Thursday, 19 December 2013

First Christmas In Our New Flat...

Merry Christmas to you all! I know I'm a bit early but there's not long to go now, so thought I'd get it in there :).

Those of you that follow my posts on here and/or follow me on Twitter (@GemsGemz86) will know that me and Si moved into our first flat together earlier this year. So obvs it's our first Christmas here :). It's been really exciting buying our first lot of Christmas decorations, decorating the place our way, doing our first proper full Christmas shop (we did used to help mom out when we lived with her), wrapping presents and putting them under the tree and creating our own traditions :). I thought I'd write this post and show you how we have decorated the place for Christmas and show you a few of the things we have bought.

So this is our living area with just the Christmas lights on and where we have the main decorations going on. So the tree was my first real tree, Si has had one previously with his family. It smelt gorgeous and looked lush when we first got it and set it up. We bought it on the 30th November and approx 2 weeks later it had died. It was a nightmare and we were pretty gutted about it! We got the tree from a local garden centre and there was some sort of guarantee on the trees there, so Si rang them up and they said if we returned it they'd exchange it. Si's mom took him to return it and I cleaned up the mess. When we had it up, I'd clean around the tree and a couple of hours later the floor would be covered again. It took me two hours to clean up properly whilst Si was returning it, filling one medium bin liner with piles of needles and then I hoovered the rest up, having to empty the hoover twice in the process. Some of the little bleeders had dug themselves into the carpet, so to do a good job and get rid of them all as best I could, I had to get down on my hands and knees and pick them from the carpet with my fingers :/. Not a pleasant experience I must say :/. Luckily, Si managed to get our money back and my mom's friend was giving up her artificial Christmas tree as her daughter had given her hers so mom brought that one up to us and we've now got that one all decorated (I took all the pictures in this post before our real tree decided to die, so I thought I'd just stick with them saves taking them all again :)). I think if we ever get a real one again (not in any particular rush we've both said ha), then we'll get one where the needless don't come out...I bet they are pricey though! The lights around the TV are just a pack of coloured lights that were £1 from Poundland and the ones on the window are those I used to have in my bedroom back at my moms, Si got them for me and they were £20 from Wilko's.

We have some of the traditional decorations on our tree like beads, coloured baubles (we decided to go for a red and gold theme), bows, stars and of course chocolates :), but there are some baubles/tree decorations that are a little bit different, so I thought I'd show you those a little bit more closely...

The glass bauble with the beads inside was a couple of quid from a local garden centre called Garden Land. It was the same garden centre we got our tree from. I thought it was so cute! The special couple bauble was also from the same garden centre but it was a gift from my mom :). It's a money box bauble! The star decoration was also from the garden centre and was a couple of quid. I wanted to get a few items for the tree that were unique, so everything wasn't all samey. The red and white baubles were from a PDSA charity shop, they were new stock and were about £3.50 for a pack of six, we got two packs. The Santa hat and the stocking decorations were from Poundland (the hat was on its own and the stocking decoration came in a pack of four). Lastly, the reindeer decoration came in a pack of six for £1 and were from Discount UK, which used to be our old Woolworths (I miss that shop!). At the top of our tree we have...a star! What do you go for? A star, angel or something else?

We also have a few more decorations and lights around the flat...

The Merry Christmas garland was £1 from Poundland and we found the lights in a back room of our flat when we moved in :)...ta very muchly to whoever left them here!

The snowman and the Santa were £1 each from Poundland (they light up), as were the Xmas letters (everything else is normally on the window sill but the candle holders Si got from work and the bowl and pot pourri was from Asda :)).

This set of lights was just £1 from Poundland. They don't look very bright in the picture, but it's cosy of an evening with them on :).

This is a window decoration and it is hand made. I got it from Birmingham Christmas/German market this year for £3.50. It's a lovely, unique decoration and sparkles when it catches the light.

We also got a few things for our dining table for Christmas (me and Si usually have Christmas at moms but as this is our first Christmas in our own place, we wanted to have it here and cook for my mom and sister, so they are coming to ours :)), aswell as a few other Christmassy bits and bobs...

I got these gummy paper strips for £1 from Poundland and there were loads in the pack and four different designs. I was unsure of what to do with them at first but loved the designs, I didn't know whether to make a garland for a wall, above a door or what, but when playing around with them I created this little decoration for the back of our dining table chairs :) makes it that little bit more Christmassy!

I loved this salt pot when I first saw it at Garden Land. It was only £1.99 and I thought it would look good on the dining table on Christmas day. I didn't bother getting a pepper one aswell as no-one here really has pepper on their meals and I'll just use this for Christmas, put it away and bring it out again every year. I think this is actually a pepper pot as it has three holes instead of two, but they didn't have any with two holes, so I think people must have already snapped them up. I got a few disposable items for Christmas evening when we have sandwiches, a few bits of party food, cheese board etc. These plates were £1 from Discount UK.

The napkins were £1 from Poundland and the cups were £1 from Discount UK.

I wanted to make some home made Christmas cookies/biscuits so I picked these cutters up for £1 from Discount UK. I also picked up a pack of two festive table covers for £1 from Poundland. I love the whole Nordic style, so I couldn't resist.

Sticking with our red and gold theme this Christmas, I picked up four place mats for £1 each from Discount UK and a pack of 4 drink mats for £1. Also at Garden Land, I got these two festive Yankee Candle wax tarts (Christmas Eve and Apple & Pine Needle), they smell amazing! They were £1.25 each.

There were also a few bits that I've seen about that I liked the look of and either haven't had the chance to pick up, saw such items after we'd bought all of our decorations and we didn't want to go over the top or my local stores didn't have the items available but I still thought they were worth mentioning and there's always next Christmas :).

I saw so many of these types of trees in my town centre but as it was our first Christmas in our new place we needed a main tree let alone any side trees ha! So we gave a tree like this a miss this year but I think they are beautiful and definitely something we'd look into getting next year as an extra to our decorations. This particular type is from Garden Site and the price ranges from £37.99 to £72.99 depending on the size that you want. I'm not sure if you have a Discount UK store near you but I've seen some in there during the run up to Christmas (couldn't find an image on their website to show you) and again they range in price. Do any of you have a tree like this?

I think it will be cute to have something like this for next year. We're getting married in September 2014, so this will probably be something we'll look at getting for next Christmas knowing me and Si :). It's sweet! You can personalise it with any message and it's only £12.99 from Gone Digging.

Me and Si love travelling, so we'd love something like this for our tree. It's £5.95 for one from Not On The High Street and you can choose from black, cream or green. I know over the years we are going to probably build up a nice little collection of unique Christmas baubles and decorations!

Lastly, I'm sticking with the Nordic/Scandinavian theme with these lush items from Tesco. The nearest Tesco to me don't have these items in for some reason. Tesco have quite a few lovely Christmas items to be honest, they are all on their website, I think I need to get to a bigger Tesco to see their full range though. These two items are fab and would look lovely in our front room, fitting in nicely with our theme. The cushion is £10 and the throw is currently £16.65.

Such lovely items don't you think?

How do you decorate where you live for Christmas?

Have you bought any new decorations this year?

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
Images courtesy of Garden Site, Gone Digging, Not On The High Street and Tesco.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christmas Gift Guide: Make Someone's Day...

Well, it's that time of year again...Christmas! It's come around so quickly, I say the same every year ha ha! I do like doing Christmas gift guide posts and love the idea of helping someone to choose a gift for their loved one(s). I see some fab gift ideas throughout the year and make a note of them for the different occasions.

There will be a few beauty/fashion bits and pieces within my guide, aswell as some items for those sweet toothed individuals that you buy gifts for. I also wanted to feature some items that might reflect hobbies/what people do regularly. There will be gifts for both males and females so I hope you enjoy it and find it useful, let me know if you like the look of anything and are going to buy something for those special ones in your life (or even yourself ;-)).

Let's kick off with this Tweezerman Festive Holly Mini Tweezer & Mirror Duo. I thought this was too cute to miss out! This Tweezerman set comes with some sharp festive designed mini slant tweezers that will do the job and not let you down and a 10x magnifying mirror. You can choose between a snow white or hunter green background and I think it would make a lovely stocking filler or secret Santa gift (depending on budget) or even a main present as the brand is so well known and the quality of the tweezers will reflect the price. The mirror is ideal and isolates even the tiniest hair for precise plucking. It's fabulous, my eyelashes looked like they were almost touching the mirror when I looked in it ha ha. It also has suction pads on the back so you can attach it to anything and the two items together are small and compact enough to take anywhere with you. You can purchase the set for £24 from Feel Unique.

Sticking with the beauty theme, this is one product (I received a sample a little while back now) that I knew I wanted to include in my Christmas gift guide post. Now you might be thinking that it's nothing special just a de-tangling brush and yes it is, but this has got to be one of, if not 'the' best brush I have ever used. My hair goes through phases when I am trying to grow it more where it's just a pain to be honest and lugs up/tangles and it seems like half my hair ends up in my brushes. I was thrilled to find when I started to use this that this reduced by over half! Hair still ends up in the brush but nothing out of the ordinary, just a few strands. I brush my hair when it's dried a little after a shower/bath with the soft nylon bristles and they just glide through my hair, no pulling or tugging and it leaves my hair smooth and soft. I feel like it's doing my hair the world of good to be honest. I know there are lots of de-tangling brushes on the market, but this is the only one I have ever tried and it does the job amazingly, at just £6.20 from Denman Brush you can't grumble really.

I thought this Korres Party Survival Gift Set just had to be added as I'm sure there are a lot of party animals out there and I'm sure you all know at least one! From the company that brought us those little lip butter pots of moisturising goodness, Korres now has a party survival set for her. The products are designed to help you regain energy after a big night. The White Tea gel cleanser alone will leave you feeling refreshed and hydrated and that's before you've even tried the Aloe and Dittany shampoo, which with its natural organic extracts will help to moisturise and protect the health of your hair. The set also includes: Guava shower gel which enhances the immune system of your skin, stimulates collagen and elastin synthesis. Wild Rose cream which is clinically proven to provide 24 hour hydration and helps repair fine lines and skin discolouration. Lastly the set includes Basil Lemon body milk that provides a powdery texture and a matte finish on the skin. So, as you can imagine after a heavy night out, having a little pamper with all these products (in one kit!), you'll be feeling as right as rain in no time...clean, hydrated and energised :). This set is £19 from The Fragrance Shop.

The Korres Men's Care Gift Set is fab if you're stuck for gift ideas for the men in your life. The gift set is full of luxurious products for those men you know that like to have a little pamper now and again or just like to look after themselves :). This kit also includes the Guava shower gel and the Aloe and Dittany shampoo that the girls set above has but the other products are the Basil and Lemon shower gel, which will provide a lasting moisturising effect but also has a green spice of dazzling freshness with a vibrant lemon zest touch. Absinthe shave cream is also included, but don't worry it's not as strong or as shocking as you might is formulated at a lower PH than lathering creams to prevent skin roughness. It is rich in essential oils and flavonoids, which protects from irritations and soothes the skin. Lastly, the Marigold after shave delivers water and nutrients to the skin, improving tone and firmness, aswell as acting as an antiseptic and a moisturiser, so the user can rest assured they will feel smooth post shave. Sound good? I thought so and with the well known brand 'Korres', the recipient will know they are getting a high quality gift. If they know their brands that is, but you could always share your knowledge so they know exactly what they are getting :). You can buy the set for £19 from The Fragrance Shop.

I think this watch is so cute and the price is nothing to grumble at. For just £5, yes...£5 from Rivers and Pearls, you can get this sweet cat face watch with little ears! For a secret Santa gift, where the price is often around £5, what a perfect gift for someone who likes cats, don't you think?! The strap is faux leather and as a lover of cats, I know my mom would love this :).

Below we have the Christmas Gourmet Fudge collection from Fudge Kitchen, which includes 3 pieces of large fudge with each piece weighing approx 85g. The way the fudge is packaged and presented is of a really high quality, there is nothing cheap about these products at all. There are 3 festive flavours within this pack, they are hand made and hand decorated, with each piece being placed in a gold sliding tray and a dark sleeve, finished with a gold foiled label. The flavours are: Orange and Cranberry, After Dinner Mint and Christmas Pudding. This pack is £9, which you might initially feel is a lot for 3 pieces of fudge but remember the weight of each one.

Secondly, we have the Drinking Fudge Christmas Selection from Fudge Kitchen. This would be a fab stocking filler or secret Santa gift at just £8 and these aren't just normal hot chocolate sachets! Oh no...each sachet has inside a delicious, gooey fudge flavour rather than a powder/flakes of chocolate. You add the fudge to hot milk (full instructions are on the side of the box/back of each sachet) and enjoy some amazing flavours: Classic Chocolate, Gorgeous Ginger, Moreish Mint, Tangy Orange, Indulgent Irish Cream and Winter Spice. They are amazing, I like ginger myself so that was a lush one for me but the orange one is also amazing! You might think, well they are just hot chocolates, but honestly when you see the way they are presented, each flavour in its individual sachet and envelope aswell as all being in a beautiful box, it is high quality and I think people will be pleasantly surprised by the unique way that the flavours are actually liquid fudge rather than just chocolate powder/flakes.

I couldn't miss out on the Puddings Gourmet Miniatures that Fudge Kitchen have to offer. I am sure Thorntons do something similar to this but as chocolates, where as these are fudge pieces. This pack is ideal for when everyone is all snuggled up during the Christmas period, when it's cold outside and you have the heating/fire on and are watching Christmas TV. Everyone can choose their favourite dessert flavour, although there may be some fighting so I hope you are a sharing bunch :). Flavours are Sticky Toffee Pudding, Raspberry Pavlova, Lemon Tart, Apple Crumble, Cherry Bakewell, Chocolate Brownie, Pecan Pie, Orange Torte and Hazelnut Praline. My favourite is Chocolate Brownie...simply delish! This pack is £8, which I personally don't feel is that bad for what you get...quality fudge, all hand made and hand decorated, presented to a high quality and with some yummy flavours for everyone to enjoy.

For those lovers of whiskey, this Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey and apple juice is a lovely alternative for Christmas. It contains a comforting taste of cinnamon and cloves making it perfect for Christmas time (or any time for that and Si bought this in October and have been enjoying it on cold nights :)). If unique packaging is something that floats your boat then this won't fail to please with its beautiful snowy, winter setting. You can buy this 70 cl bottle for just £12 from Asda.

 Now, let's move onto some gifts that might reflect hobbies/what people do...

Firstly, we have an Indoor Allotment, which for those men or women that like to cook from fresh at home, would be ideal! This is my kind of gift and if I didn't already have spices and herbs, I'd love this for myself ha! I just think it's so cute in itself to be honest but would look good in any kitchen/outer kitchen area. It's not mahoosive, so it won't take up too much space but will look just right and will certainly attract attention from anyone that enters your kitchen. It has a white wash picket fence and wooden shed and comes with 3 miniature pots, drainage trays, herb snips and 3 soil pellets. The herbs included are: coriander (lovely in Indian dishes or a fresh tomato salsa salad), basil (lovely in a tomato soup) and oregano (lovely on pizza). It is a fab thoughtful gift either way, but even more so for those who live in a flat and don't have the option to grow herbs in a garden. It really is stylish, unique and will definitely stand out for all the right reasons. You can buy this for £24.99 from Men Kind. As you will see from the image, this was short-listed as gift of the year in 2012 by (which is also a good site to get some gift ideas from to be honest, have a look at last years winners/runners up).

Next is a Plastic To-Go Mug, which is perfect for those that are always on the go and hardly have time to stop for a drink before they are off again. This is a stylish little plastic mug and a little different from the norm as it has catchy little words and slogans that you can slide the plastic grip around to read through the spaces available. If you have a look at the website you will see what I mean. The mug is only £4.45 from Genie Gadgets, so it won't set you back too much but it can still serve a purpose and be something that someone might use every day. The mug is dual insulated so will keep your beverage at its perfect temperature. It also has a spill free screw on top, with a silicone grip and like I said above, a drink selector. If you know someone who is into being eco-friendly, again this will be a great gift for them! The standard cup size is 350 ml and it is made from lightweight hard wearing plastic, so it will not be a hassle to take out with you and will last a long time. I was sent one of these to sample and I love its quirky drink selector. I can take my cuppa char out and about with me wherever now :)...happy days!! It makes a great alternative to a flask aswell, which might hold more but you might not want to be seen with a flask, I suppose depending on your age, so you might feel a little bit more comfortable with this if you are of a younger age, although to be fair there are some cool flask designs out and about these days.

I wanted to add this USB Lightbulb in because I am using it as we speak and I love it! It works with all MAC and PC USB ports and if you look at the picture below, that is how I have mine. I didn't need to set anything up, I just plugged it in and it just worked straight away, it's easy and surprisingly stylish. It's so cosy when you use it! Rather than having a big light on, this just hovers over your laptop and provides a sufficient glow of a light that isn't too much but just enough to ensure you aren't squinting to see. It has a 24 cm/9.5 inch flexible cable so you can move the light around easily to wherever you want to position it. It really is quite a quirky, cool, little thing and if you know someone who is always on their laptop, works from home, is at uni and has to do lots of essays etc...this would be perfect! The light bulb is made from a smoky grey plastic and doesn't get hot, so you don't need to worry about accidentally touching it. I love mine and think if someone uses their laptop/computer a lot, this gift would be highly appreciated. It is only £11.99 from Find Me A Gift.

Next we have something for all the travel lovers out there. Scratch Map is basically like a world map (measures 42 x 29.7 cm) that has a gold coating over it, which can be scratched off according to where you have been in the world. Great for those that go on holidays to different places or for avid travellers to have a reminder on show of where in the world they have travelled. The destinations scratch off as different colours, so it can look really attractive mounted up onto a wall. I love how innovative and different this is to the normal regular gifts that are on the market these days. You can buy this for £16.99 from Find Me A Gift.

This Vintage Red Portable Transistor Radio is something I'd love for my bathroom! Have a listen to the radio whilst having a nice soak...sounds good to me, rather than risking dropping your I-pod into the bath. I love the vintage look of this one and Dot Com Gift Shop do a few other cool looking radios to be fair that all look pretty retro. The one below states the day and date, has an alarm and also tells the time and temperature. It takes 5 AA batteries and has a port so that you can plug your MP3 player into it. For the music lovers in your life or those who just like to take long hot showers/baths, this would be perfect and would add a bit of retro style to any room. You can buy it for £49.95 from Dot Com Gift Shop.

I love this adorable little 'Please Smell Us' vase by Rob Ryan. There's just something about it that makes me think...I'd love that! It is such a simple vase but the catchy little wording on the front is so sweet and I love it. Rather than just a normal coloured or plain vase, I thought this was a little bit different. If you know someone who regularly receives flowers or likes flowers in their home, even fake ones, this would be lovely and would for sure put a smile on their face :). All of Rob Ryan's designs are made up of little bits of unique! You can buy this unusual item for £35 from Not On The High Street. This is the kind of gift that I'd be thrilled with, I love things that are a little different from the norm but not toooooo much!

This Drivers Glovebox Kit is a good one for men, as I know it can be hard to think of something different for men aside from the usual smellies. I don't drive but being in cars with those that do, I am aware of those times when you need something that you just don't have to hand. This little kit could end those times and be there when you need those specific things to help you with your journeys. For £8 from Boots, this set includes: a hand-warmer, ice scraper, snap light, travel sweets, mini pen and pad, refreshing wipe, plasters, a sewing kit and some plastic gloves. Perfect for the glove box and won't take up too much space. This is something a little different that will definitely get used at some point for those that drive in your life.

I love tea and have so many different varieties...big tea lover here! If you know someone who loves tea and herbal teas then this Twinings Tea Collection could be a lovely little gift and at £10 from Boots, it won't break the bank! You get 45 tea bags and 9 flavours: English breakfast, Earl Grey, Assam, Mint Infusion, Lemon & Ginger, Orange & Lotus Flower Green Tea, Cranberry, Raspberry & Elderflower, Cranberry & Sanguinello Orange and lastly, Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla. As you can see there is a good variety that will appeal to many and enable the recipient to try out a flavour that they may not have tried before, you never know, they might find a new favourite!

I hope this gift guide helps some of you out! Let me know below if there is anything you go ahead and buy! I'd love to know if I've helped in anyway :).

Have a fab build up to Christmas lovelies and an even better time when it arrives!

Gem XxOo
Images courtesy of Feel Unique, Denman Brush, The Fragrance Shop, Rivers and Pearls, Fudge Kitchen, Asda, Men Kind, Genie Gadgets, Find Me A Gift, Dot Com Gift Shop, Not On The High Street and Boots.
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