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Valentines Gift Guide – 4 Days to go!

10 Feb

For the no-flowers girl
I was watching Channel  4’s The Undateables last week and one of the young lads said something along the lines of ‘what exactly is the point in giving flowers, something dead, that just keeps dying’ and it’s so true! Flowers wither and fade and though I do make natural confetti from the petals afterwards (wedding brain!) it is a real waste. Instead, try giving a plant, it’s a great alternative as you are able to watch it grow as your love does each day (instead of throwing it in the rubbish bin a week later!) Lubera do an amazing range of fruit trees (see the Gustissimo Califfo Blue below – or ‘Mr Fig’ as I like to call him) which would be the perfect valentines gift.
fig

Prices start at £25 and are available online here
Verdict: 10 / 10

Printerpix – Personalised Gifts
A personalised gift can cost a fraction of any other gift but get the biggest wow on a special day. Gifting some photo coasters to my mother-in-law to be this Christmas got such a great response in comparison to her other presents, even if my partner had spent more!

Online gift retailer Printerpix do a whole range of gifts with photo-upload, and one of the most unusual is their personalised chopping board. I’ve chosen a picture of my two kitties, and will give this to my fiancé on Valentines – it will make the perfect bench protector, and will always remind us of when the cats were little.

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Verdict: 10 / 10
Ecoffee Cups
Keep your loved one caffeinated with these gorgeous Ecoffee cups from http://ecoff.ee The new William Morris collection is particularly special and made from bamboo fibre they are completely eco-friendly. The cups are available in 12oz and 14oz with prices starting from £8.95.

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Verdict: This will save me a pretty penny instead of shop bought coffee’s while wandering around London, and I just love the floral design! 9 / 10

For the beer connoisseur
If your partner is of the beer loving variety why not help him on his taste journey with these lively beer glasses from Riedel Crystal & Spiegelau Glassware. Each glass is made of the finest Bavarian craftmanship and very thin so be careful when unpacking (one of mine broke in transit) but aren’t the delicate things always the most precious – these glasses bring a touch of elegance to the ‘art’ of beer tasting, each shaped in a different design to best bring out the flavour in each beer type.

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Available here at £19,95 for three.

Verdict: 8 / 10

Chocolate is an aphrodisiac after all
In 1902, a chocolate shop called Prestat was opened in London by descendants of Louis Dufour, the man who created the world’s first recorded chocolate truffle in Chambery, France in 1896. I adore their heart-shaped valentines box – so simple yet effective to gift to a loved one. Prestat is one of the few British artisan chocolatiers to make all its own chocolates – giving it complete control of recipes and the sourcing of ingredients as well as the opportunity to nurture the traditional skills needed to create its handcrafted chocolates.
Very tasty, high quality and high cocoa content within and pretty on the outside. Yes hearts are cheesy, but on Valentine’s Day you can embrace them like a Christmas jumper – a huge necessity to complete the feel. After all, what other picture would you upload to Instagram on the 14th?

Available from www.prestat.co.uk, Waitrose, Ocado and at Prestat’s Concession in the Harrods Foodhalls (www.harrods.com) Priced from £7.50 – £35
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Verdict: 9 / 10

Cohorted Beauty Box
Give a girl the gift of delicately boxed little beauty treats! Buyers can gift a subscription, or a one-off box, with prices from £30. The box contains a selection of must-have, high-end products for each month, perfect for trying out brands and products that you may not have known of otherwise!

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Verdict: 8 / 10 the element of surprise was very fun!

 

“Why shouldn’t men wear elegant underwear?”
Charles Belpaume, HOM founder, 1968.

Indeed! Why shouldn’t they. There is an extensive range of high quality, and gorgeous men’s underwear at www.hom.com My favourite is the cheeky ‘Valentine Love’ pack – perfectly boxed for gifting.

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Verdict: 9 / 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.

Valentines Mood Board

12 Feb

Craft ideas, food suggestions, DIY Valentines, quirky gifts, lots of love and huge smiles – here is a Valentines mood board to get you in the mood 🙂

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4 Days Until Valentines!

11 Feb

There is still time to get some lovely treats for your loved one. Spend the weekend on a bit of retail therapy and check out some of these lovely options:

Valentines Cocktails
Absolut have launched the latest of their limited edition bottles, Absolut Electrik. The metallic range – available in blue and silver – are available at supermarkets RRP £18.55 and is very very sleek looking. It would make a great valentines gift, as the cocktails you create can be shared with your loved one.
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Why not try one of Absoluts Electrik Cocktail Recipes?

Blue Mule
1 part Absolut Vodka
2 parts Ginger Beer
Garnish with lime wedge

ElectriK blue
1 part Absolut Vodka
1 part Blue Curacao
1/2 part Lemon Juice
Shake!

Neon Lights:
2 parts Absolut Vodka
1 1/5 parts Lemon Juice
1 1/5 parts Grapefruits Juice
4/5 part Simple Syrup
1/5 part Ginger Syrup

Verdict: A delicious 9 / 10

Jockey
The Jockey range is my partners all time favourite – the hug him in the right places just nicely! I won’t embarrass him with an in action picture, instead I will use one of the model below!
Visit www.jockey.co.uk and prices start from £10 in their current sale, so very cost effective!

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Verdict: 8 / 10
It’s in the Bag!
I love the Hello Gorgeous range from Zazzle. This cute personalised bag would go down well as a present this Sunday – or could even be used as the ‘wrapping’ to a jewellery or small gift. Available online, customised for £27.99. A little on the pricey end of the scale, but at the moment they also have a 25% off voucher code: GIFT4MUM2016

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Verdict: A gorgeous 8 / 10

Dotcomgiftshop
If you are looking for gifts that will get the ultimate girlfriend seal of approval head to the Dotcomgiftshop Everything is so pretty, functional and cute that you could literally just pick anything. Their Valentines range is gorgeous (and delivery is free over £10 – though get in there quick!) I have included some of my favourites below. Prices start at under a pound and all items can be bought at www.dotcomgiftshop.com

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Verdict: A very cute 8 / 10

 

Cook up a storm
Charlie Bigham‘s, makers of some very fancy dishes for two, have launched  limited edition romantic red packaging just in time for Valentine’s Day. The meals are very delicious (if at the higher end of the budget) and will certainly give you more time with your partner as opposed to cooking from scratch. I was very impressed with the yummy steak pies, in their own ceramic dishes. The Pastry was amazing!

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Verdict: 7 / 1o

 

Booze glorious booze!
Valentines may be on a sunday so the hard liquor might be out of the question, but a few nice beers with a romantic dinner would go down very well. The team at There’s A Beer For That has carefully handpicked a selection of quality beers for you to enjoy, but if that’s not enough, there are many more great beers available, which you can find at beerforthat.com

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Blue Moon (660ml)
Available From: Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s
RRP: £1.95
ABV: 5.4%
Blue Moon is a refreshing, medium-bodied, unfiltered Belgian-style wheat beer. It has a uniquely complex taste with notes of citrus, banana, orange peel, coriander and a welcome spicy bite. Try it with a slice of orange to complement the zesty fruitiness of this classic wheat ale.

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Deus Brut De Flandres (75cl)
Available From: TheDrinkShop.com
RRP: £17.09
ABV: 11%
Deus Brut des Flandres is a champagne beer, of medium body and effervescence. You will detect complex, flowery and biscuity flavours as well as peach, gooseberry and lemon followed by a long slightly sour, dry bitter finish. Deus Champagne Beer provides a revolutionary taste sensation for those seeking a matrix of styles.

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Birra Moretti (660ml)
Available From: Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Asda, Sainsbury’s
RRP: £1.99
ABV: 4.6%
Inject some classic Italian romance with a Birra Moretti, a beer that’s brewed to a recipe first used in 1859. This pale lager offers aromas of vanilla, honey and corn with a refreshing sweet taste. There’s also an underlying grassiness that’s brought to life by decent carbonation and falls into a dry finish.

 

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Leffe Ruby (750ml)
Available From: Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Asda
RRP: £2.49
ABV: 5%
Leffe Ruby is a red, refreshing beer with aromas of raspberry, Turkish delight and roses – how very Valentine’s. It has a natural freshness that’s given depth by strawberry, red berry and sharp lemon flavours. You will also enjoy traces of spices, forest fruit and rosewood. There’s a sweet, fruity finish with a subtle dryness. Pour into a Leffe chalice to release all of the red fruit aromas.

 

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Meantime Indian Pale Ale (750ml)
Available From: Waitrose
RRP: £5.35
ABV: 7.4%
This fantastic fat bottomed bottle of British IPA comes champagne corked and cries out to be shared. Enjoy sweet aromas of toffee and caramel as you pour and taste, with extra earthiness and herbal notes leading to a spicy and bitter finish. Superb with Indian cuisine, English cheese and a perfect date.

Verdict: A very tasty 8 / 10

 

Orgasms or Chocolate?
I read a statistic once that said women would choose chocolate over orgasms any day. Why choose – have both!
It’s traditional to buy your partner some sort of treat for Valentines, and the Lindor range is nothing short of heavenly. What’s more you can pick them up in any supermarket – so great for a last minute option! (top tip – if you get the standard shaped box, put the Lindt balls in a heart shape around a baking tray for a Valentines breakfast suprise!)
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Verdict: 10 / 10

 

 

 

Romance is on the cards, with The View From The Shard

11 Feb

This Sunday I cannot think of a more romantic setting to celebrate Valentines than watching the sun set over this charming city while 800ft/244m above ground. Setting at 5.14pm, Londoners can book a time slot at The View From The Shard and be ready waiting, sipping champagne.

Awarded the title of ‘Most Romantic View’ in the inaugural Mills & Boon ‘Romantics’ awards 2015, I can see why – on my one trip to The Shard I was in complete awe from the cool elevators, to the panoramic view the experience makes you treasure London a little more. How often we London dwellers forget to experience the things that the tourists come to see.
And for any women preparing to propose this leap year, you could not choose a more memorable place, a very popular proposal spot, The View from The Shard has its own dedicated marriage concierge – on Valentines Day 2015 a proposal took place on average every 30 minutes on the viewing platforms!

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Valentine’s valentines valentines

10 Feb

It’s a touchy subject at times among my friends. Most of them are too cool to take part in such mass consumerism. Yet ironically most of the women that I know would be awfully disappointed if they received nothing at all! I think there can be that perfect balance of ‘thoughtful consumerism’ and of course more importantly just setting aside the night as a couple to be a bit romantic. I have put together some Valentines gift ideas:

Zazzle
Cute is a theme that always goes down well when buying gifts for women. Zazzle certainly has this covered, with a whole range of gifts (some personalised) all available to buy online.

Zazzle Mugs  These little cuties are a perfect Valentines pairing for bringing your loved one a coffee that morning! Available at www.zazzle.co.uk for £14.80.
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Verdict: A very cute 8 / 10

 

For the geeky beer lover
If your partner is a beer lover and a bit of a geek all in one then they will love the new 0101 range.

Customer engagement agency Havas helia has worked with IBM Watson to capture the mood of the nation during the New Year party season to create a world first – a beer that tastes of joy and optimism.

Data experts at Havas helia analysed thousands of New Year related messages on social media and matched them with a range of emotional states. The top most shared emotions were love, joy, harmony, cheerfulness, optimism, resolution and excitement.

By using Watson Personality Insights, a tool that analyses language to produce a personality profile, Havas helia was able to categorise each beer according to different human characteristics, such as assertive, friendly or intelligent.

I tried ‘Pure Joy’ and it’s incredibly yummy! it reminded me of a slightly sweeter Punk IPA from the Brewdog range.

beerVerdict: 9 / 10
Healthy Treats for Valentines Weekend
Coconut is one of the latest health foods on the supermarket shelves. Coconut oil in cooking, coconut water for drinking, it’s long been known for health benefits but has only recently become readily available. I love the new Ape Coconut Curls. In lightly salted and slightly peppered flavours they are certainly something different. And with only 109 calories per bag, it’s time to put away the potato chips and try something new! I was impressed with how flavourful they are – but I must admit the mind boggled at such a sweet snack being reimagined as savoury! The snacks are available at Ocado; Morrisons; Planet Organic; As Nature Intended; Revital, and Nourish (Ireland).

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Verdict: 7 / 10

Valentines Foodie Gift
I am a massive fan of any company that can deliver me a box, include recipes and save me a whole bunch of beans on toast with my questionable kitchen skills. The Riverford Organic Farms recipe box is called The Happy Pear, thanks to it’s two chefs, Irish twins, David and Steven Flynn, who are also are part of Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube.  All of the ingredients are fresh from the farm (mud and all!)

I tried a box and made the coconut Dahl (yummy!) the five bean chilli (easy!) and the Spanish bake (with a 70 minute prep time it’s the only disappointment of the bunch) over the course of a week.
Priced at £33.99 per weekly box of three meals, it’s certainly not the cheapest option. But for freshness and ease of use I was suitably impressed and (if I had the money!) would definitely be signing up.

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Verdict: 7 / 10

Cute Alert: Happy Valentines Day From Cleo!

14 Feb
Happy Valentines Day From Cleo!

Happy Valentines Day From Cleo!

Valentines Quote

13 Feb

“The only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life.”

― Oscar Wilde

I love this quote. Women and men never change. They an evolve and mature – sure. Life events can sway them one way or another. But ultimately the inherent bits within that make them ‘them’ will always be the same. It’s for this reason women need to stop finding men they hope to fix. Instead they should hold out for someone who they wouldn’t change a thing about. So hats off to all the single women out there who refuse to settle for the commitment-phobe, cheaters, losers and arseholes of this world! Disappointingly there are a few out there. Credit due to all of those loved up folk, I guess that you have found your version of Mr Perfect – or at the very least, become really good at ‘boring’ it out of him! 🙂

Hope that you all have a lovely Valentines Day tomorrow,

Rachel

x

Valentines Recipes

12 Feb

GUINNESS BLACK VELVET COCKTAIL

 Ingredients

1/2 Flute of Champagne

1/2 Flute of GUINNESS Extra Stout

Method

Pour the GUINNESS Extra Stout into a polished champagne flute

Top up with the champagne ensuring there is no overspill

The GUINNESS Black Velvet should be dark in colour with a frothy head, resembling a pint of GUINNESS

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Ingredients for 25 pieces

1 kg dark chocolate in small chunks

400ml cream

100ml GUINNESS

Zest of 1 orange

Cocoa or coconut powder

 Method

Add the cream and GUINNESS to a saucepan and bring to the boil

Add the chocolate and grated orange zest

Mix together until the chocolate is fully melted

Leave the chocolate mix until it is cool to the touch, but not set

Take generous tea spoons of the mixture and roll in your hands to form small round truffles

Dust in cocoa powder or coconut powder

Set in the fridge for 2 – 3 hours

Yum!

Yum!

Valentines Gifts for Her

4 Feb

Women as opposed to men are usually much more bothered about which gifts they receive on Valentine’s Day.

Is the gift thoughtful? He loves me.
Is the gift expensive? He thinks that I am worth it.

Absolutely no pressure at all boys!

I personally think that you cannot beat a handmade valentine’s gift. (I look back at gifts of past and the pricey rug that I received went down less well than the almost free to give origami flowers) Though I do confess I prefer these to be accompanied by a thoughtful gift. I’m not demanding or precious but I put a lot of effort into thoughtful gifting so I do appreciate this to be returned. I also believe that if a man can buy me a gift I will love but get a discount or get it at the lowest possible price – it then frees up his money to spoil me with a romantic weekend of nice food and wine. I have collated some ‘easy wins’ for men to give to their lovely women, to help those along who may need a little nudge!

Bloom Gin
Because…pretty bottle. That’s it, that is all you need to know. Cover a bottle with embellishments and pop a bow on it and yes women will love it.

Blooming Lovely!

Blooming Lovely!

BLOOM London Dry Gin: RRP £22.00 for 70cl. ABV 40% at Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Booths and other quality retailers.

Verdict: A very pretty 9 / 10

Jockey Red Chemise
This nightie is not only gorgeous, and sexy – it is so comfortable and luxurious. Available For £27 at Jockey
Jockey Chemise

Verdict: 10 / 10

His and Hers Wooden Tree Carving Coasters
These beautiful little coasters will be sure to melt her heart. All of the romance, none of the inconvenience. A winner all round! Available from Getting Personal for £9.99

Almost like I carved them myself!

Almost like I carved them myself!


Verdict: Ok, it’s a piece of wood, but actually considering I don’t own a saw, or have a tree to chop down £9.99 seems like a bargain! 9 / 10

Personalised Mix Tape MP3 Player
This is the cutest idea ever, a little MP3 Player which in fact looks like a little mix tape. You can charge with a mini USB. The sticker on the front is a little cheap (mine’s half falling off!) so alas it will not give your iPod a run for it’s money, but still very cute. Available from Getting Personal for £14.99

Rachel's Mix Tape

Rachel’s Mix Tape

Verdict: A cute 7 / 10

Personalised Rose Champagne
There is nothing more cliché thank pink champagne on Valentines day, but hey ho – a little cliché can actually be quite nice. Available from Getting Personal for £34.99

Yum!

Yum!

Verdict: A bit pricey for pink champagne, but if you have the money well worth it for a Valentines meal indoors 8 /10

CIROC Vodka
It may well be indicative of the secret alcoholic within me, but I really don’t think that you can go wrong by gifting your partner their favourite booze. Make it more romantic by printing a cocktail list and including mixers and any fruit needed all in one nice gift bag. For Vodka lovers try CIROC, it comes in a gorgeous bottle, is high quality (made from fine French grapes) and is priced at under £30 from most major supermarkets.

CIROC

Verdict: A delicious 8 / 10

Bio Sculpture Nail Varnish in Nude
If you are unsure of what colour to choose when it comes to make up for a girlfriend – go neutral. Bio Sculpture Nail Varnish in Nude is available from http://www.biogel.co.uk for £6.45 and would make a great mini-gift.
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Verdict: 7 / 10

Set the Mood
This isn’t a gift as such, but if you are planning a romantic night in how about LED Hut’s pink outdoor/indoor LED fairy Lights. You can wrap them into any shape around your house for that essential mood lighting, and then use them in the summer for garden parties. Available at LED Hut for £31.20

Wrap around your home furnishings

Wrap around your home furnishings

Verdict: A glowing 8 / 10

Thomas Sabo Heart Charm
This would make a great addition to any charm bracelet, elegant and simple. Available at Burns Jewellers for £21.99

Verdict: A classy 8/10

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Joan Collins – Timeless Beauty
The Joan Collins range comes in a wonderful deep red – perfect for valentines day, and the lovely gold bottles make this a very cute gift. Available at http://www.joancollinsbeauty.com, http://www.qvcuk.com or Urban Retreat at Harrods. The lipstick is £18 and the nail polish £13.

Valentines Red

Valentines Red

Verdict: 8/10

Valentines gifts – Smellies for Men and Women

28 Jan

It may be a typical gift, but sometimes the good old classics are that for a reason. Yes, a gift that is always useful and practical for any man is the gift of grooming. Whether that be a new aftershave, moisturiser, shaving kit or shower gel it’s never going to go to waste and what’s more you get to reap the rewards of a delicious smelling and pampered partner.

Bulldog Skincare’s ‘Man’s Best Friend’ Set

I’ve always been a fan of the Bulldog range as their products don’t contain controversial man-made chemicals such as parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, artificial colours, or synthetic fragrances. This year they have launched a duo set called ‘Man’s Best Friend’ consisting of the Bulldog Original Moisturiser (100ml) and Bulldog Original Face Wash (175ml). Both products contain  a blend of eight essential oils, green tea, green algae, konjac mannan and vitamin E to help hydrate the skin, and with all that green tea claims to be a great antioxidant. I tested the moisturiser and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it absorbs into the skin. Smells great too! And the face wash was perfect for my greasy skin. I know that this is a gift for men, but I can imagine many women finding that they pinch a bit for themselves if it’s on their boyfriend’s dresser! It would make a great gift as the duo comes in the cutest of tins, square and perfect to wrap! Available in Tesco for £10.

Cute Tin!

Cute Tin!

Verdict: 8 / 10

And for the ladies…

Argania Cashmere Hair Leave-in Conditioner 250ml

Made with certified organic Argan oil this leave in conditioner has a delicious chocolate smell. It left my hair feeling less frizz and fly away and more nourished. Argan oil is very ‘in’ this year so it would make a lovely valentines gift for a woman. Available in Boots for £9.99

Smells yummy too!

Smells yummy too!

Verdict: 8 / 10

 

Valentines Day 2014 Moodboard

14 Feb

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It’s a wrap!

11 Feb

This Valentines create something a little special with your own bespoke gift wrap from Dom and Geri it has dotted lines along the back to make for the perfect wrapping technique and photograph with text can be customised.

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Verdict: a glossy 8/10

Valentines Preparation

10 Feb

FOOD

They say that the way to a mans heart is through feeding him well. Combine that with mans other favourite consumable – alcohol – and you get cocktail cupcakes! I tested three different cake types oozing spirits and fruity flavours that replicate cocktails. Not only were they delicious but the recipes are easy to follow too. “Caketails – Intoxicating Cupcakes for Grownups” by Jill Collins and Natalie Saville can be purchased at Waterstones or on Amazon and offers all of the guidance needed to make delicious cupcakes for your sweetheart.

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Verdict: A yummy, boozy 9/10

If cakes aren’t your thing and you’re more of a Cookie Monster, I love these heart shaped cutters available from Asda

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Home made valentines – Idea Board

10 Feb
Hand made card

Hand made card

Breakfast in bed

Breakfast in bed

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

Cupid cakes

Cupid cakes

Cake pops

Cake pops

Biscuit pops

Biscuit pops

Pop out cards

Pop out cards

Ideas in action!

Ideas in action!

Valentines Gift of the Week

8 Feb

Personalised Photo Books

For those trying to avoid a commercial valentines day, I appreciate that it can be difficult to not dismiss any personalised gift as too cheesy. This year, I challenge you to look at this a little differently. I personally cannot see how any item that I usually use in my daily life (ie candles, chocolates, plates, bowls, spoons) can suddenly be the perfect ‘dream’ gift for me just because it is red, heart shaped and double the price! At least with a photo gift you have a momento of experiences that you and your partner have shared in together, not just a valentines gimmick. 

The best photo book that I have come across to date has to be from Vista Print (www.vistaprint.co.uk) The photo uploader was very simple to use – which is most important as my past experience has been that the uploaders can be very fiddly! For any men out there just press the auto fill button et viola! a beautiful photo book is ready in seconds. I must admit that I did spend about two hours creating mine, as I wanted certain photos to be larger than others, personalised captions and everything just-so. The result of my work however, was amazing. With seemingly limitless pages (I did cheekily add extra!) a sleek glossy finish and my favourite part of all a personalised cover, the book looked very professional.

I have had spiral bound photo books in the past which have fallen apart in minutes, wheras this book is bound differently (like a normal book) and feels very sturdy – for my memories to stand the test of time in paper as well as in thought. I cannot wait to give this gift to the OH at valentines, although I do think this is a gift that is mostly for my benefit!

Verdict: A very glossy 10 / 10

 

Front Cover

Front Cover

 

The inside

The inside

 

 

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