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10 Sleeps Until Christmas!

15 Dec

Mmm mmm he smells good!
When stuck for a last minute gift, you cannot go wrong with a nice aftershave. Jaguar Pace, designed to mark the arrival of the all-new Jaguar F-Pace family sports car, claims to be an expression of true masculinity, emanating power, confidence and charisma. Quite a bold claim, and probably a little exaggerated, but it does smell amazing. I can’t wait to snuggle my boyfriend when he’s had a spritz!
Jaguar Pace is priced at £28.99 and is available from selected Marks and Spencer’s stores around the country and from Marks and Spencer’s online at www.marksandspencer.com

pace

Verdict: 9 / 10

 

Pogues Irish Whiskey
Launched in 2015, The Pogues Irish whiskey has as much character as the band itself.  Produced by West Cork Distillers in Ireland’s rugged coastal spot, Skibbereen, The Pogues rebels against the grain with its blend of 50% Irish grain whiskey aged in bourbon oak casks and 50% single malt Irish whiskey aged in sherry casks. The Pogues is crafted in small batches in handmade copper stills and aged for three years and a day. The mutinous soul and passion of The Pogues has been captured in the blend and fashioned to the band’s own taste and rebellion of the norm.

It has a malty yet nutty flavour that is really moreish! The Pogues’ Irish whiskey is available at DrinkSupermarket priced £29.99.

the-pogues-irish-whiskey

Verdict: 8 / 10

Patron Stocking Fillers

Patrón Miniatures
The perfect stocking filler – Patrón Silver and Patrón XO Cafe 50ml bottles offer a taste of ultra-premium tequila in sleek miniature bottles.

Patrón Silver tequila is the perfect ultra-premium white spirit.  Crystal clear with fresh Agave aromas, it is handmade in small batches and created using the finest 100% Weber Blue Agave

50cl, RRP £7.15 – The Whisky Exchange

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Verdict: 9 / 10 – so cute!

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13 Sleeps until Christmas!

12 Dec

13 sleeps – two weeks – may seem like plenty of time to stock up on presents. But the early bird catches the worm so take today’s gift inspiration and find the perfect gifts to spoil your loved ones!

 

Grants Family Reserve Whiskey
Grant’s whiskey is Scotland’s oldest family run blend – I remember my Grandad used to keep a bottle of grants in the cupboard and have a little nip in the evening. It’s a timeless classic and a perfect gift for any whiskey lover. Grants Family Reserve 70cl is only £17.19 and available in most supermarkets too so super for any last minute present buyers as you can grab a bottle on your way even! I liked that it was very smooth and easy to drink – I’m sure there are ‘fancy’  whiskeys with a sharper woodier taste that a connoisseur may keep for special occasions, but actually for a Friday night tipple by the TV the mellow flavour works very well.

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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

HoMedics Foldaway Footspa
Ah the footspa! A classic go to gift for your mam, dad, nana or grandad. But… they are usually so big and clunky really hard to store. HoMedics have the solution, with their foldaway footspa. It has a soothing vibrating massage, and raised acunodes for stimulating those tired tootsies. No more refills with the kettle either as it’s keep warm feature proves to be mega useful! Add some bath salts, and relax! Available at www.homedics.co.uk for £39.99

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Verdict: 8 / 10

Stampin’ Up!
For the crafters out there I would recommend anything from the Stampin’ Up! collection. My favourite is the Forever Evergreen Project Kit, where for around £20 you can build your own gorgous table top christmas trees. The kit includes all of the ribbons, trims, dowels hooks and snowflakes as well as the high quality die-cut cardstock.

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Verdict: A very fun 7 / 10

 

Wisdom While you Work
If you are looking for something a little different to gift to your children or grandchildren this year, Libbla Kelly has released a book ‘Wisdom While You Work’ a mindfullness gem full of core values and ‘pass me down’ pearls of wisdom with a tear and share section in the middle. The book is a culmination of Libbla’s life; being a nanny, having 12 godchildren, nephews and nieces, cousins, stepsons etc… There has not been one day without the presence of children in her life which makes her ideally placed to write such a book!
Priced at £10.00 (plus P&P), Libbla’s book may be purchased direct from www.wisdomwhileyouwork.com
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Verdict: 7 / 10

Freedom Brewery’s Taster Box
British pioneers of craft beer, Freedom Brewery, has the perfect gift option for the discerning craft beer fan. Their award winning range of craft lager comes as a gift pack – choose from Organic Helles, East India Pale and King Koing to Boston Beech, Liberty Pils and Freedom Authentic.
Available at Freedom Brewery online and other specialist retailers – choose three bottles for £6, six bottles for £10 or a case of twenty four for £30.
freedom
Verdict: A very tasty 9 / 10

Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale
All your boyfriends sweet and beer dreams have come true this year, because Meantime Brewing Company has teamed up with the Master Pâtissier to create ‘Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale’, a nutty dark ale that’s perfect for the festive season.

The ale is really deep and refreshing, the nuttiness pokes through the 5% alcohol and gives you a lovely warm winter buzz! It would make a fab stocking filler, and is available at www.meantimebrewing.com for £2.10 per bottle

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Verdict: 8 / 10

CHIKA’s Snacks
Fill your stockings this year with healthy alternatives that will help for a guilt free Christmas! (There’s enough calories in that big dinner never mind chocolates on top!) CHIKA’s is a flavoursome, gluten free, non GMO snack range, and they have launched ‘Snack4Change’, a new snack box initiative designed entirely to fund and support the schooling of underprivileged children in west Africa.
Each subscription purchased funds one child’s school fees and contains four delicious CHIKA’S snacks such as chili plantain crisps, smoked almonds and hand toasted peanuts. Priced at an introductory £4.99, one box sold sends one child to school. From spiced plaintain to salt and pepper cashews I have heartily nibbled my way through the collection – and can safely say that they are delicious!
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Verdict: 7 / 10

Twist, Drink & Go – Zingo
Root7 have created a nifty little bottle that they call Zingo. Very catchy! You add your half lemon, lime, orange, whatever citrus fruit to the bottom, and it gets speared onto the reamer. You then add water to the main bottle and the flavours infuse as you drink. I love that this is a healthy way to enjoy a fruity drink, no chemicals, preservatives or sweeteners – just natural fruit and water.
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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

17 Sleeps until Christmas!

7 Dec

The London No.1 Gin
For those gin lovers out there, The London No.1 Gin  has launched a gift pack which includes a stirrer in a London-landmark inspired design and is just so pretty you willalmost not want to drink it. Almost. Launched in 1771, when the 1st Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, built his London townhouse on the southeast facing corner of Hyde Park it’s a really smooth gin with great heritage. It pairs well with a plain tonic – or if like me you like to fancy it up try a dash of elderflower. Delicious! It can be purchased nationwide from Ocado and Oddbins for RRP £34.00.

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Verdict: 9 / 10

 

PHIZZ
If you are gifting alcohol this Christmas, do your family a favour and attach a little tube of the miracle that is PHIZZ. It’s a pocket size, Swiss made effervescent tablet combining a rehydration formula with a mix of essential vitamins and minerals. I tested this after a Christmas party – and it really helped to perk me up. I think it would make a really useful stocking filler. Available from Ocado, Amazon and select independent pharmacies.

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Verdict: 10 / 10

Pusheen Cat Watch
For the emoti-lover in your life you will be very pleased to know that they can now see their favourite Facebook cat, Pusheen in watch format. These cute watches from www.WatchShop.com are a bargain at £11.99 and would make a perfect gift for children or anyone who is a fan of the cue and quirky!

If only they did one for men – my dad loves this emoji – a cat with kisses, a cat with hearts, a cat with wool. Pusheen really does get about on her travels!
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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Puzzle
When buying gifts for children it can be a fine balance as they proabably have a lot of toys clogging up the house already. The solution is to keep it educational too! I love The Very Hungry Caterpillar – 4 in 1 Puzzles aimed at Preschoolers it contains four colourful jigsaws of 12, 16, 20 and 24 pieces. Each puzzle features a different image including: The Very Hungry Caterpillar in the sun, The Very Hungry Caterpillar with some of his favourite fruits and also the lifecycle of the butterfly. It’s great fun, but the box isn’t very sturdy, so make sure its not squished in your pile of presents before you give this away!

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Available from Amazon at only £8.95, great for a last-minute gift if you have prime.

Verdict: 7 / 10

 

Four Legged Fancies
Best not to forget your loyal pets this Christmas morning – at the very least it will not be worth the hassle of fighting them away from your mince pie! Joking aside, if your furry ones are part of the family why not give them the best. Four Legged Fancies (FLF) has some gorgeous handmade, natural and wheat free treats for dogs this Christmas. I would ask my dogs Bob and Harry what they thought of them – but unfortunately they gobbled them down so quickly that I’m not even sure they took a moment to taste! 😉 Treats start at under a fiver and are available at www.fourleggedfancies.co.uk

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Verdict: I love how they look, that they are healthy and the dogs certainly approved. 10 /10 

4 weeks until Christmas!

30 Nov

With the Christmas countdown now officially upon us, I hope that you enjoy part one of my Christmas gift guide. As usual expect a mixture of quirky ideas, fab value products and those luxury ‘splurge’ gifts that are too unique to miss!

Vintage Puzzles
Gibson Games have created the perfect gift for puzzlers this Christmas. Their Vintage Kellogg’s puzzle tin has 250 pieces perfect for cornflake lovers and the tin is just so pretty to keep afterwards. If crisps are more your thing they also have a double sided Pringle’s puzzle gift. I love that it is double-sided one side with the tub as the main image for beginners, and the other a stack of crisps a lot harder to complete!

The games are sold online or you can find a local retailer here

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Verdict: A truly unique 9 / 10

Relax, sooth and pamper
Treat someone with a perfect stocking filler to relax and unwind (I think we all know a few people who could do with this!) in the form of Olverum Bath Oil.

First produced in 1931, it has a ‘mystical reputation’ for its rejuvenating effects, which come from the aromatic blend of essential oils said to ease stress and relax tension in both mind and body, aiding restorative sleep.

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It’s a luxury gift – as the 125ml size is £26.00 but it is also highly concentrated as only 5ml is needed per bath. You can find Olverum in Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Fenwick and at www.houseoffraser.co.uk

Verdict: At first it was hard to get my mind around the price tag. But… my muscles loved it. To quote a little bump and grind: “My mind is telling me no – but my body, my body is telling me yes!” 8 / 10

For the party girl
Who doesn’t love a great cocktail? Yet when you kick off your shoes on a Friday night in the house so often its the boring wine or beer that we open. I love the idea of this little  Kahlúa and Absolut Vodka Expresso Martini kit. With the small bottles and gorgeous martini glass (and even the coffee!) it has everything that you need for this lush cocktail. At only £10 and available in major supermarkets such as Tesco it’s a bargain too – the perfect price to jazz up your secret Santa offering this year.

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Verdict: It is just to delicious so it has to be a 10 / 10 gift!

 

Coffee Lovers
For a gift that will definitely be used why not give the coffee lover in your life a bag of their favourite addiction. The Sailors’ Society have recently launched an ethically sourced ‘BySea’ coffee. It makes an ideal Christmas gift and with 100 per cent of the profits going towards our work supporting seafarers and their families. The Brazillian reserve is my favourite with a smooth deep flavour, but if you like a bit more crema in your cup the Indian reserve is even richer. Very delicious!

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BySea coffee is available to buy at www.bysea.org/shop and is £4.95 a bag.

Verdict: a delicious 9 / 10

Beauty gift with a difference
We all receive beauty gifts at Christmas and some are for pure pampering purposes – but if you know someone well enough you may also know that they would appreciate a beauty solution with a practical purpose. Beauty company Remescar have just launched a new eye bag and dark circles cream which uses ‘Eyesyl’ a technology developed by Sylphar (the company behind Remescar) that works on 3 key actions;

·         Skin tightening

·         Decrease water accumulation

·         Micromuscular-pause

This claims to effectively and immediately erases eye bags and dark circles in just two minutes. I tried this product out for two weeks, and I did notice a difference – I can only imagine it would be a welcome addition to your Mam’s beauty box if bags or dark circles are a concern for her.

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Remescar is available in all major Boots UK stores – and online – for £29.95.

Verdict: 7 / 10

*Note: Some of these products were sent to me by the retailer in exchange for an impartial review. As a northern lass I am quite opinionated, and all views are my own. Honestly, if I hate something I will tell you, and if I love it I will rave about it.

Festive Food with a Twist

22 Dec

I had never visited a Wagamama before – so I was delighted to try something new, especially as it involved a new festive menu! Japanese-inspired, Wagamama may not be the first thing you think of when thinking Christmas, but its dishes are certainly warming and a welcome reprieve from all of those sunday roasts and pork pies! My boyfriend Matt and I tried the hearty ramen bowls, and we were very impressed.

Matt had the new seafood ramen is made up of sea bream, grilled tiger prawns and breaded tilapia – all served on a bed of noodles in a steaming vegetable broth and garnished with pea shoots, wakame and samphire. I was very jealous – that is until mine arrived, the short rib ramen. fragrant, meaty, yet at the same time it felt more guilt free and less stodgy than say going to the pub for a burger. All ramen are under £15, so fairly reasonable and we washed it down with strange beer and delicious plum wine. Visit www.wagamama.com to check out the menu, and pop along for lunch to try it for yourself!

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Verdict: 9 / 10

4 Days until Christmas!

21 Dec

With the rainy weather beating down upon us and less hours of sunlight per day, it would be easy to get a little down. I have reviewed some lovely festive pick me ups to help you along until Christmas arrives!

Grab a Christmas Lunch at EAT
I don’t care that it’s only the 21st – today is officially the day that Christmas has begun for me. Part of that is spoiling your self at work, especially if you have partying planned this week afterwards.
EAT. have given the menu a yuletide makeover with brand new Christmas food offerings. My favourites are the Pigs in Blankets (a dollop of cranberry sauce really makes this!) and the Festive Full Works Bloomer (a combination of sliced turkey breast, smoked ham, finished with pork and sage stuffing. I find the food at EAT. to ber fresh, but filling and the service is always speedy so that you can be on your way for a bit of Christmas shopping after!

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Verdict: 9 / 10  

 

Coco Pots
creativetops have an amazing little invention that they call a ‘coco pot’ it has an sturdy aluminium body with a non-stick inner coating and even comes with its own silicon matt. It feels very old-fashioned (in a kind of trendy way) popping it onto the hob to make your delicious hot drinks. You need some chocolate (whether that be drops, flakes, powder or buttons) some warm milk and the clever Coco pot with its integrated frother will create ‘the most luxurious treat of rich and uber-bubbly hot chocolate.’ I certainly enjoyed it and it also felt a lot nicer knowing it was home made and I could choose my ingredients.  Visit www.creative-tops.com to look for stockists in your area.

Verdict: 9 / 10 (this would have been a 10 if not for the fact it wobbled about on my hob a bit)

 

Keep cold sores at bay
I am a firm believer in keeping a well stocked first aid kit ‘just in case’ and there is nothing like the winter weather for becoming run down and getting dreaded cold sores. Zzip is a natural way to do this: paraben free, not tested on animals and contains no alcohol. It costs £12.95 for 3ml and is available nationwide from Boots stores and at www.boots.com

looks just like a lip balm!

looks just like a lip balm!

Verdict: 8 / 10 I love the snazzy packaging and wouldn’t feel embarrassed at all to pick this off the shelves in the supermarket.

 

Cheeky Gift
If you are looking for a joke present for somebody, you may like the Rather Cheeky Map of Great British Bottoms. Available exclusively online, it is presented in a traditional wall map print (A3 from £18) and a handy tea towel (£12) both from www.stghq.com

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Verdict: 7 / 10 

 

Bluebeard’s Revenge Gift Sets
I have reviewed the Bluebeards Revenge shaving range before (with the help of my boyfriend of course!) and love the range which provides quality grooming solutions for men. This year my boyfriend is kind of loving his beard, so I thought to try the eau-de-toilette gift set the gift comes in an easy to wrap box, with the eau de toilette and a shower gel to match. The smell is really fresh and yummy, and with the combination of the products actually lasts a really long time. The various gift sets start at £21.99 and are available at www.bluebeards-revenge.co.uk

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Verdict: 8 / 10

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
These gorgeous little 50ml bottles of hand cream will leave you feeling silky smooth this winter. The hand cream is available until February 2016 and can be found at all major retailers for £3.90.

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Verdict: 8 / 10 – fantastic product, perfect, for the handbag!
Nourish your skin with E45
If you have sensitive skin like me – or even if you don’t but like the idea of something that is tried and tested, E45 is a no brainer. their range has expanded massively of late, I love the E45 Body Lotion Intense Recovery for Very Dry Skin At £4.89 for a large 250ml bottle its great value too!

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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

Griffin Survivor’s Journey iPhone Case
Keep your iPhone safe through all the season’s partying with this ultra-thin, ultra-tough, phone case from Griffin Technology. It’s built to withstand 2 metre drops, and absorbs impact. At £24.99-£34.99 it’s not the cheapest case out there but it’s worth it if you know that you are a clumsy drunk to save replacing your mobile!

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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

Bahlsen biscuits
Make getting ready for the festivities an occasion with a nice and easy spread of festive biscuits. I love the Bahlsen seasonal range – they taste just like Christmas! They are in cute packaging, and perfect as a gift too. With headquarters in Hannover the family-run biscuit enterprise has been around for over 125 years. Available from most supermarkets (including Ocado and Waitrose) also very reasonably priced.

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Verdict: 10 / 10 yes that’s right 10! They are just so delicious!

9 days Until Christmas!

16 Dec

With less than two weeks of shopping time left, check out my weekly round up of gifts – from the brilliant to the very strange but all unique ideas to wow your loved ones this Christmas.

 

The Hipster Colouring Book – by Charlotte Farmer
This would go down a treat with anyone anti-hipster as a bit of a joke present, or indeed anyone pro-hipster as a genuine gift. Either way I love it, it’s pages are filled with lots of quirky sketches to colour and will not only be relaxing, but humorous too!

Published by Ilex press, the book is available from £7.99 in book stores and online at Amazon

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Verdict: 7/10

 

Heavenly Cakes
I hate shop bought cakes and find them dry and unappealing, in my opinion if you’re going to splurge on calories at least eat the best! Cake lovers will love the Heavenly Cakes range. Launched 8 years ago by husband and wife team they hand make everything just outside of London in Stevenage. They do individual treats (perfect for stocking fillers!) such as billionaire shortbread and very berry flapjacks at £2.99 each. They also do bags of ‘bites’ perfect for sharing at work or home, and a lot of the range is gluten free too!

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Verdict: A delicious 8/10

 

 

Sidekick Hot Sauce
If you know someone who adores their spicy food, treat them this year with the Sidekick hot sauce gift set. It includes 5 different flavours all free from artificial additives. Having tried the hot pepper sauce I can vouch for its delicious flavour, it packed a punch but was also creamy and tasty (as opposed to hit for the sake of it)

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Verdict: A tasty 9/10

 

Trees Direct
I love gifting plants, trees, and seeds whenever I can as it’s a gift that can last forever and bring a lot of enjoyment. That’s why I’m a fan of Trees Direct where you can send a tree gift with next day delivery. Gift trees are sent, potted and dressed in hessian sacks, tied with a satin ribbon, planting instructions and a hand-written gift card – which makes them very pretty. I was sent a myrtle tree gift priced at £22.50, it was so well packaged, and all in tact. It looks well established and very healthy and will make a wonderful addition to my garden.

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Verdict: 9/10

 

All in One Bootsies
I have featured the gorgeous onsies from this company before – bespoke, high quality, warm and cute as hell they are a great gift. This year however they have introduced a fab range of ‘booties’ it’s a bit of a splurge at £30+ for the adult range, but I think that they will last a really long time. Available online at www.the-all-in-one-company.co.uk. Funnily enough this company is based in my home town in the North! If I was a fan before, I am even more so now 🙂

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Verdict: 8/10

 

Rock Knife
Gift an everlasting gift to a foodie or fledgling chef. Great gift for men especially who love a bit of manly kitchen equipment. The rock knife range starts at £9.99, it is made from study Zirconium Oxide ceramic which is stronger than steel, and is available in major stores and online at www.rocknife.com

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Verdict: 8/10

 

PG Tips
I love these little stocking fillers for tea lovers, the PG Tips capsules for the capsule style coffee machines. What a fantastic idea for the partner of a coffee lover – and then they get fun from the machine too. They come in a range of luxury flavours and are available online through Ocado with an RRP of £2.79 for a pack of 10.

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Verdict: A very yummy 7/10

 

Scarlett Jewellery
Every lady loves jewellery as a gift, it’s a luxury that we rarely buy for ourselves. Scarlett Jewellery offer gorgeous, elegant pieces, and I love the range of silver earring. Handmade in Hove, the stud earrings are made of solid 925 silver, with a very pretty design. Available for £34.99 from www.scarlettjewellery.com

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Verdict: 8/10

3 Weeks until Christmas!

5 Dec

With only 3 weeks to go until Santa climbs down those chimneys, check out my latest gifts round up for some shopping inspiration!

The Haciendas Award Winning Wine

Not to be a snob about it, but if you are giving wine this Christmas – at least make sure it’s award winning! The Haciendas Company do a wonderful Christmas hamper for £99 which is actually great value for  amount of premium wines meats and cheeses included. I tried the ‘more in my budget’ option of the Marques de la Concordia MM Seleccion Especial Cava Brut. At only £10.99 a bottle I could drink this all Christmas Day, it’s delicious! Not too sweet and no tinny aftertaste, and very moreish!

The Haciendas company offer a wide range of premium wines and produce all from the heart of the Duero Valley in Salamanca. The range is also very handily available at Amazon.

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Verdict: a tasty 9/10

 

Lidl Craft Sets

This weekend in Lidl there are three amazing craft sets, one for calligraphy (complete with its own letter stamper!) one for charcoal drawing, and one wood burner for crafts on wood, cork and leather. To me this is absolute heaven, as priced at £4.99-£7.99 these sets are an absolute bargain!

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Verdict: 10/10

 

The gift of giggle

I have always been a fan of giving and receiving books for christmas – though not just any old book it really should be one that you can recommend and have read or heard a great review about – to give the gift meaning. If like me you’ve ran out of time to do much reading this year another option is to give a book that makes people giggle! I’ve long been a fan of the type of books such as The Bunny Suicides, Cyanide and Happiness and Why Steve was Late. That’s why I really rate this new release from Prion Books ‘Badly Timed Boners’ by Jolyon White. Some of the cartoons are a little obvious, but others (mostly the ones where you can’t actually see the ‘boner’ but have to use your imagination were genuinely funny. Available from Prion Books or retailers such as Amazon at £9.99 this would make a perfect stocking filler.

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Verdict: 7/10

 

Friendship heart

When choosing a gift for a close girl friend it’s a balance between choosing something pretty and unique, but also something that they won’t have already. I love these one of a kind friendship hearts from Peach Perfect made of  hand blown glass, and 12cm tall they are very pretty to hang catching the light with whatever colour you’ve chosen. Priced at £13 you can buy these from the Peach Perfect website www.peachperfect.co.uk.

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Verdict: 8/10

 

Paperblanks

If you love stationary – you will love every single thing on the Paperblanks website. In fact giving the gifts away, will be a bit difficult for you! My favourite are the blank paged journals, they are high quality and gorgeous too. The cars and butterflies Journal is £11.99 and available via the website, in a John Lewis and on Amazon.

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Verdict: 9/10

 

Tequila Rose

Tequila Rose is a blend of strawberry flavoured cream liqueur with a splash of premium Mexican Tequila. The combination may sound a little strange, but this liqueur is huge in America, and is now the 5th biggest cream liqueur globally. I wasn’t convinced at all! However after a tasting session I can confirm, it’s actually really tasty! Think the creamy strawberry sweetness from the centre of Cadbury’s Roses chocolates – very reminiscent of Bailey’s in texture. A really unique gift, this is bound to be a winner.

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Verdict: 8/10

 

Handmade Giftwrap

3 Dec

Why not try to make your own personalised salt dough gift tags? With two parts flour, two salt and half a part if water they are great for beginner crafters and children. Bake on a low heat for several hours until dry, then paint when cool – I find acrylics work best.

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Verdict: A cute and bespoke 10/10 (if I do say so myself!)

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4 Weeks Until Christmas!

1 Dec

With Black Friday, cyber Monday, and only four weeks to go until Christmas, shopping has just ramped up a gear. I have tried and tested a few of this years gifts and wanted to share the best with you.

Rose Petal Cottage
If you want to see lots of smiles on Christmas morning (as well as keeping the little ones entertained while you roast the turkey!) treat them to Dreamtown’s Rose Petal Cottage. This gorgeous indoor playhouse for toddlers goes back to the traditional gifts that children love, and features intricate ‘chocolate box’ cottage illustrations, shuttered windows, working front door with letter box, broderie anglaise trim, real shelf and photo frame. A toddler high cooker completes the interior, with twisting dials and an opening oven door. Rose Petal Cottage has scooped four prestigious parenting and toy awards in 2015 alone, alongside more than 95 million YouTube hits.
I am very impressed with the quality of this product (especially considering the packaging is quite compact and wouldn’t be too heavy to carry home on the tube!) It is also just very pretty –  I can imagine hours of fun and imagination – and children will undoubtedly want to get the ‘add on’ such as the tea set for their next gift receiving occasion! Rose Petal Cottage is suitable for children two years or over, and can be purchased from all major retailers including Argos at £99.99.

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Verdict: 10 / 10 this really is my favourite gift for children this year!

 

Selfie clothes for Baby!
I absolutely love the idea of personalised gifts. In reality though these are often poor quality, and a real let down. Not in the case of the Selfie Elfie Kids range from Selfie clothing however! I have tested out this little Elf number, with a picture of cute my friends gorgeous little baby – and it is of a really high quality. They even did the best they could with such a low resolution picture that I sent (nabbed from Facebook!) so I imagine with a proper picture it would look even better. You can design your own at www.selfieclothing.co.uk prices start at £15.
I have secured an exclusive discount code for readers to get 20% off simply enter this code at the checkout: lostin20

Elfie Selfie!

Verdict: 9 /10

 

Mindfulness colouring
Ok so it’s a bit hipster, and a bit cool to be spotted around Shoreditch these days with a fancy colouring book in hand. but let me tell you something – my mam, the one and only Mrs Mullaney, has been doodling for years! It’s a great stress reliever and I love this Mindfulness Colouring and Activity Book as it is teaching two relaxing practices in one. Available at http://eu.wiley.com for £8.99

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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

Penfolds Wine
For wine lovers, gifting can be tricky as they probably know more about wine than you do! Penfolds are for the first time offering a personalisation service for their gifting sets. The award-winning wine makers responsible for creating the Grange – officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia – will be partnering with Harrods to celebrate this festive season with their bespoke offerings.  I tested the very drinkable Penfolds Shiraz, and I think it will be top of my list for Christmas this year! It was full bodied, and very moreish. Personalised gifts sets are available at  Harrods, prices start at £22.

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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

Give the gift of Pedicure
Scholl have launched a new little gadget, the  Scholl Velvet Smooth Electronic Nail Care System  which would make a great beauty gift or stocking filler. Available in stores and online at Amazon from £21.99 and the person receiving this gift would never have to pay for a manicure or pedicure again!

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Verdict: 7 / 10

 

 

Party Pies
There is nothing like a pork pie on the party table. But if you want to posh it up a bit for your guests try the yummy Toppings Pies.  The family run Yorkshire pie makers has baked a little taste of home into its Christmas range with flavours such as: Mature Stilton Topped pork pie, cranberry topped pork pie, caramelised red onion topped pork pie, small game and poultry pork pie, and (my favourite!) Christmas pork pie. What makes a Christmas pork pie? Well a base layer of British Red Tractor pork meat sandwiched with a layer of chicken breast, diced apricots and cranberries and finished with a final tier of pork meat.  Head over to http://toppingspies.co.uk to look at the Christmas bundles on offer!

 

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Verdict: Too naughty, but so nice! 8 / 10

 

Stocking filler tea!
For a slightly more unusual stocking filler, why not add a box of your loved ones favourite tea?  I tested the MightTEA range from Birchalls Teas which includes Breakfast Blend, Green Tea, Organic Redbush and Lemongrass and Ginger. The Health Council in the Netherlands recently advised people to drink 5 cups of tea a day, and BRITA ambassador and tea expert Jane Pettigrew reveals four delicious blends and a handy infographic to match.

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I sampled the teas (very delicious) and used a BRITA Kettle. I don’t know if it was all in my head (if you tell yourself it will taste better – it will taste better!) or if it is true to claim, but the BRITA filtered tea tasted much nicer than out of my bog-standard kettle. BRITA kettles are available at around £30 from high street stores and online at Amazon, and the Birchall tea range may date back to 1872, but also has a great website for orders http://birchalltea.co.uk

Verdict: A warming 8 / 10

 

Game of Thrones fans
The series may now be over, but you can still grace the stocking of an avid fan with this quaint little book. Game of Thrones In Memoriam is a tribute to some of the most memorable characters that have died during the course of the first four seasons. The book includes quotes, brief character profiles, and is fully illustrated with photography from the TV series throughout. Available from the HBO shop, and other online and in store retailers at £9.99.

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Verdict: 8 / 10 A real must-have for any fan!

 

Purrfect and Pawsome Box
I love the whole idea of a monthly box of gifts for my pets. First you have the anticipation, then a nice parcel to open, then the fun of the items themselves! (My enjoyment aside, my pets love them too – haha!) Purrfect and Pawsome are monthly subscription boxes for dogs and cats, each month customers receive 5-6 products for their pets, including premium treats & snacks, hygiene products, training aids, toys and chews, and all sorts of other goodies! I do love how the products tend to be quite innovative and new to the market. The special Christmas box has a £5 discount at the moment  – and the contents are a surprise. A full review to follow, when mine arrives! Prices start at £16.90, and the website is really easy to navigate.

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Verdict: Such a fun idea, and a great way to spread the cost of Christmas gifting for your pet too. 9 / 10
Foodie Gifts
When gifting an ultimate foodie, expiration dates, adequate wrapping and refrigeration and all that jazz is a real issue. That is why I adore The Kitchen Trotter kit. Think monthly subscription food box – but without the immediately perishables. My Indonesia box arrived with shrimp paste, various herbs, powders, sauces, and great little recipe cards to go and buy fresh ingredients to make the meals. Each month a different country is featured, I think this would make a really impactful Christmas gift. Available at www.kitchentrotter.co.uk.

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Verdict:  8 / 10

 

KIND Snacks
If your loved ones are trying to stay away from too much chocolate this year, spoil them with these divine KIND Snacks nut bars. They launched last month, so a new product to try – and try you will as they are delicious! They are a much healthier as packed with fruit nuts, and protein – but still really delicious with coatings such as maple syrup, salted caramel, dark chocolate and cranberry glaze. Available at Tesco and Wholefoods from £1.29.

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Verdict: A very tasty 8 / 10

 

 

 

Friday Gift Guide…6 Weeks Until Christmas

18 Nov

Christmas can be a frightful time of the year (if you have to rush around Oxford street like a headless chicken that is!) so throughout the countdown to Christmas I wanted to share some gift inspiration. From the budget to the splurge options, with home made ideas too! If you have any fabulous suggestions please feel free to leave in the comments box below.

Gifts for her

Yardley Lavender
You may notice a theme that with every gift guide I like to include
a classic timeless brand that is probably already well known to you. This is mainly because as innovative and new some products can be, there are classics that cannot be beaten. Yardley is one such brand, and their Lavender range is well loved. I find the light fresh smell that it leaves behind may not be overpowering, but does last all day. I like the idea of buying the items that are relevant for your loved one (for instance my Mam doesn’t like body creams – so every gift set that bit goes to waste) and make your own gift basket this Christmas.
Prices start from £2 and are available from most stores such as Boots and online at Amazon.

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Verdict: 8/10

 

Fitness Lover
We all have that one friend or relative who puts our own fitness regime (in my case of literally sitting on my arse all day!) to shame. What a better gift than a book about a subject that they love, while also getting to secretly call them dummies. Muhahaha! I recommend the ‘Yoga for Dummies’ available from book stores and Amazon but if you want to turn it into a joke present for a work colleague ‘Salesforce for Dummies would work well too!
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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

 

Gifts for him

Beer Beer Beer!
Purity, a Warwickshire based brewery have launched a superb range of craft beer sets and mini casks. I can just imagine the smile that this will put on my boyfriends face on Christmas day. Socks, socks, slippers, aftershave… BEER! 🙂
The brewery’s popular gift set features 1 x 50cl bottle each of Pure Gold, Mad Goose and Pure UBU – plus a limited edition Purity stem glass. At £11 it is also very reasonably priced, and 5 litre casks start at £16.05 from puritybrewing.com.

Yum!

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Verdict: I’ll cheers to this! 9 / 10

 

Gifts for her

For champagne-bellini lovers
If you are looking at getting some fancy champagne this Christmas (or even better in my opinion, some delicious prosecco) you may want to make some festive Bellini’s. I love the Chambord black raspberry liqueur (on its own as a shot) but especially in a cocktail or Bellini. Packaged in a beautiful gold box, and a 20cl bottle is only £7.50, this would be an ideal stocking filler. Available from all major supermarkets throughout the UK.

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Verdict: 10 / 10

 

Gifts for the family

The chaotic ones
If you want to keep your family organised, one easy way is to force organisation upon them! I love the personalised range of notebooks and diaries at Toad Diaries . The range includes diaries, fitness planners, notebooks, academic planners and many more and with prices starting under a tenner it’s a great stocking filler idea! Available online at www.toaddiaries.co.uk

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Verdict: 9 / 10

 

Coffee Lovers
Why give one gift, when you can give the gift that keeps on giving? I love the idea of the latest coffee subscription services popping up, with my favourite one at present the Cafédirect Handpicked service. Each month, the person that you gift will receive a different coffee from Cafédirect Handpicked’s Discovery Collection, specially curated by experts who have chosen gorgeous from the finest farms across the globe – from Tanzania and Vietnam to Brazil. Each box comes with a tasting booklet too – to keep track of what flavours hit the spot. Subscriptions start at £24 for 3 months and go up to £85 for 12 months. You can sign up at handpicked.cafedirect.co.uk

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Verdict: 7 / 10

 

Splurge items

For the glam one
If you are looking for something quite luxurious for your mam, sister or girlfriend this year, try out my new favourite sleep-wear range, Glitter and the Moon do a fabulous ‘ It’s beginning to look a lot like cocktails’ dressing gown. Vintage inspired, all of the Glitter and Moon lounge wear pieces are very sleek, with gorgeous embellishments. Available to buy at www.glitterandthemoon.co.uk these luxury gowns cost £110.
Not that I do it any justice (check out the model’s on their website instead!) but here is me wearing mine.

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Verdict: 9 / 10 (this would be 10 / 10 if they were a bit more affordable for my tight budget!)

 

For the home
I love gifting candles, as absolutely everyone can use them given that they run out, you cannot have too many. The Christmas candles from Kenneth Turner are an absolute splurge item at £90 each – but they smell divine. Each candle tells a story from a time in Kenneth Turners life, and I tested out the “masquerade Ball – A masked winter’s ball to remember in sequined black and white, champagne and caviar; the band plays, dancing until dawn … a hint of mystery and seduction in the air.”
You can buy these at www.kennethturner.com, great gift for the home proud!

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Verdict: 7 / 10

 

For Foodies
If you want to give a foodie a gift to treasure (and not to scoff!) there is nothing that will please them more than perfect ways to store food. I love the Yumbox available at www.eatwell-uk.co.uk for £24.95. It may be pricey, but I think it is the only lunch box that I will ever need again! Available in a range of cute colours, the award winning lunchbox (with adult and children editions) boasts a leak-proof lid and a removable, pre-portioned, dishwasher proof tray.

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Verdict: 8 / 10

Friday Gift Guide…7 Weeks Until Christmas

6 Nov

Christmas can be a frightful time of the year (if you have to rush around Oxford street like a headless chicken that is!) so over the next seven weeks I wanted to share some gift inspiration. From the budget to the splurge options, with home made ideas too! If you have any fabulous suggestions please feel free to leave in the comments box below.

Admittedly there are a lot more gifts on the shelves for women. The catch however is that each woman will have personal taste – and there is a lot of tat out there! Just because its pink or pretty doesn’t make the content any good so I want to give men a head start this year! And for men, the struggle can be that some of the items that they really really want are usually the top end of the budget scale. So us women need to splash the cash, or look for those little less obvious hints at what the men in our life would love as a gift.

 

Chocolate lovers
creativetops have an amazing little invention that they call a ‘coco pot’ it has an sturdy aluminium body with a non-stick inner coating and even comes with its own silicon matt. It feels very old-fashioned (in a kind of trendy way) popping it onto the hob to make your delicious hot drinks. You need some chocolate (whether that be drops, flakes, powder or buttons) some warm milk and the clever Coco pot with its integrated frother will create ‘the most luxurious treat of rich and uber-bubbly hot chocolate.’ I certainly enjoyed it and it also felt a lot nicer knowing it was home made and I could choose my ingredients. It also makes milkshake too – but I have not attempted that one yet!
Visit www.creative-tops.com to look for stockists in your area.

It makes milkshakes too!
Verdict: 9 / 10 (this would have been a 10 if not for the fact it wobbled about on my hob a bit)

 

Interior design Queens
If you are going to be spending more time in the house to keep warm, you may as well suround yourself with lovely decor and home products. I cannot contain my excitement about how much I love love love this Scrabble Light from Prezzy Box. I awaited it’s arrival with much anticipation – only to then realise that I had no idea what to write on it! Luckily you get so many reusable stickers that you can change it up as much as you like. You can buy this for £17.99 at PrezzyBox.

It even looks like a scrabble game in the box!

It even looks like a scrabble game in the box!

 

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Verdict: 8 / 10 This would definitely have been a 10 if the tiles were just a little larger. Still very cute though!

 

Mums, Aunts, Grandmas
Stick to something useful (let’s face it with each passing year ones house becomes cluttered with the more ‘quirky’ gifts) but also make sure you put quality first. I tried the Fenjal Spa range and would really recommend it as opposed to the gift sets of unknown branded toiletries. It won’t irritate sensitive skin, and this swiss brand has been around for over 40 years so they really know what they are doing!

Simplicity and Luxury all in one

Simplicity and Luxury all in one

It’s actually great if you are on a budget too!

fenjal Crème Bath Oil 125ml RRP is £8.07
fenjal Crème Bath Oil 200ml RRP is £11.42
fenjal Classic Hand Crème RRP is £4.25
fenjal Crème Body Wash RRP is £4.27
fenjal Hydrating Body Lotion RRP is £5.36
fenjal Sensuous Body Spray RRP is £3.52
fenjal Delicate Body Powder RRP is £3.30
fenjal Classic Shower Oil RRP is £5.49

Top Tip: If you arrange in a lovely basket it will look like a much more bespoke offering.

Verdict: 9 / 10

 

For the Traveller
If you have a friend with the travelling bug, the perfect gift would be the Bonjour City Map-Guides. With a London, Paris and New York version these hybrid city map-guides are made by globe-trotting filmmaker Marin Montagut and offer readers his curated recommendations for shopping, dining, and attractions. Available for around £6.50 at Amazon.

Bonjour!

Verdict: 8 / 10
For the pub grub fan
Know a pork scratching loving, beer drinking, manly fella (or indeed lass) who could do with a dose of filthy awesomeness under the Christmas tree? Look no more! The Snaffling Pig Co. produce delicious double cooked gourmet pork scratching’s. And with nine delicious flavours to choose from, including tangy Salt & Vinegar, fiery Ghost Chilli and their all new ‘Funkin Fennel’ and ‘Maple’ they aren’t your bog standard bar snacks either. What I really love about them is the large and very giftable jar that they come in.
You can get your trotters on The Snaffling Pig Co. products at Ocado, Not On The High Street, online grocery retailer; ‘Shops by My Supermarket’, on their website at www.snafflingpig.co.uk

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Verdict: 8 / 10 (definitely better to give these than receive, imagine the scales come January!)

 

For the music lover
Genie Gadgets are selling a genius gadget! (funny that) These neo technology earphones utilise sound reactive technology to illuminate and pulsate in time with your favourite tracks. They have a micro USB cable and built-in microphone so are great for on the go. I found the sound quality to be surprisingly good, and also quite a cute option for a dark evening so you aren’t hunting around to put the ear bud in. You can buy these for £8.95 at www.geniegadgets.com/neoglow-earphones.html

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Verdict: 8/10

 

 

For the cute ones
It can be hard buying for babies, especially as they grow out of clothes so quickly! I love the My 1st Years Elephant Playmat At £50 it’s not cheap, but it is such a high quality and feels so super soft, I almost wanted to roll around on it myself! You can order the hippo, elephant or lamb playmat all are comfy for baby and cute for the nursery!

 

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Verdict: 9/10
For the smelly one
Is your partner a gym freak? Great, but you don’t want the dirty washing smelling up the place. These fab little bags from Stnky allows you to separate your gym kit from the rest so it doesn’t get all sweaty. Perfect for going out straight from the gym when you don’t have to go home to drop off your bag. With compartments for trainers too, and all you have to do is throw the bag right into the wash when you get home as it has a breathable lining so no unpacking necessary! A unique gift for busy people, available at  http://stnkybags.co.uk
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Verdict: 8/10 (I didn’t expect to love this as much as I do, but I think it’s really handy!)

 

For the princess of the house
I often talk to the fact that buying children clothes is a risky business – they grow up so fast, sizing can be an issue hen giving a gift. However for these gorgeous unicorn leggings I think you won’t go wrong.
Available in sizes 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 1-2 years, 3-4 years, RRP £10.00 little girls will love the new Blade & Rose collection, with magical unicorns, pretty in pink elephants and a punk princess heart and wing design to choose from. I was really impressed with the quality, I think they will keep the little princess in your life warm, and will be durable too. I wish that they did unicorn leggings in adult sizes too! Available at www.bladeandrose.co.uk

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Verdict: 8 / 10

 

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Christmas Day Essentials

18 Dec

Anyone with children will tell you that Christmas Day is not relaxing, it’s not the drink and booze fest that young 20 something’s get to engage in. It is chaos! The key to a tear free Christmas is preparation. Make yourself a Christmas survival kit and my suggestions are:

Batteries of all variety. AA and AAA predominantly but you’ll always get the off C, D or smoke alarm style required on a certain toy. It’s a misconception that batteries have to be expensive.

Paracetamol, caffeine and plenty of other pick me ups for the adults! It’s not easy work climbing down that chimney and wrapping all those presents so make sure to look after yourself and keep hydrated on the day.

Plasters. With new toys come new injuries and even sharp packaging can make a cut. I love these colourful Dermocare plasters, which also help to support WWF. Your children will want to wear them even without an injury! pick these up from Ocado and Amazon for £2.99
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Enjoy, and stay safe!

Gadget Accessory Gifts

18 Dec

For the iPhone, new to retailers shelves this Christmas is the Tactus Smooth stick on phone cover. Available at online for £9.99, they come in a range of colours. With ‘micro suction technology’ (what on earth is that?!) the covers do not leave a sticky residue. I just love the feel of the cover, so smooth, like a squidgy gel. I haven’t tested this one out for durability (I need my iPhone in one piece too much for that!) but I do worry that without protected edges it may not be the best cover for those prone to accidental dropping incidents.

Tactus Gel Cover

Tactus Gel Cover

Verdict: A cool 6 / 10

For the iPad mini the Tactus Buckuva brand take a modern accessory and gives it an old fashioned twist. They have designed a case that makes your iPad mini fit snugly into a protected cover, with a book-bound look. Available in black, white, orange, turquoise and green, the case has a very secure feel to it and while not cheap (available from Argos at £24.99) I feel that value accessories for gadgets can often be a false economy in that they do not last as long, don’t work as well and most importantly do not protect your product.

Tactus Buckuva

Tactus Buckuva

Verdict: 8 / 10

The Christmas Countdown!

17 Dec

Many of us start the countdown to Christmas a whole month before, others a mere 12 days, but with this cute Mamas and Papas hanging decoration you can chalk in the countdown as early as you like. Mark off how many sleeps until Christmas each day to build up the excitement. A great idea for children, and very sturdily built. It should also help with the annoying ‘Is it Christmas yet?’ questions and build upon their time management skills! A bargain at £4.95, although I did have to go to the 99p store and purchase my own chalk!

The countdown to Christmas!

The countdown to Christmas!

Verdict: 9/10

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