12 Days of Christmas (#8): Gifts for the Baker

Apologies for this post coming up so late for Christmas, however I made this bundle up for a housemate of mine, and needed to wait til she received it before publishing!

As you can probably tell from this blog, I’m a massive lover of baking, and this housemate is also relatively keen on baking. She also seems to love vintage-style items (her room is amazingly well decorated!) and so I went with a slight vintage theme on a baking gift set for her present. Oh, and some cute reindeer cake cases, as it is Christmas after all!

IMAG0448I bought a vintage-themed baking set from Wilkinsons; a thick and decorated ceramic bowl, with a mixture of cookie cutters inside. I love this type of bowl!

I then scoured Ebay searching for a nice, not-too-expensive, slightly pretty rolling pin, and ended up finding one with a floral print end. It was delivered really quickly, is a good weight and really looks great for the price. Yes, you can get cheaper rolling pins, but I didn’t want to go down the plain route! I can’t find exactly what I bought, but this set is similar.

Finally, I bought a Kilner jar from Wilkinson’s, which I plan to fill with the dry ingredients to make some kind of Christmassy bake – that’ll be another blog post!

All in all, I reckon this is a fabulous little gift set, I’d be happy to receive it! I’m almost reluctant to give it away! Best of all, it falls under the £20 barrier, so is perfect for those on a budget.

 

Do you make up gift sets or hampers to give as presents?

12 Days of Christmas (#7): Secret Santa Gift Guide

I mentioned yesterday that my house did a Secret Santa. I highly recommend this as a cost-saving exercise, for two main reasons. One, you only have to buy for one person, so it will be inevitably cheaper. And two (my favourite!) you end up with a slightly higher budget for this one person, so you can get them something they will truly treasure.

Here’s what I received from my secret Santa (we had a £15-£20 budget);

  • A homemade ‘Tomato-Free’ recipe binder
  • A cake-pop stand, and sticks – guess they’ll be some cake pop recipes coming soon!
  • A festive cupcake set, which I hope to make good use of this weekend
  • A lovely tartan snood, which I’ve absolutely fallen in love with!

I would always recommend that, especially with a slightly larger budget, you try to stick with a theme whilst creating a secret Santa present. I feel it just makes it look so much more expensive, and it seems like a whole lot more thought has gone into it. Here’s my ideas for some Secret Santa gifts!

For the Relaxer

Relax CollageSome girly bubble bath, a nice mug, a good book (I LOVE Dorothy Koomson – I’m hoping her new book “The Flavours of Love” will be in my stocking this year) and some yummy hot chocolate.

For the Prospective Student

Student Collage

A good pretty pencil case, some lovely photo frames, a cheap and easy cookbook (this is a personal favourite) and some bed linen – I highly recommend H&M’s offerings as they are 100% cotton and very comfortable!

For the Fashion Conscious

Fashion Collage

A winter-berry nail polish (I’m lusting over this shade at the moment!), a pretty purse, an on-trend ‘curtain’ material scarf (loving this one!) and a good lipstick.

As for what I got when I was playing Secret Santa? You’ll have to wait until tomorrow!

Do you like giving secret gifts?

12 Days of Christmas (#6): A Budget Dinner

As you might know from this post, my housemates and I decided to a do a Christmas dinner (on a “school” night no less!). None of us are particularly full in the bank department right now, so we had to do it on a tight budget. I think in the end we each spend under £5, and we had an amazing dinner. Here’s how to copy us and do it on a budget!

Note: we have moved our main shop to Aldi, so that’s where I’m pricing from today (due to having receipts) unless stated otherwise. For all of my other recipes I tend to price using ASDA online, disregarding special offers. That said, all of my costings are very rough (and generally rounded up) anyway!

2013-12-12 18.39.23What we bought (specially) for this dinner:

  • A stuffed chicken breast joint (£2.99 – you can get turkey versions too!)
  • Pigs in Blankets (£2.50 for 12, from Tesco)

We then added:

  • Potatoes (both mashed with black pepper, and roasted with garlic) – £1
  • Homemade Yorkshire puddings (see here for recipe) – £1
  • Gravy – 20p
  • Sweetcorn – 50p
  • Roasted carrots – 20p
  • Broccoli – £1
  • & whatever other veg people had lying around that they fancied (hence I added red cabbage, savoy cabbage and curly kale)- 50p

2013-12-12 19.16.08We even managed to find 8 crackers for a £1 in Poundland! Okay, they didn’t have exciting plastic gifts, but they did include some rather lame festive jokes, obligatory hat, and even some cute stickers!

2013-12-12 18.39.56We finished off the meal with syrup sponges (£3 for four) and gave out our Secret Santa presents (although that’s another post!).

2013-12-12 18.40.28This was a fabulously festive night with my girls, the best antidote to a horribly stressful week. I really do suggest all student houses give this a go, even if it is the only time they cook together.

What’s your tips for Christmas dinner on a budget?

12 Days of Christmas (#5): Winter Warmers

This isn’t strictly a Christmas post, but I felt like it was getting forgotten, and one of the items of clothing included is rather Christmassy (and rather vintage…)!

I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite things to wear/do over the winter and Christmas season, so here goes:

2013-12-16 21.41.22I absolutely adore my tartan scarf this season – I actually bought it in August, not to be stylish or fashionable, but because I was at the Edinburgh Fringe and it was cold and windy. The scarf was needed so I bought it, and I’m so glad you did. Mine is 100% lambswool, and is a little itchy, but I couldn’t quite stretch the budget to a cashmere one!

I’m also loving all of the lovely berry-coloured hats this year – I bought a beret from Primark a few weeks ago and I really like wearing it. I’ve also asked for a bobble hat in the same colour for Christmas!

Then there’s my beloved Kindle – there’s nothing better than curling up in front of the fire with a good book.

Finally, there’s this chunky cardigan, which has become my favourite thing. Its baggy and cosy, looks great with skinny jeans or leggings, and is perfect for lounging around, layering under coats for a cold walk, or indeed lectures. Best of all – its older than me! It was actually one of my mum’s 18th birthday presents, it features in many family photos (including her getting ready for her 21st and her hen night, and loads of my baby photos) and its such a constant thing in my life that I love getting it out each winter. Check out the pattern on the back too;

2013-12-16 21.42.24So cute, I will definitely be wearing this at some point on Christmas day!

2013-12-16 21.49.49Here’s a couple of other things I’m loving this winter/Christmas!

  • First of all, you can virtually always find me in thick fluffy socks, even in summer. I’m liking these Cath Kidston bed socks as they are non-slip, not too thick (so can actually wear in bed) and they have a cute penguin pattern. I’m lucky enough to have the matching pyjamas too!
  • Then there’s the hot chocolate and chocolate combo – I’m a huge fan of Cadbury’s, so that’s my go-to brand.
  • Toastie’s. I love a good toastie in the winter, and this book has been great for making up new ideas and combinations. I don’t actually own a sandwich toasted, and currently fry mine in a pan, but I’m looking to invest in a cheap one in the new year.
  • Now the last things is a little strange, but I’ve become addicted to room and linen sprays lately. I find that having the central heating on and drying clothes inside can lead to a musty smell, and this covers it perfectly. Not the cheapest, but wonderful when it’s half price!

 

What are you loving this Christmas? Do you have any much-loved handed down clothing items?

 

 

 

12 Days of Christmas (#4): A Festive Student House

One of the best things about living in a rented off-campus house with friends is that we are able to get really festive and excited for Christmas. Sure some of you get that in halls, but to be honest I had a horrendous experience of that – the tinsel put up was deliberately done at a height to strangle a fellow housemate when she entered the bathroom. I’m pretty sure that sums up my experience! Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed living with friends, and we’ve gone to town on (very tasteful) decorating. We bought a lovely cheap tree from Argos (back at the beginning of October – I promptly confiscated it and banished it to the deep dark depths of the boiler cupboard in my room) along with lights, parents donated unused decorations, and we topped them up with bits and pieces from Poundland (I am seriously impressed with their Christmas range!). We even have table runners and festive looking blankets!

2013-12-11 08.55.25

2013-12-11 08.54.04Now, we all know I’m not a great photographer (namely because of my laziness at moving mess out of shot, and relying on a camera phone) but if you head over to my housemate Libby’s blog you will find a similar post, with amazing pictures of our decorations. One day my pictures will be as good, but relying on a smartphone and being lazy is not a good combination!

We did really well in getting so many decorations off (mainly Libby’s) mum, however I’ve come up with a fabulous idea to make sure my future children are never without Christmas decorations when they fly my nest. Every year I will add a different decoration to their stocking, and store them up. I think this is a great idea for a tradition, and one of many I wish to start. Oh, I love Christmas!

 

How do you decorate on a budget?

 

12 Days of Christmas (#3): Gifts For The Man In Your Life

I will confess that the products that on this post aren’t the cheapest and most budget friendly options, but (1) I have to avoid posting exactly what I have got my boyfriend or dad, and (2) I try and do my Christmas shopping in advance, so most things I would have originally chosen are long gone. I’ll give some cheaper ideas in the post too, but a lot of those don’t photograph too well! All photographs are taken from the links given.

Collage

 

From left to right, top to bottom, we have…

  • A box of classic ales. Beer or cider always goes down well!
  • A cute Christmassy jumper – I love this one!
  • Some kind of manly cooking course – this Pie & Pint one local to my home looks amazing! I’d want to book one that we could both do together though, as I’m greedy!
  • A scarf – I love the tartan styles ones around at the moment. I bought a lambswool one (before they became fashionable I’ll have you know!) during the Edinburgh Fringe and I love it!
  • A Make Your Own Bacon Kit – how cool does this look?! I can’t think of many men who would be disappointed to find this in their stocking!
  • A good leather wallet – Ebay has some fab offerings, like this one.
  • A funny book is something I think is a great little stocking filler. I’ve done FML ones in the past, but I desperately want to read this Exam Fails one!
  • If you know your man’s style well enough (I find they are quite personal things) then a watch is a good idea. Argos seems to have some good looking and relatively cheap ones (I like this). There’s currently an offer on too, so definitely have a look!
  • Finally, some aftershave. I’ve bought W this Paul Smith since the beginning of our relationship, and I love the smell.

Other ideas I have include finding a small plastic toy (try toy shops) version of his favourite animal, IOU’s (whatever you like – cooking, household chores, etc…), gift-cards for places such as Cineworld or restaurants (if all goes well, a nice date night for you!), or a selection of DVD’s and sweet treats to make your own night in. If you have met at university (and so will be spending Christmas apart), a nice photoframe filled with you two is a nice idea too! Basically, I like to think of presents I’d like to receive, make them a little more masculine, and then find those. And that way, it means if he doesn’t like something, I get to keep it!

What is Santa bringing your man this year?

12 Days of Christmas (#2) – Dear Santa

Today I’m going to show you what’s on my Christmas list. I’m lying a tad, in that I didn’t ask for a few things because I knew they were over budget, or they’re things I’m planning to treat myself to. And of course, if anyone wants to buy me Naked 3, you can email me to get my address…

CollageFrom left to right, top to bottom we have…

A cute raspberry/plum toned nail polish. I’m desperate for one of these colours, not too fussy about brand (as long as it doesn’t take five billion coats to be a smooth finish)- I just think it’s the perfect winter shade!

Bodyshop’s Ultimate Brush Collection. I know this will be in my stocking this year, because I ordered it myself (thank you Love Your Body discount!). I’m very excited to get these brushes. Photograph from Essie Button.

A lovely jumper. I’m not really one for Christmassy jumpers on me (they just don’t sit right on my body shape), so I’d far sooner have a pretty classic to wear instead. This one is sparkly but still sophisticated, and I’m in love!

I said I’m not one for Christmassy jumpers, but I love this one as it’s not too cheesy.

I’m in the mood for a new perfume, and at the moment I’m quite taken by my namesake – Chloe. I’ll have to try this on my skin before committing it to Santa’s sack though!

This curler has been well talked about on the internet lately, and I’m so intrigued. I don’t particularly like to heat style my hair, but it would be nice to have a safer option than going natural when it comes to placement interviews!

I know, I know, I don’t NEED another Filofax, I have two (see here and here). But Plum Osterley’s are just so pretty, and I want one so much…

I think it is pretty obvious on this blog that my camera specs aren’t great – I love the ease of wireless uploading, so I’m loathe to part with money for a camera when I know I’ll revert to not using it. This bit of gear would solve that, but its just so, so, so expensive. Well, well out of my student budget anyway! If anyone knows of a cheaper option, please let me know!

Quite a few cookery books made it onto my list this year. Bread by James Morton (because I loved him on Bake Off, I want to bake more bread, and he is the spitting image of my boyfriend), The Leftovers Handbook (it just looks so useful!), James Martin’s Fast Cooking (I just love his recipes), and Save with Jamie.

 

There we are, that’s what I’m secretly hoping Santa will bring me. Of course, I’m not expecting a lot as I’d sooner my parents spend money on a food shop for me next term! The thing I’m looking forward to most of all on Christmas morning – watching everyone else unwrap the presents I’ve carefully chosen them – I hope they like them!

What’s on your Christmas list?

 

 

12 Days of Christmas (#1): It’s Christmas!

I’ve decided to (try!) to do a 12-Days-of-Christmas run of posts – starting today and running to Christmas Day. I’ve not exactly finalised what they will contain, but I hope there will be a range to suit everyone – so far I’m thinking gift-guides, outfit guides, lifestyle posts, baking and cooking recipes, just a general Christmas related mish-mash! If you have anything specific you want to see, please tell me and I’ll do my best to include it!

Today I’m just going to treat you to a sneak-peek of our student house Christmas tree. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas

 

Budget Buys: Personalised Pampering Gift Set

I love making up hampers and gift-sets as presents for friends and families – it looks like so much more effort has gone in that picking something up off of the shelves, and you can personalise it to their individual tastes. I thought over the next few weeks I would do a few posts on some of the gifts I have made up over the years, and some products I would recommend. First up is a girly-night-in pampering set!

2013-11-25 14.19.41Basically, this little series is going to be all about what I would love to receive in a gift like the ones I am describing!

If someone was going to make me a gift set of pampering goodies, I’d love them to go more on the treats rather than the beauty products (I find they are such a personal thing – I for one hate really scented body lotions, which are commonplace  in most pre-made budget options).

I’d love a pair of slippers (I treated myself to the ones in the picture in Primark, for £2), some girlie magazines (if they have freebies, so much the better!), a cute mug (Cath Kidston is the obvious choice, but Wilkinson’s have some great ones too!), and some chocolate goodies.

On the beauty side of things, I personally would prefer to be given nail polishes, maybe a nail file – things that aren’t going to irritate skin or cause fear that the recipient smells! This set was £2 and I talk more about it here.

I reckon you could make a great set for £10, and I know this is the type of present I love to receive!

 

Do you make up your often gift sets or hampers?

Fun Fortnightly Finds (#2)

This post was really well received last week, so I’m hoping it’ll be a regular occurrence. I really enjoyed writing it, as although I always read LOADS of blogs (it helps pass time in boring lectures…) I find noting down what ones to include made me pay a lot more attention!

I have, however, decided to only do this once a fortnight, just to prevent my blog from getting samey. Plus I do have some studying to fit it! So, what am I loving this fortnight?

Christmas

2013-11-20 21.39.35

My boyfriend picked up an order in Cath Kidston last week (a birthday present for me apparently, looking forward to it!) and I persuaded him to give me the bag it came in, as it’s so damn cute and festive. I am normally a bit of a bah humbug about Christmas, and being an early-December baby I like my birthday first, but this year I’ve been getting very excited about Christmas already!  I still have three weeks left of this university term, so it’s a long way off, but I’m already planning outfits and festive baking! I have have a few budget gift guides scheduled for posting, so keep an eye out for those!

Shopping

Related to the last post, I’ve been getting out and about doing little bits of Christmas shopping lately, and last weekend we headed out of town to do a mammoth present shop. A new dress may have slipped in the basket too! There’s been some great bargains around already this year, which I’m hoping to blog about soon.

Saving Money

2013-11-20 15.58.25As a student, I’m often on a tight budget, so saving money where I can is a must for me. I realised this past fortnight that some of my methods have saved me a ridiculous amount over the last term, and I’ll definitely be sharing these ideas with you soon! Not only do I feel smug, I’m also able to treat myself. That new dress feels more justified now…

And now to the blogroll – what I’m loving from other blogs:

  • I know I link to her quite a lot, but I really do love Rosie’s posts (plus she’s probably my favourite blogger, end of!). This Mac’n’Cheese sounds just up my street, gloriously unhealthy and easy. Plus as it’s made with less milk than normal, it should agree with me more (dairy overload does not agree with me!). I’ll definitely be adapting this recipe to my student budget soon!
  • I should stop reading beauty blogs, as I’m becoming a sucker for high-end products that I really, really just cannot afford. I’ve fallen in love with Naked 3, with the best preview I’ve seen being on Vivianna Does Makeup. If anyone wants to treat me to this (my birthday is next week, it could be a joint birthday/Christmas present!) then please feel free…
  • I’ve been reading Miss Budget Beauty’s gift guides with great care recently, as I’m on a very tight budget. Check out her Under £10 guide here. However I saw these vintage-style brush rolls and fell in love. I know I’m getting lots of make-up brushes as a gift this year, and something like this would be perfect for me! I’m now browsing that website and wishing I’d never found it…love so much of their products!