On Valentine’s Day I turned 25, and though I felt unwell (for the third birthday in a row!), I had a great day. Charles treated me to a lovely breakfast in bed of Belgian chocolate waffles, hot tea, and fresh orange juice. We then went for a long walk around Bradgate Park with my family, and had lunch at a tea room, and in the evening we had a pizza party with amazing chocolate birthday cake!
I was lucky enough to receive lots of cards, a few Highcross and Amazon vouchers from friends and family, and some gorgeous gifts, so I thought I’d do a little haul post to show you some of what I got.
My mum gifted me this watch, and it’s absolutely stunning. I love the marcasite detail and I’ve been wearing it every day since I got it.
My two main presents from Charles were these Kate Bush themed necklaces. The first one is from her official website, and features lyrics from one of my favourite songs, Cloudbusting. I actually saw this when I went to see Kate in London last year, but couldn’t afford it at the time. I really wasn’t expecting to get it for my birthday, so was so happy when I opened it! The second necklace is made of silver and was personalised just for me. I love it.
Charles also got me this awesome Game of Thrones t shirt. I can’t wait to style it for an outfit post in the coming weeks!
My dad gave me a few bits for the house, my favourite of which is the Moroccan lamp. It’s made of metal and is lined with purple fabric, and gives off a lovely ambient glow. It now takes pride of place on my living room fireplace.
Much to my delight I get quite a few books every year, and this year was no different. Charles gave me ‘A First Book of Nature’, and ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’ by my space hero, Chris Hadfield. The rat training book was from an old school friend, and my sister gave me ‘Wreck This Journal’ and ‘The Pocket Scavenger’, both by Keri Smith. I can’t wait to start filling them in!
All of the above were parts of gifts from my old school friends, who I celebrated with last night at my favourite restaurant. There was a definite rat theme to their gifts this year!
And of course, no birthday haul would be complete without an abundance of chocolate!
Last but not least, my talented mum made me this super cute heart wreath. She crocheted the flowers herself, and decorated them with buttons. This now adorns my bedroom door and it looks right at home.
Today I thought I’d share with you a lovely little Valentine’s recipe from Roberts Bakery. This Strawberries and Cream Valentines Sandwich is easy to make, and would be a fun addition to a Valentine’s picnic this weekend.
Roberts sliced white is perfect for this sandwich due to its ‘soft and fluffy’ texture, which goes really well with the creaminess of the soft cheese, and the sweetness of the strawberries. I can just imagine eating this alongside some cakes and pastries, chocolate truffles, and a flask of hot tea, whilst out on a romantic Valentine’s walk. Lovely!
If you have a creative loved one in your life who loves to write or draw, or you yourself like to doodle, scribble down your thoughts, or even plan out your blog posts, then this Valentine’s gift idea is for you.
Chroma Stationery specialises in high quality, 50 page notebooks, which are made extra special by being fully personalised. My notebook is from the Nebraska perfect bound range, but they also offer a range of Ryton spiral bound notebooks. Once you’ve chosen your binding type, you also get to pick your cover colour, whether you want plain or lined pages, and your embossing.
Embossing adds a touch of luxury, can be done in either silver or gold, and it’s completely up to you what you have put on the notebook. As standard this is usually a name, initials, or message, but if you get in touch with Chroma they’re more than happy to emboss an image – such as this pretty Valentine’s Day love heart!
My notebook, which I plan on using as a journal, is in shade ‘Annie’ – a lovely grape purple – and the cover has a luxuriously soft feel to it. The embossing is gold in a handwritten font, and I chose lined pages, which are 80gsm and lovely to write on.
The notebooks also come beautifully wrapped in a sleeve, and tissue paper, with a little card about Chroma’s history.
At £7.50 each, with personalisation included in the price, Chroma notebooks are an affordable gift idea for a loved one.
*This Chroma Notebook was sent to me by Chroma Stationery for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
For today’s Valentine’s Gift Ideas post I have put together a gift guide of ten Valentine’s gifts, all of which cost under £10 each. Around this time of year, the prices of romantic gifts, such as chocolate and lingerie, are often hiked up. However, as this guide shows, if you shop savvy you don’t have to spend a fortune to treat that special someone (or yourself!) to something nice. The guide features some traditional gifts, but also fashion and beauty themed items.
Hotel Chocolat Lovely Hearts Classic £6.50 / Thorntons Because I Love You Premium Collection £6.00 / ASOS Heart Friendship Bracelet £2.00 / Yankee Red Raspberry Candle £7.99 / George Entice Lingerie Set £7.00 / Floozie Red Heart Fairisle Scarf £6.60 / Tesco Rose Petals in a Jar £5.00 / LUSH Heart Throb Bubble Bar £3.65 / Models Own Colour Chrome £4.99 / LUSH The Kiss Lip Gloss £5.95
What will you be gifting to your loved one this Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day is also my birthday, so happens to be one of my favourite days of the year. As soon as January comes around I start looking forward to that special day in the middle of February, as not only do I get to enjoy it, but it adds a bit of brightness to the gloomy winter for people everywhere! I’m also a firm believer that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be miserable for those who aren’t in a relationship, as it gives you the perfect excuse to treat yourself, or spend time with family or friends.
So, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, over the next week or so I’ll be bringing you my pick of the best, affordable Valentine’s gifts – perfect for your loved one or even for yourself! Today’s pick is this adorable little set of Love Hearts Tea Lights, available from It’s A Wot.
Since I moved out of my mum’s house and in with my fiancé, I’ve become more and more interested in interior design, and making my home look pretty, and these tea lights help me do just that. They come beautifully wrapped in a Love Hearts wrapper, so they look like a super-sized tube of sweets, and inside you get six tea lights, each of which comes in a sturdy plastic holder.
The tea lights come in three colours – pink, purple and blue – with two of each in the pack, and they all have an iconic Love Hearts message printed on top. The pink ones say “Kiss Me”, the purple ones say “Love Me”, and the blue ones say “Hug Me”.
Despite their small size, the tea lights burn really well. I had them on for several hours the other evening and the flame hardly made a dent in the wax, and they don’t produce much smoke, just a steady flame. My only issue with the candles is that they aren’t scented, but it’s not a deal breaker and I still think they’re lovely.
At just £1.84 for a set of six, these tea lights would make an ideal Valentine ’s Day ‘stocking filler’ for someone who loves cute and quirky little house gifts. They’d also be great for adding a touch of romance to your Valentine’s evening, or even just to help you unwind and relax after a busy day. Want some? Get them here.
*These Love Hearts Tea Lights were sent to me by It’s A Wot for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
To welcome in 2015, I thought I would post a roundup of the most popular Bewitchery posts of 2014. Despite the fact that I was less active on my blog, 2014 was another successful blogging year, so I’d like to thank all of my readers for their continued support. The following ten posts were my most read of the year that were actually published in 2014, and I’m pleased to see a couple of my personal favourite posts in there!
One of several haul/thrifty posts of 2014, this one features a lot of clothes that I bought for work, as well as a few carboot bargains.
CheckoutSmart is still one of my most used apps, and to date I’ve got £67.63 back from it, which isn’t bad for a free app! Definitely worth downloading.
I had a great time checking out the new Urban Outfitters store in Leicester back in September, and I got some awesome photos. See them at the link above.
This was my second Degustabox and was definitely one of the best. Visit the post for my recipe for Chocolate Ginger Tiffin!
Primark’s PS Love lip glosses are surprisingly good quality for only £1.50. Perfect for Spring/Summer.
Because who doesn’t love a slightly naff, oversized, animal face t-shirt?
I am so glad this What I Wore post reached the Top 10 as it is probably my favourite outfit post of 2014. Check it out if you want to see more pics and find out where everything’s from!
Collection’s Gothic Glam Lipstick in ‘Revenge’ is a classic deep red, and an absolute steal at £2.99.
I use this concealer on a daily basis and I still swear by it. Fantastic at only £1.99.
In January 2014, Aldi challenged me to Swap & Save my usual lotions and potions for their Lacura skincare products. Find out my thoughts by visiting the link above.
It’s been a while since I last reviewed a Degustabox, so today I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on the Winter edition.
The Winter Degustabox, received in November, included eight brands, and fifteen individual items, with a combined value of £20.94. Each Degustabox costs £12.99, so this one saves you almost £8.00.
Lindt My Melting Moment (RRP £0.65 each)
Once again I was pleased to see a Lindt Lindor treat in the box, this time in the form of five Melting Moments. As usual, they taste delicious, are a good size, and have the same smooth and creamy texture that I love from Lindor. They look great too, with a lovely snowflake shape and pattern. One thing disappoints me though… Considering this is a Christmas treat, I would have liked to see Lindor incorporate a festive flavour. Ginger perhaps, or cinnamon, or even mincemeat!
Kent’s Kitchen BBQ Flavour Shots (RRP £1.85)
These BBQ Flavour Shots by Kent’s Kitchen are one of my favourite items in the box this month. The pack consists of four little pots of concentrated seasoning, which just needs to be stirred into meat a minute or two before serving. I’ve used a couple of these so far, both with Quorn fillets, served them with rice, kidney beans and veg, and they are delicious. The BBQ seasoning is intense, with a smoky but sweet flavour. They make for such a quick and easy meal too, which is just what I want after a long day at work. At £1.85 I’d definitely buy these again, and I’d like to try the other flavours too.
Cool Dawn Recovery Drinks (RRP £1.49 each)
I’m not much of a drinker, so I haven’t actually tried these Cool Dawn Recovery drinks. They’re herbal detox drinks which are supposed to prevent and cure hangovers, by drinking one before bed, and one in the morning. They aren’t carbonated, and contain no stimulant ingredients, and though the citrus and liquorice flavour sounds intriguing, I’m not sure it’s a combination I’d enjoy the morning after a night of drinking!
Montano Cider (RRP £2.79)
Montano Cider is an Italian cider made from apples grown in the foothills of the dolomites. Apparently, ‘these orchards are the highest in Europe enjoying fresh mountain air and over 300 days of sunshine each year. The result is a golden, elegantly sparkling, medium-dry cider with a refreshing, crisp finish’. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? I’m not the biggest fan of cider, but this one sounds that little bit more refined, so I may give it a go when the time is right.
Kettle Salsa & Mesquite Chips (RRP £2.19)
Kettle reintroduced two old favourites as a limited edition over Christmas – Stilton & Port, and Salsa & Mesquite, which is the flavour I received in my box. This was one of the original Kettle flavours way back in 1988, so it was nice to try a blast from the past. As you’d expect from Kettle, the chips themselves are thickly cut, pleasantly crunchy, and the flavour is strong. The salsa flavour shines through, and tastes very authentic, which makes these crisps oddly refreshing, if that’s even possible!
Pip Organic Cloudy Apple Juice (RRP £1.50 each)
Pip Organic is a family run company based in London, which specialises in organic juices and smoothies. In my box I received two small bottles of Cloudy Apple juice, which are the perfect size for lunch boxes. The juice is made from 100% fruit, with no added sugar, water, preservatives or additives, and it shows. The juice is thick, and has the sweet, sharp flavour that you get when eating an apple – very different to your bog standard supermarket juice. However, at £1.50 for a small bottle, they seem rather expensive, and I’m not sure I’d pay that myself.
Branston Caramelised Onion Chutney (RRP £1.50)
I planned on saving this new Branston Caramelised Onion Chutney for Christmas, but I ended up using it for packed lunches instead. The chutney has a lovely sweetness to it that goes well with a variety of cheeses. I tried it with a subtle, creamy Double Gloucester, and a strong, sharp Cheddar, and it complimented both. I have plans for this chutney as I want to use it in tartlets with goats cheese, so check back in the future for a recipe post!
Holy Cow! Curry Sauces (RRP £1.69 each)
Last but not least I received two Holy Cow! Curry Sauces – a Mughlai Korma, and a Madras Chettinad. I’m yet to use the Korma, but I tried the Madras and it was incredibly tasty. The sauce has a tomato base, but it’s the coconut, curry leaves and fenugreek that gives it a unique flavour. The sauce is very hot, but the combination of the Indian spices with the coconut is out of this world. It’s really easy to use too – just snip open the packet and pour into the pan with your meat and veg a few minutes before serving!
Overall, the Winter box is another impressive offering from Degustabox. If you’d like to try Degustabox yourself, you can get £3.00 off your first box using the code ‘XI4CK‘.
Check back soon for my review of the December Degustabox!
PS. You can check out the rest of my Degustabox reviews here.
*This Winter Degustabox was sent to me by Degustabox for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
Over the next couple of weeks I will be writing a series of posts as part of my annual Christmas Gift Guide, and today’s post will be the first in the series.
I always put a lot of thought into finding the right gift for everyone that I buy for, and I try to find something that’s a bit different to your bog standard gift set. There are several book lovers in my family, and this year on my hunt for unusual book-related gifts, I found something that is perfect for book lovers of any age. Though to be honest, this gift is so nostalgic and personal it’d be suitable for just about any of your loved ones…
The Book of Everyone is a 50 page book full of beautiful artwork, interesting statistics, and fun facts, that can be personalised to be about anyone and everyone! I was kindly sent a copy personalised to be about me, and every single page is gorgeous to look at, but also exciting and fascinating to read, as it all relates to my life. I feel like I learnt so much about my own history when reading the book, for example, in May 1989 I spent 30 minutes as a single cell, and in ‘my day’ a litre of petrol only cost 40p! I was also the 5,414,171,296th person alive on the planet when I was born. Amazing.
Creating the book is simple. It’s all done on The Book of Everyone website, and all you have to know about the person you’re creating for is their name, gender, and date of birth. The rest is done for you! Although you can change the text on some of the pages, add photos, and change the colour of the cover, just to make it that little bit more special and unique.
The book also suits any budget, as it’s available in four different formats. A digital PDF version costs £7.50, a softcover edition is £19.50, a standard hardback is £29.50, and a deluxe edition costs £49.50.
One of my favourite things about this gift is the fact that The Book of Everyone is collaborating with the charity Age UK, and every purchase from their site will go towards gifting a book to an elderly person this Christmas, who may not otherwise receive a gift. A lovely idea that I’m happy to get behind.
Books take just a few minutes to create, and are dispatched within 5 working days, so there’s still time to order before Christmas. Who would you buy The Book of Everyone for?
*The Book of Naomi was sent to me for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
A couple of weeks ago Charles and I added a few more members to our family – three more baby rats! We originally wanted two more to live with Mabel and Heather, as the intro between them and Miggley just wasn’t working, but when we found out that the breeder we use had three females left, we decided to get them all.
The three new girls are called Pumpkin, Pingu and Bramble, and they’re currently ten weeks old, and incredibly cute! Here they all are…
Pumpkin is an Agouti Berkshire and is a little feisty thing. She’s very confident and keeps play fighting with Mabel, which is always fun to watch.
Pingu (so-called because she’s black with a white belly!) is my little shy girl. She’s smaller than the other two, and quite timid, but she’s so loving. She reminds me a lot of Mog in her demeanour and appearance.
Bramble is an Agouti Hooded Dumbo – my first ever dumbo rat! Just look at those gorgeous ears. She’s feisty like Pumpkin, and also likes picking play fights with her big sisters.
The three new girls have the same dad as Mabel and Heather, which I think made the introduction process a lot easier. After a week of quarantine we let all the girls meet each other on neutral territory, and they got on straight away. Nobody showed any signs of aggression, and after two intros they were ready to live together!
Charles and I also invested in a Savic Royale Suite cage, which is a top-of-the-range piece of kit. It can fit about twelve rats, but we’re sticking to five for now, so they’re very lucky in terms of space! The five rats have now been living together since Monday, and we’ve had no trouble. In fact, they’re all like best of friends! Every morning I find them squished into one bed together asleep – so cute!
On Thursday, myself and Charles attended a VIP event at the Leicester Cinema de Lux, for the launch of the new XPlus screen, with a release day screening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.
The event started with a drinks reception in the swanky Director’s Lounge, complete with red carpet. For an hour we were showered with glasses of Prosecco, canapés and lovely little desserts. I particularly enjoyed the mini millionaire’s shortbread which was dusted with gold glitter! We also spotted a few Leicester Tigers rugby players in the crowd.
We then headed up to the XPlus screen, which I was really excited about, and I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as we entered the auditorium I was amazed to see the size of the screen. I knew it was going to be big, but it was even bigger than I expected. It’s literally floor to ceiling, wall to wall, and also slightly curved.
Everyone at the event was treated to yet more refreshments in their seats – a drink, and a bag of popcorn, along with a couple of other goodies. When everyone was settled, the manager of Cinema de Lux, and one of the main men at Dolby both gave a speech. They explained that Leicester’s XPlus screen is one of only five in the country, and is designed to give a premium, immersive cinema experience. The screen is in fact 60 feet wide by 20 feet high, and provides sharp imagery, on point brightness, and vibrant colour.
Another special aspect of the XPlus experience is the sound. The auditorium features a Dolby Atmos sound system, and is fitted with over fifty speakers, which provide 360° sound. Having speakers all over the walls and ceiling, which are controlled by sound specialists, allows for dialogue to follow the characters, and for sound effects to come in at all angles, providing sound which completely envelops the audience. Before the film the sound system was demonstrated with thunder-storm sound effects, and I was blown away. The sound of rain and thunder flooded the room from all angles, and I actually got goosebumps because it felt so real.
After the introductions we got to watch The Hunger Games. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the film that much, and I’m not sure it was the right film to show off the Dolby Atmos sound system, but the XPlus definitely improved the viewing experience.
I’m incredibly impressed by the XPlus screen, and after experiencing it once I’m sure a ‘normal’ cinema screen will now just look and sound inadequate. I can imagine the immersive sound working really well for action movies, and I bet it would make horror movies even more scary if you could hear things coming up behind you!