Tag Archives: gifts

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.

Last minute Fathers Day Gifts!

18 Jun

It’s never to late to buy your dad a bit more for Father’s Day. Don’t bankrupt yourself, but do spoil him! Here are a few of my faves:

 

SodaStream Power

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Give your dad a blast from the past – only reinvented. We had a SodaStream as kids, and it seemed so magical and fun. As an adult wow have they come on – they are nifty little gadgets. By using tap water you keep all the fluoride to protect your teeth, and can add any flavour you want. What’s more big bottles of water goes flat in a blink, this means you can make your own whenever you want.  I love that you can choose three levels of fizz – so if like me you want mildly sparkling and not super fizz you can make to fit.

There are so many new flavours that you can add including Elderflower, Cloudy Lemonade, Cranberry Raspberry and Pink Grapefruit with a large bottle spreading a long way at £3.99.

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SodaStream is available at Argos, The Range, Lakeland, Robert Dyas, Dunelm Mill, Ocado, Amazon, Selfridges, ASDA and Sainsbury with prices ranging from £89.99 – £149 for the Power model featured below.

Verdict: 10 / 10

 

 

HAIG CLUB WHISKEY
aaaaTreat your dad to HAIG CLUB’s unique blend of butterscotch and toffee notes, with this super fancy whiskey. In a gorgeous bottle and tastes superb too!

A 70cl bottle is available from Selfridges and Waitrose stores, nationwide at around £45, and a mini 5cl bottle is £4.50 from The Whiskey Shop.

Verdict: 9 / 10

 

Animal Frieze High Ball Glasses

To go along with that whiskey why not add a high quality glass? The Animal Frieze High Ball Glasses from Peach Perfect are handsome, and the perfect size for a short drink and room for ice.

stagPriced at £9.50 each they don’t come cheap – but if you’re having a fancy whiskey you must have a fancy cup!

Verdict: 8 / 10

 

 

 

*Note: these products were sent to me by the retailer in exchange for an impartial review. However this northern lass is 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!

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

zazzle bag

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

 

 

 

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.
zaxxle mug
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

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)

Sidekick-Sauces

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 🙂

bootsies

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

rockknife1

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.

pg tips

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

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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Easter Gifts For Children

30 Mar

Tsum Tsum
Why not compliment the lashings of chocolate eggs with a new ‘craze’ toy? Tsum Tsum’s are based on Disney characters and are available at Clinton Cards priced from £3.

Tsum tsum!

Tsum tsum!

Verdict: A very cute 8 / 10

Mothers Day Gifts

8 Mar

For sporty mam’s

If you have a sporty mam, or even if you want a hobby that you can share together anything from Speedos new range would go down well. I recommend the Speedo Fit Body Positioning Pinnacle Kickback. Packed with technology to help you improve your swimming technique, the vibrant-coloured Kickback suit features lightweight internal compression panels that focus your attention on your core, helping you to swim. Available at www.speedo.co.uk for £50, it’s not cheap but I do love hat you get access to their online app to track your progress.

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Verdict: an eye catching 9/10

For foodie mam’s

If your mam loves to cook, why not buy her the gift of an easy meal by sending a Marley Spoon gift set. Marley Spoon’s Mother’s Day special starts at £26, and the concept behind the service is fresh, high quality ingredients delivered to you with a recipe to create at home. I trialled the rainbow trout and chicken pasta recipes and can confirm that portion sizes were generous and the food very tasty!

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Verdict: I would order as a luxurious treat but a bit too pricey for everyday. Value: 6 / 10 Taste: 9 / 10

For boozy mam’s

While thinking about giving a recipe as a gift, why not combine that with alcohol. Tequilla Rose  is for sale on Drinksupermarket and also Selfridges from around £15. I tried the ‘Mothers Rose’ (designed by Jacob Hewlett-Case at Walrus Bar) recipe which you add 25ml of the liqueur to white hot chocolate. Very scrumptious!

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Verdict: I usually hate tequila but this could change my mind! 7 / 10

If spirits aren’t her thing fear not there are always new additions to the wine market such as Rosso Nobile al Cioccolata, a rich red wine laced with decadent chocolate flavours. A bargain too at £5.99 per bottle with 6 case deals available at Rosso Nobile

Verdict: I could drink this all night (though I do have a sweet tooth) great for after dinner 8 / 10

For tea drinkers

For tea drinkers I love this colour changing mug from IWOOT Priced at £9.99 it’s a chunky mug to fit a generous drink and so very cute!

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Verdict: 8/10

Musical mam’s

If your mam is partial to her tunes (even if it’s Abba and Blondie hits) she will love this little gadget. Boom Pod’s Downdraft speaker is wireless, charges easily with a mini USB and really gives out a hefty beat. I was actually shocked at how loud one little speaker could go! It’s also very sleek in design – almost like a large pebble. Sound clarity is brilliant, thought the range is limited.

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Verdict: 9 / 10

Best for Value

If the budget is a little low this year, but you don’t want to compromise on quality head to Aldi. This classic real leather bag is only £7.99

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Verdict: Not a whacky gift, but a good ‘safe option’ 8 / 10

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.
bio

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

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

Christmas Foodie Gifts

13 Dec

Galloway Lodge chutney and jam

When putting together Christmas hampers this year why not include delicious homemade preserves. Some are very easy to make but if you want a time saving cheat gift order from the Galloway Lodge range. Their Elderflower and rhubarb preserve is one of the most delicious that I have tasted. Nice and thick and not too sweet it’s worth the splurge price of around £2.95 for each item. Available at galloway-lodge.myshopify.com
galloway2 galloway1
Verdict: A yummy 8/10

Luxury Food

For a luxury sweet treat this year treat yourself to a splurge on MerangzChristmas Decadence Bites – a limited edition gift box of six mini meringues in six festive flavours.
Priced at £ these delicious boxes of naughtiness cost around £5.95 and can be purchased at www.merangz.co.uk and Selfridges (Manchester and Birmingham) / Kitchen Garden, Birmingham / The Ludlow Food Centre, Shropshire /St Peters Nurseries, Worcestershire / Packington Moor Farm Shop, Lichfield.

 

Yum!

Yum!

 

Verdict: A yummy and unique 9/10

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

9 Dec

And for once I don’t mind! Never mind that the gifts were on the shelves since October, it is now a dark, cold and wet December and the perfect time to get festive. That’s because for me Christmas involves lots of booze, sumptuous food and fun times with friends and family. So whether you’re drinking it or gifting it here are some of the best for 2014:

Line up the Christmas Booze

Whether its for gifting, or drinking, t’tis the season to be jolly!

 

Oddka
This drink is a bit of Christmas fun. As the name would suggest, it is a bit odd! With it’s dusty pink colour it would certainly make a pretty stocking filler. I tried this drink as a short and found it very sweet and palatable, however I was stuck as what to mix it with for a long party drink. In the end because it reminded me so much of strawberry milkshake I tried it out with skimmed milk as a mini cocktail. It was actually very yummy, if a little different. This vodka is 20% proof and retails at around £10. At present Sainsburys do have a sale, with £2.50 off  making it even better value for money.

Oddka

Oddka

Verdict: not for everyone but a unique gift 7/10

Three Barrels Honey
French grape brandy, Three Barrels, has been blended with honey flavours to create Three Barrels Honey – perfect for a christmas gift. I created one of the Three Barrels cocktails, and thought it was very tasty! I would love to feed a christmas cake with this brandy, it would certainly add to the flavour.

THREE BARRELS HONEY FIZZ
Glass: Chilled flute
Method: Pour in order listed and stir
Ice: None
Ingredients:
25ml Three Barrels Honey
Top with Champagne or dry sparkling wine (Cava or Prosecco)
Garnish: Lemon oils sprayed and discard zest

Three Barrels Honey

Three Barrels Honey

Three Barrels Honey is available in Morrisons at around £17 per bottle.

Verdict: A very sweet 8 / 10 

Opihr Gin
While I usually see gin as my new year drink, tasty with slimline tonic while detoxing from the Christmas baileys, I do love to receive it as a gift in time for the new year celebrations. I reviewed Opihr’s Oriental Spiced gin, and a tasty treat it was indeed! There is something very luxurious about the bottle, whether it’s the little tassel or the exotic look to the bottle it’s most certainly aesthetically pleasing. Now to the drinking! This gin has a very district flavour with Cubebs from Indonesia, Black Pepper from India & Coriander from Morocco. It’s made by G&J Distillers, England’s oldest producer of high quality gin since 1761, and is priced at £23.00 in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

A beautiful gift bottle

A beautiful gift bottle

 

Verdict: Santa certainly wouldn’t say no to this warming tipple on Christmas Eve! 9/10

 

Rum
The Wild Geese has launched a collection of three Caribbean rums, new to the UK this winter:

– The Wild Geese Golden Rum – uses hand picked parcels of aged rum, matured for up to five years. Butterscotch tones and pronounced aromatic spice.

– The Wild Geese Premium Rum – an intense, bright gold blend, aged for up to eight years. Takes you on a journey through the Caribbean, with pronounced hints of a soft, aged Bajan heritage and honeyed aromoatic Guyanese and Jamaican pot still character.

– The Wild Geese Caribbean Spiced Rum – a golden rum with a heart of spice. Full and sweet with a layer of toffee sponge, dark chocolate and cinnamon.
First and foremost this rum makes a beautiful gift. The bottle is emblazoned with a metal and diamanté skull! I quite enjoy that this brand steps away from the tropical paradise theme that we usually see with Rum brands, and instead goes for option two – pirates!

rum

Now for the tasting. I’m not a massive rum connoisseur. But after a trip to Cuba recently I have been introduced to some lovely rums, which would put my cheap bottles of past for house party mojoto’s to shame. This rum certainly falls into the premium category, I mixed with pineapple and was surprised at the mellow yet strong flavour – with no nasty aftertaste. Definitely a thumbs up! You can buy The Wild Geese at specialist drinks suppliers.

Verdict: a ho ho ho and a bottle of rum 8/10

 

Top Tip: 
To make your Christmas booze trolley even cheaper this year sign up to Ocado as a new customer and with an £80 spend you can use a £20 voucher. At present their drinks offers are even cheaper than Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys with a litre of Bombay sapphire at £17, a litre of Baileys £12 and a litre of Smirnoff Ice red at £15.

If it is wine (including mulled and sparkling) or port that tickles your fancy Sainsburys currently have an offer where if you purchase six bottles you save a hefty 25%.

Christmas for Cat Lovers

27 Oct

Ok, let’s talk about the elephant in the room… My name’s Rachel and I am a cat-oholic.  Since becoming single I find myself sort of saying it under my breath like “yeah I have two cats” because of the crazy cat lady stigma. But after much soul searching I decided to come out as a cat owner as it were and deal with the consequences. After all – any man I meet will have to like my cats if they are going to be with me. “Meh, I think cats are alright” will no longer be my tagline.

So…I love cats! What is not to love? Their cute little paws, the way they give you a little nudge with a nose when you cry, as though to say ‘hey! Why are you crying, come and play instead?’ The way that you can provide complete bliss for your furry friend just by waving a ribbon creates lovely times and lots of giggles, and while I don’t run home thinking cats, cats, cats I do think that my house became a home the day that these spiky little bundles arrived. Cats are inherently selfish creatures, so to gain their love feels like a reward and humans do ponder over their ways – that much is clear from all of the literature out there.

My Cutie Dexter :-)

My Cutie Dexter 🙂

Today a new book has launched called Meow – A book of happiness for cat lovers. By Anouska Jones it currently retails at £12.95. This glossy hardback is a compendium of quotes that aim to capture the essence of this fascination. I actually really recommend this book for those cat lovers who hate books about cats. Rather than looking at the authors experience of carts, or god forbid doing it from a cat’s perspective. I actually hate those books with a passion (and trust me I have been given a few, the curse and blessing for a cat owner is cat related gifts) and much prefer books such as Simon’s Cat, which give a bit of a comedic angle on the crazy little things that cats do. This book has a feel of that about it – in that it collates the ponderings of many people.

meow
Verdict: 7/10 definitely a one to get for cat owners if you are stuck for ideas!

 

 

BECAUSE CATS…

While I am the topic of cat related gifts I must quickly mention another product I spotted recently on Amazon and have instantly ordered. Firstly it felt like it sums everything up in two words, secondly it is an absolute bargain at £1.79. Be aware as with all international orders this takes ages to arrive, so order early!

Because Cats

Verdict: 9/10 does what it says on the tin!

Christmas Traditions

3 Dec

As a child the Christmas buzz would begin a day early – on Christmas Eve. We would each get one present to open that night, and usually a few sweets too, and the present would always be a brand new pair of pyjamas. It made Christmas that bit more special, going to bed all clean and fresh in our jazzy new threads, knowing that when would wake Santy would have been and gone.

In modern times, pyjamas have been cast aside and with colder winters of late, toasty warm ‘onsies’ are now the new trend. Last year I blogged about the trend and I was a bit unsure as to what I thought, this year however I have been converted and won’t go back! I have tested out the nicest, cosiest and cutest onsie on the market – and I am huge fan. The best onsies are to be found at The All-In-One Company www.the-all-in-one-company.co.uk where you can design and customise your own bespoke onsies. Options include different shapes, fabrics, slippers or no slippers, drop seat or not. My favourite is that you can even add your own ears, tails, and embellished text / logo. The sizes are even bespoke – avoid the ‘camel toe’ onsie look that is a particular risk for tall men and women! I designed my onsie in lamb-fawn material, with ribbed sleeves, detached slippers with non-slip grip, a full length zip, bear hood and finally the logo ‘Huw Bear’. My cute bear certainly approved, and he can be seen modelling the onsie below.

The onsie that I designed is made of a soft flock like material, with a slightly tougher interior, and the zip is conveniently long. Elasticated hand and feet cuffs keep the onsie in place and cute teddy bear ears promise to transform even the most serious adult into an adorable cuddly creature. I would give these a 10/10 for quality and even though they are on the pricey side – an adult onsie can set you back up to £90 depending how many extra customisations you choose. After much research on the hight street however, I have been unable to find such a high quality specimen. Rather than spend £25 for one that won’t last or wash well, I would rather have one of these to last me a really long time. I would certainly recommend as a gift for adults, and for those with children the baby and child versions are too cute for words.

Huw Bear

Huw Bear

I had to try it!

I had to try it!

Verdict: 10/10

Fathers Day 2013

4 Jun

There are two great fathers day card offers this year. First is Tesco Cards – they are currently offering half price on all fathers day cards with the added option to pre pay and get 30% extra credit. This offer can be viewed at www.tesco-cards.com.
Second up is the current deal from Funky Pigeon – 50% off their top 50 Fathers Day card designs. There is also the option to pre pay and gain 25% extra credit and I have landed a discount code for an extra 25% off all cards (up to three cards per code) just visit www.funkypigeon.com and enter FUNKYASP2013 in the ‘Promo Code’ box. An added extra with Funky Pigeon is the option to add a note to the envelope to say ‘Do not open until xxxx’ which is really useful to keep the suprise for special occasions but ensure that your card arrives in time.

See the card that I made below for £1.49

blog post 1

Verdict: Funky pigeon is 10/10 for choice wheras Tesco Cards are only 6/10 for choice, although they are a bit cheaper.

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