your Summer Wardrobe In Winter

Thursday, December 20, 2018
Image from Simply Beach
Winter is fast approaching, although some days it feels as though it's here already! Manchester isn't known for it's sunny climate but even so, I've been wearing a few pieces of my summery wardrobe recently. I'm not one of those people who packs away seasonal clothing so I wear various items throughout the year which I think it great when it comes to getting as much use out of an item as possible.

Pyjamas, Loungewear & Layering
The first way I've been wearing some of the basics from my summer wardrobe is as loungewear, pyjamas and for layering during the autumn and winter months. Basic t-shirt, vests and lighter layers are great as loungewear or pyjama options. Additionally layering vests under fluffy jumpers or thicker coats can make for an easy, no fuss and quick outfit. I've been wearing my basic black high neck vests with my thick and very warm woollen coat over the past couple of months for an easy outfit that I don't need to think about.
I have a section of my wardrobe for random, summery t-shirts and my activewear so everything is in one place and I don't have to search which gives me an excuse to not exercise. Summery shorts, loose t-shirts, crop tops and cropped leggings make ideal and comfortable activewear! I need to get back into my exercise routine as over the past three or so months, I've just stopped and swapped exercising or eating pizza...oops.

Winter Sun Wardrobe 
Lastly, if you're lucky enough to be jetting off to soak up some winter sun then look no further than Simply Beach for anything you could possibly need; from beach clothing, accessories, swimwear and beach activewear - you can see a few example above. There's so much choice but Fantasie swimwear  probably has my favourites designs!

There are so many places on my travel wish list that I've love to visit over the cold, dreary winter months which include California (not just to visit Sephora...), Brisbane (although I'm terrified of bugs, so perhaps not), Barbados and many others but sadly it isn't to be so I'll have to stick to the chilly Manchester weather instead.

Do you try to use summery pieces during the colder month? Have you shopped at Simply Beach? If you could escape the winter weather, where would you travel to?

*This is a sponsored post
*Images from Simply Beach

*Winter Wardrobe Essentials for Women

Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Image from Crew Clothing 

Summer almost seems like a distant memory; the temperature has dropped, the evenings are getting darker sooner and you’re de-icing your car most mornings. It is important that your wardrobe is prepared for the colder weather, so I thought I would put together a small list of items that every woman should have throughout the colder months. Here are 5 items that I cannot go without during winter, and you shouldn’t either:

A Bobble Hat
While not everyone has a head that suits hats, bobble hats are pretty easy to rock. Not only do they look adorable once on, but they are also extremely practical when it comes to keeping your ears and head warm.I recently spotted this bobble hat over on Crew Clothing that is on sale, I couldn’t wait to add it to my Christmas list.

Winter Boots
Whether you opt for a pair of knee-high boots to keep your calves warm, or you choose a short pair of Chelsea Boots, every girl should own at least one pair of boots to get them to the end of winter. Boots pretty much go with any sort of outfit too - whether you want to turn up to work in a skirt, tights and small boots, or you’d prefer to match them with a pair of jeans for a long day of Christmas shopping.

Turtle Neck Jumpers
Turtle neck jumpers are great for keeping your neck warm, and they’re usually pretty thick too, saving the top-half of your body from the cold. They are perfect for wearing under gilets or jackets, as well as on their own. While black and white are the most versatile, coloured turtle necks are always great for brightening up a winter wardrobe, which often tends to be quite monochrome.

A Fur-Hooded Coat
It goes without saying that a coat should be an essential for any winter wardrobe. It is near impossible that you can go the whole of winter without a drop of rain or snow, so it might be time to invest in a good coat with a hood that will protect you from both of these. Furry hoods don’t just look great, but they also decrease the amount of heat that gets lost, therefore keeping your face warmer while it is up. Practical and pretty – a perfect combo for winter!

A Thick Scarf
No winter is complete without a thick winter scarf to wear underneath your coats. These are a great investment for keeping your neck warm and are also fab for adding style to an outfit. Whether you get a plain scarf that will tone down any eccentric patterns, or whether you get a patterned scarf to jazz up an outfit, a scarf will always improve an outfit, while keeping you warm.You can even get a scarf to match your bobble hat! Check out this scarf on sale from Crew that matches the bobble hat linked above.

What are your winter essentials? What do you think of these items from Crew Clothing? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Crew Clothing 

*DIY Christmas Decorations

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Image from Pinterest
Christmas is almost here but there's still time to buy gifts for yourself or someone else as most delivery deadlines for standard delivery end today or tomorrow with express delivery dates a couple of days later; check out my latest gift guides for ideas! However, handmade gifts or decorations can be equally as special, even more so, particularly if the gift is for a grandparent.

Making Decorations With Grandparents
Handmade gifts or decorations for your grandparents can be such a lovely idea. I've personally made so many gifts for my grandad and for my aunties too in the form of photo books and personalised gifts - I love the look on their faces when personalised and handmade gifts are opened. I've also made a couple of baby blankets for friends and they've gone down better than I could have imagined!

Making gifts or decorations with grandparents can also be a lovely idea as it not only means that your grandparents will receive a decoration to keep but also a nice activity to do together. I love making things with my aunties, most recently my heart cushion from We Are Knitters. Growing up, I don't think I really made anything with my grandad which is such a shame and a missed opportunity but I have made gifts, cards and decorations for him which he still has twenty years later. I only have one grandparent who is still with us as neither of my grandmas were alive when I was born sadly so it just emphasises the importance of spending time with grandparents while you can.

DIY Christmas Decoration Ideas
There are so many DIY decoration ideas or ideas to make handmade gifts, particularly on Pinterest which is where I get most of my handmade gift ideas. I've decorated my gift boxes this year with inspiration from Pinterest and they've tuned out so well, if I do say so myself.

One of the nicest DIY decoration ideas I've come across are these pinecone decorations, pictured above, which would be so easy to make with foraged pinecones, glue, ribbons and any other little christmas decorations you have already. I love natural christmas decorations with either wood, cotton, canvas or even pinecones so these are something I'd love to make.

An idea that would be great for children and is something that I did in school includes christmas cards for grandparents. I loved craft projects in school, although if I'm honest I was probably not very good at it! Additionally, baking gingerbread cookies that can be decorated and added to the christmas tree could be a great activity to do with grandparents this christmas.

What do you think of these decoration ideas? Have you made any Christmas decorations or handmade gifts this year?

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest 

Ultimate Gift Guide For Him Part Two

Monday, December 17, 2018
Today's post is my final gift guide of 2018! I can't believe that christmas is almost here, it feels as though it wasn't long ago that it was the start of autumn. I've already published a few christmas gift guides, including my first mens gift guide which you can read for even more gift ideas. I also have a luxury, womens and personalised gift guides too.

*NextBase 412GW Dash Cam (£129)
One piece of tech that I've wanted since the summer is a dash cam. I went on a girls weekend away in August and thankfully one of my friends drove us to the Lake District. She used her a dash cam on the journey and it's the first time I'd seen one in action - I was impressed. I've never thought of needing one before but they're so useful if you are unlucky enough to be part of an accident.

The NextBase 412GW Dash Cam has so many amazing features such as 1440P HD video, 140 wide angle recording, GPS logging, Wi-fi connectivity and more! This model has been awarded dash cam of the year (2017), a Best Buy from Which (2017) and it's TechAdvisor recommended. It is also endorsed by the AA so it's a dash cam that it highly recommended and would make a great gift.

I didn't know a dash cam would have so many features, as soon as I received it I watched the video explaining what the specific model I have does and it's very impressive. I will be posting a full, in-depth review and video of the dash cam in the new year so stay tuned!
*Mackmyra Swedish Single Malt Whisky via The Summerton Club Spirits Subscription Box

In my experience dads are the hardest people to buy for at this time of the year! However, The Summerton Club may have the answer with their spirits subscription box. At £50 per bottle delivered, you'll receive one of the bottles of the month. All you need to do is choose the frequency at which they arrive at your door or the door of your lucky gift recipient. You can choose to gift a Christmas gift voucher at £50, a three month subscription for £150, a bi-monthly whisky subscription for £300 or one of their other subscription options depending on your budget.

Whichever option you choose, it will contain a bottle of at least 50cl of spirit, which range from brandy, bourbon, cognac, rum and whiskey, among others. Additionally unlike other subscription boxes where there is a post and packaging charge on top of the subscription price, the £50 for The Summerton Club membership includes everything, including postage and packaging.
I was very kindly sent the bottle of the month for October 2018 which was the Mackmyra Swedish single malt whisky. The bottle of the month changes in terms of the origin, age and variety of spirit so you can always guarantee something different and unique within each box. You can check out the 'bottles of the month' page on the website to see previous bottles sent out to members. For example, the bottle for the July 2018 box was the Arran 18-year-old single malt whisky and I have actually visited this distillery very briefly a few years ago while on a college trip to the Isle of Arran on the west coast of Scotland.

Back to the bottle of the month that I received, the Mackmyra Swedish single malt whisky. Firstly, as I always have to mention, I love the packaging! It looks so luxe and oddly festive which is perfect for this time of the year. The whisky is aged in a small casks in the mine of Bodas, 50m underground in Sweden which is very unique and something I haven't heard for. You might expect that I haven't heard of this idea before but I have visited a fair few distilleries! Overall, I think this subscription box would make a luxe, special and very welcome gift for dads, grandads, uncles and husbands (or whoever you think would appreciate a subscription!) this christmas! As always check out the brands website for more information and the video below for a close up of the items in today's gift guide.
*DK Eyewitness London Travel Guide 2019 (£14.99)
Next up is a great option for those who are planning on travelling in the New Year as it is the new 2019 travel guide collection from DK Publishing. This travel guide arrived just in time as I might be travelling to London in January which is very exciting as I always love visiting the capital! I have been lucky enough to visit London a few times, most recently April 2018 but there is always more to see!

It has a fantastic range of information within it such as history and maps and it would be so useful if you are planning on visiting the capital as a tourist as it can almost be your tour guide with all of the information it contains! It also contains a map of the underground and the main parks within London too. There are quite a few areas of London that I have yet to visit including Covent Garden and many famous sites such as Highgate cemetery, Kensington palace, the natural history museum and others that are on my list. I've already flicked through the entire travel guide and added page markers to the sites I want to visit...there are quite a lot of page markers in it now. They have many travel guides for various cities so if you're looking for one for yourself or as a gift then look no further. You can buy this travel guide on Amazon so if you have Prime or if you pay for express delivery then you'll receive it in time.
*Scratch The World Map - Classic (£20)
Sticking with the travelling theme, the next gift is a map but not a map as you know it. I've wanted one of these scratch off maps for years but I've never got round to buying one for myself and that's why I think it is a great gift idea as it's something your gift recipient might want, however it's maybe not something they'd want to buy just for themselves. There are numerous styles and finishes to choose from but most start at £20 which I think is a very reasonable price, especially considering the size of the map and the gorgeous design.

The map I have is the 'classic' style which I absolutely adore and it goes perfectly with the colour scheme and style of our kitchen. I love that you can scratch off the cities, countries and islands you've visited. I love the copper colour of the map as it is but when you scratch it off, you'll find colourful countries underneath. One of the things that surprised me about the map, as well as the amazing quality, is how detailed it is! This is another gift that would be ideal for those who are travelling or planning a gap year for 2019. If you choose express delivery at the checkout then you'll receive your gift before christmas but you only have until the 19th December to choose that option.
*Ross & Ross Christmas Roast Dinner Box (£21)
My final gift idea is not what it seems, on the box, it would seem as though it's not suitable for vegetarians but it is! The gorgeously designed gift set contains four cooking ingredients including 'pigs in blankets dust', 'Brussel sprout dust', 'roast turkey rub' and the 'roast potato oil' all of which sound amazing and surprisingly vegetarian. In fact all of the items in the box are gluten free, dairy free, handmade and suitable for vegetarians as stated on the website - although I wish that was clear on the box itself. Additionally, it's the 2018 'gift of the year' winner too!

I absolutely love the presentation of this gift set, from the classic and luxe looking packaging to the items themselves which I like the names of and the ingredients are very minimal too, which I always look out for. Each tub is 50g which is a decent size and the roast potato oil is 250ml so you're not getting tiny samples in this gift set. 
All of the items sound great but the one I'm most interested to try is the 'roast potato oil' which is composed of Cotswold rapeseed oil infused with smoke, rosemary and garlic (it's almost drool inducing). I love using infused oils and I need to start using more of them as they're typically so delicious and very convenient to use too.

I know that my dad would be so happy with this foodie gift set this christmas as he loves to cook and these ingredients could be used in so many ways. It looks like a fancy and substantial gift set but the price is very reasonable, in my opinion. I cannot recommend this set enough and as always, check out my video below for a quick close up of the items in the box, along with the other gifts I've featured in today's final gift guide of 2018 (how is it almost christmas already!).
Images from Charles Tyrwitt 
An additional gift idea is a Charles Tyrwhitt shirt which would be an ideal formal gift that is also practical. My dad would be happy to receive a shirt as a gift because he wears them every day at work and they are perfect for formal nights on holiday (cruises always have a couple of formal nights and a nice shirt is essential).

My dad personally wouldn't buy a fancy or more expensive shirt for himself, he hates shopping as it is so it would make a great gift for him. There are so many styles, designs and sizes to choose from as well as a range of prices to suit your budget - most are currently on sale so go, go, go.

What do you think of my final gift guide of the year?

*This is a collaborative post
*Images from Charles Tyrwhitt 


Sunday, December 16, 2018
It's almost Christmas and for some, myself included, it can be a very difficult time, not just in terms of money, gift buying or stress but mental health issues as well. Thankfully the topic of mental health is becoming more widely discussed and 'mainstream', if you can describe it in that way so I'm very glad that such a prolific company, Virgin Trains, is talking about these issues in a very public and visible way as mental health issues aren't something that should be only spoken about in hushed tones or in a medical setting but by everyone and anywhere.

Virgin Trains launched their #ItsAWonderfulLine campaign at the beginning of the month with their charity partner, Rethink Mental Illness. The campaign is focused around a classic American Christmas film, It's A Wonderful Life, which I haven't actually watched but I need to now. The film contains themes of hope, love, family and redemption as well as one mans struggles with his life not going as he planned, which I think most of us can relate to on some level. It also shows that one of the best gifts you can give someone this Christmas, is just being there for them.
With permission from Paramount, lines from the classic film have been painted next to the yellow line on train platforms along the length of the country, from London to Glasgow. The text on all of the platforms will also include links to simple ways you can help someone who is struggling with their mental health. The closest platform to me that is taking part is Manchester Piccadilly but there are so many others including Liverpool Lime Street, London Euston, Preston, Birmingham and finally Glasgow, among others.

My favourite thing about this campaign is the simple acknowledgment that so many people do suffer with their mental health in numerous ways, it affects us all in one way or another, and especially at this time of the year. Last Christmas was fine for me (more than fine actually) but the Christmas before was horrendous in terms of my mental health and being on the pill made everything so much worse for me personally. Anxiety and depression aren't fun at any time of the year but it is somehow magnified during the festive period when everyone is expected to be social, happy and full of Christmas cheer. That isn't the case for some and that's ok.

There are so many worthy charities out there but I think that mental health charities are of paramount importance during the Christmas and New Year period and I'm so glad that a mental health campaign is so visible this year with Virgin Trains and Rethink Mental Illness. I love the message of this campaign whereby the discussion and acceptance of mental illness, as a topic that needs to be spoken about and acknowledged, but also that we should help those around us who are suffering, not just this Christmas but the rest of the year too.

Rethink Mental Illness is a charity providing mental health services in England; they train employees, employers and members of the public on how to support someone suffering with their mental health. Their phone lines are open Monday to Friday on 0300 5000 927 or you can email them: Additionally, you can contact Samaritans for free at any time on 116 123. You can also message me on any of my social media platforms. 

What do you think of this campaign? Have you seen the #ItsAWonderfulLine quotes on a platform near you?

*This is a collaborative post
*Images from Virgin Trains 

Ultimate Gift Guide For Her Part Two

Friday, December 14, 2018
Today's post is the second and final women's gift guide that I will be posting this year! The run-up to the festive season has come by so quickly, where did the time go! It's not long now until Christmas but you still have time to buy gifts for friends and family. I hope this gift guide will give you some ideas. There's a range of gifts from eco-friendly pampering product to beauty gifts and wearables.

*Bloomtown The Perfect Little Bloomtown Stocking Filler (£12.50)
Let's start with one of the cutest and most festive products in today's gift guide, the Bloomtown stocking filler gift idea! How adorable is this festive giftwrapping, it is great for those like me who cannot wrap presents at all - I don't know why I can't, it's just an ability I don't have. The gift contains three minis including a soap bar, infused oil and lip balm. All of their products are natural, vegan and cruelty free; additionally Bloomtown is the UK's first palm oil-free certified company which is amazing.
I've been lucky enough to try some of their products previously and loved them and I feel the same about these. I received the Avo Mint lip balm, The Woods soap bar and The Woods infused roll on oil. There are various scents to choose from but the ones I received are the Avo Mint which smells refreshingly mint as you would expect and The Woods scent which is heavenly - it's bergamot and green clay so it is very fresh, green and very Lush-like which I adore.

The scent I tried previously was The Meadow which is gorgeous but I think I might actually like The Woods even more as it's green, natural and clean but a little musky which is exactly what I want in a fragrance or in my body products. I think this set is perfect and a great trial set for someone who is new to the brand. I cannot recommend it enough, especially The Woods infused oil!
*Fat Face Scented Candle Trio (£15)
One of my favourite christmas gifts recently is from Fat Face. It's a brand that I haven't tried much from but whenever I browse their site, I always find so many clothing items and gifts that I'd love to receive! I was very kindly sent a couple of gifts, both of which are so cute and would make wonderful gifts for friends this year!

The Fat face candle trio features three mini tin candles in the scents: woodland, winter spice and frosted berries, all of which are packaged so beautifully and smell perfect for the festive season. I love the festive packaging, the range of christmassy scents and the set as a whole. The set would be great as a gift on it's own or you can split the candles into festive hamper for friends or family members.
*Fat Face Fox Mug (£12)
How utterly adorable is this fox mug from Fat Face! There are so many great gift mugs on the Fat Face website but this one is the cutest available. Foxes are some of the cutest animals, we usually see some around the area we live in and they're so playful! I think a fox mug would be ideal for animal lovers or anyone who loves foxes. You could add some christmas chocolates, hot chocolate, cosy socks or even stationery to the mug to make it more of a substantial gift. You still have time to order online from Fat Face and you can also purchase in-store too.
*Hair Secrets Hair Podz Diamond Edition - Pink (£12.99)
Moving onto a great stocking filler gift idea is a very cute brush from Hair Secretz. The Hair Secrets Hair Podz Diamond Edition in pink is the ideal stocking filler for friends or teens! The detangling hair brush also features a mirror, interchangeable head (for easy cleaning) and it can easily fit in your handbag.

One of the more stand out features of the brush, as well as the unique shape and design, is that it's encrusted with a shimmering Swarovski crystal which definitely adds a luxe touch. The brush is composed of triple flexology bristles that gently detangles your hair (even my very thick and tangle prone hair). It can be used on wet or dry hair, it's perfect for on the go and would make an ideal accessory for those who commute or travel often.
*StyleFairy Boutique T-Shirt (£12.50 - sale)
Next up, a little bit more of a different gift as it's a cute tee! I'm never usually a fan of any kind of slogan t-shirts but I love this one from StyleFairy Boutique for a few reasons. The first is because the slogan itself is very simple and minimal with an easy to read font. Also the style of the t-shirt on the whole and the plain white colour makes it more of a wearable, casual t-shirt that pairs with so much, whether it's a pair of black skinny jeans or as a lounge wear top with pyjamas! I have the small size which fits me exactly as I wanted it to - not too fitted but not baggy (I'm a UK 8 for reference).

One of my biggest annoyances when it comes to t-shirt shopping is that white t-shirts are usually pretty much see-through! I don't want everyone to see my bra so I want a more opaque t-shirt and thankfully this one is. Additionally, many basic t-shirts have cap sleeves which aren't flattering on anyone, in my opinion, so I'm really happy with the longer length of the sleeves on this one. I think it would make a great basic slogan tee gift this christmas and it's currently on sale.

*Rubis Tweezers - Christmas Stars (£29)
Another beauty item and one that is definitely a luxe item, Rubis Christmas Stars Tweezers. I tried a pair of these a year or so ago and loved them. While I do love Tweezerman tweezers, these ones are just more precise, weighty and luxe. I adore the rose gold shade as well as the cute christmas star design - anything with stars on it and I'm there! I cannot recommend them enough!
*Pairfum Orangerie Blossoms Diffuser (£25)
I personally love candles, they are some of my favourite gifts to receive but not everyone loves candles from a safety point of view, like my mum, so diffusers are a great alternative. This is the second diffuser from Pairfum that I've been lucky enough to try and I love both but I think that this 'orangerie blossoms' scent is my favourite of the two.

I love the almost art-deco box and bottle design so aesthetically it looks like a very fancy, luxe and unique diffuser, especially because most on the market at a reasonable or cheap price point are very generic and inexpensive looking which isn't what you want in a christmas gift. The scent diffuses well, it looks so nice in our living room and it smells musky, floral and homely, in my opinion.

*Sensationail Express Gel Polish (£15)
I've tried and reviewed a couple of kits from Sensationail, the latter one I adored - the 'peel off strip gel starter kit'. I received the beautiful Raspberry Wine shade within that kit which I love but I'm so glad that I've kindly been sent the That's My Jam shade which is perfect for the festive season. If you know someone who already has a Sensationail kit then a new polish would make a great stocking filler or if they don't have a kit, you could buy one as it comes with pretty much everything you need in one easy to use package.
*Kameleon Rose 5 Way Cardigan (£80)
I've included a couple of wearables in this post but the most unusual but very practical is this five way cardigan from Kameleon Rose which would make the most ideal present for not only fashion focused individuals but those who love being cosy or for travellers as this cardigan can be made into five various shapes/styles! I haven't ever heard of clothing like this where it can be altered, buttoned up or styled in so many ways with just one item of clothing.

The cardigan is a little pricy, in my opinion but due to the variability of it, you basically get five items in one so when you look at it like that then the price is pretty reasonable. I chose the grey shade as I knew it would the shade I'd wear the most and I'm so glad I chose that colour. I also have the size small and it does fit well (I'm a UK 8 for reference) but it's a touch too long on me; however I am very petite.
You can wear the cardigan as a waterfall cardigan (as I am in the photos), as a hoodie, as a hooded cardigan and many more. Check out their website as they show all of the styles far better than I ever could. As well as being multi-use, it also has numerous interesting features including a passport pocket, non-creasing fabric, thumb holes, hand warming sleeves, a secret pocket and even more.

I think this cardigan is amazing and it would be fantastic for campers, adventurers, students or those planning lots of travelling or even a gap year in 2019 as it's so versatile and has so many useful features. They don't just have this cardigan that has an amazing multi-use ability; they also have travel pants, a travel dress, bag, top and shirt, all of which can be altered and used in numerous ways.

What do you think of my final womens gift guide? 

Christmas Jumper Day 2018

Friday, December 14, 2018
Today is christmas jumper day which is an annual charity event in the UK which is held on the 14th December every year to try and raise money for the charity, Save The Children. There are various events and fundraising opportunities to raise money for a good cause. I have participated for a couple of years now and today's christmas jumper is probably my favourite of them all.

*Fa La La Llama Womens Christmas Jumper (£35)
My christmas jumper this year is from a lovely independent online store based in Devon in which you can find a plethora of gorgeous, quirky and unique christmas gifts for so many ages and interests. The jumper I have is the adorable 'fa la la llama' jumper which is more of a sweatshirt but I love it! The jumper is all black (which fits my style perfectly) with gold lettering and illustrations on the front so unlike most christmas jumpers, it's not over the top, gaudy or tacky! Trying to find a christmas jumper that isn't tacky is very difficult.
I have the small size which should fit a 34 to 36 chest but as you can see, it's a little too big on me and a little too long although I am pretty tiny! My favourite thing about this christmas jumper isn't just the cute llama but it's cosy on the inside. My favourite kind of sweatshirts or jumpers are ones with a fleece lining on the inside (like the Joanie Clothing jumpers I bought recently) as they are so cosy, soft and keep me very warm.

I'm so happy with my christmas jumper from So Close Studio as it's understated, super cosy and goes with the black jeans I'm constantly wearing but it is still glittery and festive! If you're looking for a unique, cute and simple christmas jumper this year then look no further than So Close Studio.

What do you think of my christmas jumper? Will you be donating to Save The Children or fund raising for Christmas Jumper Day? 

*Five Snowy Holiday Spots

Thursday, December 13, 2018
Image from Pinterest
What better time of the year than now to take a snowy holiday, where you can stay toasty inside surrounded by snowy wilderness or go for a winter walk in the cold air. Here’s my top five snowy holiday spots:

The Canadian Mountains
Most people forget about Canada, but its snowy mountains can make for an excellent place to pitch a tent or park a caravan. Even just at the base, it’s almost constantly snowy, and the challenging hikes nearby give you an excuse to get outdoors. Whistler is probably the most famous of all mountains in the area, and for a good reason. If you want to take your holiday even further, you could learn to build your own igloo – something that plenty of tourists in the area do – or try to pitch a tent up the mountains themselves. Provided you have the right gear and skill, of course.

Gstaad, Switzerland
Gstaad’s the ideal place to go if you want to walk through some fresh snow. With over 180 miles of hiking trails and a promenade built purely for strolling, around two-thirds of the holidaymakers stay there without even so much as touching a ski – although there’s still 136 miles of ski slopes for that remaining one-third. The smaller villages nearby offer multiple camping spots, making tent-pitching and campervan hire not only possible, but convenient.

Lapland, Finland
A classic Christmas destination, Lapland is just as amazing during the rest of the year – log cabins, reindeer, and layers upon layers of snow. It’s remote, but there’s a lot of resorts and hotels that offer five-star-comfort without any catches in the small print. It’s the ideal place for the kind of person who wants to see more of nature: hotels open you up to seeing more of the surroundings, rather than closing you off, and certain special resorts are designed around seeing the snowfall, the wild animals and even the Aurora Borealis.

Ax 3 Domaines, France
For those who love winter sports, Ax 3 Domaines is one of Europe’s best. With plenty of carefully-checked skiing slopes that cater to a variety of skill levels and technique types, as well as very close proximity to both Bonascre and Ax-les-Thermes, this resort keeps you remote whilst still giving you enough to shop and explore. Even if ski weather is poor, there’s plenty to do – plus, if you go at the right times, you can still get the heavy snowfall without the freezing weather you’d get at other resorts.

Park City, Utah 
An old mining town that’s been revitalised and turned into an excellent lodge hotspot, Park City is an excellent destination for both skiers and non-skiers. With plenty of slopes across multiple difficulties, and a huge amount of shops to explore day after day, there’s something to appeal to everyone, no matter how much they love or hate winter sports. There’s also far more chefs than one would expect for a town of its size, with a huge variety of cuisine from all across Europe.

Have you visited any of these locations? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest

Jet2 Hamper + City Breaks

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Last week I was very excited by a ginormous box that arrived from the incredibly generous people over at Jet2 and it was filled with lots of christmassy goodies, from food and decorations to gift ideas and more. If you follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand) then you will have seen my unboxing of the box on Saturday. It was probably the largest single box of blogger mail I've ever received and it made for a lovely early Christmas gift!

The hamper contained so many amazing items and one of my favourites is definitely the heart shaped gingerbread cookie that not only looks amazing but it tastes great too. I've wanted a gingerbread heart like this for years as there are so many at the Manchester Christmas markets but I've never bought one. Is there anything more christmassy than gingerbread!
I also received these cute nutcracker decorations that I've already added to our tree. Another item that I love are the copper fairy lights which came at the perfect time because I managed to suck up the fairy lights I've been using for all of my christmas gift guides into the hoover a few days ago so a new set is just what I needed. I'm not usually that clumsy, I promise.

The food items included are also essentials for christmas including a packet of mulled wine spices from Fortnum and Mason which is very fancy and some mince pies. I haven't tried any mince pies before (or at least not that I can remember) so I'm interested to try these this christmas. Christmas isn't Christmas without a few things such as tinsel, fairy lights, gingerbread and of course, baking. I love baking at this time of the year and this kit from BakedIn is perfect - I recently reviewed one of the BakedIn subscription boxes on my blog which you can read if you want some baking inspiration or a foodie gift idea.
The christmas hamper from the lovely people at Jet2 has made me think about the places I want to visit in 2019. I don't think I'll be able to get to that many on my list (my travel wish list is VERY long) but maybe I can get to a couple. The Jet2 catalog that came in the hamper hasn't been helping my need to travel as there are so many amazing deals, the prices of which are so surprising! They shouldn't have included the catalog as I've already gone through and marked a few that I'm interested in...

All of the prices shown in the catalog include return flights, accommodation and 22kg hold baggage which is amazing as you know exactly what you're paying for. There's an amazing offer for a three night stay in a very cute looking hotel in Prague for only £159 per person, which again includes accommodation, flights and baggage. There's also a deal for three nights in Krakow within a historic building that has intrigued me.
As well as Prague and Krakow, there are so many other options to choose from including New York (I'd love to visit New York but it's a little too pricy for me right now sadly), Venice (which I cannot recommend enough), Florence (again I cannot recommend visiting Florence enough) and Paris. I have so many places on my wish list and a few of them are included in the catalog, including Paris which I've only visited in terms of Disneyland Paris and I was six at the time so I barely remember anything!

Earlier this year I paid for myself and a couple of friends to go away to the Lake District for a couple of days and it was such a lovely experience. I'd love to go away again with them in 2019 so I think I'll show them this catalog when we meet up for christmas to see if anything catches their eye...I'm forever tempting people to spend money, it's a bloggers prerogative after all.
Jet2 offer so many amazing short city breaks throughout Europe and it's started to make me very excited for the prospect of travelling with friends and family in the new year, especially because it looks like there are very cheap deals on Jet2.

I'll definitely be sharing some of the items with friends and family this christmas, although the gingerbread heart is mine and I'm not sharing. I'll also be sharing some of the comforting food items with my neighbour who isn't too well this year. Thanks so much to the incredibly lovely people at Jet2 for the amazing christmas hamper!

What do you think of the deals with Jet2? Do you plan on travelling in the new year? 

*University Advice

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Image from Wayfair
It's that time of the year when university students are coming to the end of heir first term at university which makes me feel incredibly old as I still remember the end of my first term, mainly because it was the day I got my first tattoo! I can't believe that I graduated from university over five years ago now and I genuinely miss university, although I could have done without the presentations and public speaking! Today's post features some of my advice and tips for freshers and those considering university next year.

Don't Leave Essays or Revision Until The Last Minute
This one might seem very simple but it's something so many students forget! Sure, most people don't want to revise or write 3000 word essays but it's always best to at least start your essay more than a few days before the deadline as it reduces so much stress. The start of an essay, in my experience, is always the most difficult part so just starting it in good time will be useful!

Utilise The Resources Available 
Tying into the previous point, utilising university resources can definitely help and help you save money in the process. Don't spend money on expensive academic books, use the library and it's catalog as well as their access to online journals, which is what I did. I only bought one or two books during my three years at university as I relied far more on the library and online journals for all of my essays and exams. Additionally, your university should have some kind of career, finance or general advice centre or contact that you can get in touch with. University is very expensive so you might as well use any many of their resources as you need.

Rent Wisely & Do Your Research 
Lastly, if you are going to be entering student housing and renting then there are lots of points to consider, not just the location and your finances but also the fine print, the facilities available, how long you will be renting for and more of the legal side of renting, all of which is important to be aware of.

I've heard so many horror stories of renting situations, especially with university students, so you might want to not share with other students. My sister personally had such an awful time renting for the second year of her degree and it was mainly related to the inconsiderate students in the property as well as the building itself which wasn't as well maintained as it should have been.

Thoroughly searching for a property that meets your expectations is just one step in the renting process. There are other, more legal aspects to renting for example you need to make sure that your landlord has permission to let that property, if they have landlord insurance and you need to know your responsibilities to your landlord. For the latter point, both yourself and your landlord have responsibilities towards each other; for the tenant you need to look after the property and inform the landlord of problems, issues that need to be fixed and minimise anti-social behaviour. However, the landlord also has responsibilities including maintaining the property, installing smoke alarms, carry out repairs etc.

Do you have any advice for university students? Do you have any experience of renting? If so, do you have and tips or advice? 

*This is a collaborative post
*Image from Pinterest 

Blog Tour: The Teahouse Detective: The Old Man In The Corner

Monday, December 10, 2018
Today's post is a new blog tour review which is being hosted by the lovely and generous people over at Pushkin Press who I've been lucky enough to work with previously. I was very kindly sent a paperback copy of The Teahouse detective: The Old Man In The Corner by Baroness Orczy from Pushkin Press and scroll to the end of the post where you can enter to win a copy yourself!

*The Teahouse Detective: The Old Man In The Corner by Baroness Orczy (288 pages) ★★★ (3.5)

One of my favourite book genres includes mysteries and this one is classic mystery collection which was originally published in early 20th century but it's been complied by Pushkin Press into a beautifully designed collection. The Teahouse Detective is a contemporary of Sherlock Holmes and you can see where the comparisons and similarities arise as they both have an intelligent manner that definitely leans towards arrogance, in my opinion.

This is my first book from Baroness Orczy although The Scarlett Pimpernel has been on my Amazon 'saved' list for at least a year; however I haven't got round to buying it yet! The writing within this collection, despite its age, is very quick and easy to follow so don't be afraid if you haven't read any classic mysteries as the language is easy to understand. Although there are some instances of terms that we don't use now which shows the time in which it was written.

The book is quite formulaic in it's style and set up which has it's advantages and disadvantages, for example, the repetative style makes it a very speedy read; although on the other hand, it makes it a little too repetitive. However, I did throughly enjoy the numerous mysteries through the book which definitely had a classic, Sherlock Holmes feel to them! If you like classic mysteries then definitely check out The Teahouse Detective: The Old Man In The Corner by Baroness Orczy and enter my giveaway below!

This giveaway is UK only, it ends on the 17th December so hopefully it might arrive before christmas (but maybe not because everything is a little busy right now). Pushkin Press will be sending out the prize and all personal data collected (names/emails etc) will be deleted by myself and Pushkin Press when the competition ends. To enter all you have to do is fill out the form below (the more options you fill out, the more chances you have of winning a copy):


Sunday, December 09, 2018
Today's post is sticking with the christmas theme of giving but not expensive christmas gifts - essentials and treats for those in your community who are in need. The lovely and generous people over at Coop Food kindly gifted me a Co-op bag for life and a £5 gift card to buy food, snacks and drinks for someone in my community.

I think the idea is fantastic as we all need to do what we can for those in need and it's always nice to help someone you know who is struggling. You might have seen from my instagram stories (@ofbeautyand) that I've been so busy recently with the christmas fare, present wrapping, Christmas gift guides and having builders in the house every day this week; therefore I haven't had the time to buy anything yet from the Co-op.

However, I know exactly who I'm going to be buying some christmassy treats for this year and that is one of my neighbours who's health has declined massively over the past year so he can't cook for himself and my mum as well as other neighbours have been making home cooked meals for him multiple times per week. Sadly he doesn't like vegetables and he's gluten free so that rules out most of what I could make him so I think a bag full of Coop snacks and drinks will compensate!

Coop stores used to be abundant near me but the closest stores have all shut down over the past year or two but thankfully I do have a few within driving distance so I'll be heading there later today to pick up some treats. They have amazing offers and deals on at the moment, check out their website for examples. Additionally, Co-op members that buy selected Co-op branded products can earn 5% back for themselves and 1% back for their choice of local cause which is fantastic!

Will you be giving back to someone in your community this christmas? 

Luxe Christmas Gifts For All Budgets

Saturday, December 08, 2018
I adore this time of the year due to all of the amazing bloggermail (follow me on Instagram @ofbeautyand to see my unboxings) I am very lucky to receive, including a couple of gorgeous hampers that arrived today and all of that lovely bokeh in photographs you get from fairy lights. Christmas product and gift photographs are some of the easiest to take as baubles, lights and tinsel make for the quickest and most effective backgrounds! Anyway, enough rambling on, onto the gifts!

*Joe's Tea Co - St. Clement's Lemon Tea 
Today's post is all about luxury gifts but luxury doesn't necessarily have to be gifts that cost the earth! A luxury gift, such as a unique and more expensive brand of tea, for example, could count as a luxury gift as it's far nicer than the norm. The tea in question is from a new brand to me, Joe's Tea Co which is so beautifully packaged. I was very kindly sent a couple of samples of the St. Clement's Lemon tea which reminds me of an old nursery rhyme from my childhood. I have tried this tea already as it's incredibly chilly today especially as we have builders coming in and out of the house and it's so lovely.
*Joe's London Tea Co - Ever-So English Breakfast (£4.25) 
I was also very kindly sent the 'ever so English' breakfast tea which has the same beautifully unique packaging as the lemon tea. This blend contains organic, handpicked delicate tea leaves. I'm one of those very unusual English people who doesn't drink 'normal' tea (don't hate me), I only typically drink mint, herbal or lemon tea but I might have to break my own rules and try this one as it actually sounds delicious.

Joe's London Tea Co has a wide range of tea flavours to choose from including caffeine free and decaffeinated tea, peppermint, rooibos, turmeric, berry and even a sleepy tea, the latter sounds fantastic. They also have a Christmas blend, tea gift sets and teaware, so you're bound to find a tea related gift for yourself or someone else.
*Biscuiteers Jolly Ginger Biscuit (£6.95) 
Next up is a very luxe foodie gift as it's a fairly expensive single biscuit but the joy of it comes from not only the flavour but the packaging, design and how beautifully and uniquely decorated the biscuit is! I have been lucky enough to try their biscuits previously and I loved them for how delicious, crisp and moreish they were. One of my favourite things about their biscuits is the decoration and presentation as the box on it's own looks like a very fancy and luxe gift - it's almost an experience in itself just opening it!
Enough gushing about the packaging (we all now how much I love a beautifully presented gift) and onto the biscuit itself. The biscuit I have is the 'Jolly Ginger' biscuit which comes in a variety of styles but I have the secret santa jolly ginger biscuit as it's holding a mystery present! The other styles include a santa, elf and christmas onesie option and that's not even considering the non-chritsmas themed biscuit designs.

The non-chrirstmas theme designs range from a doctor, grandad, racing driver, nurse, happy couple, devil, bride and the list goes on. The christmas biscuits would be great for secret santa presents and the more specific designs would be great for a gift recipient who is a doctor or nurse, for example. All of the biscuits have the same ginger biscuit flavour which is subtly spiced and sweet. I cannot recommend these biscuits enough and they are letterbox sized so you or your gift recipient don't need to be at home to receive a delicious and luxe treat.
*Wolf 1834 Caroline Small Square Red Travel Case (£75)
The penultimate and most luxurious item in today's gift guide is from Wolf which is a brand founded in 1834 specialising in very fancy accessory and jewellery cases, holders and boxes, all of which would make wonderful luxe gifts this christmas. I was kindly sent the very beautiful 'Caroline' small square red jewellery travel case which is composed of genuine quilted red leather, an anti-tarnish LusterLoc™️ and gold finishings.
The gorgeous jewellery case also features a cute red leather tassel, glass mirror, zip lock closure and numerous sections of jewellery storage including seven ring rolls, four compartments, three necklace hooks and a pocket. One of my favourite things about this case, as well as the design and style of it, is the hidden compartment behind the mirror.

Just a note on the LusterLoc™️: "Allows the fabric lining the inside of your jewellery cases to absorb the hostile gases known to cause tarnishing. Under typical storage conditions, it can prevent tarnishing for up to 35 years".

I cannot recommend this gorgeous gift enough as not only does it make for such an incredibly luxurious and beautifully made present this christmas but it also feels very substantial and a gift that will last for years to come. They have a wide range of colours, style and sizes to choose from so check out their site in the link above for more information.

*Able Labels Mug (£8)
Last but not least is a personalised mug which may not seem that luxurious but I think that any personalised gift is quite luxurious as it's made for one specific person rather than being as mass-made as a normal mug. I love any gift that is personalised as it makes the gift far more special and shows more thought and time has gone onto the gift! The Able Labels mug I was sent is a lovely christmas mug from the amazingly generous people over at Blogger Hive and Able Labels, so thank you! They have various mugs available including photo mugs which would make lovely gifts for so many people this christmas!

What do you think of these gift ideas?