Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why I'm Not Blogging at the Moment

Hi, I don't really know how to write this and I've been putting it off but I finally felt ready. Last Saturday my boyfriend was given the news that his dad had passed away, he was only 50. It was sudden, unexpected and a massive shock, one I still don't think has fully sunk in. I apologize for dropping that on you because it's horrid to hear of loss at the best of times but just before Christmas just makes it seem worst. We are okay and getting things sorted, Christmas will be a little weird this year. I just wanted to let you know, it's been rather quiet on here.

It's a week since my last post, I think that's maybe the longest I've gone without posting since I started. I'm disappointed that Blogmas hasn't turned out like I had hoped but 12 days of continuous posts was still a big achievement. I hope that you can understand why I'm not posting at the moment, I just don't feel that Christmassy and have zero motivation. But I hope to be back as soon as I feel ready with loads of new posts for you guys. Have a lovely Christmas.

Sam

Saturday, December 12, 2015

My Christmas Wishlist | #BLOGMAS Day 12

Hi, Today I wanted to share my Christmas wishlist. I have a real hard time thinking about what I want for Christmas because there aren't that many things I feel I really need, although I'll never say no to Lush goodies or a H&M voucher but other than that I'm stuck. I was forced by a few family members to put my thinking cap on and come up with some ideas so I thought I'd share my picks with you.



On my list you'll find the For life Strainer teapot and some lose leaf green tea, I bought my boyfriend one of these teapots last Christmas and I totally recommend them. I'm almost out of the Loverdose perfume and the 50ml bottle is only £25 on Superdrug at the moment, it's a really great scent and one you should try.

I'm a massive Lush fan and I'll be happy with any products from their range but I really want to try 'The Magic of Christmas Wand' and I'd love to have a play with some 'Fun' for the first time, it's not a product I see reviewed. I'm a big reader and a lover of trilogies so I though it was about time that I read the Divergent series. Finally I picked the sleeping Pikachu plush just because it's super cute.

What's on your Christmas list?
Sam

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Friday, December 11, 2015

10 Budget Friendly Christmas Tips | #BLOGMAS Day 11

Hi, It's no secret that I'm really frugal with my spending and if at all possible I will save money when making a purchase. I don't think Christmas should be any different and if anything it's a time when everyone needs to reassess what they really need as it's such an expensive time of year. Christmas shouldn't be about how lavish a gift you can buy or how many, it's a time for getting together with people we care about and being thankful for the things we already have, I think the commercial side of Christmas gets in the way a bit. Today I've got some tips for saving money over the Christmas period, some of these might be a little late for those of you who are really organised.


Budget Friendly Christmas Tips

Gift Budgets and Secret Santa
This year me, my friends and family have all agreed to have a spending limit on the gifts we buy so that things don't get out of hand. If you have a big family why not consider a Secret Santa system. You could still buy everyone a smaller token gift, but by doing the Secret Santa everyone still gets one special gift.

Hand Deliver Cards
Okay so this one might not be super doable depending on the distance your family and friends are spread around the country/world, but if possible popping into see those people is not only saving you the cost of a postage stamp but brightening someones day.

Buy Tickets In Advance
I personally don't need to travel but I do know that train tickets are expensive, if you plan ahead and pre-book tickets you can save loads of money. If possible why not get someone to give you a lift and pay for the petrol it's probably a lot cheaper, or look at other ways to travel like the Mega bus which has some crazily low prices.

Don't Buy Gift Sets
This one will probably split people because there's something nice about a preboxed gift which is easy to wrap and sometimes with deals they will work out cheaper but in other cases depending on the contents it's way cheaper to make your own hamper of goodies.

Offers and Loyalty Points
If gift sets are your thing make sure you're getting an offer, check for the best price and if possible take advantage of multi buy offers. Buying from stores with loyalty points means you're also getting something back, Tesco have a double up system on points already collected so you can buy even more.

Don't Over Look The Pound Shops
I recently did a £1 stocking filler gift guide and it just shows what amazing things you can pick up for as little as a pound, with a little shopping around sometimes even cheaper. No one said gifts had to be expensive to be good.

Give Homemade
So craft isn't always that cheap but homemade gifts do really show you care. It's the perfect excuse to do some festive baking, you could make some cookies. Alternatively learn to knit and make a scarf for someone.

Start Shopping in The Sales
I'm known for doing this, it helps if you've got the storage room but you can really make some great savings. I don't tend to keep the gifts until Christmas choosing to pick unfestive gifts to give out as Birthday presents during the year. If it's Christmas gifts you want look out for seasonal sales earlier in the year where you can pick up quirky items a lot cheaper. Don't buy items that have use by dates as these will end up being a waste of money rather than a saving.

Don't Pay Postage
This is my biggest annoyance with online shopping. Over the year if you add up how much you've spent on postage with the odd £3.99 here and there you'd be shocked. So when shopping online always do a quick voucher search, it's very rare that I don't find a code. If you're planning a trip into town anyway look at store collection options to see if they're free instead.

Get a Fake Tree
I've only ever had a real tree once and honestly I missed my fake tree. I know there are advantages to real trees but I hate to think of a tree being grown and then cut down and left to die (morbid thought sorry). In the long run fake trees are much better for the environment and a hell of a lot cheaper. Buy one in the sale to make an even bigger saving, along with decorations and lights, that way you're ready for next Christmas.

I hope this was helpful. Do you have any money saving tips?
Sam

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Decoration Wishlist | #BLOGMAS Day 10

Hi, One of my favourite parts of Christmas is decorating to make everything to look festive. We put our tree up on Sunday, which was really early for us but we didn't want to wait any longer. I can't believe we're already on day 10 of Blogmas, considering how unprepared I am, I'm shocked that I've managed to keep up the daily blogging this long. Today I've got a wishlist of festive decorations that I'm going to be keeping an eye on for reductions to join my existing pieces. As you tell my theme is quite icy, made up of a mixture of white, blue and silver. I would have picked more things but I think the shops are really limited on pieces that I really like this year.


Wilko Polar bears £1.50 Each | Wilko Brush Glass Bauble £1.50 Each
H&M Marble Bauble twin pack £6.99 | Wilko Snow Globe £4.00
Primark Star Cushy £5 | John Lewis Rocking Horse £2.50

How cute are the polar bear baubles, they're store exclusives and I've been trying to find them but so far no luck. I think they are a really good price for the detail. Continuing with the polar bear theme I've picked the snow globe, I think they are the nicest little ornaments to have and this one isn't overally Christmassy so you could have it all year round.

I like to have a few textures on the tree if possible so different finishes on baubles is great. I really like the marble effect ones (which I think just looks like running paint) from H&M because they are visually interesting, but a little over priced. The frosted baubles from Wilko are really pretty and one of the few blue baubles I've seen this year, the finish looks like frozen metal.

I'd love the rocking horse from John Lewis which I think is suppose to be a first Christmas bauble for a little boy but it's adorable. Made from Polymer clay it looks like it's knitted which is a lovely touch. Lastly I found this silver star cushion from Primark it's a really cute size and it fits perfectly with my theme. I saw it in store and didn't want to carry it all day so hopefully I'll still be able to get one.

What colour/theme do you have on your Christmas tree?
Sam

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Secret Santa Dos and Don'ts | #BLOGMAS Day 9

Hi, I don't know about you but secret Santa is one of the elements of Christmas that makes it more fun as an adult. Secret Santa is commonly used as a way of spreading the Christmas cheer around the office at work or to help curve the spending with a large group of people. The amount of money a secret Santa gift requires is set by the group and can be anything from a few quid. This year I'm taking part in two secret Santa's one at work the other with family as an extra little something.


Secret Santa Dos and Don'ts


Do
  • Take part and have fun, it's suppose to be a bit of a laugh to get people in the festive spirit.
  • Find out about your recipient, preferably as discreetly as possible.
  • Be original - look in unusual places like markets.
  • Be grateful for the gift you receive even if it's not something you want.

Don't
  • Spend over the budget - This is awkward for everyone.
  • Tell everyone who you're buying for - it spoils the fun, people normally say after anyway.
  • Forget to buy a present and buying something on your lunch break is as bad.
  • Buy a joke present unless it's someone close, things can easily be taken the wrong way.

Are you taking part in a secret Santa?
Sam

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My Favourite Films For Christmas | #BLOGMAS Day 8

Hi, I've got my favourite Christmas movie selection for you today. Writing this post has made me want to sit and watch all these films back to back. So this weekend I'm making plans that involve the sofa, a large blanket and lots of hot chocolate. I'm feeling really festive now we're a whole week into advent and I can't wait to get some presents wrapped and placed under the tree.



My Favourite Films for Christmas

The Muppet's Christmas Carol
This is a film I over looked for way too long, it's my boyfriends favourite Christmas film. He made me sit down and watch it properly and I'm so happy I finally did. I like films that are a little bit different visually, and the Muppet's as puppet work is a fine example of this. As it's a comical retelling of the classic 'A Christmas Carol' it's even better because I feel like I'm watching something quite sophisticated but with a fun twist.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
One of my all time favourite Tim Burton films and probably the first film of his I saw. We used to have Halloween parties when I was very little with the family and it was a bit of a tradition to go to the video store and hire this film for the night. Since then I've grown to see this film as more Christmas themed film, but it works equally well for both. The song when Jack ends up in Christmas town is perfect. The cherry on the top of the cake is that this film is the stop motion animation which is my all time favourite.

Balto
Oh how I love this film, it's not a Christmas film but it's set in a snowy Canada. Balto is an animated film based on real events and the heroics of an outcast. Balto is a Wolf/Husky cross who can't find his place in the world, his friends are a goose, two polar bears cubs and a husky. One day an epidemic hits the small town of Nome and all the children are gravely ill, a storm hits and it's down to a sled dog team to get the medication. It's a really heart warming film and I'm a sucker for animated films featuring talking anaimals.

Jingle All The Way
The first live action movie of the list. I think my mum took us to see this film at the cinemas as a Christmas treat way back when it came out (Arr that was 1996). A story of the search for that one must have present and the perils of leaving it until the last minuet. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a favourite of mine to watch when I was younger for the funny and rather strange roles he played. A funny take on the Christmas period with an over the top story line.

What's your favourite Christmas movie to watch?
Sam

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Monday, December 7, 2015

A Little Lush Haul | #BLOGMAS Day 7

Hi, I wanted to share the few pieces I picked up from Lush York on my resent visit. I really wanted to try somethings from the Christmas range but I didn't want to go too crazy as I know I've got a few Christmas gifts i'm really looking forward to. I picked up two items from the Christmas range and the Sky Dancer Bath Bomb because it was the first time I'd seen it in a store to buy.





Dashing Santa - £2.95
So I went in to buy from the Christmas range so I had to pick up a Dashing Santa. I've had this bath bomb in previous years so not very adventurous but I know it's a goodie and what says Christmas more than a Santa? His feet fizz away first giving him the motion to dash around in the bath water.

Shoot For The Star - £3.65
I originally didn't realise this was a Christmas themed bomb and as I'm a sucker for space themed products it seemed only right to pop it in my basket. It's a really pretty bomb with a shooting star motif and a mixture of yellow and blue which are suppose to recreate the nights sky in the water.

Sky Dancer - £3.95
So even though I went into store with the full intention of indulging in the Christmas range this bomb is the one I'm most excited about. I've seen reviews and it looks so good like the bird is flying around the bath as the bottom of the bomb dissolves first. I love this bomb even more because it's for a fund raising campainge and profits from everyone goes towards equipment to help keep the Hen Harriers from extinction. I'm really looking forward to reviewing this one, it's limited edition so one to try if you get the chance.

Will you be trying to bag a bargain in the Boxing Day sales?
Sam

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Stocking Filler Ideas For £1 | #BLOGMAS Day 6

Hi, Today I've got a selection of very affordable gift ideas. I really enjoyed putting this post together, it's quite a task thinking of so many bargain options. I'm a massive fan of the hamper style of wrapping gifts but buying multiple items can get quite expensive. By buying a few bargain pieces you'll soon have a lovely selection of gifts.

Original Source - Superdrug (on offer)| Candle - Ikea | Vaseline Rosy Lips - Asda (on offer)
Wilkinsons - note books | Poundshop - fluffy socks | Wilkos - Montagne Jeunesse Face Mask
Poundshop - Festive Mug | 4x Hot Chocolate sachets most Supermarkets

These gifts do seem quite feminine but can be mixed up for a male quite easily. I think a DIY hot chocolate set is a really great idea and if made for a few people quite a cheap gift option. I recently tried the Maltesers Hot Chocolate and it's super yummy. Fluffy socks are great at this time of year, I'd normally pick them up in Primark where I think they're two pairs for £2.

There are some pamper items that you really can't go wrong with, these are a lip balm, shower gel and a face mask. I feel like I've cheated a little as the shower gel and lip balm are on offer, so if you fancy them pick them up while you can. I've picked the Rosy Lips Vaseline as it's a lovely lightly tinted formula which is a little bit more special than the normal varieties. There are so many different brand and normally a lot of offers to take your pick from, Superdrug face masks are normally on 3 for 2.

I felt the need to add a few cliche blogger gifts which would be the candle and note books. I think the Ikea candles are really good quality and the smaller size is only 85p. As a blogger note books are really important for keeping ideas together, this selection of three little note books from Wilkinson's is really sweet. A few other items which cost a little more would be the mini cactus set from Ikea and a few bath bombs from Lush which start at as little as £1.95.

What would your favourite item to receive be?
Sam

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Small Business Saturday | #BLOGMAS Day 5

Hi, Just a quick post today to tell you about Small Business Saturday. A promotional event which falls on the first Saturday of December and started back in 2013. I first became aware of this campaign last year at a craft market, it's a way for small businesses to work together to get noticed and to get us the consumer to shop locally.

More and more people are starting up small business on the side and December is a great opportunity to gain sales with the run up to Christmas. If you're not heading out you could always look online at sites like Etsy and Not on The High Street.

Some bloggers I know of who have small businesses are:
Jemma from Dorkface she does really cool illustrations of pretty much anything.
Hayley from Water Painted Dreams who creates crochet goodies including the cutest elephants.
Jessica from Heart Shaped Bones an illustrator of the weird and wonderful.

I'm in York today with a group of friends to check out the markets and do a bit of Christmas shopping. I'm going to be making a special effort to go in all the independent shops that York is so well known for. Hopefully I can pick up some original pieces as gifts for the people I have left to buy for. Have a lovely weekend, if you support a small business you can tweet about it using #SmallBizSatUK.

Will you be supporting any small businesses today?
Sam

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Friday, December 4, 2015

The Christmas Tag | #BLOGMAS Day 4

Hi, Happy Friday! It's only 3 weeks until Christmas day, ekk how fast is that going to fly by. I've got the day off work, so I headed into town to do a little shopping. I picked up wrapping paper, cards and other Christmassy bits which have made me feel much more festive. I've still got some presents I need to buy though and I'm normally really good with ideas but this year I'm totally out. So today I've got the Christmas Tag for you to read, it was nice answering these questions as they got me thinking about the past and all the fun of Christmas.



The Christmas Tag

1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?
My favourite Christmas film is Jingle All the Way, it's about a dad (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) trying to find his son that one gift that every other kid everywhere wants. I like it because it's a highly relate-able plot but it gets very far fetched but that just adds to a Christmas film.

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

We've always waited to open our presents until Christmas morning.

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
To be honest all my Christmases seem to have merged together as we're a family of habit and tradition. I do remember going on a festive train ride once where Santa came round and gave us all a present, that was cool. My dad plays in a brass band, I did too when I was younger, so Christmas always makes me think of carols played by brass.

4. Favourite festive food?
I don't think I eat anything special at this time of year but I definitely indulge in more drinks, Hot Chocolate and Mulled wine.

5. Favourite Christmas gift?
The present that I loved the most has to be my original Gameboy, one of those grey bricks with massive pixels. I had so many hours of fun on it and got my first taste of the Pokemon world via Blue.

6. Favourite Christmas scent?
My favourite winter scent is Cinnamon, it just seems festive and tastes so good in Hot chocolate.

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

Since I was a few years old my family and my parents friends would take it in turn to host a Christmas eve get together, this year will be no different. We have a little buffet of jacket potatoes and pizza and play party games, which are hilarious.

8. What tops your tree?
Our tree has had a lot of toppers but at the moment we've just got a generic silver star.

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?

I can't think of anything that I asked for and didn't get because I never really wanted anything, or anything extravagant anyway. I did once nag my mum for a guinea pig for my birthday, she bought me a hamster instead.

10. What's the best part about Christmas for you?

Can I say everything? After all it's a time for you to think of overs before yourself even if it's only about what present your going to buy and it brings everyone together. I see people at Christmas that I haven't seen all year, it gives you a reason to make time. Also the festive cheer and fairy lights.



What was your first games console? Let me know if you do the tag, I'd love to read your answers.
Sam

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Novelty Christmas Jumper Picks | #BLOGMAS Day 3

Hi, Have you dared to wear your Christmas jumper yet? Might as well get some use out of it right. The novelty jumper isn't a trend I had ever really taken part in until a few years ago when it was a requirement for a Christmas meal. I can't remember when exactly the Christmas jumper trend really hit but it's been going strong the last few years with a lot of high street stores supplying us with knitted delights to fill our festive needs. So I've put together a selection of pieces that perfectly sum up the Christmas period in woolen form.

CHRISTMAS JUMPERS 2015

Listed left to right
Snowman Primark - £12.00 | Reindeer H&M - £24.99 | Unicorn ASDA - £15.00
Penguins Primark - £14.00 | Dec 25th New Look - £19.99 | Festive Mix New Look - £19.99
Tree Hoodie - £19.99 | Reindeer Primark - £14.00 | Pudding New Look - £20.00

Primark really know what they are doing when it comes to Christmas jumpers and as always they are so reasonably priced. I'm really liking the snowman, he looks like he's having a lot of fun. My favourite Christmas jumpers are the more traditional one with bands of repetitive pattern and Primark have designed two which I would happily wear all winter never mind just at Christmas.

The Unicorn jumper is really sweet and totally plays into the whole I want a pony for Christmas thing, but it's a Unicorn and everyone knows that's way better. The slogan jumper is pretty cool and a really great pick for anyone who doesn't want to rock a super festive jumper. I've included the tree hoody simply because it's so different from anything else I've seen and would be a really over the top Christmas jumper, but I think it needs more pompoms.

What's on your Christmas jumper?
Sam

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

20 Ways to Get into The Festive Mood | #BLOGMAS Day 2

Hi, I've got a selection of ideas to share with you to get you in the festive mood, although I doubt a lot of you will really need the help. I love Christmas but I am getting a bit over whelmed by the fact that it seems to start earlier and earlier each year, so much so by the time December finally comes around it already feels a little stale. That's what inspired me to write this list as I needed a way to view Christmas freshly again. I'm over that now and see it from the kid inside who just wants to stare at all the flashing lights, sparkly trinkets and spend time with my friends and family, undoubtedly over a little bit too much food and drink.



Ways to Get into the Festive Mood
  1. Buy an advent calendar or make your own.
  2. Make present buying a social event and spend a day with someone who makes you happy.
  3. Go check out a Christmas market and maybe have a go at ice skating.
  4. Listen to your favourite Christmas songs.
  5. Buy new Christmas decorations and make decorating an event.
  6. Buy a TV guide and circle all the films you want to watch over the festivities.
  7. Do some Christmas baking - Mince pies/Sugar cookies.
  8. Indulge in the Christmas themed food and drink.
  9. Visit loved ones and share the festive feeling.
  10. Make your own Christmas cards, or simply enjoy writing them.
  11. Buy some new/Christmas Pajamas.
  12. Indulge in a Lush bath using something from the Christmas range.
  13. Make wrapping your presents a crafting experience with bows and colour schemes.
  14. Paint your nails with festive colours and glitter.
  15. Buy a festive smelling candle.
  16. Make/plan some games for Christmas day.
  17. Organise/take part in a secret Santa.
  18. Go for a walk and forage for Holly and Pine cones to use as decorations.
  19. Donate to Charity however you can, have a sort out and make room for new things.
  20. Read a Christmas/winter themed book.

Have you got any other suggestions for feeling festive?
Sam

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Monthly Mini Goals - December | #BLOGMAS Day 1

Hi, Ok it's officially the count down to Christmas. You may have guess from the title that I am planning on trying to complete Blogmas by blogging every day until Christmas, a whole 25 days of none stop blog posts. So today I'm kicking off with my monthly goals which as you can imagine feature a rather festive lineup.


Mini goals for December
  • Have an awesome Christmas
  • Get my Christmas Shopping Finished
  • Buy themed wrapping paper and make my presents into works of art.
  • Go to a Christmas Market - Maybe ice skate.
  • Make putting up the decorations an event with music and Baileys.
  • Complete my reading goal for the year of 35 books.
  • Drink mulled wine and all the other festive drinks.
  • Do some festive baking - Mince pies most probably.
  • Have a day out with my friends/family.
  • Do a Christmas DIY project, I'm really enjoying knitting again.

I really hope I can be organized enough to complete Blogmas, it would be a real accomplishment. Let me know if you're also taking part, I'd love to read some new blogs. I've got a few plans already in motion for this month and I'm sure there will be lots of mulled wine involved. I'm looking forward to Christmas songs on the radio and opening the rest of the doors on my advent calendar.

What's your goals for December?
Sam

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