How To Match Your Wardrobe With Your Beauty Regime

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In all the excitement in the run up to Christmas, I almost forgot about the winter solstice. I like to pay attention to this day every year as that means that from now on the days are (finally) getting longer!  And as much as I love the festive season, sometimes I feel like the sun has barely risen before we are plunged back in to darkness at 4.30pm in the winter. So in the winter months, I like to do whatever I can to reinvigorate to my beauty regime and wardrobe to keep away those winter blues!

The Natural Look

I like to keep my day to day look reasonably natural. Who doesn’t want a fresh, flawless finish? To perfect the natural feel, it all begins at the exfoliating and cleansing stage. The cold weather can be particularly harsh on your skin, so bringing it back to life takes a little TLC. There is an abundance of naturally sourced and produced gentle exfoliators perfect for all skin types; it’s simply a case of finding one that works and suits you best. The same goes for moisturiser – it’s important to think about your skin type and find a product that suits you, and then moisturise regularly. Nowadays everyone is clued up about the damage that sun can do to your skin, but it’s worth using a moisturiser with SPF protection all year round as UV rays can still damage our skin in winter. If using a tinted moisturiser, you may wish to finish off with a little powder, and providing you conceal any blemishes this combination is sure to leave your skin glowing. The real attention should be focused on your eyes and lips with defined lashes which are essential for this look. You can forfeit eye shadow and eyeliner but never the mascara. Blondes should try using a brown mascara, whereas darker hair should stick to black. Finally, to add a pop of colour pick a lipstick that almost matches your natural lip tone. This will naturally enhance what you already have whilst still creating a rejuvenated feel. Apply with your finger for a less concentrated final look.

What to wear?

Our calendars are often filled with Christmas drinks and parties over the festive season, which for me means coming up with different ways to wear my favourite black dress. But if you’re going for a natural beauty look then your clothes should be both comfortable and stylish.  A personal favourite of mine is a stylish polo neck with plain black jeans and a pair of sophisticated black boots. It’s a look that is both understated and chic, and can be easily adapted if you’re going straight from the office to Christmas drinks with friends.

Glamourous

Whether glamour is your everyday look or you simply want to feel that extra bit special, the glammed up look requires more shimmer and shine. In the winter it feels like it has been so long since we saw the sun, so we do whatever we can to bring a little sunshine back in to our beauty regimes. However this means that there are a lot of disastrous fake tan attempts: you can have the best fake tan and still manage to get it wrong. To pull off the glamourous look from head to toe, you really need to master the art of applying foundation, and bronzer as well as fake tan. You can spend hours watching video tutorials on how to contour or achieve the perfect smoky eye, but fail to get the fake tan bit right and you have an issue on your hands, literally. Always exfoliate beforehand to remove all dead skin, and follow with a good moisturiser. Make sure you don’t forget the elbows and ankles. Beginning at the arms and shoulders, gradually make your way down using circular motions. For best results apply fake tan at night leaving plenty of time for it to develop. Showering should be avoided until the tan has had time to fully develop.

What to wear?

From my experience black works best as well as olive tones. Of course it’s important you show off your new and improved looking skin. Off the shoulder ruffled tops are fast appearing in all major high street shops; the shoulders offer a subtle hint of sexiness without going full out. Paid one of these with a stylish pashmina scarf and a long trench coat to complete your glamourous look. The important thing here is to remember that you want to show off a little skin to embrace your new-found summer glow, but you also need to dress appropriately for the weather outside.

How To Throw The Perfect Party

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Something I really look forward to during the festive season is the parties. The work dos with fun activities, dinner parties with friends, not to mention News Year’s Eve! There’s something about sharing jokes over a few glasses of wine and getting down on the dance floor with old friends and new that makes me feel alive. I also love to host my own, and over the years I have discovered a few tips and tricks that turn a good party into a great one! If you’re planning a shindig, then keep reading for ideas on how to make your event one to remember.

Invites

Firstly, everyone loves receiving something special in the post. Secondly, nothing sets the tone and gets people pumped for a party like a chic invitation! So, if you’ve got the time, get some heavy card and gold or silver pens from a stationer and get crafting. They really don’t have to be too fussy, just pop in the details of the location, date and time and draw on some holly for Christmas, or hearts for Valentine’s Day, etc., and you’re away. If you are pushed for time, there are tons of online services where you can design, print and send invites at the touch of a button.

Social

I don’t know about you but I would probably miss half the events I’m invited to if it weren’t for Facebook! Therefore, in addition to paper invitations, you should create an event page with a relevant image and invite everyone you’ve put down on your guest list. You can also use social media to get people excited before the event. Give people little snippets of information in the run up, post photos of the venue and outfit ideas, etc. Do remember to keep it a private event – you don’t want the whole world turning up!

Theme

As you can probably imagine, I love fancy dress. If you’re a big fan too but are struggling to come up with a concept, there are some fantastic party theme ideas online. We went to a Great Gatsby do the other weekend and it was fabulous! However, as Mike always reminds me, there are lots of people who aren’t so keen. If you decide not to go for a costume party, it’s worth remembering that most people still love an opportunity to dress up a little bit. Setting the dress code to smart/casual gives everyone the chance to put on their glad rags without worrying about going over the top.

Lighting

Make sure it’s not too bright; nothing kills the atmosphere like strip lighting! Equally, going too dark can be unsettling, so you’ll want to be somewhere in the middle. My go-to for any evening event is string/fairy lights – they are sparkly and pretty, and make any location feel special, whether you’re outdoors or indoors. If it’s a daytime event, although the natural light may be beautiful, be sure to keep a few lamps at the ready in case it’s overcast and gloomy.

Decorations

A great party needs a great environment and this applies whatever the theme or nature of the event. If you have tables, they should always have cloths and be styled (I like a shabby-chic table setting, personally). Little details go a long way with decorations; for example, adding ribbons to folding chairs which match your colour scheme will tie everything together beautifully. Also, my policy with any party is that there is never enough glitter.

Music

I cannot stress how important a good playlist is to the success of a party. The right songs will fill the dance floor, and people are, in my opinion, at their happiest when they are so caught up in the music they get lost in the movement. To keep things fresh and exciting, make sure you have a mix of genres and throw in a generous handful of cheesy tunes. You’ll be surprised who you find shaking it to MC Hammer!

Relax

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that your guests have an incredible night. But don’t forget to relax and enjoy all your hard work too! People will have the best time if their host is.

Please comment with any other tips or stories you have. I always love reading them. And enjoy all your festive parties this year!

5 Top Tips For A Super Organised Christmas

Beautiful Christmas Tree

As I was enjoying a local firework display this weekend, I felt a sudden surge of excitement despite the freezing temperatures. As much as I love fireworks and sparklers, the end of Bonfire Night means that I can FINALLY get excited about Christmas!

Anyone who knows me will know I am a huge fan of the festive period, so keeping my enthusiasm at bay for this long is usually a challenge to say the least! As soon as I start seeing those Christmas ads on TV and chocolate advent calendars in the shops, I know it’s time to start preparing!

Whilst it might be a bit too early to buy the turkey, there are still lots of things I do to prepare myself ahead of time. I usually go over the top on food, decorations and presents, so I’m always glad to have started planning in early November. Then when it gets to mid-December and my social calendar is jam-packed with fun festive activities, I don’t feel stressed about my Christmas To Do list!

I thought it might be useful to share my top Christmas prep tips for the super-organised amongst you. These are all the things you can do in advance to free up more time later, because really, it’s never too early to start planning for Christmas – is it?!
Decide on Your Plans for The Day

One very basic thing you can do now is to decide on your plans for Christmas Day & Boxing Day. If you’re going to be hosting then make sure you have enough dining space, chairs, crockery, and anything else you might need, so that you can buy or borrow any extras ahead of time. And if you’re not going to be at home this year, then you can make the appropriate travel arrangements ahead of time, particularly if you need to book flights or trains.

Set Your Gift Budgets
I have a history of getting a little overexcited when it comes to buying presents for my nearest and dearest, which has cost me substantial sums of money and many sleepless nights come January. These days I have to set myself a budget to make sure I don’t overspend. There are tonnes of ways you can do this, and in the past, I have used the Christmas Money Planner from the Monday Advice Service to help me figure out my budget breakdown!

Update Your Christmas Card List and Shop for Cards

I like to try and keep on top of my address book all year around, but inevitably it often falls low down my list of priorities. I keep a Christmas card list document on my laptop, so I’ll usually spend an hour or so checking through all the names and addresses to make sure it’s all up to date, as well as adding any new ones.

I also buy my Christmas cards early on so I have more options to choose from. Personally, I like to take this opportunity to support a charity close to my heart, so this year I’ll be buying these cancer charity Christmas cards to send to my loved ones!

Start Shopping
I like to get my shopping done as early as possible. Not only does this mean you can spread the cost over 2 or even 3 months, but it means you can make the most of any early flash sales. I will definitely be checking out the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year to make my money go further!

Check your Christmas Decorations
There’s nothing worse than buying your tree and bringing it home ready to decorate, only to find your box of baubles has smashed, or even worse – you’ve spent ages untangling all those fairy lights and half of them don’t work. If you’re like me, then decorating your tree is serious business, and the earlier you shop for decorations, the more choice you’ll have! I like to spend a lot of time researching Christmas tree ideas to visualise how my tree will look.

I hope these tips will help you kick off your super organised Christmas, so you can have a stress-free festive season!

Halloween Style Guide

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Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/halloween-pumpkin-carving-face-1001677/

It’s official – Halloween fever has gripped me. I LOVE dressing up for Halloween (and I’m not talking about those ‘sexy’ Halloween outfits that involve hot pants and cat ears). I still feel a sense of childish glee when I put on a wig or fake blood and walk out the door. I’m sure this year will be no different, even though I haven’t quite figured out my costume yet. After all, 2016 has been one of the scariest on record – the numerous high profile celebrity deaths, Brexit and the US election will no doubt be the inspiration behind the more topical choices this year. As tempting as it is to follow suit, I like to lean towards costumes that are stylishly scary, rather than just plain terrifying. So I decided to put together my very own Halloween Style Guide for anyone still looking for inspiration!

  1. Wednesday Addams   

A classic Halloween look, but this one will never go out of style. All you need is a black dress with a collar, 2 plaits and you’re done. I’m personally a huge fan of Wednesday as a character. She’s doesn’t try to fit in, and she’s nobody’s fool. If you want to go the extra mile then try and convince your partner or friend to go as her brother Pugsley.

  1. Eleven from Stranger Things

This costume has the benefit of being topical and trendy. If, like me and millions of others, you are also obsessed with the 2016 American sci-fi horror web TV series Stranger Things, then this could be the costume for you. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you must watch it immediately! As someone who can just about remember the tail end of the 80s, it’s a great throwback show, and Eleven’s retro style will be instantly recognisable for those in the know. Essentially, all you will need is a pale pink dress, a blue jacket, trainers, sports socks and a blonde wig. You can also add a bit of blood to make it spookier!

  1. Resurrected 1920s Flapper Girl

Let’s face it, the roaring 20s didn’t get that name for being dull. They had a lot of fun back then, and Halloween is a great way to pay homage to the era with a spooky twist. To become a ghost from the 1920s all it takes is feathers, fringe and a flapper dress. You can afford to spend some time on the face paint on this one to make sure you capture that ghostly look.

  1. Cruella De Ville              

Any outfit that requires faux fur is a winner in my eyes. And if like me, you’ve always wanted to pretend to smoke a cigarette through one of those cigarette holders then look no further. Cruella is super glam, so red lipstick and heels are a must. And of course, let’s not forget her trademark two tone black and white hair!

  1. Spider’s Web

This might sound like a slightly odd choice, but spider webs make successful Halloween outfits. A black dress and some shredded thin black tights form the basis of this costume. Then all you need to do is fix some spider props in to your hair, and draw a web pattern over one eye (I’ve used liquid eyeliner to do this in the past). And there you have it – a Halloween spider’s web. To go that extra mile then you could even spray some cobwebs in a can for extra decoration.

Happy Halloween!

The Best Independent Markets in Brighton

The wet weather kept me housebound for most of the weekend, so as soon as I saw the sun peering out from behind a big dark cloud I rushed out the door for some much-needed fresh air. I’ve been meaning to follow the Snow Dog trail for a few weeks now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. For those who don’t know, Brighton has been invaded by 45 giant Snow Dog sculptures as part of a free art trail across the city. At the end of the trail, the dogs will be auctioned off to raise money for Martlets Hospice, an amazing local charity that provides support for people dealing with terminal illnesses and their families. Each dog has a different name and design, and the aim is to bring tourists across Brighton as they try to collect them all.

The trail led me to London Road, which is where I found myself when that big dark cloud decided to burst. I dived in to the Open Market seeking cover and proceeded to spend hours browsing around the stalls long after the rain had cleared up. It’s been ages since I’d visited the Open Market and I’d forgotten the joy of sifting through books, clothes, and trinkets in search of hidden treasure. As consumers, we’re doing more and more online shopping than ever, and whilst it’s convenient, it’s not the same as stumbling across a handmade or one of a kind item from one of Brighton’s amazing independent shops. With Christmas coming up I know I’ll be paying another visit to the Open Market in search of original gifts, so I’ve put together this guide to the best independent markets and shops in the city!

Brighton Open Market

The much-loved Brighton Open Market features a range of stalls selling everything from local produce, to arts and fashion items. All of the stalls are run by local producers and include ethical products. My personal favourite was the Shaboutique shop, where you can pick up one of a kind items from furniture to clothing. Everything is made entirely from recycled materials and it’s all stunning. I know what I’ll be putting on my Christmas list!

Snoopers Paradise

If you love anything vintage, then you need to pay a visit to Snoopers Paradise in the North Laine. It’s two floors of retro clothing and bric-a-brac, and there is even a boutique market on the top floor called Snoopers Attic. Here you can buy clothing, textiles, hand-crafted jewellery and loads more from independent local designers. Everything is unique, and you can actually speak to the person who made the item. Palomita is one example of the kind of designers who sell at the boutique. The stunning and colourful jewellery is made from natural objects, making it the perfect Christmas gift for your eccentric aunt or eco-conscious sister.

Brighton Flea Market

There is nothing quite like a flea market, with its hidden corners and piles of dusty items. If you’re prepared to rummage, then you could unearth some forgotten antiques and treasures at Brighton Flea Market in Kemptown. I find flea markets particularly useful when shopping for fathers, grandfathers and uncles as you can pick some cool throwback items that always go down well. I’ve been looking at some gorgeous watch boxes for men as Christmas gifts this year, but have seen some stylish retro 50s and 60s prints in the Brighton Flea Market that would also make good gifts for older male relatives!

Brighton Craft Fair

For a gift with a real personal touch, the Craft Fair is a great place to start. It’s held on the last Saturday of every month and has a wide variety of sellers, who are always changing. So no matter how many times you go, you will always find something different. The next one is coming up so make sure to catch it at the end of October!

Autumn Days Out in The South of England

Autumn has long been one of my favourite seasons; there are plenty of opportunities to spend some quality time with my hubby and to work on getting rid of those extra calories after indulging in one too many cocktails over the summer.

A lot of people tend to feel a little depressed as those long summer evenings finally come to an abrupt end, and they are left counting the days until reluctantly putting the clocks back and spending their evenings curled up on the sofa. However, it doesn’t have to be this way; there is an abundance of opportunities to get out there and enjoy the crisp autumn sun and the beautiful colours. While the unpredictable British weather can make it a challenge to plan ahead, ensuring that you have a few days out planned means that you can leap out of bed at the first opportunity you get and spend a beautiful day out and about.

Horses In The New Forest

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For those of you who have been to the New Forest, you will already know that two wheels are definitely better than four! When we are children we are all told about the importance of sharing- this is especially the case in the New Forest.

When we are children we are all told about the importance of sharing- this is especially the case in the New Forest.

In this beautiful part of the country, animals certainly are king! A relaxing drive along its beautiful country lanes can be brought to an abrupt end as you come face to face with an unfazed horse or cow. If don’t have the opportunity to be around animals very often, this can be an incredibly rewarding experience that never fails to disappoint. That is unless you are my hubby, of course. He still likes to go on about the time a horse decided to relieve herself on his car bonnet.

Anyway, with this in mind, if you are local to the New Forest then you are better off getting a train to one of the many stations and taking your bike with you. You will have the complete freedom to explore the forest and its surroundings and get some much-needed exercise! It is always a good idea to check ahead that you are able to take your bikes on a particular train; however, most of the time this is not a problem. The only issue is that you have to lug your bike around, luckily there are plenty of carbon fibre road bikes available that are absolutely perfect for transporting with ease. Luckily for me, my hubby finally took notice of my not so subtle hints and treated me for my birthday last month.

My own particular tip would be to get a train to the village of Brockenhurst and start exploring from there. You will find that there are plenty of beauty and cycle routes to keep you busy, there are also plenty of pubs and quaint tearooms for you to refresh yourselves and enjoy some much-deserved rest and relaxation. If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, then you will find a wealth of kayaking and canoeing opportunities to keep you entertained.

If your husband or boyfriend regularly bores you to death about cars, then treat him to an afternoon at the Beaulieu Motor Museum, which will captivate your interest whether you are car-nut, or not!

Hastings

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Visit 1066 Country

Due to its close proximity to Brighton, Hastings tends to be overlooked by those looking to head to the coast for a day out. However, Hastings is something of a hidden gem, especially the old town, where you will find a rich variety of architecture, ranging from medieval to Victorian.

For the history buffs amongst you, you will be delighted to learn that three of the seven churches that were standing during medieval times are still standing today. That isn’t all, though, the Hasting Fisherman’s museum is well worth a visit and is in a really lovely location. Surrounded by black fishing sheds, this is a delightful location to indulge in some sunbathing on a sunny afternoon.

If you are in need of a dose of culture, then there are plenty of art galleries to pass away the time in. I would particularly recommend visiting the Jerwood Gallery, which opened to an abundance of critical acclaim in 2012. If you are lucky enough for the sun to be shining, then why not treat yourself to a drink in the nearby café, which benefits from stunning beach views.

Finally, there is the old town, known locally as Twittens; it is an exquisite mixture of narrow streets and passageways, most of them were used by smugglers years ago and still make a fantastic place to explore.

Anne of Cleves House Lewes

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Go Back in Time

Personally, I have always been a huge fan of exploring the many beautiful old stately homes that we are lucky enough to have scattered across the country. One that I must confess to having particularly fond memories of, is the Anne Cleves House near Lewes. There really is so much to see, you will have the chance to learn all about this beautiful medieval house and the role it had to play in the life of one of England’s most famous kings, Henry VIII.

A particular highlight for me is the authentically furnished kitchen and the garden which is simply stunning! It uses traditional plants and genuine Tudor planting schemes and really is worth the admission fee alone.

If you are lucky enough, like me, to live in the Brighton area, then the many amazing cycle paths that we have to offer you the chance to explore this beautiful medieval house and enjoy the autumn air.

If your hubby is anything like mine then you will be glad to know that there is a delightful tea garden that offers all sorts of refreshments to indulge in and the chance to enjoy a much-deserved break!

Get The 1990s Look In 2016

90s fashion

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For those of us born in the 1980s, it is hard not to remember those huge, over-sized earrings that were so popular in the 1990s, or how about the infamous curtains sported by many men? We have all got used to seeing fashions from the re-emerging from decades gone by, but now is the time of the 1990s.

It seems that 90’s fashion has enjoyed something of a rebirth and is currently being sported by the younger members of Generation Y, with the older members trying to hide their sniggering behind their hand.

If you want to find out how to ensure that you are bang on with your 90s fashion for the remainder of 2016 and into 17, then take a look at my top 90’s tips!

The fashion industry has long been recycling previous trends and fashions in order to ensure that they are continually able to push new lines and seasons. This has certainly been true in recent years where we are now seeing something of a 90s revival going on all around us.

This is something that I must admit came as something of a surprise, especially since my niece used to openly laugh at old photos of me in my childhood!

Funnily enough, now she is now sporting similar items of clothing to the ones I wore.

The 1990s were an incredibly exciting time, we had Britpop and Girl Power taking the entire world by storm, and there was even a reason to be cheerful about politics with a fresh-faced Tony Blair promising all sorts to the electorate.

It was a time of mass pride and admiration of British culture, with the country even being nicknamed as ‘Cool Britannia’ and Noel Gallagher popping into Downing Street to drink champagne with Tony Blair.

It isn’t surprising that this was a special time for young people and the 90s certainly brought the younger generations to the forefront of society. There was something of a carefree style that was soaked in rebellion.

The early 90s saw Grunge and minimalism becoming incredibly popular mixed with casual streetwear with a sporty influence. Amongst men there was a shift to more designer labels in the later years of the decade, including the immensely popular Ben Sherman shirts and Lyle and Scott shoes.

This influence can also be seen in the early-00s, where there was a revival of the 80s casuals culture; my brother was a part of this and luckily for me I still have the photos to prove it!

Get the genuine 90s look

Britney Spears with pigtails

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90s Hairstyles

The hairstyles in the 90s were far from boring and the more hair the better was certainly true for both men and women. The 90s were the birthplace of the infamous “Rachel”, which proved to be the most popular haircut of the entire decade and saw women up and down the whole of the UK desperately trying to find a picture of Jennifer Aniston to show to their hairdresser.

Those who didn’t want to follow the herd went for the half-up, half-down look, which was considered to be simple, yet modern. There was also the Alicia Silverstone-inspired schoolgirl look, which made pigtails popular too. This led to a vast array of different hair accessories, including scrunchies, butterfly clips and even bandannas.

90s Footwear

The early 90s saw the birth of the Grunge movement in America and it quickly spread to the shores of the UK. This led to both men and women opting to wear footwear which was inspired by the movement, including heavy duty boot and Converse trainers which were given something of a popularity boost thanks to Kurt Cobain.

The preference for a minimalist style also saw Birkenstocks being more and more popular thanks to their wide variety of styles and colours. There was, of course, also the birth of platform shoes thanks to the influence of the Spice Girls; this saw huge, brightly coloured shoes being paired with mini-dresses.

geri halliwell in union jack dress

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The 1990s in 2016

As I mentioned previously, the 1990s is currently enjoying something of a major revival in today’s fashion. We are seeing celebrities and designers opting to rework and reintroduce the trends of the decade.

Those of us lucky to have been born in the 1980s will surely have noticed the re-emergence of crop tops and chocker necklaces being worn by celebrities, including the lovely Rihanna. We are even seeing the emergence of a modern grunge look with distressed denim and combat boots making something of a comeback.

rihanna with crop top

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Working the 1990s Into Your Existing Style

It goes without saying that you can’t just rock up in 90’s clothing from head to toe, instead, you need to look to incorporate it into your current style and make it appropriate and relevant to today’s style and culture.

Look to recreate those popular 90s styles with a 2016 twist

You need to look to capture the ‘too cool to bother or even’ attitude and mix it with today’s quirks. A popular look is to mix crop tops with skinny jeans; what other items of clothing represent today’s and 90’s fashion more? Look to recreate the Grunge look but instead of going all out and taking the scissors to your Converse, keep the look sleek and polished. Grunge purists will claim that you are ripping the style off, but who cares?!

Just remember to enjoy yourselves and have fun finding your very own 90’s rebel!

Nat xx

 

Unique Baby Shower Gifts for Family and Friends

I always used to think that baby showers were the strangest events we take part in as women. Sometimes a dozen ladies, sitting in a circle and showering someone in the cutesiest gifts money can buy. Worst of all, we can’t even drink! I suppose that’s fair enough, your poor friend has gone nine months without a glass of rose, I guess we can go one day!

As I’ve gotten older, I finally understand baby showers – the main event is of course, the gifts. We might act like we aren’t competing with one another on the surface, but we’re all trying to get her the best gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive, unique is the name of the game – and here are the most unique baby shower gifts you can get!

Biscuits!

New Baby Biscuits

This was one I hadn’t come across before, I would never have thought to buy anything perishable as a gift. I’d been thinking that I had to buy the expectant mother a gift that they’d use every single day. They must get dozens of walkers, strollers and items of baby clothing – they can’t possibly use them all. The best thing about this particular gift is that it doubles up as a gorgeous little tin once you’ve finished all of the biscuits.

God knows us ladies love pretty little storage containers. If you can categorise it, it’s got its own little tin, drawer or box. I’ve got one for my keys, receipts, travel photographs and jewellery from over the years. I guess what sets this apart from other new baby gifts is how delicious these ones look!

Keepsake Box

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Keeping with a bit of a storage theme here – this gorgeous keepsake box is great for the sentimental mums. It comes fully assembled so hapless dads don’t have the opportunity to put it together wrong! There’s a dedicated drawer for all of the major little keepsakes the new baby will have over the course of the first few years. The box houses everything, from their first pair of mittens, to their dummy and hospital bracelet.

It makes more sense than getting the new mum a blender, doesn’t it? Not only is it functional, but it looks brilliant too, that little drawer of special keepsakes at the bottom could be used for anything!

Organic Creams

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This might sound like a bit of a controversial one. Just because it’s the baby shower, doesn’t mean mum should miss on gifts of her own. It shouldn’t come as surprise to anyone that bearing a child for that long takes its toll! Mum needs some looking after. A selection of organic body creams would be a more than welcome gift.

Hand creams are a fantastic gift idea. Unscrewing tight bottles, testing temperatures, lifting heavy bags, and cleaning up after little ones really wears down your hands. No doubt they’ll love your gift!

Personalised Blanket

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If there is one thing new babies like more than crying all day and rejecting any attempt to feed them, it’s their blanket.

Please find out a) what the baby’s name is and b) how you spell it before you get them their own personalised blanket. Might be best to check with the Dad first, don’t let him tell mum though. The personalisation can be as subtle or blatant as you see fit, but be sure that they’re going to get hundreds of hours of use out of it.

Don’t be so quick to spend over a hundred pounds on one made of cashmere though, I know that I took my blanket with me everywhere…I mean everywhere – every puddle, every dinner time, every walk through the park with dad, every car trip. It’s going to get muddy at some point, don’t invest in a blanket so soft that they’re restricted to using it in a nice clean living room. That’s not how babies work!

This list isn’t to say that bouncers, push-chairs and ‘aww’ worthy little shoes won’t be great baby shower gifts, but everyone gets those – there isn’t anything more awkward than two people bringing the same gift and the cheaper one having to be taken back. Babies grow unbelievably quick, don’t spend all your money if they’re only going to be that size for a couple of months.

Sussex Cycling Sights and Scenes – My Top 3 Routes

Wasn’t Brighton Pride incredible? Yes, I had one (or five) cocktails too many – but I still managed to enjoy the festivities. I woke up a little weary eyed but apart from that, I was miraculously chirpy. My other-half, on the other-hand wasn’t in such great shape. Having to put up with me until the early hours of the Pride morning took its toll I think. Regardless of how he was feeling, I was determined to get up and make the most of the day. It was such a gorgeous weekend of weather – I couldn’t lay in bed desperately gasping for water with a debilitating hangover any longer.

I looked down at the equipment from hobbies I’d taken up and put down again over the years, hockey sticks, badminton and tennis rackets, even a pair of football boots. God knows why my hubby puts up with me, I can’t imagine how frustrating it is to see him shower me with gifts invested into my new found hobbies – only for me to put them down after a month or two.

“I know” – I thought to myself. I’ll go cycling!

Cycling view

It is the only hobby that I’ve consistently carried on with, ever since I was a girl in fact. I’ve even invested in casual cycle wear over the years because I love it so much. I’m very lucky to live somewhere like Brighton, where there are literally hundreds of cycling routes, you can set off from your doorstep and find a designated cycling path within five minutes of cycling. But with so many to choose from, it makes deciding where to go very difficult.

I’ve narrowed it down to my top three cycling routes for you all to try for yourselves.

Route One

No, not the skateboard shop in North Laine. My first and favourite cycling route is setting off from home and pedalling happily along New Church Road in Hove. On nice days I’ll cut through Wish Park, but if it’s a bit muddy or the Sunday league footy fans are out I’ll ride right by. Once past Wish Park I turn left and start racing towards the Lagoon. The Lagoon is a perfect place to stop for an ice cream or even a bite to eat if I’m a bit peckish. From there I’ll walk my bike safely past all of the children running around enjoying summer, to the designated cycling lane on the seafront. One last check that everything is secure, and off I go!

The cycle lane stretches pretty much all the way to the Marina, and that’s where I’ll go. I don’t even mind that hundreds of other cyclists have had the same idea. The lane is colourful enough that no one will cross accidentally and Brighton cyclists are considerate enough ring their bell or overtake if I’m being particularly slow. Sun and sea on my right and one of the flattest rides I could ask for. Absolutely bliss. Once I make it to the Marina (or until I’m tired) I’ll turn around and go back the same way!

Route Two

Stanmer Park to Ditchling Beacon. This one is a little harder… No glass of rose on the night before this one. You need to be in tip top shape to tackle the Ditchling Beacon, it’s really hilly but it gets the blood pumping and the calves working! There aren’t many better leg workouts for Brighton girls than cycling through Stanmer Park and up the Beacon – the difficulty is getting there!

The way I do it is to get the hubby to drop me off so he can listen to the football on the radio whilst I race off to break a sweat. Make sure you pack a spare pair of clothes and lay down plenty of mats and bin bags in the car. The weather can change at any moment and he “just got the new interior fitted!”. Probably best not to ruin the leather seats at the expense of losing a bit of weight.

Route Three

Devils Dyke! Get your other-half involved for this one too – you’re going to park the car up in the car park and get the bikes out the back or take the train. “Why don’t you cycle there?”, I’ll cover that later. Once you’re ready, set off in any direction. There are designated routes but I always find the best challenge is a little more off the beaten track, just remember which direction you came from!

It’s a little rough under wheel and very hilly, but you’re sure to feel wide awake by the end of it. After working so hard, its only right to reward yourself with a big meal at the Devils Dyke pub. That’s why you came in the car, because cycling back after your second helping of chips is going to be impossible.