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Funky Laser - Victorian Deer brooch

My newest accessories brand discovery is Funky Laser, who offer quirky laser-cut perspex jewellery and accessories, photo props and cake toppers.  While having a browse round their website I fell in love with this little brooch.  If you have a look at the illustration in my sidebar you'll see why.

All items come in a little gift box

The brooch is approximately 5cm's, so it's big enough that you can see the design clearly but not too big so it's looks a bit too much.  The only slight issue I have is with the pin on the back as it appears to be left-handed (is there such thing as left-handed pins?) so I struggle to try and pin it on because it feels awkward.

I do like a bit of Victorian or Gothic style influence, including dark colours, lace and the frame design on this brooch and my illustration, so this really is perfect for me.  It's available in two different designs, both featuring the black Victorian frame, but the other design features a clear heart.  I personally thought the deer worked better with the Victorian theme (I'm not quite sure why!) so that's why I chose the deer rather than the heart. 

In winter I like to layer up and tend to wear cardigans rather than big thick jumpers and I love making a plain cardigan a bit more interesting with a small flower corsage or some kind of unusual brooch.  This looks fab on a cardigan but I then also had the idea that this would look really good against my berry coloured duffle coat with the black background matching the black toggles.

My little deer brooch was just £4.99 and delivery is a flat rate of £3.00.  You can take a look at all of their designs over on the Funky Laser website and they will also be at this years Clothes Show Live.  I'm really excited to have a press pass for the Clothes Show this year so I'm looking forward to being able to take a look at their designs in person.

Is a brooch the sort of accessory you might wear?

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Tutorial - How to wrap your Christmas presents

In a recent #bbloggers chat I asked if anybody would be interested in a post showing how I wrap my Christmas presents and the general response was 'Hell yes, I'm rubbish at wrapping presents!', so here it is!  

I'm a complete perfectionist in most things, and especially when it comes to wrapping presents, so I think that's probably why I've managed to to perfect my wrapping technique.  I'll be showing you what I do step by step which I hope will help.  I'll also be including tips along the way to try and help make wrapping your presents easier.  I'll begin with a couple of tips.

Tip 1 - Whatever the present is, try and put it in a box.

Whatever your present is it will more than likely be easier to wrap if you put it in a box, if it doesn't already come in one obviously!  This can be some kind of gift box, just a plain cardboard box or even something like a toaster box.  It's always quite funny watching somebodies face when they unwrap what looks like a home appliance until they check inside the box.  Both me and my mum hoard good quality boxes throughout the year and shove them in a cupboard so they're there ready for boxing presents. 

Tip 2 - Prepare pieces of sticky tape ready.

Before you start make sure you cut some pieces of sticky tape to length and stick a small part of one end to the edge of a table or other piece of furniture.  This means while you may have one hand holding a piece of wrapping paper in place you have tape ready to use and easily accessible.  I know you can get those little tape dispenser things that either sit on the table or that you can attach to your hand but they're not always easy to use one handed so I don't bother with them. 

To begin with you need to cut your wrapping paper to the correct size for wrapping your present.  Unroll the end of the paper and place your box on the paper (1).  I always place my box on upside down so the join of the paper is on the bottom of the box.  You then need to pull the end of the paper over the box to make sure you've left enough paper to reach at least half way over the bottom of the box (2).  Then lift up the roll of paper and place it on top of the box (3).  Make sure there's enough paper to reach slightly overlapping the first piece of paper and make a cut in the paper.  You can either then cut along while it's still on the box using the roll or even the pattern on the paper to help guide your cutting or you can place the roll back down on the floor and cut along with it resting on the floor (4).

Next you need to trim your paper to size the other way round.  To begin with move your box towards the edge of the paper and make sure there's enough paper there to reach at least half way up the side of the box (5).  Then on the other side of the box where you have excess paper make sure you leave about the same amount of paper as you have on the other and trim the paper down to size (6).  It's better to be a bit more generous here then skimpy as you can always trim a bit more off if there's a bit too much paper there.  You should then have a piece of wrapping paper the perfect size for wrapping your box (7).  Picture 8 then leads me on to my next tip.

Tip 3 - Don't be afraid to use small pieces of tape to hold paper in place.

If you struggle with trying to hold one piece of paper in place while you fold the other piece over the top and try to secure with tape then just secure the first piece in place with a small piece of tape.  If you're worried about the tape ruining the box/present just make sure you use less sticky tape.  You can get tapes that are more like masking tape but clear, so when they're pulled off they won't rip anything.

So once your piece of paper is the right size you can either pull one of the longer sides over and secure with a small piece of tape or hold it down while you pull the other side over the box to overlap your first piece of paper and secure with a strip of sticky tape (9).  Two sides of your paper are then secure (10).  You then need to make a start of the edges which are much more difficult to try and make neat.  Move your box round so one open end is facing you and begin by pushing in one corner of the paper down until it meets the edge of the box (11).  You may want to hold the other end of the box with your other hand to stop it sliding along the paper as you're pushing against the box.  This is less of a problem if you've tapped some paper to the box but can still happen slightly.  If you then run your finger over the paper from the corner of the box towards the edge of the paper you'll make a crease that should hold the paper in place (12).

Then repeat on the other side (13).  Where you've folded the wrapping paper over and made a crease you then need to take the outer point of the crease and pull it down towards the base of the box (14).  When the paper is flush along the bottom of the box run your finger along from the bottom corner of the box along the paper to make another crease that should again hold the paper in place (15).  Then repeat again on the other side (16).

What I then like to do is, keeping the bottom edge on the floor so the paper folds over neatly as you do it, bring the box up so it's standing on it's side (17).  This is because if you fold the paper up to meet the box and secure with sticky tape while the box is still flat on the floor you risk the box slipping through the paper making it difficult to try and wrap neatly.  If you tip the box up this means the box is sat flush against the paper on the floor.  While the box is up on it's end, making sure the bottom of the box is facing you, you then push the two corners of the paper closest to you down to meet the edge of the box and make your creases again (18).  You then pull the outer points of the creases down so they are flush against the edge of the box furthest from you and secure with your creases again (19).  The flap of paper that's left you then pull down tightly over the edge of the box and secure the edge of the paper with sticky tape (20).  Then just flip the box over and stick down the other flap.

The box is then perfectly wrapped and it's time to decorate.  You can get various different types of ribbon's and bows to decorate presents with but I've gone for the pretty standard curling type ribbon and a simple small bow.

Tip 4 - My next tip is not to wrap the ribbon round the box one way and then twist the ribbon round to wrap round the box the other way as you'll be left with a bump where the ribbons twist round each other and your box will not sit flat.

Start by wrapping the ribbon round and cutting the ribbon to size ensuring there's at least a centimetre overlap so the ribbon can be secured (21).  I then decide where I want the join to be on the top of the box (don't worry that it's on the top) and secure the overlap with a small piece of tape (22).  I then repeat the same going the other way round the box and secure over the top of the previous piece of tape (23).  You can then stop here if you wish or you could add some curly ribbon.  If you're using the type that comes wound in a kind of squashed ball then it should already be curly or you can make it curly by running the ribbon gently between your thumb and the edge of a pair of scissors.  All you need to do is cut a long length of ribbon and just secure the middle of it down flat diagonally over the point where you've already applied tape to secure the other bits of ribbon (24).  Then secure another piece diagonally the other way.  The last finishing touch is just to stick a bow over the point where everything joins to hide the sticky tape.

You then have your completed present!  I hope this hasn't been too hard to follow, I tried to describe the steps as simply as possible.  I hope you have found this useful and have fun wrapping your presents.

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Glossybox November 2013

After the disappointment that was Octobers box and it's pretty pointless theme of Dark Romance I was relieved to see tweets popping up confirming that this months box was a good one.  I already knew one product that was in the box as Glossybox posted a spoiler that you couldn't really avoid if you follow them on social media!  I also couldn't resist having a nosey at the blog posts popping up, so I had a good idea about what I might get. 

So here's what I got in my box.

Jelly Pong Pong Lip Blush - Cranberry

I'll start off with a slight moan!  I love receiving lip products but the problem with this one is I received exactly the same product quite recently.  Luckily this time I've received a different shade, last time I believe I received a pink shade and this time I've received Cranberry, which is a red shade (darker than shows in the picture).  Aside from this being a duplicate product I do really like the look of the colour of this and think it will be a great winter shade.  A review will follow in the near future. 

Full size - £12

Emite makeup Micronized eye shadow - Dams

I haven't personally heard of Emite makeup before so know nothing about the brand.  This eye shadow is free from oil, nickel, parabens and fragrance and the pigment is micronized (nope, no idea what that means!) which apparently facilitates application to create an even lasting result.  Dams is a light, what I would describe as champagne kind of colour with just a very slight shimmer.  I don't tend to use eye shadow very much at the moment but I will try and remember to use this as it looks like a great everyday shade.

Full size - £16.80

Vichy Idealia Life Serum & Smoothing and illuminating cream

I do like that this month rather than one tiddly little sample you get three in a little gift bag.  This includes two of Vichy's new Idealia Life Serum and one of their Smoothing and illuminating cream.  I've heard good things about the Life Serum and would love to start it now but this will have to wait until I've completed the No7 4 week serum trial that I'm starting on Monday.

Samples sizes 3 x 3ml (Full size 30ml £29.50)

Yves Rocher Hand Cream - Cocoa & Pistachio nut

I have heard of Yves Rocher and I'm definitely up for trying any of their products.  The only thing I was slightly disappointed about is that other people received cocoa and raspberry or I believe it might have been cocoa and orange, both of which I would have preferred to receive over this one, but I'm still very happy with this.

Full size (75ml) £1.95

Elegant Touch Rapid Dry for nails

This is a spray that is supposed to dry your nail varnish in 60 seconds.  If you read my blog regularly you'll know I like to experiment with nail art so I'm looking forward to giving this a try to see if it does work.  When doing nail art I usually use a top coat to seal the base colour before adding anything else to the nail so it will be interesting to see if I can use this instead.

Full size (125ml) - £3

Although I am pleased with this last item and this does cost more than the hand cream, what I'm not keen on with Glossybox is that they advertise their boxes as containing high-end beauty samples.  An Elegant Touch product is not high-end!  I've noticed that other people have received Elegant Touch nail varnish remover pads that I believe are worth around £1.50.  Although this is a useful product to have it's really not what you'd be expecting to receive in an apparently high-end beauty box!

Despite that I have received four full size products in this months box which is good.  The value of the box is around £42.60 which is also good.  Despite a few slight moans this month I do really the box and will at least try everything and can see me using every product regularly.

What did you get in your November Glossybox?

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ESPA 24 Hour Replenishing eye moisturiser

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen that I have now finished my uni work!  I handed my thesis in on Monday so now all I have to do is wait for the result and I can finally throw myself back into blogging. 

A couple of weeks ago in the #bbloggers chat I commented that I may have found a miracle eye cream and my Twitter then went crazy with people wanting to know what it was.  So for my first post uni work post I thought I'd write about the eye cream in question.

ESPA recently offered samples of their ProSerum and when I received mine I was delighted to find a £30 gift card in the parcel.  So I headed to the website to have a look at their products to see what I fancied trying.  I chose a product (the Calm and Soothe mask) and headed to the checkout.  Postage on the ESPA website is £4, which is a little bit pricey for my liking but I can't really complain as I was getting my product for free!  Then I spotted that you can also get 4 samples with every order, which made me feel a bit better about the postage.  I chose my samples and completed my order.

This is the sample size, not the full size

My dark circles are industrial strength, they never seem to improve no matter how much sleep I get (I could sleep for a week and they'd still be there!) so I never expect any eye cream to make much of an impression on them.  However I recently looked in the mirror and thought, hold on a sec, what's happening to my under dark circles?  I was surprised to find that without me really noticing they had really improved.  I wasn't sure why and then I realised I'd started using a sample of ESPA's 24 Hour Replenishing eye moisturiser.  As I said I never expect much from eye creams so hadn't really thought to check them and hadn't been using it for very long either so I was shocked to find that they have become lighter and are also shrinking.  They're still there, but I would say they have significantly improved.  

I'm afraid to say that ESPA's products are not the cheapest (although not the most expensive either) and the 24 Hour Replenishing eye cream will set you back £35.  However, I would say for the little miracle worker that this appears to have been, it may just be worth it.  As an eye cream you only have to use the tiniest bit so it should last a reasonable amount of time.  Remember I mentioned that pesky £4 delivery charge?  Well the good news is that ESPA are currently offering free UK standard delivery, so now may be the perfect time to invest!

Now I just need to start saving my pennies so I can afford to invest in a full size version.  Or even better, Dear Santa.....

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Lord & Berry Crayon Lipstick in plum

I've had my eye on Lord & Berry's lipstick crayons for a while now but haven't yet got round to trying one.  I don't believe they're widely available in the UK but I had noticed that ASOS have a small selection of their products.  When ASOS recently offered up to 30% off selected beauty for 24 hours I thought I'd take a look at what was available and found the lipstick crayons were down from £8 to £5.50.  One of the things I love about ASOS is the free delivery, no matter how small or cheap your order is, so I grabbed a couple of beauty bargains.

The crayon is thicker than I was expecting it to be, for some reason I thought it would be slim (no idea why!) but it's actually a bit chunkier which I do like as my bottom lip at least is quite full and I get bored filling it in with a thin product.  I love the simple black packaging with white writing and the clear lid means you can see the colour of the crayon.  The lid does also have the colour printed on it but this may rub off over time especially if stored in your handbag.  

I nearly ordered this in Cherry, which is the sort of shade I usually go for but as I don't currently have any darker more berry type shades I thought it was a good opportunity to try one out so decided to go for Plum and I love it!  I would say it's a mid-berry shade, slightly darker than shows in the swatch.  I didn't want anything too dark as I don't think really dark shades suit me and this is perfect.

This smells just like MAC lipsticks with a lovely vanilla scent that I really like and it's so soft it just melts onto your lips.  On Sunday I went out for a family meal as my granddad had come to visit and I decided to test drive this over a 3 course meal.  When I returned home around 3 and a half hours later I checked it and found that it was still in place but had faded evenly to a lighter colour that still looked really good.  It had settled down slightly into the cracks in my lips but you could only see this up close and if I smiled.  In general I think this did really well to last so intact through drinking and a 3 course meal over several hours.

As I said I picked this up in the sale for just £5.50 but I wouldn't hesitate to pay the full £8 for one of these, which I think is a bargain price and I'm considering getting Cherry as well.

You can find the Lord & Berry range on ASOS here.

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