Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gift Ideas - Part Two - Beauty gifts for those that are not into 'products'

I'm not a beauty blogger. I am not into 'products' and don't wear makeup. But like most (I hope) other people I do like to stay clean and presentable ... and I'm a bit of a green hippy.

So here are some products that would be good for the environmentally conscious, or slightly fussy among your friends and relatives.

Great for all ages and genders.

I was talking on twitter a while ago about my itchy scalp (lovely topic) and someone mentioned that maybe I was allergic to SLS. I had no idea what they were on about so I had a google. Lots of sites will tell you how deadly it is (it isn't) but several did have useful information. The main thing seems to be that this surfactant is used in almost every cleaning product going (it makes bubbles) and even 'natural' products often use it. I checked ingredient lists and sure enough it's everywhere. Some people can develop an allergy to it (it's common among hairdressers who wash hair a lot and have constant contact with products on their hands) and so it can be worth trying products without it in. Lots of info here

I decided to give it a go and low and behold, after a week of SLS free shampoo my scalp cleared right up! No itching, no dry scaly skin, just soft pink happy head!

So I'm hooked on SLS free products. DD tried the shampoos too and declared they get her hair cleaner and leave it softer and silkier too, so she is also a convert.

We first tried the Naked Bodycare range which is fairly cheap but was recently acquired by Boots and there seems to be some doubt as to whether they will continue to make the products (which is a real shame) If still available they can be found here

When we realised that Naked Bodycare may be harder to obtain, DD and I scoured the web, where we discovered a local (to us) firm called Green People who have a fabulous range of products. Do take a look at their website (this post is not sponsored) We have been trying their shampoo and so far the results are the same, soft silky hair, no dandruff, no itching. You do need to wash, rinse and repeat if you want a lather, but the second wash gives a lather to amaze!

Copyright: frugo / 123RF Stock Photo
Other lovely products include items for Lush (sadly not SLS free) I particularly like the bath bombs, though take care as some have so much colouring they can stain the bath! Or at the very least leave a Dr Seuss style 'pink cat ring' around it. I do like the playdoh style soap for children though, and the solid soaps are great for camping ( no spillage risk!).

Badger balm is another recently discovered product for the non product user. A simple natural lip balm with lots of great flavours available. I bought via Amazon.

I do sometimes wear scent and when I do it's Clarins Eau Dymanisante, lovely fresh smell and won't break the bank.

Don't forget to look for special deals in the run up the Christmas, three for two offers, and gift boxes, but always check buying the items boxed as a set is the cheaper option, it's not always and sometimes the bottles are smaller. Why not make your own gift set from small items packed in shredded tissue paper (available from 99p stores and pound shops) in a fancy party bag.

What's you favourite product? Is it cheap and cheerful or luxuriously expensive?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas - Part one - Real Books

Copyright: patrickrp / 123RF Stock Photo
I realised recently that while I own a Kobo, and have the Kindle app on my iPad and on my android tablet, I actually prefer reading paper books. I was treated recently to two new books for my birthday, one by the master story teller Terry Pratchett and a second by an author newer to me, Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I had previously read The Shadow of the Wind and enjoyed it, so now I am looking forward to reading The Watcher in the Shadows. I think that books still make one of the best gifts, I even like the old cliché that "a book is a gift you can open again and again". So this blog post is here to point you at some reads that you may not have stumbled across and to let you know why you might find they make good gifts.

Amanda Jennings
She's quite quite fabulous, I have squished her boobs against mine once and that was nice. That has no bearing on her ability to write fine prose of course, or to hatch a good plot or to keep you guessing until a final few plot twists. But still, boobs.

She has written Sworn Secret, and The Judas Scar. Both pretty dark, both good reads, sort of 'why dunnits' rather than whodunnits. A good gift or a treat for yourself for a dark winters evening.

Edward Kendrick
He is also fabulous and I have hugged him too - also his wife and, to be fair, her boobs are also nice. (can't help noticing I'm being regularly distracted by boobs, I'll try not to it that happen again) Ed has written a science fiction story that is more about the inside of a mind than the inside of a space ship - though it is about both. Blank Canvas is well worth a read if you like psychological drama or sci-fi but especially if you like both.

Andy Stanton
I have been hugged by Andy (hmm seems to be a theme here) he gives lovely hugs and he writes hilarious books for children of all ages. Including my age. I'm a huge fan of his Mr Gum books but his latest picture book Here comes the Poo bus is a disgusting and vile delight. Go ahead get a copy for a child, they will love you forever.

Anthony McGowan
Don't ask ...of course I have hugged him. He wrote a fine book (amongst many) called Henry Tumour. A wry take on a boy coping with a brain tumour which made my teen daughter weep slightly...for the tumour. It's an unusual book but one that kept my daughter reading, and occasionally weeping) until the end. More recently he has written The Knife that Killed me, an even darker tale that I have yet to read. It looks like a good book for teens. Anthony has written lots of books I haven't read, I'll be popping some on my Amazon wish list. Why don't you do the same?

Josie Lloyd &  Emlyn Rees
You will be thrilled to hear that I have never hugged or even met Emlyn or Josie, however the very title of this book, along with the illustrations makes me include it as the perfect Christmas Gift! The Very Hungover Caterpillar, sounds beyond perfect for the drinker in your life!

Keri Smith
Again, no hugging, but I've seen some of her books in Waterstones and they looked like great fun (maybe not for your inner librarian!) and now DD (my lovely daughter) has added one or two to her wish list so I'm including one here. Check out Wreck This Journal, an irrevereant look at reading, writing and owning a book, oh and rule breaking...let a book take you outside your comfort zone!

Elli Woollard
Woozy the Wizard. I recently won a copy of this cute rhyming story for younger children. Perfect for those just starting to read or to read out loud. A simple sweet story with some funny moments. A lovely stocking filler, maybe mention that to Father Christmas when you next speak to him.

I pin books I like over on Pinterest too - do follow my board for more ideas. (also while I've used Amazon for links to book info, I often buy my books in book shops, it's so much more fun...browsing, touching, stroking)

Which books will you be buying this Christmas?

Find more ideas at


Friday, November 07, 2014

Tea Advent Calendar Giveaway

You may recall that a while ago I had a giveaway with Nothing but Tea. Well lucky you as I have another fab prize, supplied by Nothing but Tea for you to win.
 I love the new Nothing but Tea website and the new teas, such fantastic choices form the herbal (Hibiscus and Rosehip is divine and coloured like blood) to the healthy green (my husband has completely fallen for the fruity goodnes of the Golden Starfruit Sencha Green tea) to the dark and delicious tea..including some with chocolate or chilli (why should coffee have all the good flavours eh?)
 Why not have a browse of the site. There are some great starter sets and trial packs from £1. Also some gorgeous mugs, cute tea strainers and tea sets.

Oh and the giveaway, sorry I was all distracted by tea!

Yes well there has been much chat both here on the blog and on social media about advent calendars for grownups and why not? But chocolate is so passé and ...well not especially good for you and Christmas will be full of it anyway, so why not be different and have a TEA ADVENT CALENDAR! Yes a new tea to try each day in the run up the Christmas! Gorgeously packaged in retro wrap.

What could be nicer, a few moments to yourself (or with a friend, each days tea is enough for two) to sit and gather your thoughts with a simply beautiful cup of tea, and probably one you've never tried before! Open your palate to a new tea experience every day for 24 days!

You can win a Tea Advent calendar (normal price £25) by entering via the Rafflecopter thingummy below.

And if you don't win, simply can't wait, or need more than one you can order a calendar of tea here for £25. Sorry, now sold out!

Good Luck

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Advent Calendar Giveaway rafflecopter link

Thursday, November 06, 2014

A Bumper pile of advent gifts - a calendar alternative

DD always has an advent calendar and in the way the modern world caves in to avarice and greed at this special time of year she expects it to be filled with chocolate or gifts.

We have traditional cardboard calendars too, with pictures of trumpets and bells behind cardboard windows,  but the little treats on the run up to Christmas seem to have become an actual 'thing' in most houses, and so in ours.

For a while she was content with a gorgeous Divine Chocolate Advent calendar, fair trade, featuring the Christmas story, I love them! (and yes I caved in and bought one this year)

And then we had a house style advent calendar with little drawers that I fill. But getting tiny gifts is tricky so it's often filled with a sweet or a 50p piece, not as exciting as I had planned.

On Pinterest the pins are of elaborate crafts, muffin pans changed to advent calendars, toilet roll tubes cunningly converted, hanging shoe storage that has become a Christmas countdown and I sort of wanted to do something like that.

DD is 14 now, will be 15 by Christmas, I can no longer get away with wind up hopping rabbits and wax crayons as gifts. So I was having a think when I had ... an idea.

This year I will buy 24 little gifts. Note books, pens, pencils, erasers, makeup, books, CDs, underwear..whatever and I shall wrap each one in plain brown paper and string. I will number each gift and pop them all  into a lucky dip style bag so she can rummage around and find each day's gift.

I know. I spoil her.

And as it's November already I need to get cracking! Suggestions for cheap and cheerful gifts appreciated! I feel a trip to the 99p Store coming on! And I have no shame in hunting charity shops for gifts either! Especially books.

What will you be doing in the run up to Christmas? Anything? Nothing? A dare a day?

Let me know!