Christmas for us this year is not going to be the relaxed, laidback affair of the past few years. We are right in the middle of moving house, and delays in our new house being ready meant we possibly would have had to move twice within the space of a month. Once to my mum’s after putting everything but me, Sean and the cat in storage, and then again to the new house. With the anticipation of not being in a house we have lovingly decorated for Christmas and the potential for not having any of our own furniture on the day, we had an early cosy Christmas in the old flat. Prosecco, snuggly cashmere and some of my favourite finds of the last few months was the order of the (fake Christmas) day.
Gorgeous party accessories from Talking Tables decorated the table. We went for items from their Coastal range, a blue and white theme I thought went really nicely with the beautiful silver candlestick holders I got from Amazon. Plus this works all year round, so would look lovely on a summer table layout. The lanterns, mugs, bunting and coasters all create a very pretty look. I loved just laying the festoon lights across the table too. This created a nice rustic look to the table and made a change from just using candles. I scattered some silver stars and gems across the table too for extra sparkle.
When it comes to gifts, I am not very flashy. I don’t mind the odd designer piece here and there, but I don’t think that expensive always equals better. I love finding cheaper alternatives to popular products. When it comes to beauty products, I’ve been sucked in over and over again to thinking that something will perform better if it costs more. This isn’t always true. A case in point is makeup brushes. Yes, you will get some duds that smell strongly of glue and which shed all over the place. But there are some really good inexpensive buys out there, including this huge powder brush I bought from Amazon. It’s super soft, metallic (reminiscent of the Real Techniques brushes) and very big. No shedding and looks gorgeous on a dressing table.
I’ve also found some great alternative sponges to the ever-popular Beautyblender. I have a couple of Beautyblenders but these sponges are just as good. One gift set contains three different sizes, all for £9.99.
Sticking with the beauty theme, something that is slightly more expensive but worth it in my opinion is the NIOD Photography Fluid. This lightweight cream gives a soft glow to the face, blurring imperfections and making skin look flawless in photos. I am only wearing this as a base in this photo and you can see the subtle healthy glow it gives. A must for the selfie addict this Christmas. I’ve also been loving my Rose Renew Regenerating Face Wash from Baie Botanique. Containing rose water and rosehip seed oil, this is a rose-lover’s dream. It smells beautiful, and is a lovely gel wash which doesn’t strip the skin. It leaves skin cleansed, soft and rose-scented. It takes off all my makeup and hasn’t irritated my skin once. It’s also cruelty free and vegan, which is a huge bonus.
For those in your life who love a bit of luxury, I chose a 100% cashmere jumper to wear on this ‘Christmas Day’. This gorgeous navy blue crew neck jumper from WoolOvers feels so special, and makes you feel put together and slightly glam without going out of your comfort zone. It’s super soft, warm and looks perfect paired with intricate jewellery like these Vintage Glamour earrings from Happiness Boutique. These have a slight art deco style to them and they never fail to get compliments. Well-made yet inexpensive, these are my earrings of choice when I want to wear something unique.
This Double Spike Cuff from Happiness Boutique is also one of my favourite pieces. It reminds me of the Vita Fede bracelets. I’ve always admired those but never wanted to fork out hundreds of pounds. This is a heavy cuff, very well made and comfortable to wear.
It’s always around Christmas that a lot of us like to look forward and picture just how healthy we’re going to become in the New Year! I know a lot of people, me included, feel the effects of overindulgence at the end of December. I like to plan ahead and start deciding how I’m going to eat, exercise and generally look after myself when January starts. Gifts that help us get a head start on a new health regime are a good idea for Christmas. I’m a huge fan of Deliciously Ella, and love both of her cook books. Her newest one, Deliciously Ella Every Day, has recipes like the Miso Brown Rice (a personal favourite). There’s also Chickpea, Quinoa and Turmeric Curry, and Warming Pesto Butter Beans. You’ll be well on your way to a new you long before New Year’s Day with this as a gift.
I also love Liz Earle’s new book, Skin. Based on the agreeable premise that what we eat affects our skin. Stress, environmental factors and the skincare we use all play a part too. Liz talks about how we can all treat our largest organ well to look our best. Lovely recipes, tips and advice.
For sugar lovers, try gifting them something from SugaVida. They are the UK’s exclusive supplier of organic Palmyra Jaggery (a crystallised, unrefined nectar alternative to sugar). The ultimate nutritious ‘super-sugar’, SugaVida has a low GI making it safe for diabetics by regulating blood sugar levels. Great news for veggies and vegans, SugaVida is also the only plant-based source of B12. For some less sugary and unhealthy treats, try Planet Hemp’s Super Mini Bouchées. Hemp contains easily digestible forms of all the essential amino acids we need, not to mention significant non-essential amino acids that are nutritionally important. You could also whip up a smoothie with their Protein Superfood.
For budding gardeners, I absolutely love Seedballs. I bought the Bee Mix, but you can buy different versions of this very simple way to grow from seed. You simply scatter the seedballs over soil – there is no need to plant them. Because they are in larger clay balls they are less likely to get eaten by predators. Other versions include the Salad Mix, Herb Mix, Tea Mix plus various different types of wildflower. These are a great way to get started in the garden in the New Year.
Back to the house move….
We ended up having an amazing solicitor who pushed the purchase of our house move through. We completed on both the sale and the purchase at the same time so are moving straight in to the new place. I’m moving from Oxfordshire to Gloucestershire, around an hour and a half away from where I have been living for most of my life. I’ll continue working in the centre of Oxford, so will have a bit of a commute.
The move came about because we really need extra space (Sean for his art studio, and me for an office to focus on blogging). We also wanted a slower pace of life. Money also goes a hell of a lot further in Gloucestershire, as Oxfordshire prices are insanely high. The move seems the right thing to do to be able to grow our respective businesses in an abundance of space. We are moving right in to the Forest of Dean, an absolutely gorgeous area of the UK. With access to stunning walks, country pubs, new cities and surrounding villages, we know it’s going to be an adventure.
We’re also doing up a new house so I will have a huge amount of material for this blog coming up! Oxfordshire is where I was born and bred so I am sad to say goodbye. Oxford itself is a beautiful city. So full of history and with a huge international influence coming from its students and University staff. We’ll miss nights out in Jericho, the opening of the new Westgate Shopping Centre, the museums, and not least the incredible college and University buildings. I had a little stroll around my hometown in my WoolOvers 100% Merino Milano Long Cardigan. It’s a perfect lightweight cover up for chillier days. I said farewell for now to actually living here and took a little glimpse at some of my favourite winding streets and old haunts.
I will be without the internet while we get set up in the new house, so this is my last post of 2016. So, until January, have an amazing Christmas and New Year. Thank you for reading my blog this year, for your comments and emails, and your ongoing support. I hope the New Year brings you everything you could ever wish for. I’ll see you again in early 2017!
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