Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The best Christmas cake you will ever eat

Spiced Christmas cake from Scandinavian Christmas by Tine Hahnemann
Christmas Eve is all about baking at home for me. While my mum makes mountains of mince pies, I fuss about, putting together whatever vegetarian delight I plan on sampling, and a big old Christmas cake.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Bargain of the week: Smythson heart keyring lookalike at John Lewis

Ladies, I have found the perfect antidote to that awkward "Oh, you bought me a present? I...er...left yours...in the car - I'll grab it at lunch!" moment some of us are bound to face in these very last days of work.

Panama collection heart keyring, £55, Smythson; Smith & Canova Eau de Nil keyring, £10, John Lewis
You can thank Rachel from Mano for this one: John Lewis have sourced a cute lookalike of the coveted Smythson heart keyring, perfect for last minute gift giving. And, dare I say it, I actually prefer the cheaper version to its £55 counterpart. The Smith & Canova hearts come in a range of cute pastel colours (see here and here) and although it might be a bit late to order online, a quick dash into the store will help you avoid any awkward moments!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Marks and Sparks' not so festive foodie treats

Pan fried duck breast served on saute potatoes, buttered spinach and a caramelised plum jus
Christmas food is boring. We end up eating so much rich and stodgy food that by the end of the festive season I'm wiped out, craving salads and a big glass of water.

A short while back, I popped up to Marks and Spencer in Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff, for a food and beauty event. Bit of a strange combination, I thought, but how could I possibly turn down an evening dedicated to two of my favourite things?!

I'm a little bit fussy with my food (non-meat eater, carb fussy, hate spicy stuff...the list goes on and on) so to be completely honest with you I wasn't that excited by the menu - that is, until it landed on the table in front of me. The *amazing* chefs prepared a beautiful six course meal - in taster portions thank goodness - with some expertly picked wines to accompany them.

Profiteroles with white chocolate and creme anglaise
The M&S hospitality staff explained each course so well that even a kitchen novice like me could prepare them, and sent us away with recipes and words of encouragement. Every dish was easy to prepare, simply delicious and, most importantly, perfect for some lighter Christmas season meals.

Below are two of my favourite recipes from the evening - let me know if you try them out! 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

5 M&S stocking fillers for under £5

They say Christmas comes but once a year, but for 2013 it seems to have been coming around for ages. I swear I  saw a festive advert in September! But one of the little perks of Christmas being so early is the fact that the sales are already starting to make an appearance - meaning we can save a few pennies on last minute gifts.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Midweek treat: Honeymania bath melt

Honeymania bath melt, £8, The Body Shop
Today is one of those sleepy bubble bath days. My toes are cold, my eyes are heavy and all I really need is a good soak and an early night.

I heart this Honeymania bath melt from The Body Shop. It smells gorgeous, leaves your skin silky smooth and is super relaxing to boot. Just what you need for a chilly winter evening.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Lust list: Amazon jewellery boutique

This is completely the wrong time of year to be lusting over expensive jewellery. Unless Santa is reading this, in which case, Saint Nick, you can take this post as a big fat hint.

Monday, 9 December 2013

How to save money on your Christmas shopping

Image (c) christmasstockimages.com
I love a good bargain. I'm sure I've said that plenty of times before but it is so true. There's nothing better than getting some gorgeous goodies and saving a few pennies at the same time - and Christmas time is no different. So if you're strapped for cash, or even if you're not, here are three of my favourite ways to save a little bit this December.

This site lists brilliant discount codes for everything from books to beauty, tech to, er, Ted Baker. They range from free delivery to a whopping 50% off at The Body Shop, for example, and are updated daily. These offers aren't just online either, Voucher Codes do a cracking mobile app too which means you can take advantage of the discounts when you're out and about.

I've been signed up to Quidco for years and have saved a ton of cash. You can get money back from pretty much everyone worth shopping with online (including ASOS!) and they work in conjunction with other discount offers. All you have to do is click through Quidco to the website you want to shop on and you can earn different cashback amounts from major retailers. The best way to use the site is to take advantage of any exclusive discounts and treat the cashback as a little bonus on top. I've never had any problems but I have read the odd review of cashback taking months to come through. 

Just like Voucher Codes, Quidco have a mobile app too so you can use your discounts on the move!

Boots 3 for 2
If you haven't taken advantage of Boots' brilliant 3 for 2 gift set offers, then all I can say is where have you been? This year alone, I've managed to cover two relatives and snag myself a new (technically freebie) diary to boot - and all under £20 too! Bargain!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Monday, 2 December 2013

Bargain of the week: Yves Saint Laurent duffle coat at River island

L-R: Cara Delevingne modelling Yves Saint Laurent Ready-to-Wear A/W 2013, image (c) Vogue
Grey wool-blend duffle coat, £75, River Island
We can thank Yves Saint Laurent for this season's girly grunge revival. And for this lovely looking coat too. Duffle coats may have been around for donkeys' years, but now is the time to sport this lovely grey designer lookalike from River Island. Slightly pricey at £75 but winter coats as are investment piece, worth spending a little more on so you stay toasty.
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