Blogmas 2018 – Christmas A to Z

I don’t usually do tag posts, but I thought this one from Hidden Little Gem might be fun. So here are my answers to the Christmas A to Z! I’m not going to tag any other bloggers, but if you have festive associations for letters of the alphabet, why not add them in the comments?

Advent calendars

They’ve become a bit of a theme on my blog! This year I have 2 beauty ones, a cheese one, and a Braille one with chocolate!

Blogmas

This is my second year doing Blogmas. It does take time and effort, but I enjoy writing the posts, trying to come up with creative ideas, researching the articles, and finding out what everyone else is writing about too.

Christmas tree

When I was a child, we had a real one, and I love the smell of pine trees. Now we have a plastic one, but we’ve started a tradition where we put some Christmas music on and S and I decorate the tree together.

Decorating the house

We don’t have loads of decorations like some people do, but we have another tree in the kitchen, a little one in my office, various wreaths and things around the house, and it always makes me feel in the mood for Christmas when we’ve finished!

Elves

I haven’t got into the elf on the shelf thing, but they’re getting more and more popular now.

Freshly baked Christmas biscuits

I work with a lot of people in Germany, and they keep talking about the delicious biscuits that they baked. So last year I’d had enough of just hearing about them and made some too! I think I’ll be doing it again this year!

Going shopping for Christmas presents

Whether it’s physically going to the shops and wandering round whilst listening to Christmas music, or doing my shopping online, I like making a list and then trying to find things that I think people will like. Any excuse for shopping eh?!

Holly

Well, my favourite Holly is the yellow Labrador who has featured on the blog before, but we used to get some holly branches to decorate the house when I was younger, so for me, this belongs to Christmas as well.

Ice

It didn’t say they have to be good associations! I love snow, but try to avoid the ice. I’ll have to dig out the ice chains that I bought for my shoes if we have any problems with ice – they worked quite well.

Jewellery

It gives me an excuse to get out my snowmen, Christmas trees and reindeer necklaces and earrings. I don’t go in for the Christmas jumper thing, but I accessorise with jewellery instead.

Keeping warm

As I said yesterday, I don’t enjoy being cold, but there’s something satisfying about creating a cosy space where you can enjoy a night in front of a film or snuggling down with a good book and steaming cup of hot chocolate!

Lebkuchen

They come from Germany and are a kind of soft, spicy biscuit, sometimes with chocolate, sometimes with icing, and sometimes with a sweet and fruity filling.

Markets

We’ve been to three so far and may go to one more before December is over. Walking round Christmas markets is fun!

New ornaments for the tree

I started this last year and am trying to get one or two ornaments each year that are somehow relevant to us or what we have been doing. This year it was a reindeer to remind me of the real reindeer that I met at the Christmas fair.

Office party

I used to enjoy these. I don’t have one now because I’m self-employed and don’t have colleagues. But when I worked for the government in London, we used to have a lot of fun, and there was usually more than one – team party, department party, party for the building, party for another team that decided to invite me, party for any colleague in London who wanted to go… You get the idea!

Postman

Or the postlady or the parcel man/woman – all the wonderful people who bring my online shopping in December!

Quiet evenings in

The time before Christmas can involve a lot of events, rushing around, and being busy. Sometimes it’s good to take some time out, have a long bath, and unwind before the next thing happens!

Reindeer

Because they are adorable and I met my first one this year. He was so soft and he loved munching on his carrot!

Snow

It wouldn’t really be Christmas without it! Crunching through it where nobody else has walked. Building a snowman. Throwing snowballs. Playing in the snow with dogs who go chasing after snowballs and then roll around on their back! I’d love to try building an igloo one day, but haven’t tried it yet.

Tinsel

Putting it on the tree, around the house, or even on my white cane. There’s something about the smell of tinsel when it’s been in a box all year and then finally comes out again for Christmas!

Using more glitter

I don’t usually tend to go for sparkly make-up, but I will make an exception for Christmas and get the glittery things out!

Visiting or catching up with friends

I know this is a thing you can and should do all year round, but it seems at Christmas time we sometimes make that bit more effort to get back in touch with people we haven’t seen or spoken to for a while. If you’re just doing it out of a sense of duty, that’s not so good, but if it’s genuinely to catch up, then that’s great!

Wrapping presents

I used to always do this on my own, but now S and I do most of them together – teamwork – and it gets the job done faster.

Xmas music

I imagine if you work in retail, you’re probably done with Christmas music by the first week in December, but I have had the Christmas music on and it puts me in a good mood!

Yule log

Because chocolate cake is better than Christmas cake or Christmas pudding!

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I couldn’t think of anything else – but you do need a rest once it’s all over!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – a mini of the Spa of the World Adriatic Peony body wash. I haven’t tried this before – it’s quite floral, a bit like the jasmin one. It’s probably not one that I’d pick up, but I like these little shower gels and am always happy to try out a new line.

Glossybox – the MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows. I won’t be reviewing this as it’s the next product to go in the giveaway box – use the form below if you want to enter the Blogmas giveaway.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.

Products 7-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – my first Braille chocolate advent calendar

Regular readers of this blog will know that I care about accessibility and accessible products.

In terms of advent calendars, when I was a child, my Nan always helped to prepare them. We typed the number in Braille onto clear sticky-back plastic, cut them out, and my Nan stuck them on the right doors.

Now Sean helps with the beauty calendars – I type out the labels and he sticks them on the appropriate box so that I can locate and open it myself.

However, for the first time this year, I got a chocolate advent calendar that was ready to go! No adaptations needed. I just wait for the right day, locate the number in Braille that is already printed on the door, and open it to get the day’s chocolate.

Just a simple thing that kids (and adults) all over the country take for granted, but up until now, this hasn’t been possible.

Braille chocolate advent calendars are nothing new in Germany – I know they’ve been around for a few years – but so far I haven’t seen one in the UK.

That’s why I was happy when one of my friends offered to send me one.

I know it’s a bit late to share this now – tomorrow we are opening day 12, but I firstly wanted to give a shout out to the company that is making them, and secondly wanted to let other people know for next year – whether that’s parents of blind children, or Braille-reading adults who want an accessible chocolate calendar.

The doors are arranged in 8 rows with 3 doors in each row. There are differences between German and English Braille, but the numbers are the same and there is no other writing on the calendar, so there would be no problems with confusing younger or new Braille readers.

This page about the advent calendar is in German, but there is also an email address where you can order it, and the company accepts Paypal. I’m not sure how much it would cost to get one sent from Germany to the UK if you order it directly, but it’s not a heavy calendar, so it shouldn’t be much.

It’s a simple thing really, but it made me happy to get a chocolate calendar that I can just enjoy and read without having to do any extra work that sighted friends wouldn’t have to do!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – a shine liquid lip gloss. I haven’t tried any of these before, and although I don’t often wear lip gloss, it’s always good to have a change sometimes!

Glossybox – I can’t actually find the link for this, but it’s the Bellapierre kissproof lip finish – a clear lip topper to give a glossy finish to liquid lipsticks. The only lipstick I tried from this brand nearly clamped my lips shut because it was so sticky, so I can see why they came out with a product like this. I don’t have the other lipstick any more, but would use this topper on other liquid lips if I think they feel as though they would dry out my lips.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush

Products 6-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – 7 ways to keep warm this Winter

When I get cold, I get grumpy! Not the same level of grumpy as when I haven’t had enough coffee – because that’s really bad – but I don’t do well when I’m cold!

One solution is to turn the heating up, but that doesn’t always work when you’re going out in the cold, and in any event it’s nice to snuggle up under something warm on an evening in.

So what else can you do to stay warm? Here are seven low-cost ideas:

1. Baths

I love baths. They make me slow down, stop doing things, and take some time out to relax and de-stress. I know some people get bored in the bath, but this is never a problem that I’ve had. It’s time for me to have only positive sensory input – no noise –just a warm place to spend some time and unwind.

There are so many amazing products to help with this – from bath soaks to bubble bars and oils or shower gels that nourish your skin while you soak.

Baths are also good for getting warm too – as long as you don’t set the temperature too hot, or your skin won’t thank you for it!

2. Wrapping up warm

I can’t have wool next to my skin, which means a lot of woolly jumpers, hats, and things like that are out for me. All I’d be able to think of is the how annoying it is to feel the wool against me and I’d never get anything else done! But there are loads of other options such as fleecy things, or synthetic materials that don’t feel the same as wool.

I found some gloves at a Christmas market a couple of weeks ago that are very warm, but have two holes – one for the thumb, and one for all the fingers. They’re then cut off where the fingers start – which is good for anyone who still wants to use their hands.

Even cotton scarves can be warm – sometimes just having something round your neck is enough. I have thicker woolly ones, velvet ones, one with Labrador puppies, and one that came as a gift a couple of years ago with an owl hanging from it. Most people think it’s a necklace, but it keeps me warm as well.

3. Snuggling under a blanket

Blankets don’t have to be wool either – you can get some really soft ones either to suit your colour scheme, or with a picture of something that you like. S bought us some warm blankets with wolves on last year – one for our bed and a smaller one for the sofa in my office.

4. Wear a coat when it’s cold

I don’t want to judge, but on Saturday there were people at the Christmas market in the cold and pouring rain with no coats on. People going out to Christmas parties, not wanting to put a coat on because it would ruin the outfit. You don’t have to keep it on all night, but at least give yourself the option of wearing one!

5. Keep the cold out

See if you have any places at home where the cold is getting in. Windows, keyholes, external doors. If you can illuminate the draughts, the house will feel warmer.

In a previous job, my desk was directly under the air con unit and the cold air always came straight down to where I was sitting. It was so uncomfortable until I persuaded someone to come and deal with it!

6. Keep moving

I have a job that involves sitting at a desk all day, but I try and build in some exercise too, because apart from the obvious health benefits, working out also gets your blood circulation going and helps you to feel warmer.

7. Hot chocolate

If it’s cold outside, it’s good to indulge now and again in a steaming mug of hot chocolate. I’ve been buying chocolate orange or chocolate mint recently, but there are so many varieties available now. And those little chocolate sets with a mug and chocolate also make a nice little gift.

Do you have any more tips to add?

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – two products today, both from the Fuji green tea range. We have the purifying shampoo and the hydrating conditioner. I don’t think I’ve tried these, because I usually go for the banana or strawberry haircare products, so I look forward to trying these out.

Glossybox – a deluxe sample of the BareMinerals skinlongevity vital power infusion serum. I didn’t know this brand also did skincare – I thought it was just mineral make-up. We won’t dwell on the fact that the first time I heard of this brand I was looking for Bear Minerals! I used this serum in my skincare routine this morning and liked it. It promises to empower, renew, replenish and fortify, so let’s see!

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush

Products 6-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – looking after Dogs Trust dogs on Christmas Day

Today’s post is the next in my series of posts about charities, and today we’ve got an interview from a Dogs Trust volunteer who tells us what it’s like working at the rehoming centre with the dogs on Christmas Day.

Thanks to Aimee for answering my questions, and to Emily from the Dogs Trust for arranging the interview. Below is Aimee and sponsor dog Mike.

1. What’s a typical Christmas Day like at one of your centres?

Christmas Day at the rehoming centre is very much a typical day so the normal cleaning, feeding, exercising and training. It’s a normal day at work for us but we try to add extra bits to make some good festive fun for everyone at the centre, two and four legged!

We like to be as festive as we can be, so we wear Santa hats and Christmas jumpers to get in the spirit! In the morning it is business as usual, so we ensure all the kennels have been cleaned and the dogs have had their morning walks.

On Christmas morning we try and squeeze in lots of group walks so everyone can join in! Of course, we have some dogs who would prefer the quieter way of life, so for them it’s time for some focused one-to-one training. We make sure that all dogs have a little extra fuss as it’s Christmas! It’s also lovely for us to get a bit of additional time with the dogs as we’re not open to the public.

Next is Christmas lunch for all the staff which is always a team effort, prepared by everyone in the rehoming centre that day. And, it’s always delicious!

Our dogs get a special Christmas dinner too. A very generous local turkey farmer kindly donates turkey leg meat which we cook for the dogs. Our dogs are constantly monitored by our veterinary team, so everything is given in moderation, and we always make sure to get a bit of veg in there too!

2. Do the animals get presents or any special treats?

Our supporters are fantastic all year round with donations, but they are always extra generous at Christmas with treats and toys, which really helps the dogs feel extra special on the big day! Extra supplies come in handy after their lunch, so when we’re tucking into our dinner the dogs can savour a long-lasting chew!

Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross Mike, our Sponsor Dog gets very spoilt at Christmas with lots of gifts from his wonderful sponsors. He loves to open them all and is very generous, sharing them with his doggie friends at the rehoming centre. He gets sent all kinds of goodies from toys and treats, to blankets and coats from his generous sponsors all around the country

As we get to Christmas night and all the dogs are tucked up in bed, we go home to celebrate with our families as the next team arrive for more fun on Boxing Day!

3. How do you feel about working when other people are at home with their families?

When I applied for the job as a Canine Carer, it was a given that there would be times we would have to work during holidays. I don’t mind though, the dogs in our care and the team at the centre are all part of the Dogs Trust family, and that’s what Christmas is all about

It always surprises me how many people ask if we have Christmas off, but the dogs need our love and care every day. We are their home until they find their special someone, and it’s a joy to be able to be one of the people who provide them with everything they need until that happens.

I love dogs and my job, and spending time with them isn’t a chore! Working Christmas Day means we tend to get a second Christmas with our families. It’s a win/win situation when you get two Christmas days, right?

4. Do you have any stories about dogs at the centre that you have become fond of?

Where do I start? there are so many!

First there is Mike, the Sponsor Dog. This will be our fourth Christmas together and I love watching him open his presents – he is so funny to watch! He devours his Christmas dinner and always has room for more! Then he goes out for a walk with some of his walking buddies and we have a snuggle before he finishes the day with a long snooze. He is just a joy to be around at any time of the year, but he does get extra excited on Christmas day by all the treats.

Then there is Mr Branston Pickles, a gorgeous Crossbreed who will be spending this Christmas in his new home after being with us for two years. He is going to love being snuggled up by the fireplace, opening his presents in his new home. It’s what we work towards and makes the hard work worth it.

Over the Christmas period we often see an increase of dogs being handed over, or even abandoned. Last year, Dogs Trust had nearly 5,000 calls from people wanting to hand over their dogs in the month after Christmas – and sadly we think this will happen again.

Back on Christmas Eve in 2015, two strays found themselves with us, so we called them Twinkle and Santa. Twinkle was a nervous, small Lurcher and Santa was a friendly Shih-Tzu who became wonderful friends, and a favourite duo amongst the team!

Then, in 2016 we met Mary, Gabriella, Melchior, Balthazar, Angel and Casper, our Christmas puppies! They were Staffie cross Lurcher pups who were an unwanted accidental litter, so they came into the centre to be looked after until we could find them new homes. They brought us so much Christmas cheer, lots of mess and lots of cuddles!

And finally, there is Staffordshire Bull Terrier Peggy-Sue, my little Christmas cherub. She was a stray who arrived at the centre in June 2016. She quickly found herself a new home but sadly it wasn’t to be, so I started fostering her from late October that year. She spent her first Christmas with me, my partner, nan and grandad. We fell in love and adopted Peggy in October 2017, so she spent her second Christmas with us last year. I was working so she spent the day with my partner watching Christmas films and waiting for me to come home so we could open all our presents and eat our Christmas dinner together. This will be her third Christmas with us and we can’t wait!

5. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of buying a puppy as a Christmas present?

We would always ask anyone considering bringing a four-legged friend into their life to rehome a rescue dog. We have thousands of dogs of all shapes and sizes in our rehoming centres waiting to meet their special someone. We would never recommend buying a puppy from any online source, but instead to do your research thoroughly so you can be confident that the puppy you have your eye on has been bred responsibly.

We have a wealth of advice on our website to help people be confident that they are buying a puppy from a good breeder, instead of a seller who makes a living pedalling sick puppies who may have been illegally imported into this country.

We want people to realise that if an advert seems too good to be true, it probably is. And, when you visit a puppy you should expect the breeder to be as curious about you and the home you can provide, as you are about the puppy. If anyone ever feels rushed into making a purchase, they should walk away. It’s hard to do but it’s the right thing to do. If something doesn’t quite feel right, or anything about the situation feels dodgy – report them to Trading Standards.

6. How can members of the public help Dogs Trust at this time of year?


There are so many ways that people can get involved at Christmas. We are always super grateful for any donations, and each centre has lots of different volunteering opportunities, so it’s always best to check our website to see what is happening at your local rehoming centre! Dogs Trust also runs a big fostering scheme for dogs who struggle with kennel life, so if this is something that might be for you, we can give you lots of information!

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed getting a look behind the scenes at what it’s like at the centre and I hope you did too. Later this month I’ll be bringing you another post about when S and I visited one of the centres, but for now, if you want to know any more, the Dogs Trust website is a great place to start. There is a lot of information on there, whether you’re interesting in rehoming opportunities, volunteering, or making a donation. If you have any questions, you can also leave them in the comments and I’ll make sure they are passed on.

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – one of my firm favourites – anyone who’s been reading the blog for a while will know that I love mango products, and this mango hand cream is one of my favourites. So I’m really happy to have that in the calendar.

Glossybox – something else that is going in the giveaway box! It’s the Real Techniques expert face brush for foundation.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush

Products 6-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – cheese advent calendar

So, S had to pop out and get something for the workmen that were doing a job on our house, and he came back with lunch, plus a gift for me! Yes, it was another advent calendar, but a different one this time – one filled with cheese.

I’d love to link it, but it seems both Sainsburys and Asda have sold out!

The main point of writing this wasn’t to gloat about my wonderful cheese calendar that you can’t get any more, but to point out that if you can’t have/don’t like chocolate, or beauty calendars aren’t your thing, you don’t have to miss out on the whole advent calendar thing if you want to be involved. There are some with sweets in, some with cheese, and even a chilli one. I’ve only just seen that whilst doing some research for this post – I’ll have to remember that for S next year! There are also tea and coffee ones, ones with alcohol, and even ones for animals! I don’t suppose they understand, but they wouldn’t say no to a doggy-friendly treat!

In the cheese calendar there is a small round piece of cheese each day. I’ve been doing the continental breakfast thing and having the cheese with a roll or some crackers. Usually I just skip breakfast entirely, but it’s been interesting to try out some cheeses – from standard ones like cheddar and Edam, to more unusual ones like a festive cranberry one. I’ve also discovered I like Jarlsberg…I think there’s a ginger cheese in there too, which should be interesting, but I haven’t got to it yet.

How about you. Have you seen any food or drink advent calendars this year that are a bit unusual?

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – an eye shadow brush that I won’t be reviewing, because it’s the next item in the giveaway!

Glossybox – a travel size shower gel in strawberry cupcake from Patisserie de Bain. I haven’t had the shower gel before, but I’ve had the hand cream in this scent. The brand is basically cake shop for the bathroom, so all of the products smell sweet like desserts. My favourites are lemon and cherry, but I like this strawberry one as well, and I’m always happy about fruity shower gels!

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!

Products 5-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – gifts that keep giving

There are sooo many gift guides being written for Blogmas – I wanted to do something a bit different! So these gifts are things that don’t just show up at Christmas time. They’re subscriptions. So you can usually choose whether it’s for 3, 6 or 12 months, but the person gets a treat throughout the year, and not just in December. It’s something to look forward to, and also a chance to try out a new product or service more than once. So here are some ideas for you – either of things that I have tried myself, or things that I would like to try.

Food

This was actually my introduction to subscription services. My boyfriend got a gift subscription to The Spicery around 4 years ago and we decided to continue with it. In fact we still get the boxes through our door now! Each month you can choose between a series of recipes. You then get the recipe card with easy-to-follow instructions, along with all the spices and dry ingredients that you need, already measured out and blended for you. All you need to do is buy the other ingredients. This is a great gift for anyone who loves cooking and maybe wants to try some new dishes, or things they wouldn’t have attempted before. It’s also good because nothing goes to waste and you don’t end up with a huge pot of something you’ll never use again. S and I do like spicy food, but you don’t have to get really spicy options if that’s not your thing.

I haven’t tried this service out yet, but when scrolling around on the internet, I came across the Pong cheese subscription – a cheese club that you can customise and receive a new box of cheese each month. Are you listening Santa? That would be fun to receive!

Books

Two years ago S got me an Audible subscription as part of my Christmas present. This is especially good if you want to give someone books for Christmas, but you don’t know exactly what they like, or which books they have already read. After the subscription finished, we kept it up and now get new books to listen to together every month. You choose them on the Audible site, and can then download them on your phone or tablet.

If you’re interested, you can use my Audible free trial link (If you are based in Germany, use my German link.

Beauty boxes

Perhaps the best known of the subscription boxes, you can give the beauty lover in your life one of these so that they can try out some new skincare or make-up treats each month. There are so many on offer, but here are a few to choose from:

Glossybox – this is a box that I have been getting throughout 2018 and I’d recommend it if the person you’re buying for likes a mixture of make-up and skincare. My code KIRSTY-RGE entitles you to 20% off your first box – this may also give you a discount on gifts, so it’s worth a try if you are thinking of gifting a Glossybox subscription.

The Pip box – I haven’t tried this, but I’ve seen videos about it on YouTube – a box for the green beauty lover who is interested in cruelty-free and natural products. I thought this looked interesting and am considering looking into it next year.

Lookfantastic – this is also something I’d like to try next year – it’s similar to Glossybox, but does tend to focus more on skincare than make-up, which is more my thing, so I’d be interested to give it a go. I haven’t tried it before, but it does tend to get good reviews.

Flowers

If you’d like a longer-lasting floral gift for someone to brighten up their home, Bunches do a monthly gift subscription service. There are three categories to choose from, ranging in price, and you choose how many months the gift will last.

Coffee

Surprisingly I haven’t tried this yet, even though the first thing I do in the morning is to make my first cup of coffee! There is a Coffee club subscription where someone gets to try two new coffee brands from around the world each month. You choose whether they want ground coffee or coffee beans, and then the packets of coffee are sent to them. The link takes you to a 3-month subscription, but there are others. I’d love to try this as well!

How about you?

Have you been given, or have you given a subscription as a Christmas present? If so, let us know what it was in the comments!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – a full-size black eye liner pencil. I can’t tell you what I think of this, because it’s going to be product 3 in the giveaway box! Use the form below if you would like to enter.

Glossybox – a lip primer from 3ina I’ve had a couple of cream eye products from this brand, pronounced Mena, but I haven’t tried anything from their lip range yet. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used a lip primer! It was thinner than I had expected – the idea is that you use it like an eye primer, but for lips. So apply a thin coat before your lipstick. This isn’t something I would have gone out and bought, so it’s nice to have the chance to try it.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop

Products 4-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – looking after your hair in Winter

Say hello to Maisie the German Shepherd! She’s not mine, but she’ll be appearing in the header so you have a wintry image to look at, particularly on days when I don’t have a relevant image for the post!

I have very long hair, and although I try to take good care of it all year round, Winter presents its own set of challenges because of wet and windy weather, central heating, and the fact that a lot of us go out more and style our hair more around Christmas time.

So I thought I’d put together some tips for looking after your hair in Winter. I have long, thick, straight hair, so I know more about that than other types of hair, but most of these tips can be applied to any type of hair.

1. Keep your hair from blowing around in the wind and rain

Whether you choose to do this by tying it back, wearing a hat or hood, or using a scarf to keep it down, if you keep your hair from blowing around, it won’t get tangled and you won’t risk snapping the strands when you try to tame it again. This also helps to prevent the scarecrow look – or the medusa look as I sometimes get in the car with the windows open!

You can also carry a travel brush around in your bag so if you do get a bit windswept, you can sort it out rather than walking around with tangles.

If you’re worried about hats and scarves causing frizzy, messy hair, you can carry around a small frizz taming product to tame the unruly bits on the go.

2. Show your hair some love

When it’s exposed to elements that dry out your hair, it’s nice to make time for pamper evenings too, including a nourishing, hydrating hair mask. A couple of my favourites are the banana one from the Body Shop and the oatmeal and honey one from Korres.

I don’t make my own masks, but if you don’t want to buy one, you can use raw honey. Honey is a humectant, which means it seals in the moisture and can help if you have dry or damaged hair.

3. Try to go easy on the styling

It’s easy for me to say as someone who doesn’t straighten their hair, but if you are going to a lot of parties, and want to blow-dry and then style or straighten your hair, try to give your hair a rest on days when you don’t have as much planned.

If you’re going to use heat products, try using a heat protection spray.

4. Hydrate from the inside

I know I don’t drink enough water at the best of times – because all the coffee I drink doesn’t count. But if you are giving your body enough hydration by drinking lots of water, this will be good for your hair too.

5. Don’t go out with wet hair

Apart from increasing your chance of getting a cold, going out in the cold with wet hair can also cause your hair to freeze and break.

6. Don’t forget to have a trim

You might be busier over the Christmas period, but don’t forget to book in for your regular trims. Nobody wants split ends, and if winter weather is making the ends of your hair more dry and brittle than usual, having them tidied up is a good thing.

7. Vary the pressure points

If you’re going to put your hair up, try having your pony tail at different heights, so you don’t put pressure in the same place every time. If you put your hair up in a clip, it’s mainly the sides that are being pushed into the clip, so make sure you remember to condition them well and be gentle with them. Plaits can be good to prevent tangles, but don’t pull them too tight, or you risk breaking the strands.

8. Don’t let the water run too hot

It’s tempting if you’ve been out in the cold and you want a really hot bath or shower to warm you up again, but really hot water doesn’t do your skin or hair any favours because it dries them out.

Have you got any more tips? Let us know in the comments!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – – a 50ml tub of the Ethiopian green coffee cream. This is part of the Spa of the World® range and it’s enriched with caffeine, known for its stimulating properties (you may have heard of shampoo with caffeine). It promises to leave your skin feeling firmer and smoother. I’ve had this before – it’s a lovely cream if you get past the fact that it doesn’t smell of coffee. I was hoping it would, but if you don’t start with this expectation, it’s a good body moisturiser.

Glossybox – the greater than mascara from MDMFlow (full-size). I haven’t had anything from this brand before and look forward to trying this out once I’ve used up a couple of my other mascaras. #The packaging makes it feel more expensive, and it promises to enhance and volumise lashes. The brush is indented, so it will be interesting to see how that works out because I usually prefer straight ones! I’ll report back on it once I’ve tested it out properly.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.

Products 3-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.