Birchbox UK – December 2017

Birchbox_UK_December_2017_unboxing

It’s taken me to receive my Birchbox UK December 2017 box to realise it’s actually December now.  December hasn’t creeped up on me; it’s made an unexpected, out-of-nowhere pounce attack!  How does a year fly by so quickly?

You might remember last year (in my Birchbox UK December 2016) that I launched my first ever Birchbox giveaway.  Well this year I’m doing the same, but stepping up my game a little bit…

Birchbox UK December 2017 unboxing

To end the year, Birchbox UK have declared this month’s theme Life’s Little Treasures.  Which links up quite nicely with the beauty products that are typically released this time of year.  With the majority of these giving an iridescent sheen or at least a hint of sparkle, they too can look like little treasures too!

Interestingly, Birchbox have collaborated on the box design with Matthew Williamson.  A luxury designer I wasn’t aware of, but after a quick google I was soon to become an admirer of his gorgeous prints… like the one on this month’s box.

Samples

Birchbox UK December 2017

Birchbox subscribers had a pick from two full size lip products this month and I couldn’t decide which one to settle for.  (So I left it to Birchbox to decide for me…)

One was a rather feisty and festive red from Birchbox created brand LOC (Love of Colour).  Whereas the the other was a moisturising lip balm with a natural red tint.  Here’s which Birchbox decided I should receive, along with the other samples:

  • Baïja Paris Carmelised Honey Body Scrub
    Now this is what I’m talking about when I mentioned festive beauty products!  Think of a Christmas themed exfoliator and this would be it.  I half expected it to smell of clementines.

Baija Paris Caramelised Honey Body Scrub

  • LOC Vibrant Matte Lipstick in Color Me Confident Cranberry (FULL SIZE!)
    After leaving it to Birchbox to decide for me, I’m pretty glad they’ve given me the full-on red lipstick.  Despite being matte, LOC lipsticks still seem to be quite creamy and not lacking in colour.
  • Sand & Sky Brilliant Skin Purifying Clay Mask
    Apparently a cult product – which rock must I have been living under to miss this one?  At £39.90, this feels like a sprinkle of luxury in my box.
  • Spectrum Collections B04 Angled Blender Brush (FULL SIZE!)
    Another Spectrum brush to add to the collection!  The last Spectrum eye brush I received from Birchbox actually trumped one of my Real Techniques brush, so I’m happy to see this in my box.
  • ModelCo Contour Stick
    I’ve not read other Birchbox UK December 2017 reviews yet, but I think it’s a nice touch we received the other item from our choice of two Modelco products back in October’s box.  Especially as this was another decision I had left to Birchbox, because I couldn’t decide myself.
  • Cargo Blush in Sunset Beach?
    Can anyone solve this mystery for me?  This item isn’t printed on my leaflet, so I’m not sure if this is a mistake or a pleasant surprise.  It’s quite a lovely blush though that could easily double up as a highlighter.

Birchbox UK December 2017 swatches

Box round up

Once again, Birchbox have delivered in sending out a festive mix of samples just in time for the holidays.  With two full size items with a total that scrapes just below the price I’ve paid for the box, they’ve finished the year on a happy note.

Already looking ahead, Birchbox UK have already revealed a teaser for next year.  (I know, already!  I don’t even know what my New Year’s Eve plans are yet…)  A choice of two blushes (interestingly in stick form) will be in our January boxes from familiar brand Lord & Berry.

Birchbox UK December 2017 samples

GIVEAWAY:  As mentioned I am celebrating the end of another Birchbox year by doing a giveaway!  One lucky winner chosen at random will win a 6-month subscription – watch my Birchbox UK Unboxing video 2017 to find out how to enter!

Want to subscribe to Birchbox?  Subscribe here and get 50% off your first box!

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I have not been paid by, sponsored by or asked by Birchbox to make this blog post or video in any way – I just do it for the love!

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New Purchases Show & Tell – November 2017

New Purchases Show & Tell November 2017

I’ve made the same mistake as I did last year in my New Purchases Show & Tell November 2016, I haven’t bought any Christmas presents yet and I’m leaving it all to do in December.  Shit.  I need to break this habit.

So, if I haven’t been spending my money on gifts for the big pig-out day in December then what have I been doing?  Well, I went to Belgium.

David and I spent a few days away, which funnily enough we did the same thing last year when we went to Edinburgh.  (Although this is a habit that doesn’t urgently need breaking…)  But I accidentally slipped and fell into some Black Friday deals too.  So some of my money went there, witness below.

New Purchases Show & Tell November 2017

So here’s what I’ve been spending my monthly pay on:

Back2Front Holiday House (AirBnb) – 39 seconds in
David and I went to Ypres, a place we’ve wanted to explore for a while for its First World War history.  (We like our historical holidays…)  I really wanted to highlight our Airbnb from our trip because it was great value!  It was placed conveniently out of town and nestled within the countryside.  It was quiet, peaceful and just right for us to explore Ypres and the areas around it.  (I will do a blog post on this soon, don’t worry.)

Fashion Union Petite High Neck Top In Velvet – 1:38 minutes in
Back to the usual products you typically see me buying, month in month out…  When I first saw this top flicking through my ASOS app, I knew it was ‘the one’ for my work’s Christmas party too.  That, and a kind of ‘alternative’ but classy Christmas jumper.  I don’t know why I couldn’t see that it was velvet from the website, or that the ‘ball balls’ were actually pearls (fake ones of course).  Both pleasantly surprised me though and made me love this top more.

New Purchases Show & Tell November 2017

TopShop PETITE Dobby Trim T-Shirt – 3:51 minutes in
Okay, in comes the Black Friday items I couldn’t resist.  No surprises they’re all from TopShop (I can never resist their sales).  This was a basic top I spotted a while back, but felt it was maybe a little pricey for what it was.  (I was just being tight probably – I have a mortgage to pay!)  Thankfully I whipped it up in the sale with £10 off – the sleeves are so pretty!

TopShop PETITE Stitchy Knitted T-Shirt – 4:30 minutes in
I caught sight of this top before it went into the sale too, but same story above; I was trying to save money, so I didn’t splash out on it, blah blah blah.  This top was slightly more expensive though (at £26) but was knocked down to the same price of £12.  Bargain, and so versatile!

New Purchases Show & Tell November 2017

TopShop PETITE Floral Cupped Body – 5:00 minutes in
As is the case with most sales, even Black Friday sales, you end up buying an item completely out of season.  Like this, very summery body.  The kind of thing I should be wearing out in California or somewhere, rather than folding it away and hoping for a heatwave in Britain.  It was cheap as chips though (by TopShop standards) – £8!

Next month…

Oh lord, Christ was born… on Christmas Day… which is this month!  I’ve really got to pull my socks up and whip my debit cards out, through Amazon, shopping and anywhere else to start ticking off my Christmas list.

As I did last New Purchases Show & Tell December 2016, I’ll be bringing you this December’s video and post a little earlier than usual.  In it, I will divulge all the gifts I’ve bought for friends and family, in case you need any last minute gift inspiration.  (Which if you do, you’re worse than me.)

New Purchases Show & Tell November 2017

I have not been asked, sponsored or paid to review any of these products.  I just like to shop!

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How I Spent 5 Days in Paris

How to spend 5 days in Paris

For a city where its grand boulevards look like they’re straight from all the movies, its café culture is magnetising, to even its rooftops applying to be UNESCO World Heritage recognised; it can be hard to decide how to spend 5 days in Paris.

Lucky for me then as I was preparing for my third visit in the city of love at the end of last month, I thought organisation is key.  I knew what to expect, yet I also knew what I had missed in previous visits too.

Whilst this isn’t exactly a guide on the top things to see in Paris you must see – after all, I’m no Parisienne expert – this is more a personal account to inspire any future trip to the French capital.  Which, if the spirit of Paris could speak, then it would tell you too to avoid planning it, discard any Paris itineraries and discover your own secret corners of a city that’ll stay with you for a lifetime.

Day 1

Père Lachaise Cemetary in Paris
Père Lachaise Cemetery… peaceful and beautiful
  • Arrival in Paris
  • Père Lachaise Cemetery

Being from the UK, I may be flying in, catching a train, boarding a coach or even driving into Paris – so I can choose to arrive at any time of the day; early or late.

Whatever time you arrive, don’t overdo it on your first day in Paris. Pick a sight that’s a walkable distance from your hotel, hostel or AirBnb.  For me, that was Père Lachaise Cemetery – an unusual suggestion for those who haven’t been initiated, but probably the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever wandered within.  (Even in death, Parisienne’s do it in style.)

The final address of famous artists who’ve ever claimed Paris as their home rest here, such as; Edith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.  After I dipped my toes in some exploring, I ended my day at a café for dinner with a glass of French wine.

“Even the pigeons are dancing, kissing,
going in circles, mounting each other.
Paris is the city of love,
even for the birds.”

― Samantha Schutz, I Don’t Want To Be Crazy

Day 2

How to spend 5 days in Paris
Montmartre is a dream…
  • Montmartre
  • Sacré-Cœur
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Galeries Lafayette

Whether you have one day in Paris, or two weeks; missing out on Montmartre would be like missing out on the artistic heart of Paris.  Renoir, Van Gogh and Picasso all lived here, so this should set the scene.  Located on the highest hill in Paris, the Sacré-Cœur also sits here and looks over Paris with incredible views.

After walking this quarter’s charming streets, I headed south of the River Seine to stroll around Jardin du Luxembourg.  Dedicated to the children of Paris by Napoléon, these lush gardens make a good spot for a picnic lunch.  (Or just nibbling on some macarons!)

Jardin du Luxembourg Paris
Picnic in Jardin du Luxembourg…

A hidden gem I hadn’t discovered in my previous visits was the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette.  The luxurious department store provides a free view and is a sight to see itself.  (Even though I couldn’t afford any of the designer names within it…)  A stained-glass dome is at the centre of the building and on the clear day when I visited, I snapped some beautiful sunsets of the Paris skyline (Eiffel Tower included) on the top floor; the rooftop.

“… you’ll have to fall in love at least once in your life, or Paris has failed to rub off on you.”

― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Day 3

Hall of Mirrors Palace of Versailles
Every corner is a wonder in the Palace of Versailles…
  • The Palace of Versailles

The trip from Paris to Versailles (outside of the city) isn’t that long itself.  But the estate is so vast it requires a day, at least, to explore.  I’d missed out on Versailles too in my previous visits and so the former home of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette was a must do for me this time.

It really took my breath away; the palace, Hall of Mirrors and gardens as far as the eye can see.  I didn’t manage to see it all in the 8 hours I had. So if I were to go again, I’d consider hiring a four-person electric car (like golf carts), get around by the shuttle train or rent a bike.

“Paris is a hard place to leave, even when it rains incessantly and one coughs continually from the dampness.”

― Willa Cather

How to spend 5 days in Paris

Day 4

  • Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris isn’t a necessity when you don’t have kids, but considering it’s the only Disney park in Europe I’d have to travel a long way to find another one.

Sadly, I never experienced the *real* magic by visiting when I was young (a lot younger), but I had a blast on my first visit when I was 16.  This time round I particularly noticed how child-focused it really is (which of course it should be).  Or I could just be getting older…  For anyone who loves Disney though, it’s easily accessible from the city of Paris for a day out.

“Paris isn’t a city, it’s a world.”

― Lepota L. Cosmo, Love in Paris – Poetic Guide to the Romance of the City

Day 5

Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Perhaps the most well-known roundabout in Paris.
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Champs-Élysées
  • Eiffel Tower

The famous Arc de Triomphe probably comes second on everyone’s Paris to do list (after the Eiffel Tower, bien sûr.)  Surprisingly, I’d only glimpsed it from the street previously, but even more surprisingly, when arriving at the back of the queue to climb its 284 steps to the top there wasn’t a long wait.  (Most main attractions in Paris have some of the longest queues I’ve seen!)

Now a roundabout, with 12 exits, you can point out a number of other monuments from the sweeping views above it.  (Never try to cross the road, there are underground subways.) I was lucky enough to see Sacré-Cœur all the way in Montmartre!

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

One of these 12 exits is probably the most famous street in Paris; Avenue de Champs-Élysées. (Beauty lovers: stop off here for Sephora!)  Luckily it’s only 2km long too, so you can stroll past all the designer names that line Paris’s most expensive avenue and reach Place de la Concorde.  If you keep going, through Jardin de la Nouvelle France you’ll reach the Louvre, too.

This time instead of getting lost in the artworks at the Louvre (I have done this before and it’s worth a visit), I indulged in a bit of retail therapy before setting sights on true icon of Paris.

How to spend 5 days in Paris

Queues spiral out of control at the Eiffel Tower, but don’t let this put you off.  (Learn from my mistakes; book in advance!)  The harder decision is to choose which time to venture to the top; during the day or by night.

Paris was more ‘Paris when it drizzles’, rather than ‘Paris when it sizzles’ on my first visit.  Meaning the view from the Eiffel Tower, by day, was almost non-existent.  By night, it quite literally sparkles, every hour on the hour.  Luckily, I went for the latter this time.

How to spend 5 days in Paris

Watch

The next day, sadly I was on the train home.  Have you been to Paris?  What are your favourite things to see and do in Paris?  Share your tips, experiences and in the comments section!

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Birchbox UK – November 2017

Birchbox UK November 2017

Birchbox UK November 2017 is a big one – with a BIG collaborator -namely Vogue, having found out last month as a teaser on the back of the sample booklet.  (Oh, and my Birchbox is ON time this month.)

I doubt there’s ever been as big collaborator as Vogue and considering the iconic magazine works with hundreds of big brands, this surely means we’ll get some big names in our box too, right?

Birchbox UK November 2017 Unboxing

The theme this month is… THERE IS NO THEME!  I had to read the leaflet twice to check this, but yep, there is no theme mentioned.  But who needs a theme when you’re collaborating with Vogue? (Honestly, I can’t get over how big this is.)

Vogue celebrated its centenary last year and created their edit of 100 greatest beauty products of all time – and some of these items will appear in our box too!  *claps hands excitedly*  How exciting!  So, let’s get to the good stuff…

Samples

Birchbox UK November 2017

We had the choice of two box designs this month – I chose the one above, obviously, just because it looks more ‘Vogue’ to me, darling.  There were no teasers of which products may surprise us inside from last month’s box, which built anticipation!  (For me, anyway.)  Here’s what I got:

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
Percy & Reed Smooth, Sealed & Sensational Volumising No Oil Oil
L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
Benefit Hoola Bronzer
Birchbox Brush Cleaner (FULL SIZE!)

Wow, okay, where to begin?  I hadn’t heard of Klorane before, but from only trying the dry shampoo, quickly and whilst filming my unboxing, I’m already considering buying it full size.  Many dry shampoos can leave my scalp feeling a bit itchy, but this really felt like it was gentle to my skin whilst soaking up unwanted grease too.  (Sorry if that’s TMI.)

I was very happy to see the L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream as it is tipped to be one of the best in the industry.  I’m receiving this at a perfect time of year too, my hands are at their driest when the temperature drops, so it’s brilliant I’ll now be equipped with this.

Whilst Benefit is a brand that isn’t a stranger to Birchbox subscribers, it’s still a pretty big deal to receive the praised cult Hoola Bronzer.  (Even if it is sample size.)

Added Little Extras…

Birchbox UK November 2017

With all big collaborations, Birchbox are good to us and usually slip us another little offer.  This month, Birchbox subscribers have been given 6 complimentary issues of Vogue magazine, when buying a one-year or two-year subscription.

Box Round Up

Well wasn’t this a very exciting box?  And there was even the comeback of a Birchbox lifestyle item too!  Although I didn’t receive it in my Birchbox UK November 2017, I was quite impressed to see other subscribers getting a Clarins hand cream too.  (I love Clarins, you lucky devils.)

December is always a strong box and the only teaser Birchbox have given us so far is on the back of this month’s leaflet.  In the next few weeks we’ll have to make choice out of a festive lipstick; a classic party red, or a nicely natural tint?  Decisions, decisions…

Not a Birchbox subscriber? Subscribe here and get 50% off your first box!

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I have not been paid by, sponsored by or asked by Birchbox to make this blog post or video in any way – I just do it for the love!

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New Purchases Show & Tell – October 2017

New Purchases Show & Tell October 2017

With buying (and moving into) a new house, you’d think my spending would slow up and I’d be spending more of my money on cleaning products and household items.  But, my New Purchases Show & Tell October 2017 is here to prove you and I wrong!  (Although, I admit I didn’t plan it this way and being this close to Christmas, I am feeling the sting.)

With a trip to Paris this month (which is where most of my money was spent), I have many exciting things that I’ve been buying and loving, to show you. Which is what’s most important, right?  Oh and this is the first video I’ve filmed in our new house!

New Purchases Show & Tell October 2017 video

A textual break down…

Purelogy Hydrate Shampoo & Conditioner – 28 seconds in
Just before we get onto my trip in the city of love, light and baguettes – I needed a shampoo and conditioner top-up.  Having seen a few of my favourite YouTuber’s using Purelogy, I caught an offer on lookfantastic.com and I’m giving them a whirl as we speak; so far, so good.

Paris by Lonely Planet (11th Revised Edition) – 1:17 minutes in
I bought this in preparation for my trip to the French capital and as always, Lonely Planet guides prove to be so helpful, and fun to read.  Ever since taking a gap year to travel, I hardly go away without first getting my nose deep within at least one guide book.  I’m a fan of Rough Guides too.

New Purchases Show & Tell October 2017 flatlay

Sephora Sheet Face Masks – 2:45 minutes in
Every beauty junkie out there knows about Sephora and if that beauty junkie is British, he/she will know the ache to visit a store, as there are none in the UK.  So, when I was strolling down Champs Elysees in Paris I finally took my first step inside one!  I was so overwhelmed by the abundance of brands they had on offer, but knew my bank account wouldn’t forgive me for splurging.  So, I came out with some Sephora sheet masks instead.  I’m still as happy as a clam and can’t wait to try them!

Customised Birchbox Box – 4:17 minutes in
I don’t want to give too much away, but of course I did drop by the Birchbox shop in Paris.  I mentioned in my video it was the only one in Europe at the time, but now they’ve opened a pop-up store in London too.  A separate video and post on my visit will be coming soon!

Ikea Trysil Wardrobe review

Ikea Trysil Wardrobres – 5:29 minutes in
The relief to not be living out of suitcases and bags is real – we finally have wardrobes in our new home!  When looking for wardrobes we wanted something we could store a lot of clothes in (obviously), but we were also looking to save room (not so easy).  The slidable doors have definitely provided room and along with the accompanying drawers underneath, I now doubt if we’ll need another chest of drawers.  Ikea, you are a life saver!

Next month…

I’ve not learned my lessons from this New Purchases Show & Tell October 2017, in fact next month (now this month) I will be off on my travels again.  David and I will be popping over to Belgium for a few days to mostly take in some historic sights, and some chocolate, beer and maybe a quick visit to Bruges.

Then after that, it’ll be ticking off my list for Christmas gifts in the lead up to the big blobbing-out day of the year.  (I’m trying to pretend it’s not only a few weeks away.) 😬

I have not been asked, sponsored or paid to review any of these products.  I just like to shop!

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