Monday, 30 November 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas | #GeorgeSecretSanta

"Bleedin heck, is it time to buy Christmas presents again already?!"

You can often hear me exclaiming something of that ilk when this time of year rolls around, seriously I'm usually rubbish at remembering to buy presents for my nearest and dearest any earlier than about a week before the big day.  Terrible, I know!

Christmas Gifts | #GeorgeSecretSanta

Anyway this year I feel a little bit more prepared for the festive season thanks to my involvement in a special blogger Secret Santa from George.  The premise was like any other Secret Santa; I'd choose some pressies for a fellow blogger who wouldn't know my identity and another blogger would reciprocate.  With the awesome gift finder from George it was easy as pie finding suitable gifts for the blogger I was assigned and I got some amazingly thoughtful presents in return.  Obviously the advice from the Christmas Elves at Talented Talkers to stalk Instagram, Twitter and blog posts for gift inspiration worked well!  Keep on a-reading to see what I got...

Christmas Gifts | #GeorgeSecretSanta

The first item to tumble out of my parcel when it arrived was this fabulously fluffy bathrobe.  Oh how I love a good bathrobe; in the winter I often get home from work, feed both the humans and the felines in the house then get straight into my robe... so comfy and cosy!

Christmas Gifts | #GeorgeSecretSanta
 
Next up I couldn't help but reach for this great little Red Siren gift set from Maybelline.  It contains the Colossal Go Extreme Mascara, Superstay 24 hour Lip in Red Alert and the Superstay Nail Varnish in Deep Red.  I haven't tried any of these products but I'm excited to give them a go for a Christmas party in the near future.

Christmas Gifts | #GeorgeSecretSanta

Wrapped up in a parcel, and tied with festive string, were these stylise espresso cups.  My husband Gaz was particularly happy to see these, he's a big fan of a strong coffee on a morning.

Christmas Gifts | #GeorgeSecretSanta

The penultimate gifts!  A pair of gloves and a woolly beret to keep me warm over the winter.  Did I mention I hate being cold?  You can see these will come in handy then, and being black and grey, they'll go with everything in my wardrobe too!

Christmas Gifts | #GeorgeSecretSanta

If my squeal of delight is anything to go by, I think it's safe to say that the last gift in my parcel was my favourite.  My obsession with Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures is relatively new but well documented on my blog and all over my social media.  I've always felt there was a big Iron Man shaped hole in my collection, so I'm glad to have this little guy take the spot.

So I think you can agree that the gifts I received were pretty perfect for me, and I genuinely hope the person I was assigned has enjoyed their pressies too.

I was pleasantly surprised by the range of gifts on offer with the gift finder from George too, I can definitely see myself taking advantage of this to find presents for my own family.


Look out for more Christmas content coming from me in the next week or so, with perhaps even a few gifts for the men included.  Until next time...

SHARON

Sunday, 15 November 2015

DIY Beauty | #MiraMessMakers

There's no doubt about it, in my lifetime I've spent an absolute fortune on beauty products.  It's a shameful amount really, particularly when you consider how much of the stuff you buy in Boots and Superdrug, [particularly when it comes to bodycare) doesn't seem to have a lot to it.

You can probably see then why I was intrigued when Mira Showers and Midas Touch Crafts challenged me to whip up some beauty products of my very own as part of their #MiraMessMakers campaign?


A quick Google of DIY beauty made it obvious there were so many different things I could make, but I decided to start simple and stick with some favourites product types, and those that I could make with just a few ingredients...


VANILLA AND COCONUT BODY MOISTURISER

The ingredients: Coconut oil, vitamin e tablet, vanilla extract or vanilla essential oil, cocoa powder.

The method: Add a couple of generous spoons of coconut oil to a bowl, squeeze in a vitamin c tablet, a couple of drops of vanilla extract and follow with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.  Give everything a vigorous stir to incorporate and decant into whatever storage you fancy.  I bought a little kilner jar especially for the occasion, if I was feeling fancy I might even have decorated it.

The result: Oh em gee, this stuff smells good, and it works pretty nicely too.  I get a bit dry on my upper arms and elbows and the combination of the coconut oil and vitamin E is rich and soothing, great on damp skin just after a shower.  I'll definitely make something like this again on occasion, but might mix up the scented ingredients a bit.


CHOCOLATE AND CINNAMON LIP SCRUB

The ingredients: Brown sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and coconut oil

The method: I used a heaped tablespoon of brown sugar and added a large pinch of cocoa powder and a smaller pinch of cinnamon.  Finally I used a heaped teapspoon of coconut oil and stirred my concoction well until everything was mixed.  I put my final product into an old lip scrub container from Lush, appropriate I thought!

The result: Ok, I definitely used entirely too much cocoa powder, resulting in a very dark lip scrub.  The colour hasn't changed the efficacy though, the sugar was just the right amount of scrubby and the coconut oil left my lips feeling lovely and nourished.  The chocolate and cinnamon were lovely flavours but I'd really like to try and recreate my favourite Lush lip scrub (Mint Julips if you're wondering) next time so will probably remove the cinnamon and add some mint essential oil. Yum!


OVERALL VERDICT

Although I can't say I'll be cooking up new beauty products every week, I will definitely keep making my own lip scrub and might even venture into making some face masks with products from my kitchen.

Have you made your own beauty products before?  I'd love to hear about your favourite recipes!

SHARON

Friday, 13 November 2015

My fave places in York | #ShopInYork

When Rodgers of York got in touch with me recently to ask if I fancied joining in their #ShopInYork campaign and writing about my favourite shopping haunts, I couldn't help but say yes.  You could call me a little biased, but my home city of York, however small, is perfectly formed when it comes to spending your hard earned cash

My fave places in York | #ShopInYork

The city centre is the obvious main attraction for visitors to the area.  The place is practically dripping in history, and down each of the cobbled streets you'll find a treasure trove of historic buildings and attractions sitting comfortably alongside restaurants, big name brands stores and smaller independent shops.

Of course our shopping in York is not limited to the city centre; only 5 or 10 minutes drive, or a short bus journey away, you'll find Monks Cross and the Vangarde Shopping Park.  There's a huge range here, from restaurants and coffee shops to furniture stores, beauty and fashion; literally something for everyone.

With so much variety, it proved a difficult task choosing some of my favourite places to shop and eat in York, but I gave it a good shot.  They're in no particular order, but if I'm out and about shopping on a weekend you can guarantee I'll hit up at least one of these places...

#ShopInYork | Neal's Yard Remedies, Give The Dog A Bone, John Lewis, Shared Earth

Neal's Yard Remedies (Low Petergate) - This little shop has a great apothecary vibe going on.  You can find the expected skincare, bodycare and makeup, but you can also get some health foods and supplements, the ethos being that it'll get you glowing inside and out.

Give The Dog A Bone (Fossgate) - Oh how I love this place.  Have a geeky passion that you need to represent in your home or wardrobe?  Or want to buy a card with an off-colour joke for that special someone with a great sense of humour?  Give The Dog A Bone will have something for you; their signage puts it perfectly: "Two floors of things you don't need but really really want!"

John Lewis (Vangarde Shopping Park) - A fabulous addition to York and so many great things under one roof.  I visit John Lewis for beauty products (like Nars and Hourglass) that I can't get anywhere else in the city.  Outside of that I love John Lewis for furniture, kitchen supplies and stationery.

Shared Earth (Minster Yard) - This is one of those cool little places that feels like a mini bazaar and sells all sorts of fair trade gifts and homewares from all over the world.  You can find me here when I want to stock up on funky candle holders, incense (yep I burn incense now and then) and dreamcatchers.

#ShopInYork | El Piano, Shambles Kitchen, Turtle Bay, Nando's

El Piano (Grape Lane) - For those in the know, I feel like El Piano is a bit of a York institution, although I only discovered it a few years ago, it's been around since 1997, and all the while has been serving up delicious vegan and gluten free food to locals and visitors alike.  With influences from India, Mexico, Spain and the US, there's always something tasty to eat here, I definitely don't visit often enough.

Shambles Kitchen (The Shambles) - I just hear the name of this little eaterie and my mouth waters.  It's fast food, no doubt about it, but healthy too.  They do wickedly tasty wraps, street food bowls and burritos (for meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans alike).  Fancy something lighter?  Their smoothie and juice menu is pretty epic too.

Turtle Bay (Stonegate) - Probably one of the newest bars and resturants in York, Turtle Bay arrived on the scene with a bang - obviously they serve some great Caribbean food, but my favourite thing about Turtle Bay is the drinks menu; on a night out and with happy hour in full swing, I'm all about the rum cocktails!

Nando's (Vangarde Shopping Park) - Sometimes you just need your food quick and dirty, and that's what Nando's is all sbout.  Admittedly, since I started eating a plant-based diet there are limited options on the menu, but give me a mushroom burger, some macho peas and fries with peri peri salt and I'm one happy camper.

Phew, that's a fair few places in York that I love and believe me when I tell you, there's so much more to discover here.

Visiting the city for the first time?  Catch me on Twitter and I'll happily give you more recommendations.  Until next time...

*This post was written in collaboration with Rodgers of York

SHARON
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