14 things I'm looking forward to in January

1.  Getting back to the gym and not feeling so sluggish.  Boring, eh?
2.  The days being a teeny bit lighter.  Please??
3.  Going to London with my bestie for a girly day out.
4.  Seeing all the Spring trends emerging in shops.
5.  Having no more chocolate or biscuits (I'll have eaten it all...) in the house so I won't be forced to scoff any more!
6.  Walking Dudley with a flask of hot chocolate.
7.  Long bubble baths using all the Soap & Glory stuff I stocked up on in a moment of madness.
8.  My sister getting her staff discount.  And being generous with it!
9.  Seeing this lady again!
10.  Treating myself to a new bag.  At the end of the month.  I've spent too much already.
11. The possibility of a bloggers meet up - any bloggers in the Surrey/Hampshire/Berkshire area then get in touch below!
12.  Being able to wear my plethora of new coats.
13. Lunch out at Las Iguanas.
14.  Spending time with my new niece or nephew...due today!

And which of last month's actually happened? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 13!

If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen this photo before - I'm sorry!  It's actually quite tricky taking a photo for these posts, so I'm reusing ones from around about this time last year!


Christmas Gifts

I was utterly spoilt this Christmas.  I know "haul" posts are somewhat of a taboo, and in general I don't really like the aesthetics of them so tend to avoiding doing any.  But they are my favourite thing to watch on YouTube, and if you can't show off your pressies at this time of year when can you, eh?

So here is a selection of my favourite gifts this year: my MAC lipstick from Joanna which I mentioned here, a Hello Kitty onesie from Ed's Mum (I resemble a big pink pig in it, but was the comfiest person sat at the table for Christmas dinner!), a grey scarf with silver reindeer pattern, 'Between the Lines' from my sister and a Disney Store candle from my friend (the box this comes in is so beautiful - I squealed when I opened it!), a lovely wooden candle holder and a wool coat from Dad and my Stepmum and my main present....a new laptop from Ed and my Mum & Stepdad!

Like I said - totally spoilt, but I like to think I shared the love back with my family and friends who were so generous and thoughtful with their gifts.

What did you get for Christmas?  Please leave links to any haul posts/videos you've done below!


Money Supermarket Secret Santa Present Unwrapping!

Remember the Money Supermarket Secret Santa I was taking part in?  I received my gifts a few weeks ago and they've been sitting prettily under my tree.  In all honesty these were perhaps the gifts I was most excited about opening, seeing as I already kind of knew what Ed and my family were getting me.

To refresh your memory, I was partnered with Joanna and we were given a budget of £25 to buy and send presents to each other.  And didn't Joanna pick some great gifts??  I remember spotting Sunny Seoul on Emma's blog and mentally adding it to my "MAC: To Buy" list but then never getting around to it.  It's a gorgeous pink that I'll be sure to review properly soon.  Joanna also sent me a Ted Baker nail varnish set, which comes in a beautiful ballet-themed tin I'll be reusing after and contains four muted shades.  I've already applied the glittery burgundy colour and it looks lovely!  Finally I received a packet of Peppermint Spearmint Supertea which smells so good.  Although I don't actually drink tea (which I don't think I've ever mentioned, so Joanna had no way of knowing!) it's certainly scenting my room nicely, and I'm sure Ed will be glad to try these!  It's such a beautiful box, I almost wish I did drink tea because it's a lovely gift.

I'm dead chuffed with the gifts Joanna sent and I've really enjoyed taking part in the Secret Santa challenge.  It was a great way to find new a blogging friend, and going out trying to find presents was really fun!  If you'd like to see what I sent to Joanna then click here.

Did you take part in any Secret Santas this year?  


Christmas cheer

I haven't blogged for a while and I feel really out of the loop.  I've spent today doing the washing (clean bedsheets are a must for Christmas Eve), hitting Co-Op for last minute supplies, wearing no make up, tidying the house and playing with this little one.  If you follow my Instagram (scaredtoast) you'll have already seen a few photos, but this is Bella, my sister's Christmas present.  She's adorable!

My wrapping's all done, so all that's left to do is snuggle on the sofa and watch a Christmas film.  We're heading to Mum's first thing for a family breakfast (I've started a new tradition) and then me and Nick are coming home to open our presents to each other then back to Mum to open presents from the family.  I love Christmas at Mum's, although for some reason this year they've put me in charge of "entertainment"....does anyone know any games we could play?!

I won't be posting tomorrow so I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  And if you don't celebrate it, I hope you have a lovely day tomorrow anyway, hopefully spent with loved ones.

Now tell me honestly, if you weren't full of joy before this post, has this photo managed it?  Only a person made of stone could fail to melt at this!


Lush Big Sea Salt Shampoo

I'll admit that I totally got sucked into the little hype that surrounds this product.  The idea of a shampoo which contains sea salt to give your hair volume was something that really intrigued me, but when I mentioned on Twitter that I'd bought it and Bess O asked me to share my thoughts I was a little daunted.  Reviewing a shampoo is pretty alien to me, and in all honesty I wasn't really expecting miracles.  So what on earth was I meant to report back to her?!

Let me start by saying that this is, without a doubt, my favourite shampoo...of all time.  I'm not one that particularly enjoys washing my hair but this product has revolutionised my showering experience.  The texture of it is a bit of a fun novelty; in the shop (I guess where it's been left open all day) it looked pretty solid, almost like a scrub.  Underneath this it's the gloopy mixture you see above.  Mine stays in this state all the time, I'm assuming because the air doesn't really get to it.  Anyway, it's gloopy with pretty substantial lumps of salt and lathers really nicely.  Which surprised me, as I didn't really expect much lathering.  And don't worry, the salty bits don't hurt at all.

So that's the texture sorted.  Besides that, my reasons for loving this shampoo are listed on the lid - "Sea salt shampoo to give your hair lift and volume, make it easy to get a comb through and smell great for hours."  I'll admit that having got used to the product I don't always see the lift and volume, but after the first wash I definitely noticed the difference.  Same goes for the smell, which is reminiscent of their American Cream conditioner, thanks to the addition of coconut and vanilla.  Yum.

Now this stuff is a little pricey, at £11.25, but is it ok to admit that I don't wash my hair all that often so this is going to last a while?  In all honesty, I'm so impressed that I think I'd repurchase even if it didn't last all that long!


Winter Skincare

Following on from my post about lipcare, I thought I'd share with you my winter skincare.  My skin is dry all year round, but Winter is the time that I (along with 99% of the population) suffer most.

This year however I've been pleasantly surprised.  I picked up this Botanics Facial Oil in the Summer, and after a few nights slathering it all over my face, ditched it when I broke out.  I thought I'd give it another go though, so now I put a few drops on my fingertips (using the ever-so clinical looking pipette), warm it up a little and then massage this into my skin.  After that I apply a layer of Clinique Turnaround Overnight Radiance Moisturiser over the top before heading to bed.

This has been working so well.  My skin feels soft and plump and there are pretty much no dry areas on my face.  It also doesn't aggravate my eczema, and overall seems to be helping slightly.

Now, the Clinique moisturiser came as a sample and has now ran out.  And as much as it pained me to do so, I've accepted the fact that this made a big difference in my skincare so I've taken the plunge and repurchased the full size.

How are you keeping your skin looking good at the moment?


Nivea Lip Butter

As an avid lipstick wearer, keeping my lips in good condition is top of my list.  I have a whole host of different lip balms, and my latest addition is this Nivea Lip Butter.

Firstly, this product smells uh-mazing.  It smells good, and when applied it leaves a yummy vanillary scent reminiscent of the Milky Bar yogurts I used to love as a child.  It's creamy and thick and feels really nourishing.

In comparison to some other lipcare products you might be familiar with, it's not as gloopy as Vaseline, not as gritty as Figs and Rouge (although this is perhaps the closest in consistency) and not as thin as my Balmi.

So far I'm really impressed with this product.  It's an incredibly reasonable price, and actually I'd be happy to pay double this for something which feels this luxurious.  This does leave a creamy, smeary feeling to the lips so is one I'll be saving for night time.

The Nivea Lip Butter is available in Boots and also comes in original, raspberry rose and creme caramel flavours.  The creme caramel smelt lovely, so may be the one I try next!    


Topshop Lip Crayon - Secret Party

I'd never bought a Topshop Lip Crayon before.  Everyone raves about their lip products, but having bought Whimsical lipstick and finding it odd to apply I'd steered clear.  That, and the fact that this looks a lot like my NARS Bolero which was an absolute disaster and misguided purchase.  Either way, I just figured that these weren't for me.

I can safely say my opinion has been well and truly changed.

It was the colour of this lip crayon which sucked me in at first.  It's a beautiful raspberry pink shot through with pink glitter.  No, I'm not 7 years old, but for some reason the idea of a glittery lipstick got me excited.  The glitter looks amazing in pencil form, but actually applies nicely to the lips as well.

Now onto the consistency.  Whimsical was drying and strange, this is a dream.  It's glossy and creamy and feels like a lipstick.  It does feel slightly tacky on the lips, but I assume this is down to the shiny finish you get.  I got a good few hours wear out of this - perhaps this would have been more had I not been eating.  It wore off nicely as well.

I'm completely sold on the Topshop Lip Crayons...I want them all!


Gucci by Gucci

When it comes to perfumes, I tend to lean towards deeper, muskier and almost masculine scents.  My favourite perfume of all time is the debateably unisex,  MAC MV3 which has now been discontinued (sob).  Gucci by Gucci is a very grown up scent which manages to be floral enough to stay distinctly feminine, yet warm enough to avoid being overpoweringly sweet and girlie.

You don't need me to tell you again that I am in no way equipped to be telling you about the notes of a perfume.  In fact, I don't understand it in any way.  But for those of you who do like to know, Gucci by Gucci is a "chypre floral fragrance. The top of the fragrance emerges with an unexpected and exotic blend of guava and pear, bringing uniqueness and modernity. The heart adds a rich, sensual femininity with the Tahitian Tiare flower bringing creaminess to an unconventional bouquet. Musky notes and honey add sensuality and warmth to the strength of the patchouli."

This is the fragrance that I mentioned in my Diary of a Shopaholic entry.  It's listed on the Boots website at £40 for 30ml, yet I managed to pick this up in one of my local stores for just £20.  If you fancy treating yourself then I'd definitely recommend this perfume.  Everything about it is luxury, from even the box to the gold toggle detail on the bottle.  This has become my new favourite and I'd certainly pay full price for another once this has run out. 


Money Supermarket's Secret Santa

The folks at Money Supermarket got in touch recently asking if I'd like to take part in their Secret Santa challenge.  I jumped at the chance; I think it's a great way to be part of the blogging community and make bonds with bloggers I wouldn't necessarily have otherwise.

So the rules are, we were partnered up with another blogger in the same genre as our own and given £25 to source and send a present to them.  The money could be spent any way we wish but there are time frames by which everything needs to be sent etc.

And the best bit (which I didn't actually realise when I signed up) is that besides spreading the love via a gift to a potential new friend, this is all part of a bigger challenge with an iPad Mini or high street vouchers up for grabs.

So who am I paired with?  The lovely Joanna from MintyEssence.  Joanna's isn't a blog I was familiar with beforehand, so I've been reading up to get inspiration on what she'd like to receive from her Secret Santa.  I think I've had some good ideas and there's a bag full of goodies upstairs waiting to be finished and sent off to her!

Are you taking part in any Secret Santas this year?


Diary of a Spendaholic 14

Primark - £17.50
Lush - £11.25
Paperchase - £5.40
Boots - £6.74
Topshop - £13
For once I didn't wake up yesterday knowing it was payday.  I normally go to sleep the night before feeling excited about the promise of being able to make new purchases, but it didn't actually hit me until I was driving home from work yesterday.  This is a big change!
Ed and I went shopping today.  Mainly for him, but I did have my eye on a few bits I wanted to try out IRL.  I tried on the River Island tapestry blazer that looks so good on other bloggers, but it just didn't look right on me.  Also, I don't think people in my area are quite ready for it yet, I imagine it'll be very much a misunderstood purchase.  Besides that, I bought a few little presents, including some for my blogger Secret Santa (more on that tomorrow), some Lush shampoo, a Nivea lip butter and some cotton wool pads.  My only impulse buy was a lip crayon from Topshop, which came to the grand total of £7.  My self restraint is still going strong...this is a payday splurge total to be proud of! 

Planet Rock - £18.74
Like you have to ask....this purchase clearly isn't for me.  A present for Dad using money already in my PayPal account.  Which, for the record, totally isn't real money.

Total for the week: £72.63  My Christmas shopping is nearly done, and I'm going to try my best to be a proper grown up and keep up the whole being frugal routine.  I'm debating getting another cat, and previous vets bills have scared me so I'll definitely be trying to keep up some savings!