Men's Christmas Gift Guide: Part Two 2019

Saturday, November 30, 2019
Carrying on from my previous Christmas gift guides is the second part of my Mens Christmas gift guide, you can read the first gift guide for more gift ideas! Don't forget to enter my giveaway on twitter foe your chance to win a Baileys chocolate hamper (worth £50) but you'll have to be quick as the competition ends on the 2nd December with the winner being announced (on twitter and via email) on the 3rd December.
*Baileys Chocolate Mini Delights - Salted Caramel (from £2) 
Let's start with one of the products that will be part of the competition hamper with Baileys and it's their mini delight in the salted caramel flavour. They are milk chocolate truffles filled with salted caramel and baileys. They are available in re-sealable packs but let's be honest, that is pointless, especially during the christmas period when chocolate consumption should be daily. Make sure you enter my giveaway on twitter to win a Baileys chocolate hamper (@ofbeautyand).
*Lir Discovery Collection (£10)
Staying with the chocolate theme as there is no such thing as too much chocolate over the festive season. I love gifting food and chocolate and this set looks like a perfect gift as it contains a range of gorgeous (and more unique) chelates than you might find in a generic chocolate gift set. The discovery collection contains a variety of sixteen chocolates including exotic flavours such as Persian lime and Spanish pistachio. I think chocolate gift sets are ideal for christmas and they're great for friends, teachers or anyone who needs a little treat over christmas. I think the price is fantastic for such a lovely selection and you can find it in selected Morrisons, Tesco and Co-Op stores.
*Messy Weekend Hobbes Sunglasses (€55)
Next up is a product and gift idea that I've already mentioned on my blog previous so I'll keep it short and sweet. I was very kindly sent this gorgeous pair of sunglasses from the danish brand Messy Weekend and I think a pair of their sunglasses would make a great christmas gift. I adore the Hobbes sunglasses I have in black and I cannot recommend them enough. If you use the code: IGWEEK30 you can get 30% off your order, including the Hobbes sunglasses.
*The Personal Barber Premium Shaving Kit (£39.99)
Along with chocolates and other food gifts, I think that grooming or beauty gifts are easy and safe gifts to give and we all know how much I love gifting practical gifts! The Personal Barber has a great range of gift ideas as well as a subscription service. I was kindly sent the 'premium shaving kit' which contains their premium shaving razor, synthetic shaving brush, oatcakes soaps mahogany shaving soap and a set of five razor blades, all of which is packaged in a lovely gift set.
I think the set is a great easy gift for dads, uncles, husbands and grandads as not only does it look like an expensive and luxe set (which is always a good idea at Christmas) but it is a practical gift too and I love to give practical (but beautifully presented) gifts for Christmas. I've been using the safety razor for a week or so now and it's so much more effective to use than the razors marketed towards women so I'll definitely be carrying on using it, even though it is a little terrifying to use! They currently have a Black Friday sale on which features a selection of shaving items but it ends on the 2nd December so go, go, go!
*Cranes Cranberry and Blood Orange Liqueur (£19.99)
Another product I mentioned previously is this delicious liquor from Cranes! I reviewed this liquor and one of their cider gift sets last year but I wanted to mention them again. The cranberry and blood orange liquor is delicious and it looks great too and if I'm honest, beautifully presented and designed christmas gifts are a selling point for me! As well as the liquor, they also have a lovely cider gift set available to buy so check out their website for more information and to potentially purchase.
*Anova Sous Vide Nano (£99)
Last but not least is probably one of the most exciting and unusual gifts I've featured on my blog and it is also a premium gift that would make a food lover very happy this christmas! The Anova Sous Vide Nano is a sous vide cooker which is something that has previously been a method of cooking and equipment that was only available in professional kitchens but now there are various options that can be bought for the home, including the Anova Nano.

The sous vide method of cooking involved placing your ingredients (meat, fish or vegetables) within  sealed bag and placing it in a pot of water along with the Anova Sous Vide Nano and the Nano will heat up and circulate the water to slowly and gently cook the ingredients to the desired temperature and time. This method is mainly used with meat and fish but it can be used to make a variety of meals from butternut squash soup and a range of sauces that are vegan. It's a cooking method I hadn't previously tried but so far I'm very impressed with the Anova Nano, from the design, ease of use and how quiet it is to the app and overall results, although I do need to try it out a little more. I will be posting a full review of the Anova Nano as well as a recipe or two on my blog in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

Have you tried any of the items I've featured? 


*Basic Business Essentials

Thursday, November 28, 2019
Image from Pinterest
I'm taking a short break from all of my gift ideas posts and Christmas content for today's post but there will be another christmas gift guide coming later this week and another giveaway coming soon too on my blog so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out my giveaway on twitter to be in with a chance of winning a hamper full of Baileys chocolates!

Today's post is all abut basic business essentials, some of which are essentials I use as a freelancer and others would be essentials for a small business or start up. If you have any business or social media tips, either for small business owners or freelancers for example, then leave them in the comments below.

Social Media, Newsletter & Blog 
After gaining your licenses, deciding on a business name and drawing up a business plan, setting up social media account for your business is essential. I personally didn't have any social media accounts for my blog when I started and since adding them, it's easier for companies, PRs and readers to find my blog quickly. Making your social media accounts with the same username, the same style and linking to your website is essential. Also, setting up a newsletter or a blog for your business to share new offers or to show a behind the scenes look at your business could be an option.

Transport & Distribution 
Depending on your business and the size, transport and distribution of your products is something you'll need to look into, along with potential storage services. John K Philips is one of the longest running transportation companies in the North West; they're based in St Helens and have over forty years of experience in transportation and distribution. They offer a range of services including bonded storage facilities across the North West, pallet delivery and European as well as international deliveries, depending on your business needs.

Office Space 
Another essential to consider depending on the size of your business is office space. I personally have a home office as a freelance writer but a larger office space might be necessary based on product size or your business needs. I would love to have my own office space but it isn't an opinion at the moment; however it is something I would love to consider in the near future, if possible.

Labelling, Logo & Business Stationery 
Lastly, linked to my first point, a recognisable logo that can be added to your social media accounts, website, invoices, orders and business stationery, such as business cards or brochures, is another starting point for a new business. Deciding on a website design, newsletter layout or logo can be a little stressful or potentially expensive but it can be changed in the future to suit your growing business. I have changed my blog and logo design many times and now I'm very happy with it! Shop around for the best deals on business stationery, there might even be a few Black Friday deals to take advantage of - I'm trying to not give into the deals this year but it isn't easy!

Do you have any business tips or advice? 


*Hidden Gems In Cornwall

*Hidden Gems In Cornwall

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Image from Pinterest
Cornwall is one of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations, and that is for a very good reason; there are numerous beaches, attractions and events to visit. While there are plenty of well-known things to do in Cornwall, there’s something special about visiting the lesser-known spots and discovering some hidden gems in the area.

St Nectan’s Glen
Located in Trethevy, near Tintagel, St Nectan’s Glen is a breath-taking location. You will walk through ancient woodlands that are tranquil and beautiful. The main feature of St Nectan’s Glen is the magnificent waterfall, St Nectan’s Kieve, that stands 60-foot tall and flows through a rock arch, making the spot feel almost magical. There are a further two waterfalls to explore that are smaller in size but just as fascinating. It is considered one of the most spiritual locations in the UK with some visitors leaving crystals, stone piles, ribbons and prayers near the waterfall as a gift.

It is free to explore the beautiful woodlands, but there is a charge of £5.95 for adults and £4.70 for children to visit the waterfalls. Dogs are also welcome in the woods and to visit the waterfalls, so be sure to bring your four-legged friend along to enjoy the glorious outdoors. During the summer (April the 1st to October the 31st), the site opens at 9:30am and closes at 5:00pm, with last entry at 4:30pm. In the winter season (November the 1st to March the 31st), times change slightly, with the site opening at 10:00am and closing at 4:00pm, with last entry at 3:30pm.

The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
For those who love witchcraft and magic, this is a perfect attraction. Situated in the beautiful town of Boscastle, the museum is the place to be to learn everything dark and spooky. Throughout the museum, you will come across over 3,000 objects relating to witchcraft and magic! It has been around since 1961 and has been a favourite attraction amongst visitors since, it is as weird as it is wonderful and a must-visit during your time here.

The museum is open every day from the 1st of April until the 3rd of November. From Monday through to Saturday, you can visit between 10:30am and 5:00pm. On Sundays, the museum is open from 11:30am to 5:00pm. Also, for an extra spooky experience, every now and then you can visit the museum at night (between 7:00pm and 9:00pm). These events take place on specific dates, so check their website to see when you can visit. There is a charge for entry; adults are £5, and children are £4, plus there are ticket packages for families.

Nanjizal Beach
Situated in Penzance, Nanjizal beach is often quiet, and this is likely due to the nearest road or car park being around an hour walk away. While it is a bit of a trek, it is certainly worth visiting this breath-taking spot and discovering some of the beautiful natural stone sculptures, caves, archways and waterfalls. There are no facilities here, but this is what makes the place so unique. If you enjoy seeing a variety of wildlife, Nanjizal beach is home to an array of birds, such as whitethroat, blackcap and chiffchaff. There are also plenty of rock pools to explore to discover some little creatures.

Hawker’s Hut 
Less than three metres square, Hawker’s Hut is the smallest National Trust property. Reverend Hawker, who was a vicar of Morwenstow, built the hut out of washed-up driftwood. He used the hut to sit and admire the stunning coast while writing poetry. One poem that he is most famous for is “The Song of the Western Man” which is now the national anthem of Cornwall. To visit the hut, go to Morwenstow church which is located by Rectory Farm and walk through the churchyard. Along the walk, you will find signs that direct you to the coastal path. Follow the walk along the coast, and you will see signs pointing towards the hut.

If you are planning to visit Cornwall, or you now want to after discovering these hidden gems, take a look at The Valley’s range of Truro holiday cottages. Truro is a great spot to stay as everything you will need is just a stone’s throw away, while also being in a fairly central location.

Do you have any recommendations of sights to visit in Cornwall?

*sponsored post

Gift Idea: Messy Weekend Sunglasses

Friday, November 22, 2019
Before I get into today's post, I want to mention my latest giveaway which is live over on twitter (@ofbeautyand) in which you can win a hamper of Baileys chocolates worth £50. The giveaway ends on the 2nd so you still have time to enter on twitter.

Today's post is focusing on not only a great gift idea but also my new favourite pair of sunglasses, from a brand I hadn't heard of before, Messy Weekend. They're a Copenhagen based company with a great range of sunglasses and snow goggles for both men and women.

*Messy Weekend Copenhagen Hobbes Sunglasses (€55) 
I was very kindly sent a pair of their 'Hobbes' sunglasses in black, although there are other colour options available for all of their styles. I was torn between the 'Hobbes', the 'New Depp' and the 'Hobbes Revo' sunglasses, all of which I love. They have such a great range of styles to choose form as well as traditional and more colourful options.
The 'Hobbes' design is one of their best sellers and it's easy to see why as it seems to be such a universally flattering shape and style that I think will suit everyone. I have the black option which I love (especially with the more warmer toned lenses) but there's also a crystal option too - the army colour was my favourite of the four but it is currently sold out.

Until I started learning to drive a few years ago, I never really wore sunglasses as let's be honest, they aren't entirely necessary in Manchester where we very rarely see the sun but they are very handy when I'm driving. I have a few pairs that I alternate between as I always need a pair in my handbag and in my car so I'm very happy to have another.
I love the simple but flattering design, the black frame combined with the warmer lenses and how comfortable they are. I find that some sunglasses are a little heavy and can leave a mark on the bridge (of it can remove a little of my makeup) of my nose but thankfully I don't have that issue with these. I've been wearing these sunglasses the most recently as they are just so lightweight, comfortable to wear and I love the design.

Not only do the sunglasses feel comfortable and fit well but they also came nicely packaged and the brand itself has a more environmentally conscious ethos with their 'clean ocean' partnership. For every pair of sunglasses purchased, part of the revenue goes to finance a waste and plastic clean-up program in the Colombian Pacific called 'Origines' which is fantastic.

If that isn't enough, Messy Weekend will be starting their Black Friday sale in a couple of days so head over to their site and sign up to be notified about the sale! If you can't wait that long then you can use the code: IGWEEK30 to get 30% off your order!

What do you think of these sunglasses? Will you be checking out their Black Friday sale? 


*Rethinking Your Nail Care Routine for Winter

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Image from Pinterest 
The colder months can be unkind to your hands. With cold air much more likely to dry your skin out than even the warmest summer weather, well insulated gloves and moisturiser become essential accessories to prevent flaking and cracking. But while many of us are only too conscious of what the cold can do to the skin of our hands, what about our nails? Without due care and attention, they too can quickly fall victim to the ravages of winter.

Dry hands means more skin being shed, which means nails and cuticles grow faster than you might expect. If you don’t stay on top of your manicures or take appropriate steps to protect your hands, previously well-groomed nails can soon become dishevelled, with the risk of cracked cuticles increasing the colder it gets. As well as stepping up your general hand care, winter is also a good time to think carefully about what you put on your nails.

Those simple lacquers and polishes you used all summer may no longer be enough on their own. If your nails are left weak and undernourished by the cold, you will find your nail polish chips and comes off that much more easily, leaving you either constantly trying to repair the damage or walking around with less than glamorous nails. To keep your nails in perfect condition over the winter, it’s therefore a good idea to look beyond standard polish. Here are a couple of products that should become a standard part of your nail routine at least until the weather gets warmer.

3-in-1 Varnish
A good quality clear top coat and finisher is recommended at any time of the year if you want to keep your carefully polished nails looking pristine for longer. But in the winter, there is an added incentive to layer up your nail products, especially choosing a product that does more than one job at once. A base coat and strengthener will help to repair any barely noticeable cracks and blemishes on the surface of your nail caused by the cold weather, while at the same time nourishing the keratin so you end up with healthier, stronger nails. That base then provides a firm, smooth layer for you to apply your polish. If you have chosen a 3-in-1 base varnish, you can then use the same product to apply a top layer, sealing in the colour and providing a long-lasting shine.

Gel Polish 
Gel polish has two key characteristics that make it a particularly attractive proposition over the winter months - it is tougher than standard lacquer and it also lasts much longer. Especially if your nails are slightly weakened or cracked, the extra strength of gel polish provides much needed support. In addition, the fact that it is much more chip resistant and lasts considerably longer means you have to do less work on your nails, which in its own right can be beneficial when they are suffering from the cold. Find out more about Opi Nail Polish available from Mirage Cosmetics UK.

Do you have any nail care tips? Have you tried OPI polishes? 


DegustaBox - October 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019
It's that time of the month again when I rave about how amazing my DegustaBox was and again I'm a little late with this review as I've been so busy with planning, photographing and writing all of my Christmas gift guides, a few of which are already live, if you're looking for early Christmas gift ideas. Sadly my gift card giveaway has ended (I'll be announcing the winner on twitter tomorrow so stay tuned) but don't worry as I will be hosting another giveaway tomorrow too in which you can win some delicious chocolates!

*DegustaBox - October 2019
The theme for the October box was 'home comforts' which is the best theme ever and it's the category of food that I love to eat the most! Comfort foods to me include all of the treats, carbs and snacks so I hoped there would be a few yummy vegan options in the October box...and I wasn't disappointed! There are a wide range of items in the box from snacks and cooking ingredients to flavoured drops, herbal tea, hot chocolate, maple syrup and more. Over half of the box is suitable for vegans which I'm very happy about especially as the past couple of boxes haven't been.
*Whitworths Shots - Chocolate and Hazelnut (£1.89)
Let's start with some of the snacks in the box and one that isn't vegan but it is a snack pack that my mum loved! I haven't come across these before but I think that a snack containing a mix of healthy goodies such as raisins and nuts as well as treats like chocolate, is a great idea. I wish they were vegan as it's something I would keep in my handbag as an on-the-go healthy snack.

*Pip's Real Hot Chocolate Coins (£1.50)
Speaking of treats, these chocolate coins from Pip's are utterly delicious! They are handmade in Wales and they are suitable for vegans (at least the options in this box are). I have the orange, hazelnut and original flavours, the latter two were definitely be favourites!

*Grower's Garden Fresh Broccoli Crisps (£1.29)
Onto a more unusual product...broccoli crisps. I love any kind of vegetable or fruit crisps but the idea of broccoli crisps was a little weird and to be honest, they did initially taste a little strange. However, I ended up loving them, especially the original flavour but the cheese and also the chilli options were surprisingly good too. One thing I love about DegustaBox is the inclusion of more unusual products!
*Tick Tock Tea (£2.05)
Yet another favourite product, along with the broccoli crisps and hot chocolate coins, is this selection of new wellbeing teas from Tick Tock. I haven't come across this brand before but I love the packaging! I have three options but the only one I've tried so far is the bedtime option and I love it. I like herbal, mint and green tea but they can be quite bitter; however I like the bedtime tea flavour and I'd definitely recommend it.

*Upbeat Drinks Juicy Protein Water - Blood Orange and Mandarin (£1.79)
This brand and product has been included within a previous box and I did try the drinks back then as I wasn't vegan and to be honest, they weren't for me. I love the packaging and the flavour combination sounds nice but they aren't vegan and I personally didn't fully like them last year. Although, it's worth a try as you might love these drinks.

*Clarks Original Maple Syrup (£2)
Moving onto a more positive note, the Clarks maple syrup was an addition to the October box that while it doesn't initially look like a 'home comfort' food, I love to add maple syrup to apple and cinnamon porridge which is such a comforting breakfast option, in my opinion. I love maple syrup so I'm very happy with this addition to the box.
*Maille Mustard with Honey (£1.99)
Onto a couple of cooking ingredients and condiments from the famous French brand, Maille. My parents love products like this and they love this brand too so I've passed on both of these products as I know that both jars will be empty in no time. The first product from the brand is the mustard with honey which isn't for me but my dad loved it!

*Maille Tartare Sauce (£1.99)
The second product from the brand is their tartare sauce with shallots which was pretty much empty after only a few days so I think it is safe to say that both of my parents loved it. Again, it isn't a product I would try but if you like it then this brand gets a 10/10 from parents.

*Boost + Protein (£1.49)
Lastly for the non-vegan snacks is a chocolate bar with the addition of 12g of protein. I haven't ever tried a Boost bar but as a child, so many of my friends had them in their lunch boxes but I was more of a chocolate buttons and Daim bar kind of girl!
*Amy's Kitchen Organic Hearty Rustic Italian Vegetable Soup (£2)
Amy's Kitchen is a brand I've loved for years as they have a great range of vegetarian and a few vegan ready meals (the rice mac 'n' cheese is my favourite) but their tinned soup options are great too. This one is vegan and gluten free as well as being delicious and full of nourishing ingredients!

*Gourmet Drops (£3.99)
The penultimate item is another unusual offering and to be honest, when I opened the box, I had no idea what they were. At first I thought they were little mints or sweets but they are flavour drops that can be added to coffee or added to baking. I received two options, the vanilla and the chocolate flavours. I haven't tried them yet in my coffee but I can't wait to as they are vegan, fat free and sugar free.
*Snatt's Garlic and Parsley Baked Snacks (£1.49)
Lastly, I wanted to end today's post with my favourite product from the October box! These baked snacks are so delicious, they are like crackers but a little thicker and softer. I love anything garlic flavoured so I knew I'd like these but I massively underestimated just how much I'd like them - over half of the bag was gone within a couple of days...oops.

Don't forget to use the code DTPL4 to get £5 off your box! 

Have you tried any of these products? Will you be checking out DegustaBox


New Homeware: Top Furniture Oak Table

Friday, November 15, 2019
For today's post, I'm taking a short break from my Christmas content (although do head over to my women's gift guide for a chance to win a £60 gift card) to write about one of my favourite pieces of homeware that I've received recently, thanks to the lovely people over at Top Furniture. You might have already had a sneak peek of this item on my Instagram - if you're interesting in blogger mail and unboxings, check out my instagram (@ofbeautyand).

*Top Furniture Country Oak Lamp Table (£99.99, sale) 
The item I was very kindly sent was the Top Furniture Country Oak Lamp Table which is currently part of their amazing autumn sale, along with many other gorgeous pieces of oak furniture including sideboards, dining tables, bar stools, wardrobes, dining chairs and more but it ends this Sunday (along with my current giveaway) so you'll have to be quick to grab a bargain for yourself or someone else this Christmas!
The table is made of American oak which is sourced from sustainable forests, which is fantastic! It is a 45cm x 45cm x50cm table so it's a very versatile size for many rooms such as the living room, dining room or bedroom. I have the table in the corner of our open plan kitchen/dining room as all of the wooden surfaces and the flooring in the kitchen is oak so I hoped that the table would match as well as fit the empty space.

I knew it wouldn't be a perfect match as it is a different variety of oak compared to the flooring, worktops and other smaller tables we have around the house (and every piece of oak is going to be a little different anyway) but the match is better than I expected. The tone of the wood is a little more golden and lighter than the English oak we have in the house but thankfully it blends in well.
I love the size of the table as well as the design as even though it is very minimal, it's well made, durable and the ideal shape/size for the space I wanted to place it in. It's designed as a lamp table although I wanted to use it as a table to charge tech and display the gorgeous flowers I've been sent and I think it works perfect for that purpose. It isn't too big and the shelf underneath the table is ideal for storing items you don't want to fully have on display such as books or devices as they are charing.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with this little lamp table from Top Furniture as not only was the delivery very quick and the item well protected but the table itself is amazing quality for the price, I love the simple design and it fits in perfectly with our home decor and the other oak items we have. I cannot recommend it, along with Top Furniture, enough and if you are looking for any oak furniture items or home accessories for the Christmas period, then look no further!

What do you think of this lamp table? Will you be looking through the Top Furniture autumn sale? 


Women's Christmas Gift Guide: Part Two

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Today's post follows on from my previous Christmas gifts guides but the theme for today's gift guide is pampering and being cosy which is what everyone wants at this time of the year! If you haven't read my stocking fillers post, mens gift guide or my women gift guide, check them out, especially the latter as you could win a £60 gift card for TJ Hughes!

*Heathcote & Ivory RHS Trellis Perfume Gel & Hand Cream Set (£13)
I have been lucky enough to receive a few gift sets from Heathcote and Ivory over the past two or so years but this gift set from the new RHS Trellis collection has to be the most beautiful by far! The tin the products come in is just gorgeous and makes it a dream to photograph. From my experience, all of the sets from Heathcote and Ivory are really well made, the products smell lovely and they are always very well received.
The set I have from the collection comes with not only the beautiful tin (which you or your gift recipient could probably re-use) but a hand cream and a cute perfume gel. The Trellis scent combines green leaves, roses, mandarin, jasmine and amber to make heavenly floral scent that I think most people, myself included, would love as an everyday scent. The scent is so floral, refreshing and spring-like which is what I need on the gloomy, dull winter days. If you're looking for gorgeously presented gifts at a reasonable price then I cannot recommend Heathcote and Ivory sets enough, especially this one for anyone who loves floral scents, keepsakes and roses!
*Heathcote & Ivory Sweet Pea and Honeysuckle Floral Festive Pair (£8)
Next up, a couple of ideal pampering stocking fillers! If you need any more stocking filler gift ideas, check out my previous Christmas gift guide. The packaging for this gift set is just adorable and it certainly makes for a more unique gift, either as a stocking filler or secret Santa gift. The set comes with a mini hand cream and a mini perfume gel, both of which contain the lovely sweet pea and honeysuckle scent. As well as this scent, there's also a lavender option (which you know I'd love) and a neroli and lime set.
*Heathcote & Ivory By The Sea Hand Cream (£12)
Another collection from Heathcote and Ivory is 'By The Sea' which contains scent notes that are reminiscent of the sea such as lemon, bergamot, iris and woody notes. The scent is gorgeous and while the packaging is very minimal, I do like it! A hand cream is an essential item for most people during the autumn and winter months so it's a stocking filler or gift that you can't go wrong with! I have so many hands creams as I need to keep them around the house, in my bag and in the car, incase I need one so for me, they are always welcome. If you're looking for a lovely hand cream stocking filler or gift then check out the various options on Heathcote and Ivory as there are so many to choose from, including individual products, duos and gift sets.
*Heathcote & Ivory The Enchanted Forest Bath Flowers (£11)
Last but not least for the cute gift ideas from the lovely people over at Heathcote and Ivory is this set of bath flowers which look so beautiful and colourful in the packaging. They have a woodland and floral scent, which I love and I think most people would too. The packaging is gorgeous, the products themselves are very pretty and they'd make a lovely stocking filler, secret Santa gift or as part of a pampering hamper for a friend! There are so many ranges to choose from but the RHS Trellis and The Enchanted Forest are two of my favourites.
*The Heady Mix Book Subscription Box (from £12 per month) 
I love to read, it's been one of the main reasons that my anxiety has lessened over the past couple of years so when you couple that with my love of subscription boxes...that's my kind of combo! I'm lucky enough to review various subscription boxes on my blog and on All Subscription Boxes which range from beauty and lifestyle boxes to food, crafting and geeky boxes but I haven't really tried a book subscription box before. I know that there are quite a few in the US but I'm not fully aware of the UK options but thankfully I found a fantastic option in The Heady Mix book subscription box service.
The Heady Mix subscription box is based in the UK and focuses on books from emerging authors as well as underrepresented groups such as writers from the deaf community, LGBT authors and female writers, for example. I think the idea is absolutely fantastic and as someone who primarily reads from authors based in the US and Europe as well as white, able bodied and 'popular' authors, it's something I'm glad exists as I want to read more widely and experience ideas, opinions and the creativity of writers from other countries and communities.

There are various subscription options to choose from including the 'monthly mix' which contains one novel (from £12), the 'heady mix' which contains two novels and one short story collection (from £34.50) and the 'light mix' which contains one story story collection (from £14.95) and more so there's bound to be an option that your gift recipient will love. I received the 'afrofuturism' collection which I believe is the 'heady mix' option as it contained two novels and one short story collection. I have barely read anything from African authors, apart from Tomi Adeyemi and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie both of which I love, so I'm happy to try more. The theme for Christmas is 'feminist fairytales' which sounds incredible. If you have a book lover in your life and you want to treat them to books and authors they might not have tried before, check out The Heady Mix book subscription box service!
*Joules Ladies Fluffy Socks from Eland Lodge (£7.95)
Along with hand creams, fluffy socks are another winter essential that makes an easy and safe gift. Although I think everyone (besides my dad and grandad), dreads receiving socks over the Christmas period but this cute and cosy pair from Joules are adorable! I have the 'pink stripe' option but there's also the 'winter star' design available on Eland Lodge as well which would be great for boyfriends, friends and dads this Christmas, perhaps along with a bottle of whisky! Eland Lodge stock a wide range of equestrian wear and accessories as well as gorgeous gifts including more options from Joules including the utterly adorable mug below!
*Joules Cuppa Porcelain Mug - Pink Hare (£9.95)
Joules make not only some of the nicest striped tops on the high street but also some of the cutest and minimal home accessories too, such as this adorable and simple mug. It comes boxed so thankfully that eliminates one of the main issues I have at this time of the year which is wrapping oddly shaped gifts; although based on my skill set, anything other than a perfect cube or rectangle would be difficult! The mug features a sweet hare on the front but there are other animal options to choose from including an equally as adorable Labrador and a slightly less cute pheasant...If you are looking for a great gift idea, especially for anyone who loves anything equestrian, check out Eland Lodge for clothing, accessories, homeware, children's gifts and more.
*Morse Toad Personalised Chocolate Advent Calendar (£12.95)
Last but not least, you can't have a cosy Christmas without chocolate! I love beauty and lifestyle advent calendars, especially now as there are so many on the market but nothing will ever beat the nostalgia of a chocolate advent calendar but now they are even better thanks to Morse Toad as you can hide a secret message (in chocolate) within your advent calendar! You can write any message, cheesy joke, a selection of names or a greeting (up to 30 characters) within the advent calendar so that your gift recipient can uncover each letter until Christmas Day when they will reveal your message in full.
I haven't seen a chocolate advent calendar like this before and I think it is such a fantastic idea as not only does your gift recipient get a little chocolate treat each day (all packaged in a cute advent calendar) but they also get a sweet (or not so sweet depending on your humour) message to uncover too. You can write anything so they'd be great for a number of gift recipients including children and adults alike.

There are 24 windows on the advent calendar, some of which contain two chocolates, with a special Santa surprise on Christmas Day! The chocolate inside is delicious Belgian milk chocolate and who doesn't love Belgian milk chocolate, it's famous for a reason. I think this advent calendar is very reasonably priced for what it is, it's nicely presented and everyone loves a personalised gift!

Use the code: CHOCPOST15BL to get 15% off your advent calendar on Morse Toad! 

What do you think of my second women's gift guide? Would you buy any of these gifts? 


Latest In Beauty: November Edit 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
I love receiving the Latest In Beauty boxes as they are not only fully customisable but the variety of products on offer is amazing and the November edit is no different with products ranging from makeup, skincare and bodycare to haircare, sleep aids, fragrance samples, health items, masks and more. I'm lucky enough to review their boxes often and I've reviewed a couple of their limited edition boxes which I cannot recommend enough, especially the India Knight edit.

*Latest In Beauty - November Edit (£22, Beauty Enthusiast box)
The variety of products and brands changes often and there's a new selection per month with new items added everyday so there are lots of options to choose from including well known and loved brands such as Molton Brown, Jurlique, Pai, Garnier and Ciate to name a few. I'm very happy with the items I was able to choose this month, particularly the beautiful 'hall of fame' item.
*Jurlique Limited Edition Rosewater Balancing Mist Intense - Deluxe Edition (200ml)
Let's start with the 'hall of fame' product and it's the beautifully packaged Jurlique Mist which not only smells heavenly but the bottle and box are gorgeously designed! I am currently using the very last of my Jurlique Sweet Violet and Grapefruit Mist as a toner and I love it so I was very happy to see this mist as one of the November picks. It's a huge bottle at 200ml and the product itself is lovely as a refreshing facial mist or sprayed onto a cotton pad as a toner.
*Kat Von D Saint & Sinner Fragrance Samples 
I've wanted to try more from Kat Von D since I tried her eyeliner and mascara as part of a Latest In Beauty box a while ago and loved them! The fragrance samples included are the Saint EDP and Sinner EDP at 1.5ml each so they are ideal trial sizes or handbag samples. I thought the fragrances would be at polar opposites due to the names but they are slightly similar as they're both quite musky, rich and autumnal but the Saint fragrance is a sweeter. I think the spicy, musky Sinner option is my favourite of the two but they're both perfect autumn/winter fragrances.

*Brush Works Multi-Tasking Sponge 
I have needed to replace my older make-up sponges for a while (sadly I'm one of those people who will put off washing brushes and sponges for months...oops) so I'm glad to have another, especially when it's as nice as this one. It can be used for a variety of products but I mainly use it for foundation, BB cream and concealer. The shape of the sponge is perfect for around the eyes and nose which my Real Techniques sponge wasn't ideal for.
*Little Butterfly Dewdrops At Dawn Body Lotion 
One of the best things about the Latest In Beauty boxes, along with the packaging and flexibility, is the wide range of items for all skin types, skin concerns, preferences, issues and ages. This lovely body lotion is designed for those with eczema and even the super sensitive skin of newborns. It contains a plethora of natural and nourishing ingredients for dry and sensitive skin types such as cucumber seed oil, cocoa butter, oat kernel extract for smooth, soft and moisturised skin without irritation.

*Snooze Natural Sleep Drink 
Speaking of varied products, the next one is a sleep aid drink that contains a blend of sleep inching herbs. There's a regular and strong version currently available on the Latest In Beauty November selection. I love the packaging and the idea of the worlds first natural sleep drink so I can't wait to try it especially as I've always had trouble sleeping.
*Patch Bamboo Breathable Strips 
The final and perhaps the most unusual (but very practical) item is a fancy looking set of plasters which contain aloe vera to help repair burns and soothe the skin. There are 25 in each tube and sadly they don't seem to be available on the website anymore but they can be bought online. I always seem to get blisters and cuts from my boots, even if I've worn them for years, so plasters are always handy to have in my bag and these look like they'll be perfect!

Have you tried any of these products or any of the Latest In Beauty Boxes? 


Stocking Fillers For Her

Sunday, November 10, 2019
My Christmas gift guide series continues today with my stocking filler gift ideas for women and teens (although obviously they can be bought for anyone). I've already published my mens gift guide and my women's gift guide, the latter contains a giveaway to win a £60 gift card! I hope today's post will give you stocking filler gift ideas from a variety of categories such as jewellery, beauty, DIY, skincare, makeup and pampering gifts.

I wanted to include a wide range of gifts, all at reasonable prices as stocking fillers to me are relatively inexpensive items or smaller gifts. I always loved opening my stocking on Christmas morning and it is still something I love. There are so many gift ideas that you can include in a stocking but some of my favourites to receive have to be beauty, pampering, food or candle gifts.
*Soul Analyse I Am Affirmation Bracelet (£25)
My first gift idea is a little more expensive for a stocking filler but I think it would make a lovely, thoughtful gift this Christmas. Soul Analyse create gorgeous minimal jewellery (we all know that that's what I look for in accessories and jewellery) with meaningful messages and positive affirmations embossed into the metal. I was very kindly sent the beautiful rose gold affirmation bracelet with 'I Am' printed on the front.

The rose gold bracelets are 14k rose gold plated so they look beautiful and I love how minimal the design is. I also like that it's just one piece of metal with no closure so the size can be very easily adjusted by squeezing the bracelet when it's on the wrist - it's perfect for someone like me who has teeny tiny wrists (very few bracelets fit me!).

There are are so lovely bracelets to choose from in terms of the colour and design but also the metal and the affirmation such as the 'I am me', 'I am loved' and 'I am strong' options which I think would make them a very thoughtful gift. There are also necklaces and rings to choose from too and as I'm posting this gift guide, they are on sale so the bracelet I'm featuring is currently 25% off, along with many others.
*Bomb Cosmetics Amour and More Bath Bomb (£4.50)
I'm lucky enough to be a Bomb Cosmetics ambassador, although I was buying their products long before then. I cannot recommend their products enough and I think that their bath bombs and blaster would make ideal little stocking fillers this Christmas. Christmas can be a fairly stressful time so taking time out for a bath and for pampering is definitely needed. I love all of the bath products I've tried but I think the watercolour bath bombs are so pretty in the water!

*Leighton Denny Walk In Wardrobe Capsule Collection Polishes (£12)
Nail polish is another great option for a smaller stocking and the new AW19 collection from Leighton Denny is a gorgeous range for this time of the year. I was kindly sent the shades 'kinky boots' and 'smoking jacket' both of which are gorgeous and quite unique. There are so many beautiful shades in the collection but I think 'smoking jacket' is probably my favourite, closely followed by 'clutch bag'. I've tried quite a few polishes from Leighton Denny and I think they are fantastic, especially when paired with the Leighton Denny Best Defence Hand and Nail Cream.
*Leighton Denny Hand Mask (£6.50)
A perfect addition to the nail polishes has to be the Leighton Denny Hand Mask which is something many people wouldn't have tried so I think it would be a more unique and unexpected stocking filler gift. The hand mask contains shea butter, vitamin E, honey and macadamia seed oil to deeply nourish the skin which is something my hands definitely need at this time of the year when the weather is much colder and my skin seems to feel the effects. It's already quite chilly in Manchester so I think by the time we reach Christmas Day, my skin is going to need some TLC!
*Procoal Peel Away Foot Mask (£8.99)
Another pampering mask but this time for the feet which does gross me out more than a little bit but as with the hands, it's an area of the body that I think most people seem to neglect, especially during the winter months. I haven't ever tried a foot mask before so I don't know how I feel about them but I can't wait to give it a go as I've heard great things! The mask contains salicylic acid, castor oil, sea water, citrus, apple and chamomile flower to remove dead skin, exfoliate and to accelerate tissue regeneration. If you know someone who loves to pamper themselves but seems to have everything, maybe opt for a hand or foot mask for an unusual but effective gift idea.

*Burts Bees Nourishing Collection - Vanilla (£6.50)
Next up is a gift idea I bought a few of with a sponsored post gift card as I couldn't help myself. I think Burt's Bees make some of the nicest looking gifts sets and these little ones are no different. The set contains their famous lip balm and cuticle cream, along with a cute container. I think it would make a lovely gift as well as a stocking filler for friends, colleagues or as a secret santa gift.
*Dr Botanicals Hemp Infused Natural Moisturiser 
I've been lucky to try quite a few products from Dr Botanicals over the past couple of years and everything I've tried has been simple, natural and effective. Their serums have been my favourite products but I do like the new hemp range which includes this mini natural moisturiser. The range contains hemp seed oil and cocoa butter to hydrate, protect and nourish the skin. The mini version would make a fantastic stocking filler or the gift sets from the new range would be great pampering gifts for mums, grandmas and aunties.
*Kind Natured Brightening Daily Moisturiser (£12)
Another newly released product is this lovely daily facial moisturiser from a new brand to me, Kind Natured. The brand is natural, suitable for vegans and cruelty free. I have been using the moisturiser since I received it and my skin loves it! I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of the scent but the product itself more than make up for it as it leaves my skin feeling smooth, soft and moisturised without being greasy or irritated. The moisturiser is my first product from this brand and I definitely want to try more!
*Lavera Winter Bloom Body Butter (£10.90)
Sticking with the theme of natural and lovely products, we have the Lavera Winter Bloom Body Butter which is certified organic and suitable for vegans. The packaging is just gorgeous and instantly makes me think of winter and Christmas! The body butter contains organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter, coconut and organic mandarin so it smells lovely and contains deeply nourishing ingredients! I was able to include a gift set from Lavera in last years 'big beauty gift guide'. I think their sets and products are fantastic 'easy' gifts to give as they tick so many boxes for being organic, vegan and lovely to use.
*Benecos Natural Matte Liquid Lipstick (£6.50)
Makeup gifts are great if you know what your gift recipient already has or their style but I don't think you can really go wrong with a beautiful matte liquid lipstick. Benecos cosmetics are vegan friendly, organic and very inexpensive! My favourites shades of the three I was sent include: Bloody Berry which is a gorgeous deep cranberry shade and Rosewood Romance which is a lovely pink nude, rosewood shade.

I've worn the Rosewood Romance shade the most as it's a pretty everyday shade and since I hadn't tried any makeup from this brand before, I didn't know what to expect but I'm very impressed. The application is easy, the pigmentation is fantastic and it feels comfortable on the lips - thankfully it isn't too matte. The longevity is also impressive as I didn't expect it to last as well as it did throughout the day and through eating.

*Super Facialist Vitamin C Micro Polish Wash (£9.99)
I think skincare is a great practical gift (or it can be a very luxe gift depending on the brand) but you do have to know your gift recipients preferences and skin type so I'd only really buy skincare for my mum, sister and close friends. I used the rose scrub from this brand years ago and adored it so I knew I'd like this product. It contains antioxidants and vitamins to leave you with a smoother and clear complexion which is something I think we all need at this time of the year.
*DMC Flower Magic Paper Embroidery Kit (£4.08, sale)
Last but not least is a bit of a more unusual product but one that I think would be a welcome gift for those who love crafts and DIY or for those who want to get into crafting. I am quite a creative person and I love making things but I haven't ever excelled when it comes to sewing and embroidery (maybe because of my terrifying high school textiles/tech teacher); however I want to give it another go!

Love Crafts have such an amazing range of embroidery kits to choose from including the DMC range featuring a range of designs but I think the floral options are my favourites. I have the 'flower magic' kit which has the cutest pink and blue flower designs. The kit comes with the needles, embroidery thread (love the shades!) and the adhesive paper as well as instructions.
I've seen a few cute embroidery kits online and they would all make great stocking fillers but I haven't come across one like this before as after you embroider the beautiful floral design, you dissolve the paper that the design is stitched onto - maybe I'm just not familiar enough with embroidery to have seen these kits before! My mum and my aunties are all very good at sewing, knitting and embroidery so I think that all three of them would love to receive this little kit for Christmas. They'd also be great if you have to mail your gift across the country. Check out Love Crafts for more embroidery kits, knitting supplies, sewing patterns and more.

What do you think of my first stocking fillers post? Would you buy any of these gifts? 


Exploring Greater Manchester with MegaBus

Thursday, November 07, 2019
Last month I published my first post all about sites to visit this autumn in and around Greater Manchester with and I promised a second post with more recommendations so if you're looking for places to visit in Greater Manchester on a budget, I hope today's post helps. If you are looking for more recommendations then do check out that post and also head over to my women's gift guide if you want to be in with a chance of winning a £60 gift card!

MOSI, Manchester Museum, Police Museum, Pankhurst Centre & Art Gallery
First up, I wanted to mention all of the fantastic free museums and art galleries I've visited in Manchester that I recommend visiting. They're all free but it would be great if you made a donation when you visit. My favourite museum in Manchester used to be the Museum of Science and Industry which is a museum I've been visiting on and off since I was a child and I visited most recently this summer; however it isn't nearly as a good as I remember from my childhood or even from five or so years ago sadly. Although if you have children, it would be a great rainy day museum to visit.

The Manchester Museum is much more up my street and it's owned by the University of Manchester so it's free, filled with so many interesting artefacts and it's the UK's largest university museum so there's lots to see. If you're looking for an insight into local history then you can't go wrong with either the Pankhurst Centre (it's very small and a quick look around) or the Police Museum, although annoyingly the latter is only open one day each week but if it is open then definitely check it out.
Manchester Cathedral
Another free site to visit is Manchester Cathedral which is where a few of my ancestor were married! There is debate about the origins of the original church but the construction of the church on the site it is today began in 1421 in the Neo-gothic style. Although the cathedral was extensively damaged during the Manchester blitz of 1940 which destroyed all of the stained glass, organ, the roof and medieval chapels. However, it is still an utterly beautiful building with archives dating back to the 1400's and 16th century workmanship. The cathedral is situated in the city centre and is close by other sites such as Chethams Library and the main shopping areas so it's within easy walking distance  and worth a visit.
Dunham Massey & Lyme Park
If you have already visited the city centre and it's sights then why not head out of the centre to the beautiful Dunham Massey or Lyme Park, both of which are National Trust sites so if you have a National Trust membership then you're entry and parking are free. They are both located less than an hours drive from Manchester so they are perfect for a day trip outside of the city, particularly at this time of the year when the leaves are turning and there are seasonal events starting.

I recommend all of the National Trust sites I've visited in the North West such as Dunham Massey, Lyme Park, Gawthorpe Hall, Tatton Park, Quarry Bank Mill and Chatsworth, the latter is a little further to travel but it's well worth it. Of the sites that are closer to Manchester, I think Dunham Massey is my favourite as not only is there a historic mansion to explore but the gardens are beautiful and the deer even more so. If you follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand), you'll have seen me exploring Manchester recently and I visit Dunham Massey fairly regularly too.
Dovestones & Hollingworth Lake 
If you want to go for an autumnal walk around Greater Manchester this month then I highly recommend visiting either Hollingworth lake (which would be great for children) or Dovestones (which is a little more challenging, busy and can be more than a bit muddy). Hollingworth Lake is about an hour from the city centre but it's perfect for a break from the city with beautiful views over the lake and areas of children to play.

Dovestones is my favourite of the two as I love the views all around Dovestones and as you can see from the photo above, it's even more stunning during the autumn months. Both are free to visit, although you do have to pay for parking and the car park at Dovestones is tiny so visit during the week, if you can, to avoid queues and crowds.

Today's post is in collaboration with MegaBus which have just launched six new coaches on their London to Aberdeen route with stops including Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Dundee. The coaches all have wireless charging and tables (available on seats at the front of the coach), a new interior design and 24 reservable seats.

I haven't tried MegaBus before but I've always been tempted, especially this summer as the prices are significantly cheaper than trains which are becoming even more expensive or the cost of driving, petrol and parking. I would love to visit Oxford, York, Stirling and Aberdeen, all of which are available on Megabus routes at fantastic prices!

Have you travelled via MegaBus? Have you visited any of the sites in Greater Manchester that I've recommended?