Blogmas – The Nail Polish Edit…My Favourite Festive Reds

If you saw day 10 of Blogmas you will have seen that I suggested the Mani & Lola subscription box as the perfect give for a nailcare lover and it got me thinking…I love it when my hands and nails are looking their best but these days it’s not something I’m finding it easy to keep on top of. I’m still enjoying my fortnightly application of gel nail polish but in short, it knackers your nails so I’m having a self-enforced two-week hiatus to try and regain a bit of condition before the obligatory pre-Christmas mani. However, If you read my introductory post (20 facts about me), you will know that I have a small aversion to decking my digits in sparkles and shimmer and that I like to keep my nails short, neat and (preferably) on the dark side. So if like me, you aren’t so keen on the long, daggers dipped in glitter look, here are my picks of suitably subtle yet festive Christmas reds.Nail Polish Edit - Top Festive Reds

Smith & Cult – Kundalini Hustle

This is a true red. Pillar box, London bus, whatever you want to call it, if you want a full-on,  shiny, opaque red nail polish then this is the one for you. The Smith & Cult bottles are a thing of beauty and don’t worry – you don’t have to wrestle with that giant gold nugget of a lid – it simply pops off to reveal a small ribbed top with a wide easy to use brush.

Smith & Cult Kundalini Hustle

Chanel – Rouge Noir

If I could wear only one nail colour for the rest of my life this would be it! Rouge Noir was made famous by Uma Thurman’s ‘Mia Wallace’ in the cult 90s film Pulp Fiction and has remained a best seller ever since. It’s dark, it’s seductive and it’s ever so chic! Why would you want glitter when you could have a bottle of Rouge Noir?

Chanel Rouge Noir

OPI- Got The Blues For Red

The picture does not do this one justice (in fact it looks nothing like the picture)! It’s the perfect every day bluey-red and my winter staple! OPI is always a bit of a no-brainer. The polishes glide on beautifully, they have great coverage and the oh my word the names!!! Some of my all-time favourites…’Vampire State Building’ ‘Shangri La La Lilac and the ubiquitous ‘I’m Not Really A Waitress’…

OPI Got The Blues For Red

OPI – I’m Not Really A Waitress

This is about as sparkly as I get. Do not be fooled by the picture (i’m not really sure why it’s coming up pink) – this is a definite ruby red shot through with shimmer! This is a hot contender for my Christmas nails…watch this space!

OPI Im Not Really A Waitress

CND Vinylux – Bloodline 

I would call this a bit of a dupe for Rouge Noir – a great everyday choice without the Chanel pricetag

CND Vinylux Bloodline

Seche Vite Top Coat

I know there’s a trend for matt nails at the moment but for me, I like my nails to look like they’ve just come out of a car showroom – gloss all the way baby! A quick coat of Seche Vite and your nails will dry to a glass-like shine in mere minutes!

Seche Vite Top Coat

What is your go-to nail polish colour for the festive season? Are you a fan of the glitter?

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY11

elf eating sweeties

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Blogmas – Five Beautiful Christmas Gifts For Girls

Unlike the male of the species, I find buying Christmas gifts for girls to be an utter joy. Speaking for myself, I always have my eye on something, from the fantasy (check out my fantasy Christmas wish list) to the practical so I feel like I’m pretty easy to buy for (although Mr.R would probably tell you otherwise). There are so many great options out there for girls and my rule of thumb tends to be first, think of your recipient – her likes and dislikes and buy accordingly (that ones’ obvious) but secondly, don’t buy anything you do not personally like or believe to be beautiful. A thoughtful gift in my view should always have something of yourself in it. Here are my top five picks of gorgeous Christmas gifts for girls!

Five beautiful gifts for girls

The No-BrainerFornasetti Ortensia Scented Candle £140

A beautiful candle is always a welcome gift and is pretty much my first port of call for any occasion be it a birthday, Christmas or even Mothers Day. Scented candles have come along way since the days of cheap headache-inducing scents and this absolute stunner from Fornasetti is the ultimate. Pricey, I grant you –  this is one for the life, lust, list. Do I need it? No. Do I want it…hmm absolutely!

Fornasetti Candle

For The Nail Care ObsessiveMani & Lola Nail Polish Subscription Box From £54 For A 3 Month Subscription

Most girls have their ‘thing’. That ‘thing’ could be lipstick, it could be jeans, it could be nails. Nails are having a moment in the spotlight with pointy talons nails and elaborate designs gracing the fingers of everyone from the Kardashians to Adele (personally I prefer a short, dark nail but you know, you can’t be at the cutting edge of everything in life)! There are a plethora of beauty boxes and subscription packages out there to choose from but this nail lover specific package would be such a treat as either a one-off gift or a subscription if you’re feeling generous!

Mani & Lola Subscription Box

For The Girl Who’s Always ColdHush Leopard Cashmere Scarf £159

A luxury scarf is one accessory that absolutely everybody loves to receive. This sumptuous cashmere piece is a timeless classic that will come out year after year…leopard print is a neutral after all!

Hush Cashmere Scarf

For The Luxury LoverGucci Marmont Petite Textured Leather Wallet £380

A little on the spendy side but who doesn’t love a bit of luxury in their life from time to time? I think with a purse you can really go to town with a standout print or colour and this gorgeous vibrant red purse manages to be festive, classic and luxurious all in one fell swoop.

Gucci Marmont Purse

For The Stationary GeekHello Day Original 2018 Daily Planner | Tate £46

I’ve mentioned it before but I am a Virgo and I like to be organised. I also am a bit of a stationary geek so when I first laid eyes on Hello Day’s beautiful Instagram feed, one of their 2018 planners went straight onto my wishlist! These planners come in four great designs and feature typography affirmations from Too Wordy, the option to personalise and a gift wrap service…literally the perfect gift!

Hello Day Daily Planner

Do you find it easy to buy Christmas gifts for girls? Do you have any fail-safe gifting ideas?

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY10

elf on the door wreath

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Blogmas – My Unashamedly Glitzy & Glam Door Wreath

Ahh, the door wreath. Is there a more welcoming sight than a front door adorned with a garland of winter foliage, pine cones and red ribbons? A door wreath proclaims to the world that yes, Christmas has indeed arrived in your household and seems to add a certain assurance of a warm and hospitable greeting. Visions of steaming mugs of mulled wine and the spicy scent of warm mince pies abound! I have a borderline obsessive love for my door wreath which is the complete antithesis to the traditional circlet I’ve just described! Let me just say straight off…it’s a little, shall we say, garish! It’s bright and shiny and span-dangly and it creates the most almighty mess when it drops its little gold palettes (which FYI are also horribly sharp and not at all baby friendly). Despite all of this I would be really quite heartbroken if I had to give it up. A little bit of history…My mam bought this wreath a long time ago – I have a feeling it could be ten years or more. It came from Fenwick in Newcastle and was unlike anything we had seen (or have seen since for that matter). We both fell in love and excitedly headed back to home to see it in action. this is where things fell a little flat. Now my mam has the most beautiful front door – it’s a wide, solid wooden door with a  modern edge which we thought would be the perfect backdrop for our super fancy new wreath. Unfortunately, it just seemed to get a bit lost against the wood – nice but not wow! Mam persevered for a few years until I had my own front door to decorate and then the golden wreath of dreams became mine! I now always make sure my front door is painted in a moody shade with a slightly matt finish – yep the sole reason being that for one month of the year I get to show off my fantasy wreath in all its glory! How do you decorate your front door for Christmas? Do you opt for fresh foliage or do you have something more sentimental to bring out each year?

glitzy and glam door wreath gold sparkly foor wreath gold christmas door wreath

I mentioned that I had never come across anything similar but Amara has a lovely selection of glitzy and unusual wreaths if you are fancying something a little different this year…

Amara Door Wreath

 

Check out my top tips for storing your Christmas decorations HERE

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY9

elf toasting marshmallows

 

Blogmas – Christmas Cocktails With The Duke & Fly

I love a cocktail at Christmas. Actually, I love a cocktail full stop but Christmas is a convenient excuse so let’s go with it. I’m pretty good at whipping up a cocktail…no false modesty here. Working behind the bar for almost four years you pick up a trick or two but, (as I’m no longer at the forefront of whats hot and whats not), I decided to leave it to the professionals to come up with a selection of Christmas cocktails with a little more oomph than your traditional snowball. I asked the guys at ‘Thin White Duke’ and ‘Spider & Fly’ in Carlisle to come up with two suitably seasonal yet suitably chic concoctions for the discerning Christmas party goer this December. All ingredients and methods are listed but if you are in the Carlisle area I highly recommend heading on down and sampling the real deal!

Blogmas - Christmas Cocktails with The Duke & Fly

thin white duke christmas cocktailsthin white duke cocktails

“It’s Not Terry’s Martini”

  • Double Espresso,
  • 20ml Orange Vodka,
  • 15ml Kahlua,
  • 15ml Mozart Chocolate,
  • 15ml Sugar Syrup.
  • Icing Sugar & Coffee Beans To Garnish

METHOD

  • Fill a latte glass with ice and set aside to chill
  • Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake your boots!
  • Empty the glass of ice and sprinkle the side with icing sugar
  • Strain the mixture into the now empty glass
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of coffee beans

chocolate orange espresso martini

“Mulled Wine Mojito”

  • 50ml Mulled Wine,
  • 25ml Sailor Jerry,
  • Squeeze Pear Puree,
  • Dash of Soda Water,
  • Handful Of Mint,
  • 3 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 4 x Lime Wedges,
  • Winter Berries & Sliced Pear To Garnish,

METHOD

  • Take a tall cocktail glass, add the lime & sugar and muddle.
  • Add the mulled wine, rum, pear puree and mint.
  • Fill the glass with crushed ice then stir vigorously using a long spoon.
  • Top with a dash of soda water and garnish with pear, winter berries and a sprig of mint

mulled wine mojito

spider and fly logo christmas cocktails

spider and fly cocktails

“The Black Forest Gâteau”

  • 12.5ml Chambord,
  • 12.5ml Briotette Framboise (raspberry liqueur),
  • 25ml Briotette Cerise (cherry liqueur),
  • 20ml Sugar Syrup (equal parts sugar and water),
  • 25ml Cranberry Juice,

METHOD

  • Fill a martini glass with ice and set aside to chill
  • Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake your boots
  • Empty the glass of ice and strain the mixture
  • Serve with a cream float and shavings of 70% cocoa chocolate (for the cream float, pour double cream in a fine stream over the back of a spoon).

black forest gateau cocktail

cocktail cream float

“Maple Pecan Old Fashioned”

  • 35ml Maple Syrup,
  • 50ml Knob Creek Bourbon,
  • 5 Dashes Of Angostura Bitters,

METHOD

  • Fill a tumbler with ice and set aside to chill
  • Add half the ingredients to a mixing glass, fill with ice and stir
  • As the ice begins to melt add the remaining ingredients and top with more ice
  • Empty the glass of ice and strain the mixture
  • Add fresh ice to the mixture and served with crushed salted pecans.

maple pecan old fashioned

Do you have any favourite Christmas cocktails or are you a Baileys or nothing kind of a girl (or boy)?

Thin White Duke Bar & Kitchen

Spider & Fly Bar & Kitchen

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY8

elf playing with lego

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BLOGMAS – Introducing Mrs Claus…Yes It’s Another Blazer

Yes, I know it’s another blazer. I haven’t got a red blazer…well I do now obviously and quite honestly I have no regrets. This was a bit of a surprise holiday purchase. I stood in a queue behind perhaps the most irritating woman I have ever come across in order to buy this blazer which – as I remarked to my mum afterwards said a lot about how much I actually wanted it. (FYI she decided to hold up the whole queue by trying on and requesting new and different sizes in pretty much everything. The whole scenario took FOREVER and the only thing that calmed my shopper’s rage was the fact that her dress was half unzipped and showing the label and no one was telling her! Ha, that’ll teach her (I know I’m evil)). Anyway, I’ve gone completely off topic so at the risk of repeating myself I LOVE THIS BLAZER! It has padded shoulders (not Alexis Carrington style padded shoulders, nice subtle padded shoulders) that give a lovely sharp silhouette and It’s that gorgeous blue red that’s just perfect for this time of year. The only downside that I can see is that the first time I wore it, Mr.R said I looked like Santa and my dad shouted Hi Di Hi (bloody cheek, they wore yellow jackets)! Anyway, I’ve long since learned to ignore Mr.R’s sartorial observations and I think it’s pretty hard to fault! There’ll be no surprises as to how I’ve styled it – black jeans, black cami and heels are pretty much my dressed up uniform. This is the velvet cami that I talked about in A Pre-Christmas Holiday In The Sun which throws a bit of texture into the mix and gives that all important festive feel! Whats your go-to outfit for a bit of festive fun?

black levi jeans

red mango blazer

red blazer and jeans

mrs claus blazer

mango blazer

BLAZER – MANGO

JEANS – LEVI

CAMISOLE – MASSIMO DUTTI

SHOES – VALENTINO (SIMILAR)

BAG – SAINT LAURANT (SIMILAR)

 

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY7

snow angel elf

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BLOGMAS – My Top Ten Festive Tunes

I have terrible taste in music. Actually, that’s not strictly true, I have very fine taste in music….I mean who doesn’t love a bit of Neil Sedaka in the car? Mr.R is on a mission to turn Luna into a Carl Cox fan before I can corrupt her with Abba but I digress. Christmas is the time of year where I can indulge my (o.k I admit, bordering on cheesy) taste in music and I’ll admit I really struggled to narrow this down to ten! I’ve tried to stay clear of the ‘big 70s classics’ (i.e. Slade & Wizzard) for no other reason than they are just so awesome that everyone going to listen to them regardless!  Without further ado here are my top ten festive tunes – the perfect soundtrack to start the party season!

my top ten festive tunes1.     Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues & Kirstie McCall

I think this one will top quite a few peoples top ten festive tunes list. What I love about this one is its grittiness. It’s has a real edge of sleaze and sadness to it but at the same time gives you all the warm fuzzies that let’s face it, are a necessary ingredient of an iconic festive hit.

2.      Last Christmas – Wham

Oh, George (and Andrew, mustn’t forget Andrew) where do I even start? The video for Last Christmas is everything I want the festive season to be and not even that awful woman giving poor George’s brooch away can spoil it for me!

3.      Walking In A Winter Wonderland – Macy Gray

This cover of the 1930s original is just so cool! Macy’s gravelly vocals give this festive favourite a real modern twist but it never loses that classic Christmassy vibe!

4.      Stop The Cavalry – Jona Lewie

When I started to think about my top ten festive tunes I asked a few people what their picks would be and I was amazed by how often this one came up! It’s so delightfully upbeat and yet tinged with quite a heartbreaking undercurrent. The brass band immediately draws you into thoughts of Christmas’s past and it just seems to be the perfect snuggle in front of the fire with a hot chocolate song!

5.      Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie & Bing Crosby

The pairing of Bing Crosby, old-school crooner of White Christmas fame and a young David Bowie shouldn’t work but there’s just something about these two distinctive voices and the way they blend together. This was recorded not long before Bing Crosby died which adds another layer of poignancy.

6.     Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow – Dean Martin

Dean Martin just has the dreamiest voice and I could listen to him sing let it snow let it snow let it snow all day! This is the perfect tree decorating song – fire on, glass of wine in hand…lovely!

7.      Baby Its Cold Outside – Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews

Is it sacrilege that of all the versions of this Christmas classic it’s the Tom Jones version that does it for me? I don’t care, the video for this is epic (and was actually the inspiration behind one of my school Drama project)!

8.      Mistletoe & Wine – Cliff Richard

I couldn’t do a top ten festive tunes without Mr Christmas himself – Cliff Richard. Mistletoe and wine has to be the ultimate Christmas classic. I actually don’t think its possible to get into the festivities until you’ve heard Mistletoe & Wine.

9.      Chiquitita – Abba

Yep, I had to get them in somewhere. Although this doesn’t have Christmas (or even winter for that matter) in the song at all, the video was shot on a snow-covered mountain in front a humungous snowman and you really can’t get much more Christmassy than that! (Also don’t you just love that brummmph, bom, bom, bom at the end? Chills)!

10.      Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) – The Darkness

Whatever happened to The Darkness? I loved the darkness! They were like a super tongue in cheek, super camp Queen (the band not you know, The Queen). Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) with is none too subtle double entendre is basically a piss take but it’s so catchy and so funny that it just can’t fail to raise a smile!

11.      It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Dean Martin

I ummed and ahhed about including this one (which is why its a little late to the party). Five years ago today we lost someone very special and this song evokes so many memories from that time. For me it’s not a party track, nor does it get me into the festive spirit but, I certainly don’t find it sad or upsetting. Whenever I hear it I stop, listen and remember. There’s great comfort in that and for me, this will always be one of the most special songs of the season.

What would you include in your top ten festive tunes?

The Album

Now That’s What I Call Christmas

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY6

rock climbing elf rock climbing elf on the shelf

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BLOGMAS – Five Christmas Gifts For Men

My husband is not into sports…or fishing or fashion. The only thing that genuinely tickles his fancy are cars and as much as I would love to present him with his beloved Audi RS3 its just not gonna happen! When it comes to buying Christmas gifts it is always, without fail the men in my life who are the biggest pain in the bum! If you’ve read my post The Anniversary Conundrum then you’ll know how much of an issue I find buying presents for the male of the species. They want nothing. They need nothing. You spend a small fortune desperately trying to raise a smile of genuine delight that never seems to materialise. So, I have trawled the interweb (sorry I just cannot do real-life shops – particularly at this time of year with a pushchair in tow) for five Christmas gifts for men which, although they may not do cartwheels of joy over, may just like enough to utilise….

The Experience – Gin & Botanical Dining Extravaganza (£200) Not On The High Street

Yes, this is a substantial gift but I have a sneaking suspicion that it could be a winner. One of the best presents I ever managed to pull off was tickets to see Michael McIntyre. If in doubt an experience could be the way forward. Whether he’s into his drinks, racing, food or flying, a day or weekend learning something new is a great idea for a really special gift!

Gin & Botanical Dining Extravaganza For Two

For The Coffee LoverMonthly Delivery Coffee Subscription (£29 For Three Months) Not On The High Street

There’s a plethora of beauty boxes and subscription packages available for the girls but (as ever) a very limited selection when it comes to the boys! When I stumbled across this package that delivers fresh coffee from independent farmers each and every month I thought, ‘Yes’, that is something that could actually be appreciated in my household (Mr.R and his caffeine affliction are something of a standing joke). I love the idea that it’s not just a one-off gift and you can choose how long you want your subscription to last – you could choose to have fresh coffee delivered right up until next Christmas!

Coffee Subscription - Christmas gifts for men

For The Drinks CoinneusserCocktail Chameleon Hardback Book £40 Mr Porter

A few years ago I bought a beautiful coffee table book called ‘Vintage Cocktails’ for Mr.R without any real expectation that he would be interested. But against all odds, it was a surprise hit. There’s an abundance of lovely cocktail recipe books out there and at this time of year, I don’t think you can go wrong (who doesn’t love a cocktail at Christmas)?

Cocktail Chameleon Book

For The Techy Bloke – Sonos Play 1 Smart Speaker £149 John Lewis

I’ve yet to come across a bloke who doesn’t have at least a passing interest in anything a bit techy. I’m talking speakers, sound systems, tv’s…you get the gist! We have two of the Sonos Play 1 speakers at home and to be honest they’re a bit of a no-brainer. They link up to your phone which means you can play music from your library or even from your Spotify account and it’s great to be able to have different playlists in different rooms. We also have the soundbar and subwoofer (Mr.R’s pride and joy) which make great gifts if you’re looking to spend a little more (last year the whole family chipped in to get the subwoofer for my dad who is notoriously hard to buy for).

Sonos Play 1 Smart Speaker

For The FoodyPembridge Indulgent Chilled Hamper – £120 Marks & Spencer

Men like to eat right? Of course, they do and who could resist a hamper full of cheese, crackers and a few bottles of wine? When I start to get stressed with Christmas shopping I always try to remember the incontrovertible fact that a beautiful hamper will be always be appreciated, used and enjoyed and at the end of the day, that’s about as much as any gift giver can hope for! M&S have a gorgeous selection of hampers in a wide variety of price points that make fabulous gifts for men (or indeed for anyone really)!

Sonos Play 1 Smart Speaker

I hope you were able to find a little inspiration here. Do you have any top tips on how to buy Christmas gifts for men?

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY5 

elf cooking candy canes
Watcha cooking Tuukka Tuukka??? 

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