Tuesday 18 December 2018

What to Buy a Coffee Lover This Christmas

What to Buy a Coffee Lover This Christmas

As we approach the end of 2018, it has dawned on me that if it wasn't for my miracle caffeine routine in the morning, I would have slept walked my way through the very best part of the year. 

My bleary eyes would be struggling to make sense of the light, my exercise regime would not have happened and I may not have even made it into the office. Heck, my mood would have been more irate than I care to admit. 

I was late in joining the coffee club, in fact I recall going along to baby groups with Leo back in 2011 and having squash, while all of the 'grown ups' sat sipping the hot cup of coffee. Back then it was Costa and the extremely sweet coffee syrups that finally initiated me. 

Fast forward to 2018 and I hate the stuff. My favourite cup of coffee is the no bull**** variety. It has to be straight to the point, and for the most part I want it all bean and a splash of milk. No sweetner and most definitely NO syrup.

It turns out that the best served coffee comes in the form of real ground beans, Extract Coffee Roasters have a fantastic selection of coffee that you can order to your liking: Whole Bean, Espresso Ground,  Cafetiere Blend or Filter Ground.  

Extract Coffee Roasters Cafetiere blend

I have been thoroughly enjoying the Original Espresso which has hints of hazelnut, caramel and cocoa. 

A really simple but thoughtful gift idea this festive season is a well thought bag of coffee and a personal cafetiere, like this ProCook Rose Gold Cafetiere.

This is ideal for me, as I am the only one who drinks coffee in my immediate family, but when the girls descend, we of course need ample amounts to share around. This of course calls for a bigger cafetiere.... But the size you choose really does depend on who and how many people you will be serving. 

That is why it may be beneficial to have a smaller model and a larger one, the VonShef Cafetiere comes in stainless steel and allows me to cater for more people.

What I really like about this particular model is that the stainless steel enables me to keep the coffee warm longer, which is great when there is still some coffee sitting in there waiting to be polished off.

VonShef Cafetiere

It has become apparent this year that I have developed a case of coffee snobbery, and I don't think for a second that this is a bad thing. My little coffee habit really has grown over the past couple of years, and I am even getting more creative with how I am brewing my own coffee.

This also means that I have been through my fair share of reusable cups. Everywhere seems to be selling them, some come with some cute little quotes, others in bright colours, but I was yet to find one that didn't give my coffee a metallic taste. 

Keep Cup from Extract Coffee Roasters

This is the Keep Cup from Extract Coffee Roasters and if there is one thing that you buy the coffee lover in your life this year, then I would say this is a shoe in for a winner gift. 

I am now that Mum who rocks up on a the school run with a coffee in hand. It gives me that final push out of the door in a morning, which is great because I am forever making coffee and having to leave it behind as I run out of time. 

I just make my coffee in this beauty now, and it comes with me when I am heading out of the door. It spurs me on to take Leo swimming on a Wednesday afternoon, and keeps my hands toasty warm while I wait for him to come out of school.

The winning factor here? No after taste (other than coffee of course!).

Disclaimer: These products were received in exchange for publication. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. 

Tuesday 4 December 2018

A Boy's Gift Guide - Kids

A Boy's Gift Guide - Kids

For me the real magic at Christmas stems from Leo's pure love and belief. 

At 7 years old he acts older than his years in so many different ways, he shies away from things that other children his age are drawn to, face painting, activities when we go out for the day and even playing with toys. 

Sometimes it feels like I have a teenager on my hands already.

Then Christmas come around and Leo gets swept up in the magic. 

His Christmas elves Emmanuel and Samuel return and so does the twinkle in his eyes. 

He rushes down stairs each morning to see what mischief they have created while everyone is asleep, and he wholeheartedly, hand on heart believes in Father Christmas, the North pole and all of the magic.

This makes my heart so happy. 

On the first of December our cheeky elves arrived back from the North Pole with a very special treat. 

Leo is loving that he is getting some really nice new Smiggle bits on a daily basis. He loves Smiggle and I have been really impressed with just how much has been packed into the advent calendar. 

It is now day 4 and he has now had a Dolphin Rubber, a Pixel Ruler, a Shiny Star pencil and a really cool looking Snap Band! 

Christmas is a time of year that I love to pour energy into, to make each and every day of December the most magical they can be, because I know that these kind of Christmas's are numbered, and I hate to think of a time where this pure innocence and magic will no longer exist for him.

In the spirit of keeping the magic alive, and having the most magical Christmas ever, here we have 2018's Christmas Gift Guide for boys! 

Belvoir Festive Presse Range

Christmas is all about spending quality time with friends and family, indulging in a few treats and trying new things. I for one love Mulled Wine, which obviously is an adult beverage, so this year we have a few different varieties of Belvoir and their festive Pressés range. 

Belvoir make natural cordials, Pressés and fruit crushes at their countryside home in Lincolnshire, they use naturally delicious ingredients, with nothing artificial being used in the creation of their tasty range. 

Leo has been really excited to help taste test the selection we have been sent, it's great because he gets to enjoy the same beverage as the 'grown ups'.

Keep an eye out in the shops for their festive range which comprises:

- Mulled Winter Punch
- Spiced Ginger Punch
- Mulled Winter Cordial
- Festive Fruit Punch

 Monopoly Cheaters Edition.

When the whole family gets together, we love nothing more than sitting down with some cheese and crackers, and whipping out a board game to get everyone involved. Last New Year we all went over to the parent's house and had the best of times, and who knows, it might just be how to choose to bring in 2019.

Last year was when Leo first got introduced to the game of Monopoly, he went on a team with his Daddy and they both kicked my bum, but it turns out there is a new version of the game that I have never heard of. 

As the name suggests, this version is all about cheating and what you can get away with. You can take your traditional version of the game and rip those ruled right up, because in 2018 it's all about dancing over and around those rules and really switching it up.

What's That Smell? Board Game

A game that Leo has been absolutely loving this year is What's That Smell? I have to say that this is the very first game of it's kind that I have come across, and I think this game alone is going to get a lot of giggles as we take it around to the family and have a game or two! 

The aim of the game is to guess the smell of course, and it can be played between 2-6 people. In your box you get 48 mystery whiff cards, 4 stank cards, 4 resealable bags, 6 card holders, 1 score pad and 1 sheet of whiff strips. 

What's That Smell? Board Game

Once everyone is ready to play, each player picks a mystery whiff card, and stick is in your card holder. At this point you can decide if you want to play with or without the app that is available, it's a free download and we decided that it would be more fun to play with it. 
As you can imagine we spent a lot of this game just laughing. We laughed A LOT. Leo thinks its the best game since sliced bread and has demanded we play each weekend.

So Slime DIY Insect pack
A stocking idea that I just love is this So Slime DIY Insect pack. You mix your own slime and add in a creepy crawly for good measure! 

What's really nice about this DIY range is that kids can get really hands on, and even add confetti and things to the slime!

It's times like this that I realise I how gross boy's really are...

NERF Laser Ops Pro Alpha Point Blasters review

Leo has been into NERF for the last few years, and the lucky boy has inherited all of his older Uncles older NERF Guns from when they were children, of course this hasn't stopped him dreaming about the newer models that keep gracing our television screens in between children's shows!

The new NERF Laser Ops Pro Alpha Point Blasters come in a pack of two, and it is pretty much at home laser tag!

There is an app that you can download and use alongside the guns, or you can just pick the blasters up and go for it, which to be honest is what Leo and I have been doing. It's nice that there is an option to have an app to potentially get more out of the game, but at the same time I would rather not strap my phone to my arm and run around with it through fear of it falling out.

What I personally really love about the Alpha Point Blasters? NO FOAM BULLETS for the win!

NERF Laser Ops Pro Alpha Point Blasters review

With these particular blasters you have to actually aim, which I think is a real positive. You are aiming for the red dome on top of the other blaster, which means that you don't need to wear a special vest or top with a receiver in order to play. My main concern to start with was that you would need to have the app and be wearing the phone, as I originally thought that this would be the target, thankfully that is not the case.

I can see the other half and I having as much fun with these blasters as Leo does this Christmas...

Petlandia Review

We presented Leo with a very special book last Christmas, a book all about Lux and his adventures in Petlandia. Even 12 months later, this book is being read over and over again. I'm pretty certain that both Leo and myself know the words off by heart. Leo asks me to read this book most nights before he goes to sleep, and he has never once got tired of hearing it.

I was so pleased when I discovered that there was a second story that you can personalise, and this one is called 'Lux meets Grumpy Cat in Petlandia'.

Leo doesn't know it is here just yet, and I have personalised a little Christmas message in the front of the book. Leo believes that Father Christmas has personally made this book for him, and that of course has made it even more special to him.

I can't wait to see Leo's face on Christmas day when he opens this little gem up. 

I have no doubt that it going to be read over and over again, I can only hope that there is another version on the cards in the future!

Petlandia Review

Disclaimer: I was sent the above items for the purpose of this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

All we want for Christmas, is a gift for mum! 7 Gift ideas your mum will love!

Christmas gift ideas for Mum
We all want to give our mums the world when it comes to Christmas, and sometimes a box of chocolates just doesn’t feel like enough, or getting your mum the same eye cream that she always uses might seem like you’ve not put much effort in…click here for your guide to buying the ideal eye cream. Many of us are stretching a budgets more and more every year, so with that in mind – how do we find a gift that mum will really love?
Read on for a little inspiration.
New bedding
We’re always being told we don’t get enough sleep – and mum’s are always the first to say how tired they are. So, why not help her get a better night’s sleep with some gorgeous new bedding? You can treat her to some beautiful new bed linen or go a little further and revamp her whole bedspread. New pillows, new duvet, new blankets, throws and cushions galore. Because if anyone deserves a good night’s sleep – it’s your mum!
Pay for a cleaner
I have a feeling many mums would LOVE this! Reducing your mums to-do list will always be a winner, so if you reduce her cleaning and tidying responsibilities by hiring a cleaner for her then she’ll love you for it! It could be a one off, or maybe even a fortnightly thing. Or you could always let her decide.
Get the kids involved
If you’re looking for something really cheap and cheerful, then why not get the kids involved. You could write a poem together, about mum/grandma and frame it. It’ll be extra special and it’s something she can treasure for years to come.
If your mum taught your everything you know about baking then why not treat her to something you’ve created? You can bake anything for your mum as long as it’s baked with love. Cookies, a cake, brownies or muffins. You can present them in a beautiful box or a hand decorated jar. How cute!
Beauty voucher
Does your mum have a favourite salon that she always goes to? Well, why not get her a voucher to spend there and have a little TLC? Better yet, book both of you a treatment that you can enjoy together and spend some quality time. A massage, facial, manicure or pedicure – as long as you laugh and enjoy each other’s company – you’ll both love it.
Is there something that your mum always wishes she’d learnt? Like dancing, cooking a certain type of food, or even learning a new language? Well for Christmas, why not give your mum the gift of learning? Head online and see what you can find or speak to local venues and see what they have coming up in the new year.
Something active

If your mum is on a fitness journey and needs a little encouragement then try something like a fitness tracker, or some new gym outfits that will really boost her confidence. You could even book her into some classes at her favourite gym. Yoga anyone?

Monday 3 December 2018

The For 'Her' Gift Guide

The For Her Gift Guide

I always think that buying for the women in your life is pretty easy, I mean there is such a vast choice, from make-up (foundation, powder, lipstick and every other line that exists) through to perfume and we haven't even branched out on the jewelry avenue yet!

 Let's start with some stocking filler ideas, and something that I can really say that us ladies need in our bags at all time, is a variety of different lip balms. I am forever stifling them into coat pockets, bags and my jeans. I have always suffered with dry lips and I like to be able to lather them up whenever it is needed. 

Crazy Rumors Lip Balm

I recently came across Crazy Rumors, a range of fun flavoured lip balms that are plant based, vegan lip balms, compiled from mostly organic ingredients. The range of flavours spans from French Vanilla right through to Pina Colada and Hot Cocoa (Filling in all of the other gaps in between!) You can view the full list of different flavours on their webpage. 

A few of these nestled up inside the stocking would go down a real treat.

Face and skin care is an everyday essential, and it is always nice to receive a few new additions that will help you on your way to finding the perfect product. In my old age (my 30's are just a blink away now), I have been blessed with so many whiteheads on my nose, and this is only amplified if I dare wear foundation. 

I have been trying to find some exfoliating goodies that can finally give me the smooth skin I so desire. Skin Doctors offer a range of different clinical skincare solutions. They have a product for everything, from anti-aging through to professional results and everyday essentials. 

I have been really rating the Skin Doctors Exfoliating Crystals and it is really helping with the white heads, which is coming at the right time for the many festive nights out I have coming my way.

Skin Doctors Exfoliating Crystals

Another great idea for a stocking filler is a new phone case. I love the choice you have now when you decide to upgrade your old phone case, and the amount of personalisation that you can add into the mix. 

I recently upgraded to the iPhone X and as it is costing me a pretty penny, I want a case that is going to look good and also offer a good level of protection. Tirita have some really classic designs, and you can personalise them with a message or your initials as below. 

Tirita Phone Cases

I personally really like the marble designs. 

ScandiKitchen Mulled Wine

If you are sticking to a real budget this year, you could even cook up some of your own festive treats for friends and family. I treated myself to a slow cooker last month, and I found a great recipe to make your own Christmas Chutney, it is supposed to be absolutely incredible with cheese and biscuits, and you can even have it with your Christmas Turkey! 

I even went and picked some sloes with Leo last weekend, and we have made our own Sloe Gin (Which was actually incredibly easy to do! but that is for a seperate post on another day!). 

As you can see I have already got quite a lot of festive goodies in, and it wouldn't be complete without my Mulled Wine. We have been sent a gorgeous selection of samples from ScandiKitchen who have so many different varieties of Mulled Wine on offer.

Starting with the Blossa Lätt Vinglögg over on the left, this is their low alcohol version.

The Blue bottle in the middle is the Blossa Limoncello Mulled Wine. Each year they have a limited edition, and this is 2018's offering. It really looks the part in the bright Blue and I am pleased to report that the flavour did not disappoint.

The final bottle is the Saturnas Organic Mulled Wine, and I am saving this one for Christmas Eve. It's a bit of a tradition, I finish off the remainder of my wrapping and enjoy a few glasses (maybe bottles) of my favourite festive drink. 

All you have to do to prepare the Mulled Wine is gently heat the mulled wine in a saucepan – take care not to heat it too much or the alcohol will evaporate (80 degrees celsius is about right). Serve in little cups with raisins and flaked almonds.... And ENJOY!

JML Hollywood Pants Review

Now buying clothes for your other half may seem like a daunting idea, but I have to say I don't think anyone could be disappointed with these Hollywood Pants from JML. They come in a pack of 3, and feature 3 different designs, my favourite being the ones in the above image, I love, love, love the buttons on the waist. High rise leggings or jeans are my go to solution day in and out, but these leggings are just incredibly comfortable, and they can be dressed up or down depending on where you are going. 

These leggings are a complete game changer, they smooth and lift in all the right places and are a very welcome addition to my wardrobe. I am wearing a size Small here, and they fit perfectly. I would say the sizes are true to life, and they are also very stretchy so you have a bit of leeway either side.family print from Posterhaste

For my gift finale, it has to be this lovely family print from Posterhaste. I have wanted to do one of these for my crazy bunch for a while now. I was never sure what to put on it because Luke and I aren't married, therefore we don't share the same last name. I decided that I would just caption it 'our perfectly imperfect family', and had a great time designing it.

The whole process was really simple, and you may very well be sitting there scratching your head and wondering why Luke isn't smiling like the rest of us. Well there is an explanation to this...

It is a long standing joke that Luke could be over the moon happy, but still look like he is having the worst day ever. He is often asked repeatedly if he is ok just because he has permanent resting bitch face.

So while I was adding in each of the family to the portrait, I thought it would be a giggle to do it as true to life as possible... And this was the result. Luke hasn't seen this quite yet, and I know that the lack of a smile on the print is going to make him fall about laughing, and actually turn that frown upside down!

Happy Christmas Shopping folks!

Disclaimer: I was sent the above items for the purpose of this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Sunday 2 December 2018

The For 'Him' Christmas Gift Guide 2018

December has arrived. 

The Christmas tree is standing tall and proud once again, and my favourite festive songs are blaring out from the speakers. 

All of this means that the big day is slowly rolling closer, and in only a few short weeks the entire family will be gathered around, and spending some truly special time together. 

On the run up to Christmas though, we all have some Christmas shopping to do... Am I right? 

I have to be honest and say that this has been the hardest year yet in terms of thinking about the perfect gift for each and everyone I hold dear in my life. To say I have racked my brain would be an understatement...

If I have found this year difficult, then I am sure that I am not alone, and it seems like the ideal time to share my very first gift guide with you!

The For 'Him' Christmas Gift Guide for 2018.

What do you buy the man who has EVERYTHING? 

That is the question that has been on my mind since September. 

The more I asked myself this question...The more I realised that the answer was staring me right in the face. In January, Luke and I will have been together for 10 long years, and in that time frame we have taken hundreds of thousands of photographs (Well I have taken them anyway...!), yet despite taking them we have never done anything with them. 

Family Photo Album with Photobox

They have sat on my computer for years and years, but we have never made family photo albums, and now 10 years later the thought of getting all of those special moments printed and into some form of order is a mammoth task by any stretch of the imagination. 

However giving such a personal, from the heart gift with so many hours invested in it made it seem like the absolute perfect gift. 

So I logged on to Photobox amd started to upload hundreds, upon hundreds of images, once I knew how many photos I was going to have printed, I picked two photograph albums that could each hold 500 photographs. 

Family Photo Album with Photobox

Once everything had arrived I set aside at least 3 evenings, and I don't know how many hours... and slowly but surely labelled up the mass array of unorganised images. I went month by month right from when Luke and I first got together back in January 2009. 

Our first photo, our first holiday, Our first snow, Our first Christmas, the birth of our first born, and each and every single month from that moment on. 

The first album holds our earliest photos and the biggest chunk of our lives so far, and it really does highlight just how much history the two of us share together. The second album is pretty much up to present day, and has hundreds of sleeves left for our year ahead, which is set to be a very exciting year as we are in the process of purchasing our very first family home!

Our forever home.

Family Photo Album with Photobox

Family Photo Album with Photobox

Family Photo Album with Photobox
 This gift is really close to my heart, and I can't wait to see his face Christmas day when he sees just how accurate it is, you can literally see Leo growing up before your eyes!

Because of the impending house move, we have both said that we will keep gifts to a minimum, the photo album is of course Luke's main gift, but it's always nice to include some smaller items alongside a main gift. 

Box Of Favours is a lovely little quirky gift, and it is exactly what it says on the box. You sign a contract promising to uphold the many little favours that are on the golden vouchers inside the box, and then you give it away to your special someone. When you are handed one of the vouchers you have to uphold that favour. There are even 5 blank cards included inside the box so that you the gifter can get creative with your own favours for the giftee!

Box of Favours - Stocking Filler Idea

Box of Favours - Stocking Filler Idea

It's a simple but really nice concept, and makes a really cute little stocking filler for someone special. I.E the man in your life.

You can never go wrong with splashing out on some nice new boxers for your other half (I have heard they prefer it to new socks), and there are some beautiful matching his and her sets around. I loved this one from Rebel Empire.

Rebel Empire his and her set
It has a set for her and a pair of trunks for him. Having worn the for her set, I can vouch for how comfortable it is. They are made out of premium quality cotton and have breathable technology in place.

Not to mention they look stunning, but it does really help that they are so very comfortable, because that is what it is all about when it comes down to it.

Christmas gift ideas for him
Gillette Mach 3 Razor 
Belvoir Mulled Winter Punch

Some other stocking filler ideas for the man in your life, take the Tile Pro for instance... This is pretty much perfect for anybody and everybody (especially me!). I am forever and always forgetting where I left my keys. Just the other week I was holding them loosely in my hands, when they fell (in slow motion I might add) right into a drain. A drain that I was strategically stood right above before I got into my car... A drain that then held my car keys along with my house key and everything else hostage. 

You really couldn't write it.

With the Tile you attach it to whatever you want to be able to find, and you download an app and sync the two together (it's very simple to do). and then you can open the app anytime you want to find whatever you have attached the Tile to! I can press 'Find My Keys' and it will ring them loud and proud.

You can in turn press the middle button on the Tile and call your phone (Because let's face it you are bound to lose that too!).

If you have a foodie in your life, then look no further than the Spice Pioneer.

The Spice Pioneer Subscription Box

The Spice Pioneer is a monthly subscription box that brings you the spices to create some culinary memories! The box includes all the spices and seasonings, easy to follow recipes and concepts for 4 people. 

It's a great and different gift idea, and you cannot truly appreciate how amazing the food you can create with these spices is, until you get cooking!

Speaking of practical gifts, this Handy Heater from JML is something that can come in really handy. I thought this would make a nice addition as the house that we will be moving into has a conservatory, and a little extra heat into what can be a very cold room over the winter months is always welcome.

 Handy Heater from JML

You simply plug it in to the wall and it uses 500 watts to provide you with temperatures between 16°C to 32°C. This would make a great little gift for the person that is always cold, and it could even be taken into work and used. 

Handy eh!?

 Handy Heater from JML
 Men and their automobile counter parts are one and the same, if you have a spouse that spends more time outside polishing his car than he does inside talking to you, a few new additions to his car washing agenda won't go a miss!

Although you could argue that it might cause them never to come back inside (Or that could be just what you wanted!). The Armour All Exterior Car Kit has all the ingredients for the car wash fanatic in your home. 

Armour All Exterior Car Kit

Disclaimer: I was sent the above items for the purpose of this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Can’t Make Time To Travel? Use These Occasions As Excuses To Travel

It’s so common to hear people say that they want to travel but just can’t find the time to travel with their jobs and other responsibilities keeping them busy. It’s true that the more time we have on our hands, the more tasks turn up to keep us busy and occupied.

If you really want to travel, have a real passion for it, but are stuck in the loop of your daily routine life, then here are some occasions and events you can turn into a road trip or reasons to travel. The key to being able to travel while you’re busy with your jobs and families, is to make travel plans on any occasion that you can find.

1. Annual Events
Annual events like birthdays, anniversaries etc. can easily be celebrated by taking a road trip or flying down to some new place. You can do this for the birthdays of all members of your family. It doesn’t have to be a long trip, driving down to a camping site will do the trick as well. The aim is to replace the celebratory drinks and dinner on birthdays and anniversaries with a trip to some new place. If you celebrate each of your annual events with a travel plan, you could be travelling to so many new places each year. Tick a new place off of your travel bucket list by taking a trip on your birthday every year.

2. Travel With Your Team
If you’re in a position where you can make and influence decisions of your team at work, then try to take your team out for short trips. Travelling is one of the best team building activities you can gift your team. It will also give your team an opportunity to travel and bond with the team members in an informal environment. They will get to know each other better and return to work with a more refreshed and rejuvenated mind.

3. Bachelor or Bachelorette Parties
Also known as stag or hen do, bachelor parties are the perfect excuse to get that road trip with your friends finally in action. Travelling to a new destination for a whole weekend is one of the most popular ideas for a stag do or hen do. More and more people are travelling to popular and budget friendly stag and hen do destinations to celebrate their last few days of bachelorhood with their friends, while exploring a new place. Gone are the days of celebrating a stag or hen do with just one night of celebration. Grooms and brides are traveling with their friends to bond over a couple of days and chill with their friends before they tie the knot.

4. Festive Holidays
Make new traditions during the festive season and travel with your family each year to a new place. It will be really interesting to experience how other cities and countries celebrate festivals and it will also make for a great excuse to travel. You can also sync your travel plans with festivals of other countries, if you’re a culture vulture. Make plans to visit countries during their top festival season. This way you’ll be able to tour the country at its peak season, witnessing their festivities and also be able to get out of your mundane lives.

5. Personal Achievements
Reward yourself with a travel plan each time you achieve a milestone in your life. This could be anything from a promotion at work, to getting engaged, winning a lottery etc. Instead of rewarding yourself with shopping bags that max out your credit cards, book a flight to your favourite destination and reward yourself with travelling. There is no greater gift than the gift of travelling, making memories at new places and ticking off places from your travel bucket list.

To inculcate a travelling habit, you need to sync important events and moments in your life with travelling. Look at it this way, instead of splurging on the silk suit you always wanted, splurge on the destination you always wanted to go to. Once you’re bitten by the travel bug, you will find the dinner celebrations boring and will want to pack your bags each time there is a celebration.