Irresistible Gifts for Your Christmas List

December is right around the corner and if you’re like me you’ll now be busy with your Christmas shopping. You’re probably also thinking about your own Christmas wishlists (it’s hard to go shopping for other people without at least noticing some things you’d love yourself), and that’s where the inspiration for this post came from – a collection of gorgeous things that I could just as easily buy for myself as any of the ladies in my life. Add them to your Christmas list, or treat your loved ones.

Glossier Cloud Paint

Glossier Cloud Paints would be on my Christmas list, if I hadn’t already bought some on Black Friday! I’m so excited to try these natural cheek tints in their seriously cute packaging, and I’ll review them very soon.

Glossier Cloud paint

Disney Bone China Teacup and Saucer

Every lady needs a bone china teacup, and now you can get one for (almost) every Disney Princess! I’ve featured Aurora here because this post seems to have a pink theme, but the one I bought (a while ago) was Belle in yellow. They’re all so pretty though!

Disney Teacup

Sister & Co Gift Set

I really want to try some of the gorgeous skincare products from Sister & Co., so what better way than with a gift set of their top essentials?

sister and co gift set

Rose Bath Shard

Bath bombs and melts are old news – it’s all about the bath shard! This rose one from Miss Patisserie is made with conditioning cocoa and shea butters, and when it melts in the bath it releases gorgeous rose petals. Now that’s a princess bath!

Rose Bath shard

Strawberry Prosecco Candle

I’m a big fan of Flamingo Candles, and love their quirky new designs.

Prosecco Candle

Beauty & the Beast – Illustrated Book

When I visited the MinaLima store in London I got distracted from all the Harry Potter merch by their unbelievably stunning illustrated fairytale books. Seriously, they are so gorgeous inside, with lovely illustrations and magical interactive features! Truthfully, they are probably too beautiful to read, but what a gorgeous gift they’d be!

Illustrated beauty and the beast

Velvet Cami Pyjamas

Cute velvet pyjamas. I don’t need to explain.

Velvet pyjamas

Happiness Planner

Happiness planners are all the rage right now, and since we should all make happiness a priority, I’m all for it! This blush pink one is simple but lovely.

Planner2

What’s on your Christmas list this year, and have you been sidetracked by pretty things whilst shopping for your loved ones?

Note: All the beauty products in this post are cruelty free.

15 Favourites: Velvet Everything

Finally, a post dedicated to my current favourite trend – velvet! You’ve probably noticed that it’s everywhere at the moment and you can buy any item you want in velvet. I love how it looks so luxurious and Christmassy, which makes it the perfect texture for this time of year. Not mention that it feels so soft – I could wear velvet all day long! Here are 15 of my favourite velvet pieces around right now.

Party velvet

You don’t need to wear head-to-toe velvet – just adding a few velvet touches to party outfits makes them look extra festive.

Party velvet pieces

1. Pink velvet shoulder bag from Simply Be; 2. Grey velvet sandals from Dorothy Perkins; 3. Velvet dress from Zara; 4. Pleated velvet skirt from Zara; 5. Necklace from Mango

Daytime velvet

I love how cute these velvet pieces are for adding a little luxe to your casual wardrobe. I want all of these things!

Casual velvet pieces

6. Velvet denim jacket from Topshop; 7. Velvet pinafore dress from Topshop; 8. Crushed velvet backpack from Matalan; 9. Blush velvet lace up boots from Dorothy Perkins; 10. Burgundy velvet trainers from EGO

Accessorise your home with velvet

I clearly have a colour preference when it comes to velvet home accessories. If only I had the space…

Velvet home accessories

11. Crushed velvet beanbag from JD Williams; 12. Cocktail velvet chair from Oliver Bonas; 13. Vintage pink velvet footstool from MADE.com; 14. Crushed velvet cushion from The Range; 15. Soft velvet throw from Debenhams

Are you a fan of the velvet trend? How will you be wearing it?

Escape from the creepiest motel at Breakout Manchester

Last week I took on another live escape game at Breakout Manchester, and this time it was a room with a creepy twist which made it just perfect for the run up to Halloween. I’ve now attempted 7 escape room games, and I have to say this was one of my faves!

Creepy motel escape room Manchester

The room was “Vacancy”, and we were checked into a very ominous motel room before realising that our host had locked us in and had murder in mind. We then had an hour to escape by solving a series of puzzles and codes. I really loved this room – the puzzles were great and the creepy theme was very atmospheric with an excellent level of detail. I loved that it was a fully immersive experience, even to the point where we had to sign into the hotel guestbook before entering our room!

I’ve tried a few different “brands” of escape room now, and although quite a few have a high standard of game, Breakout are coming out on top for me because they make the effort to really set the scene and create backstory before you enter. This is so much more fun than just being dropped off in a room and locked in, hoping you’d read the synopsis online beforehand. A theme can easily get lost in the chaos of hunting for clues, and the atmospheric intro I’ve always had at Breakout really adds something extra. I also prefer Breakout’s big screen approach to giving hints (always cryptic) when you are lost. I’d much rather this than have the game (and mood!) interrupted by asking for a clue.

Breakout Manchester

Vacancy is quite a tough room (rated 4/5 for difficulty), and the panic started to set in with 5 minutes to go when it seemed we would never check out of the Crimson Lake Motel! However, I’m pleased to say that we escaped with just over 3 minutes still on the clock and we felt very exhilarated afterwards. As I say, it was one of my favourite escape rooms to date, and I would definitely recommend it for a creepy Halloween activity. They have some even scarier sounding rooms if you dare!

Have you ever tried Breakout or any other escape room game?

My favourite lunch spots in Manchester right now

I’ve worked in Manchester’s Northern Quarter for about 5 years, and I have tried and tested so many lunch spots in the city centre. Seriously, there are more than I can remember! But there are a few that impressed me so much that they are regulars, faves, and my go-to places for lunch in the city. (There are actually a few more than this, but I decided they qualified more as “brunch” spots, so I’ll make sure I do a separate post about those). Here are my top 6 lunch spots you may not know about:

West Cnr 

West Corner MCR

Conquistador salad with fried chicken

This very stylish diner has popped up in the Northern Quarter in the past year, and not only is it very convenient for me, it also has my favourite salad dish in the city! Seriously, it tastes so good that I don’t know if it even classes as a salad. I don’t really have the time to dine in on a work lunchtime, but I’ll admit that I get my lunch from their takeaway entrance about once a week.

Slice

Slice Pizza Manchester

They serve amazing pizzas and focaccia by the slice and now have a tasty selection of salads, which are great as a side order or as a meal on their own. This little gem is very popular on sunny days thanks to its outdoor seating area and their delicious selection of Italian gelato flavours. You can eat in here (and enjoy an Aperol spritz), but it’s just as easy to grab lunch on the go. 

Evelyn’s 

Evelyns Manchester

If you like your lunch with instagrammable leafy interiors then Evelyn’s is perfect. It’s tucked away on Tib street and the menu is varied and hip. Healthy options include their “Green Bowl” but I went for this potato hash with fried egg on my last visit, which was amazing!

Vapiano

Vapiano lunch Manchester

Vapiano is a chain you might already be familiar with, but it has made the list because I love the bespoke fresh pasta dishes made in front of you, the bright spacious interior, and the weird (but convenient) paying system which means you don’t have to wait for the bill at the end. You can get your food really quickly here, but the place is very chilled out and you don’t feel rushed. Which makes it kinda perfect!

Oak Street café bar

Oak Street Cafe Bar Manchester

This cute café can be found inside the Manchester Craft and Design Centre and it’s a tiny but peaceful spot with an ever-changing menu of freshly made soups, salads, quiches, stews and cakes.

Ezra & Gil

Ezra & Gil Manchester

Ezra & Gil is the latest addition to my list, because it’s usually so full that I’ve only just had chance to try it out! It’s popular for its amazing coffee and speedy service. It’s very rustic inside, but their menu is tasty with great specials and I loved this unusual dish of butternut squash and feta on rye toast with a poached egg.

Have you “lunched” in any of these spots?

6 Beauty Items You’re Not Sure You Need

I think we all know what it feels like to constantly hear about beauty products we can’t live without. We could spend an absolute fortune on the latest must-haves and beauty trends, and that’s on top of our old faithful products that we already use on a daily basis. So we really want to know whether a product is really worth having – does it even make a difference?! Here are my thoughts on 5 beauty items that I’ve wondered if I even need.

Beauty items you might not need

Toner

This is the age old one – do I really need this additional step between cleansing and moisturising? What does a toner even do? Well apparently a good toner removes excess impurities (you’d be surprised what cleansers miss!), shrinks pores and helps with oily skin. Cult favourite Pixi Glow Tonic goes even further – it’s an exfoliating and conditioning toner which clarifies the skin to leave brighter, glowing skin. I’ve just started using this product and I do really love it. A lot of people really swear by it and say it’s transformed their skin.

My verdict: I don’t have problem skin so I have never seen toner as totally necessary, but I do think that if you choose the right toner it can make a noticeable difference.

Pixi Glow Tonic

Charcoal face masks

There are all sorts of face masks out there claiming to do various different things, and charcoal masks have been seen everywhere lately. I have to admit I love applying a face mask and relaxing in the bath, but apart from being a nice way to relax, do they really do anything? Well I haven’t tried any of the peel-off charcoal masks that you see everywhere, but I am a big fan of The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal Mask. This mask really detoxes the skin and thanks to the purifying charcoal and the addition of tea tree oil it puts an end to spots quickly if I see any starting to appear.

My verdict: I swear by my charcoal mask for sorting out breakouts fast!

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal mask

Makeup primer

The point of a primer is creating a smooth base to improve your makeup finish, and it should also help your makeup last longer. People swear by primers and if you find your makeup doesn’t stay put then it’s probably worth investing in, but I’ve never noticed a difference to be honest. That’s why I use Illamasqua Radiance Veil, which is part primer, part illuminator, because at least I get to see a visible difference (see my review of Illamasqua Radiance Veil here).

My Verdict: It totally depends on your skin, but I don’t see it as an essential addition to my collection.

Illamasqua Radiance Veil primer

Body scrub

I always have a body scrub in my bathroom, and I have various favourites. I have even made my own in the past using sugar and carrier oils. Regularly using scrubs is recommended for buffing away dead skin cells and increasing circulation, and the result should be smooth glowing skin. You might not see a noticeable difference but its good skin maintenance to use a body scrub once a week.

My verdict: It’s not an essential daily use product, but it’s good to “scrub” every now and again.

Coconut Coffee Body Scrub

Lip scrub

If you love matte lipsticks you’ll know that if your lips aren’t perfectly smooth, your lip colour will highlight every imperfection! I bought a lip scrub to make sure I’m regularly buffing off any dry skin on my lips, and it works perfectly! But I am also perfectly aware that I could have sorted this problem by gently brushing my lips with a toothbrush…

My verdict: You can certainly achieve the same results in a different way, so really you don’t need this product. But £6 for a lovely Lush one is worth it in my opinion.

Lush popcorn lip scrub

Base coat

The point of a base coat is to provide a smooth base for nail polish and give it something to bond to so that it doesn’t chip as easily. I never used to use a base coat, and used to moan about how soon my polish chipped – even though I applied top coat! I have totally seen a difference since I start using one – a good one will really make your nail polish last longer!

My verdict: I actually swear by base coat now and I never apply nail polish without it!

Butter London base coat

What do you think? Are all these products essential to your beauty routine?

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Beauty products you're not sure you need

My Favourite Ways to Wear Statement Sleeves Right Now

Of all the trends that have appeared this season, statement sleeves is the one I can seriously see sticking around for quite a while. From tiered ruffles to big volume to flared cuffs, there are loads of sleeve shapes that can add drama to an outfit with very little effort. Here are my favourite ways to wear this trend for right now, with pieces that will flow right into the start of the autumn season.

Dresses with statement sleeves

Short dresses with dramatic sleeves are a great way to give some balance to your outfit. I recommend wearing with barely-there sandals too, so that your sleeves get all the attention.

Ways to wear statement sleeves - dresses

Dark blue satin dress from H&M

Mustard frill dress from Zara

Wear with…

Ways to wear statement sleeves - dresses outfits

Silver sandals from H&M

Floral cross body bag from Accessorize

Knits with statement sleeves

Knitwear shapes are changing, and sleeves that are a little extra are definitely the way forward. Even a simple casual outfit with jeans and boots will look stylish with this trend. Tip: I’d keep my jeans skinny to balance out the outfit.

Ways to wear statement sleeves - knits

Mustard extreme sleeve jumper from Topshop

Pink balloon sleeve sweatshirt from Topshop

Wear with…

Ways to wear statement sleeves - knits outfit

Skinny ankle jeans from H&M

Pink chelsea ankle boots

Pretty blouses with statement sleeves

Shirts and blouses are anything but basic with oversized bell cuffs and tiered ruffles. Pair with jeans and flats for a very easy smart-casual way to wear the trend.

Ways to wear statement sleeves - tops

Embroidered ruffle sleeve shirt from Pretty Little Thing

Tiered sleeve top from Warehouse

Wear with…Ways to wear statement sleeves - tops outfit

Silver pumps from Dorothy Perkins

Skinny jeans from H&M

Is this a trend you’ll be wearing?

This Lipstick Lasts All Day

I’m dedicating this post to my favourite lipstick brand – Sleek Matte Me. If you’re looking for lip colour with staying power (who isn’t?!) I can wholeheartedly recommend this brand, and there are actually quite a few reasons why I love it so much…

Lipstick that lasts all day

It does not budge all day long

I now own 2 colours from the Matte Me range, and both of them just last for hours and hours. And I’ve never met a lipstick wearer who didn’t want their lipstick to last all day!

Sleek Matte Me lip colour

It has a perfect matte finish

Despite being packaged and applied like a lip gloss, Matte Me has a gorgeous matte finish (as the name would suggest), and I always prefer matte lipsticks.

It’s so pigmented!

The first thing I noticed when I tried Party Pink, the first Matte Me lipstick I owned, was the amazing vibrant red hue. It’s probably the most pigmented lip colour I’ve ever used! And even Birthday Suit (the perfect classy nude), is just as pigmented. It’s a much higher quality than its high-street price tag would suggest!

Lasting lipstick - Sleek Matte Me Party Pink

Lasting lipstick - Sleek Matte Me Birthday Suit

It’s cruelty free!

This is my number 1 priority when shopping for cosmetics, so I’m very, very happy that Sleek is a cruelty-free brand. (I also love their BB cream and eye shadow palettes by the way).

It’s a total bargain

It costs just £4.99, which is an amazing price for such a great lipstick. The Sleek range is sold in Superdrug stores, so it’s very easy to get hold of too.

Lip colour that does not budge

I cannot recommend Sleek Matte Me enough, and although I could go my whole life only using these vibrant red and classy nude shades, I’d certainly consider expanding my collection to try some of the others in the range.