Category Archives: gifts

Smiggle- Gift Voucher Giveaway

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I was invited recently to the Smiggle branch in Bluewater to open the next window on their Christmas advent calendar and see what treat could be waiting for me.

Anyone that has been to a Smiggle store will know it’s an explosion of colour and a total must for all stationary lovers. The store there is not huge but is very well stocked with both lots on the shelves and underneath the display tables ( so I cannot see you having any trouble getting a particular item you may be after).

At the moment they have lots of their fabulous Christmas Advent Stockings, that retail at £28. That may sound a little extravagant but is in line with Lego or even Yankee candle (if you buy yourself one!). However, the goodies that are in the advent would cost around £40 if they were bought individually, so a bargain when you consider that and also a great alternative to just more chocolate.

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There are the typical colour assumptions, pink for girls and blue for boys, but there are also lots of alternatives that can be gender neutral. Some of the bits can work out quite expensive but there are also some fabulous gifts that would be perfect for Christmas presents that work out at just £10-15 which is very budget friendly.

I particularl

I particularly liked this design on a black background and perfect for little monster lovers!

There is also a wonderful little colouring area set up in this store which was in use most of the time I was in the store and it was constantly busy in there. I was given the chance to peel off the next advent sticker from the window outside to get the next prize ( which I will include with the gift voucher giveaway as a little extra, it’s a Goo Glopper………………!

The store manager there, Linda, has a great manner about her and she will find out if it’s your birthday and get the whole store to sing Happy Birthday to you, I heard the singing even before I reached the store as I came down the escalator towards it. You will recognise her as she has a huge whistle hanging around her neck and she’s not afraid to use it- so be warned.

So I have a lovely £25 gift card and my Goo Glopper from behind the advent to giveaway to all you lovely stationary loving peeps. All you have to do is comment below with what you would use the voucher for and fill in the normal Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This year I vowed I would be super organised and to be honest I have been ‘more’ organised but still find myself sitting now a week away from the big day with a huge ‘to do’ list and the panic is starting to set in.

I know this year a lot of people seemed to be putting their Christmas trees and decorations up towards the end of November and although it was nice to see the pictures I am a true December girl and mine always go up in the first weekend or week in December. However, I did start present buying mid November in an attempt to get ahead.

At the end of November I was lucky enough to attend the Ideal Home Show at Christmas which was a first for me. My friend and I had a fab time, bought lots of Chrismassy bits and pieces and had our first mulled wine of the season. It really did get me into the Christmas spirit and gave me lots of ideas for pressies along the way. The place was beautifully decorated and we had groups of carol singers and performers helping with the Christmas spirit.

From the minute you step off the tube you are in a Christmas world

From the minute you step off the tube you are in a Christmas world

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There were some gorgeous food stalls, a wide range of companies were represented there and there was even a Greg Wallace restaurant that you could book into.

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In fact there was so much to get around I probably could have done with another afternoon there to get around them all. However, I have to say my friend and I certainly gave it a good go, so much so that we felt the need to pop into the bar there for our first mulled wine at the end of the day before our journey home.

I loved the idea of this- an afternoon tea along with a London landmark tour!

I loved the idea of this- an afternoon tea along with a London landmark tour!I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the top deck

This is the top deck

The food looks amazing!

The food looks amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did buy a few new Christmas decorations and signs for this year from a fab stall that I could have spent a fortune at! Now I have to find just the right places for them. We weren’t lucky enough to see any of the celebrities as we attended on the Wednesday but there were different people there each day doing demonstrations throughout the few days.

I will definitely try and get back next year, but when I do I will start from upstairs in all the food stalls and work my way back down so I really do not miss anything……………………..mind you that may mean I spent a lot more. Although the bar is on the top floor so I may not see anything after a few mulled wine’s in there. Roll on next year.

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The Ideal Home Show at Christmas in London

This I am very excited about and thankfully only have a week to wait. This years Ideal Home Show at Christmas will be taking place at Olympia London for the first time ever. The UK’s biggest Christmas exhibition will be open from the 25th – 29th of November to provide everything you could possibly need in the run up to the festive season, from over 600 exhibitors showcasing top Christmas shopping inspiration, a plethora of celebrity appearances and a Christmas bandstand hosting live entertainment……………c’mon you Christmas lovers what more could you need?
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I’m feeling festive already and cannot wait to see the venue transformed into a winter wonderland. There will be exhibitors across 7 sectors, as well as a host of festive favourite celebrities including Gino D’Acampo, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Olly Smith and Katie Piper who will be making her Christmas show debut and  experts will be on hand at the show offering their own festive hints and tips to make your Christmas Ideal.

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There will be live entertainment for visitors to enjoy as they shop, a wide range of expert talks and advice,  a food & drink theatre featuring top tips from celebrity chefs, and even a champagne bar as well ( so that’s me sorted then!).

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas sponsored by Gocompare.com has everything you could possibly need to create the perfect Christmas all under one roof! So, for a chance to be part of history and experience Christmas for the first time at Olympia London, get yourself a ticket!

Tickets

To book tickets log on to www.idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk or call 0844 209 7330.  For Group bookings call: 0844 412 4650

Weekday Adult £12.00
Weekend Adult £14.00
Weekday Concession (Over 60’s) £10.00
Weekend Concession (Over 60’s)     £12.00
Children (Under 15) go free when accompanied by an adult      

Timings for Ideal Home Show at Christmas:

Wednesday 25th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Thursday 26th November 2015 10am – 9pm

Friday 27th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Saturday 28th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Sunday 29th November 2015 10am – 5pm

I am looking forward to spotting some lovely new Christmassy bits to add to my ever growing collection that I manage to add to each year. Our decorations go up at the start of December and I love the festive run up to the big day itself. However, I do think my OH may disown me if I buy any more fairy lights for him to put up…………………………………… so watch this space.

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Gift Ideas for Older Teenage Boys

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When your children are young it’s easy to get ideas for Christmas, lets face it their lists normally have absolutely everything except the kitchen sink on them. Every time they see an advert for something they want it.

However, when they get older it gets a little more difficult. My boys are now 16 an 14, they have all their gadgets either bought as gifts or saved for and bought by themselves. That makes finding something to get them for Christmas that not only do they want or need but that doesn’t cost an absolute arm and a leg. I have definitely found that as they have grown up their pressies have got smaller and smaller in size yet the value has increased tenfold!

My youngest is in need of a new portable TV for his room ( something they have both been allowed from the age of 13 as we live in a small house and I do not want xbox and 2 smelly teens constantly fighting over who’s turn it is in my front room!  so shoot me now for being a bad mother, but that’s how it is here.) So I have a main present for him and that can be easily filled out with DVD’s, CD’s, a boardgame or two, some clothes and treats.

My eldest though is much more difficult as h has his game station, tv, Ipod and docking station, phone and all the usual trappings. When I have talked to him about some ideas he has just asked for a few DVD’s and that’s it!! NOT Helpful, and I do not agree with giving my children money on these occasions as I tend to ask family to give them money so they can save for the bigger items when they want them. So I have had really had to dig deep for ideas and trawl the internet and shops looking. I was looking mainly for what would be a ‘main’ pressie for him.

I thought I would share a few here……..

1. Some Young Driver lessons. These are available Nationwide at a different locations and we have one near us so this is a definite for my 16 yr old this year. They are normally around about £30 for a half hour lesson. My youngest has tried these already as he is a total petrol head and says 30 mins is long enough at a time as there is so much to concentrate on that he came out exhausted LOL. So I will be getting my eldest a few lessons in preparation for his 17th b’day in April when he will be starting lessons properly.

2. Experience Day Vouchers. These are more expensive but for a teenage boy of around 16 some of these are amazing as a main present at Christmas. Virgin Experience offer allsorts from indoor skydiving, Go-Ape, snowboarding to the more adventurous Zombie Survival!! So for an older teenage boy who has all the gadgets etc and doesn’t know what he wants, one of these would be perfect I think.

3.Unlimited Cinema Card. If your teen is a real cinema lover ( my youngest is like me and adores going to the cinema) and tends to go with his friends a lot the cost could add up very quickly! Therefore, why not treat them with an unlimited Cineworld card. These cost around £16.40 per month on a direct debit ( which is less that most of their mobile phone contracts these days) and that way you can spread the cost throughout the year as well. This will allow them unlimited visits andmoney off on food and drink and also no booking fees if they book online for a film. A yearly one will set you back £196.80 which is a huge outlay in one go, but equally you could get family to pitch in with an amount that they were going to spend anyway and make it a main present.

 4. Merlin annual pass. This will allow your teens unlimited entry to a wide range of attractions. For us we are near London so this would include Thorpe Park, Chessington, The Dungeons, Sealife and the London Eye and Madame Tousauds. My 16 yr old already has days were all his friends meet up and spend a day in London and my youngest loves Thorpe Park so again as a main present this would suit loads of teens. It isn’t cheap at £169 for a year pass but lets face it against a game console/ mobile phone it probably works out cheaper and they get a years worth of visits that you then don’t have to fork out for when money is tight throughout the year.

5. Magazine subscription. These can be easily found online and can either be for 6 months, 1 year or even a 2 year subscription. They cover everything, and I mean everything a teen could possibly be interested in, from photography, cars, fishing, computers, film  to all the different games consoles you can think of! Really there is something for everyone and it means that they receive their favourite magazine through the post every month without any effort by them or even you ( once it has been ordered obviously). These vary in price depending on what magazine you actually order but an example would be the Xbox magazine which comes in at £48.99 for 13 issues!!! Brilliant value as each magazine is then only £3.77each.

Now obviously I have looked at things that would be suitable for boys as I’m a mum of boys but to be honest the above 5 ideas are great for teenage girls as well. I always like to get them a ‘main’ present and then fill it out around that so I understand that some of these are a little expensive, but I’m sure you will agree some of them last them all year round and so are definitely worth the extra money, in comparison to a new PlayStation or Xbox game that costs around the £40 mark.

I would love to hear some of your ideas too.

 

Remington Pro 2100w hair dryer – review

First of all I am publically declaring that I DETEST my hair! I was obviously last in the line for hair and ended up with an auburn (used to be bright ginger) naturally frizzy curly mop that I can do nothing with.

However, in saying that we all have to make the best of what we have so I apply anti frizz and curl defining cream to help make it more curly and less of a ‘just plugged myself into the electric’ look. I occasionally straighten it which in all honesty I prefer however, it is such a palava and takes so long that I just cant be bothered unless it’s a special occasion.

My hairdryer is just a little small travel one with one speed and an open nozzle, I know this doesn’t help me much but due to my muscular pain I cannot hold anything heavier for any length of time before it gets too sore and uncomfortable.

I was chuffed to bits to  try out a beauty case    with the Remington Pro 2100w hair dryer  over the Christmas period. I was sceptical at first ( I mean a hair dryer is just a hair dryer, right?) and was worried that it would be too heavy for me to use for any lenth of time. When I dry my hair normally it would take around 25 minutes or so and easily an hour and a half if I straighten it!

Being used to my little travel one I was actually excited to get some gadgets with this one, a diffuser and a prcision nozzle along with different styles of brushes for different hair types. It all comes in a handy carry bag which actually is great to chuck it all in when your done and shove it out of the way in the wardrobe. It was also the most powerful one I had tried too.

DSCF4019So, to try out both styles I decided to try the straightening on my eldest son’s hair. Although he has lovely thick dark hair he unfortunately has been cursed with the natural wavyness which means his hair normally looks a state within minutes of drying it. It all tends to curl up at the edges however hard you try to make it stop ( I’m sure a hair straightener will be going on his next Christmas list). I didn’t use any straightening product, I just dried his hair using the small pecision nozzle to see what would happen.

Look no curls!!

Look no curls!!

Both of us were quite impressed- him especially! This was just down to the sheer power of the hairdryer and the little nozzle on the end, amazing- he was a very happy chappy.

I then tried the diffuser on mine, something I never use as have always belived it would frizz my hair even more. Again the power of the dryer cut the drying time down to around 10-15 minutes which is great for me. I used my normal hair product which is a anti frizz wet spray before drying and then a curl defining cream when it has been dried.

And Voila!

And Voila!

Excuse my very small bathroom ( smallest one my plumber has ever installed lol but it’s still an en-suite!). Now I do have generally big 80’s hair however I was impressed by the less frizzy results after using the diffuser. I tend to straighten a fringe as I normally clip the front part up….

 

So this is the end result- my normal style.

So this is the end result- my normal style.

All in all I never really thought that the hairdryer would make such a difference, I always thought it was how the hairdresser made it look better and therefore I just wasn’t much good. My little one is just a point and shoot rather than a styler, so I have definitely been converted.

Now with all good beauty products they don’t tend to come cheap. But this one considering what comes with it, and the fact it is the highest powered I have seen I think this is a reasonably priced product overall at around £30-£50 depending on where it is from . It cut down my drying time which compensated for the dryer itself being heavier with the extras on there. It also has 3 speeds you can use and a ‘cool’ button in case you think the heat is too much. So generally it does everything that I would imagine anyone needing.

So the verdict?

A decent product for a decent price!

 

DISCLOSURE: this review was in collaboration with Chemist Direct, however all views are my own and I was sent the product free of charge in return for an honest review.