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2015 was the year that...

...I made an appearance in Casualty, one of the shows I really wanted to work on.

...I won VIP tickets to the BAFTAs, along with a BAFTA nominees goody bag, an overnight stay in a 5 star hotel in London and a £500 House of Fraser voucher.

...I landed a role on a big film (I'm talking Disney here!) that involved 26 days filming but was cancelled the day before my costume fitting.

...I went on holiday for the first time in 6 years. Only to Bournemouth (in November) but I really enjoyed it and got to see the wild ponies in the New Forest.

...I finally discovered I did make it into The Theory of Everything and can be seen clearly on screen. 

...I became the treasurer of paranormal research charity ASSAP (Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena).

...I saw Avenue Q. It was so funny (and so rude! #TheInternetIsForPorn).

...I went ghost hunting with my boyfriend, a friend from the pub quiz and Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen, Psychoville) and me and Reece both nearly had a heart attack when my friend accidentally knocked over a bottle of Coke and Reece got locked in his room!

...After five years of being brunette I decided to try being a redhead.

...A large purple dinosaur partially demolished our garden wall (or rather storm Barney structurally damaged our wall and we had to push it over because we live on the end of a road and didn't want it to fall on anyone).

...I electrocuted myself!

...I met lots of Dane's when my boyfriends family flew over for his dads 90th birthday.

A few things I'm hoping will happen in 2016

...I will get a publishing deal for the results of my PhD research.

...I will finally be able to move out.

...I'll get a role in Sherlock and the next Guardians of the Galaxy film (I was up for a role in the Sherlock special on tomorrow night and the first Guardians of the Galaxy film and didn't get either *inserts crying face emoji*)

What have you got up to this year?

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Long Tall Sally Christmas gift guide #OneForYouOneForMe

Although money is tight this year I have to admit there has been a little bit of 'one for you one for me' when buying my Christmas gifts. So when Long Tall Sally told me their Christmas campaign for this year was #OneForYouOneForMe and asked if I'd like to be involved I had to say yes! Long Tall Sally asked me what I'd love to receive from their Christmas gift guide...
Long Tall Sally #OneForYouOneForMe

As I write this the temperature outside is 15 degrees (say what December?!) but overlooking that, usually in December and around Christmas time I'm all about being snugly and cosy and this year (despite the fact it might as well be April outside) I'm embracing my new addiction to a daily hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. As I spend a lot of time at home I spend a lot of time in PJ's and it's a bit of a tradition for my mum to buy me new ones every Christmas. Being tall a problem I have with PJ's is most flap around my ankles, which isn't particularly cosy. I had a pair of LTS PJ bottoms for years and I loved them. They were actually too long (because for a tall girl I actually have quite short legs) and too big (after I lost some weight) but as they have a draw string that actually works I just pulled them tight. This year they finally fell apart, helped along by a cat claw that said cat decided to poke in my bum cheek, and I've missed them. So I'd definitely love a new pair and I'd go for the Knightsbridge check pyjama pant (on sale £19). 

With a comfy pair of PJs you need a soft fluffy robe, even if it is just for throwing on to answer the door to the postman. I've never had a full length one before, or one with a hood, so my choice would be the Super soft hooded robe (£55). Can you imagine how warm and comfy a floor length hooded robe would be? 

I don't have any wacky Christmas jumpers but I do have one that came from LTS last year that is subtle but still Christmasy, featuring a piece of mistletoe and two robins. I don't really have the spare money at the money to spend on a very Christmasy jumper that I might only wear once or twice so I like the Fairisle sweater (on sale £40) as the snowflake looking design works as a subtle Christmas jumper but could actually be worn all through the winter!

Long Tall Sally #OneForYouOneForMe

If I'm going to be spending any amount of time outside in winter I do need to wrap up well or I get terrible back ache if I get cold. A scarf is a must for keeping warm and I love the look of the Long length chunky knit scarf with pom poms (on sale £12). It looks huge (which obviously equals warm and snugly) and luckily for me it doesn't contain any wool so I won't end up wanting to scratch my skin off. I love the charcoal grey rather than black and I'd probably spend most of the time playing with the pom poms. 

I have low blood pressure which means my hands and feet regularly feel like blocks of ice in winter. You know the thing doctors clip onto the end of your finger to measure something or other? The last time the doctor tried to do that she actually asked if I was dead! I also like to try and protect my hands from the cold anyway to try and stop my skin becoming really dry so gloves are a must for me when it's chilly outside. Woolly gloves don't really cut it for me as I find they let the cold in easily and are a nightmare if they get wet, so leather or suede gloves is the way to go. I have a pair of leather gloves I treated myself to several years ago, but they're looking a little worse for wear now, so I'd love a new pair. As I have almost freakishly long hands and fingers a pair of gloves from LTS would be perfect and I like the look of the Leather gloves with ruching (£45) as the ruching will keep them snug on my hands and not let the cold in.

The final item I'd love doesn't really fit in with the warm/comfy/cosy/snugly theme I've gone for so far but involves glitter, lots of glitter, and it's the good glitter that doesn't end up coming off and covering everything in sight. I spotted the BFT Dazzle glitter boots (on sale £55) in the LTS catalogue and they most definitely caught my eye. I have a pair of Irregular Choice purple glitter brogues that I adore (that I really should start wearing more) and I'd love something similar in a boot version. Unfortunately I've left it too late now and they no longer have my size, but I can always daydream!

Long Tall Sally also asked me what I would pick to give to my loved ones as a gift (#OneForYouOneForMe remember!). In my immediate family, although myself, my brother and my dad are all tall my mum is about average height, so it wouldn't be ideal to treat her to anything from Long Tall Sally as it would probably swamp her! She does actually have slightly larger feet than me though, and as Long Tall Sally's shoes start from a size 7, if I had the money to treat her I'd probably get her a gorgeous new pair of boots. 

If you're after a last minute gift for a tall lady in your life you can find the Long Tall Sally Christmas gift guide here. Some of the items I've mentioned here are no longer showing in the gift guide but you can find them around the site in their respective categories. 

Have you adopted #OneForYouOneForMe this year? 

*For writing this post Long Tall Sally sent me the Knightsbridge PJ bottoms

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The Christmas gift bargains

Like most people I love a bargain, especially in the run up to Christmas when it's time to buys gifts for your loved ones. Grabbing your Christmas gifts when they're on offer means you might be able to get something that would have been out of your price range otherwise; this was definitely the case with my brothers present this year. Several of my Christmas gifts this year I've got on some kind of offer so I thought I'd do a post to show you what I've saved where. I apologise that most, if not all of these offers are no longer available, but they're something to bear in mind for next year.

Christmas gift bargains
Christmas gift bargains
Christmas gift bargains
Christmas gift bargains

These are probably the least Christmasy pictures possible but I didn't have any decorations to hand to use and I didn't have much time as I didn't want my mum to come in and see her Christmas present. So I've improvised with a sprig of Picmonkey holly to try and add a little bit of Christmas to them!

3 for 2

3 for 2 is always is a great offer whatever time of year. I'm on a really tight budget for Christmas gifts this year and decided for my mum I'd buy a selection of different beauty crackers/baubles and box them up together as like a little hamper. I can't remember if I decided to buy the Roger & Gallet Hand & nail cream crackers first and then discovered they were on 3 for 2 on Feelunique or whether I browsed the offer and found that they were included, but I snapped up all three. These are already great value, as the price of the cracker is around the same price as the hand cream is on its own, so getting them on 3 for 2 was a complete bargain. They're £6 each so I got all three for £12. I'm slightly disappointed that they don't quite look like crackers, but that doesn't really matter, she'll get the idea. Mum gets through so much hand cream (and usually comes to me to see what's in my stash when she runs out!) and I often buy her new ones she's not tried before as gifts. I haven't tried these ones before myself but I've heard good things about them and have been meaning to try. Oh and there's also a little sample of one of their fragrances in each one too.

Black Friday

Although I tried to avoid Black Friday as much as possible this year it's actually the perfect opportunity to grab some bargain Christmas gifts. When I received an email from Escentual about a small selection of products they had at half price I spotted the perfect gift for my brother. I know he's a fan of Jean Paul Gaultier Le male as he's asked my mum for it in the past, so I had to grab this gift set for just £20. I'm personally not a fan of the shower gels and body lotions that you get in fragrance gift sets but even if he doesn't use the shower gel £20 is still a bargain price just for the aftershave on its own. I wouldn't have been able to afford this full price so I'm really pleased I was able to get it for such a bargain price. 

Boots star gifts and offers

As I'm sure you're aware each year Boots run a star gift offer where each week one of their gift sets is available for a reduced price, usually around half price. The gifts they choose to include are normally quite expensive ones, around £40 - £60 full price, so it's a great opportunity to grab an amazing gift for a bargain price. Technically I don't think the Nails Inc Alice & Olivia cracker set was a star gift but for a limited time this was available for £25 rather than £40. As I've already mentioned my mums gift this year is made up of various different beauty crackers/baubles. When I spotted this I thought it would be ideal to split the set up and use it for part of my mums present, my brothers girlfriends present and I might just keep one for myself as well! The crackers contain one full size glitter shade and five mini sizes (5ml), two in nude shades and three in deep, dark shades.

When I got them I discovered you can't actually tell what shade is inside each cracker from the outside (apart from the one with the glitter shade in), which was a bit of a problem as I wanted certain shades for certain people. But as the ends are secured with those tie things you get with food bags it's very easy to open the cracker, check the shade, and seal it back up again. I was concerned the brushes would be tiny on the mini sizes meaning they'd be difficult to apply but when I opened one (the one I'm keeping!) I was pleased to find the brushes are actually full size. In fact the brushes are so wide you can only just get them back in the bottle without bending a few bristles back. The brush covers most of my nails in pretty much one swipe and is probably a little too wide for my little finger nails.

As there's only one full size shade in them I'm not sure I'd pay £40 for them but I think £25 is a bargain, especially when they've covered two presents (and a little treat for me!).

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Givenchy Le Rouge Sensuously mat lip color

In general I tried to avoid Black Friday as much as possible (which is pretty much impossible!) as I didn't want to be tempted into buying things that I can't actually afford at the moment. But when I received an email from Escentual offering early access to a small but amazing Black Friday offer I did actually squeal (which I then tweeted to Escentual so they knew how amazing they were!). I think there was only around 21 products in the promotion, but they were all amazing products and were available at half price. I snapped up a Jean Paul Gautier set as a Christmas present for my brother (which I will probably be touching on in another post) and then spotted a Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick, which I've actually had my eyes on for a few months now, so I snapped that up too.

Givenchy Le Rouge Sensuously mat lip color
Givenchy Le Rouge Sensuously mat lip color

The downside of the offer was that this was only available in one shade; Rose extravagant. If it had been a colour that really didn't appeal to me then I wouldn't have bought it, as there's no point buying a shade you're not going to use no matter how cheap it is. But as this is a shade I would have considered purchasing anyway I went for it. The Le Rouge lipsticks have a RRP of £25, so £12.50 is a complete bargain. 

Being Givenchy this lipstick just screams luxury. The lipstick comes in a very sturdy black cardboard box that has a leather effect to it and white writing and the only colour on the box is a gorgeous glossy cherry red Givenchy logo and the words 'Genuine leather'. Yes, the lipstick casing features genuine leather. Not great if you're vegan (but then it also contains beeswax), but for non-vegans a real touch of luxury. The lid of the lipstick is covered in black leather with a silver look (not real silver!) end featuring the Givenchy logo and a silver strip running down the side of the case with the word Givenchy engraved on it. At the bottom of the case there's two little silver pyramid shapes you use to grip the case so the lid can be removed. The lid is held really secure so I do sometimes have a little trouble getting the lid off. Once the lid is removed you find a silver bullet casing featuring Givenchy engraved under where it is engraved on the lid. You then wind up to reveal the lipstick bullet which is also engraved with the Givenchy logo. This is most definitely the kind of lipstick you won't mind pulling out in public, and waving around a bit of people see it!

As the name suggests it is a matte lipstick (although I'm not sure why this is spelt mat?) but it is such a pleasure to apply and wear. It glides onto your lips with ease, there's no tugging or dry feeling formula with this baby, and you probably only need one swipe too. It is a lipstick rather than liquid lipstick, so it doesn't dry down to a full matte finish, but it is pretty matte for a lipstick. Even though it is matte I didn't think it would stick around for that long but I've been really pleasantly surprised. Last week I popped this on before a long car journey, a Chinese meal featuring several courses and a nap and afterwards although it maybe could have done with a little touch up it was still in place. I'd say this could be a five hour one, amazing stuff!

The shade is possibly a little summery for this time of year but I do like the option of a bright shade all year round and I've been enjoying wearing this over the last week or so. I'm sorry I don't have a swatch photo to show you because my camera has gone to heaven (Santa is bringing me a new one), my phone won't focus properly on a swatch and I couldn't find my dads camera. When I checked for swatches on Pinterest before purchasing this I thought it might be similar to MAC Impassioned and I wasn't far off. This is a little lighter and maybe slightly more towards the coral side of things but they are quite close shade wise.

I'm so glad I snapped this up for just £12.50 as it's a gorgeous lipstick and if I was a little bit richer right now I'd definitely pay the full price of £25 for it. Rose extravagant is currently out of stock but there are plenty of other shades to choose from on the Escentual website.

Have you tried a Givenchy lipstick?

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Lush Cranberry festive face mask

When I attended the Lush Meadowhall VIP re-opening party I received a goody bag that contained some Toothy tabs (you'll find a post on them here) and some bath products (posts here and here) and was told that I could also have a skin consultation and then choose a face mask to take away with me. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to have the consultation as it was very busy, but obviously I did pick up a face mask to try. I've tried a few of their face masks in the past (including Cupcake, Catastrophe Cosmetic and Oatifix) but I wanted to try one that I've not tried before. The one I really wanted to try was Rosey cheeks, but I couldn't find one on the display, so instead I decided to try their festive new addition Cranberry*. 

Lush Cranberry festive face mask

This contains cranberries to work as an antioxidant, fennel seed infusion (and also fresh fennel) to cleanse, rose clay for the gunk you want out and argan, patchouli, lemongrass and sandalwood oils to leave your skin nice and moisturised. There is some talc in there though so if you don't like talc in your face products this would be one to avoid. 

The last face mask I tried from Lush was Oatifix and I really did have a problem trying to get that one to stick to my skin (and then once it was in place I couldn't get it off!) but there's no such problem with this one. It's nice and soft and smooths over the skin easily. As is the case with most Lush face masks (unless you're using the new self-preserving Mask of Magnamity one) it should have been kept in the fridge and therefore it's super cooling to apply. The main thing I've noticed about applying this one is that it has a very strong scent to it and checking the ingredients it does contain perfume. If your skin doesn't like perfumed products or your nose is particularly sensitive to strong smelling products applied to your face then I would give this a miss. I'm ok with the smell but it is just boarding on being a little too overpowering for me. 

After leaving on for 10 minutes or so this is very easy to remove. You can use a splash of water and a quick rub round with your hands before another splash or two to rinse or of course you can use a flannel or muslin cloth to gently wipe it away. Once rinsed away I'm left with bright, calmed, moisturised and happy looking skin. As I have dry and often dehydrated skin I do have a problem with some masks drying out my skin and leaving it feeling a little tight and rough, but this wasn't a problem at all with this one. 

I've forgotten to double check the expiry on this but if I remember correctly the fresh face masks usually have something like 3 weeks on them? I've always found that they can last much longer than that and I'm up to around 7 weeks with this one and it's still perfectly fine. I just keep going with them until they start to dry out or the smell or appearance of the product starts to change. Then it's time to get rid and pick up a new one. Don't forget to keep hold of those black pots though as once you have five you can take them back to store and exchange them for a free mask.

I'm really enjoying using this mask and if you'd be ok with the strong smell I'd recommend giving it a try. Be quick though as although I don't think it says limited edition on the pot (I don't have it with me to check!) it is part of the festive collection so I don't think it'll be around for long.

The Lush Cranberry festive face mask is £6.75 and is available on the Lush website and in Lush stores. 

Which is your favourite Lush face mask?

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Invisibobble traceless hair rings

I've always been curious to try Invisibobbles but when they were first released I believe they only came in bright, very obvious colours. At the time I had pretty much black hair and didn't want to use something like a bright bright pink bobble as it would be too obvious against my hair. I was pleased to see that they later released some darker, much more subtle colours, but I never got round to actually picking some up. So I really pleased to see a pack of Invisibobbles in my amazing September Glossybox.

Invisibobble traceless hair rings

Invisibobbles are strange looking little things! I'm not sure if people still have home phones anymore (we still do) but if you do and it's not cordless then there will be a coiled cable attaching the earpiece to the phone. This is what Invisibobbles look like; a ring of telephone cable. The idea behind them is that the coiled ring places uneven pressure on the hair, which stops the bobble making a kink in the hair that will be visible when the hair is down. They also shouldn't cause tension headaches because although the hair is held securely it's not held tight. I originally thought that Invisbobble referred to it being invisible in the hair and thought that was impossible when they come in such bright colours. But it obviously refers to the lack of tell-tale kink rather than that you can't see them in your hair. To be honest I've never really been that bothered by this kink, what attracts me more to this kind of bobble is that it's supposed to be kinder to your hair. 

I didn't think these would do a good job of keeping my hair up but to begin with actually they do. The issue I have is that as I use them they start to stretch. They do spring back to shape when I take them out again but they become stretchier. When new I wrap one round twice and it holds my hair securely but as I use them I then have to start wrapping them round three times and they don't hold quite as securely any more. When I do take my hair down it is indeed kink free. Although these are snag free I do have to be careful when I remove them that they don't tangle slightly where I've looped it to wrap it round my hair for a 2nd/3rd time. I've also found that mine are slightly picking up my hair colour, but that would be because the bobbles are a pearlescent white and my hair colour is red, so this is inevitable.

I do really like these bobbles but I feel the stretching means that I would get through quite a few as eventually they would become too big to be as effective as they were when new. They appear to range between around £3.75 to £4, so they're not that expensive but are a little more expensive than I'd like to pay if I'd need to replace them regularly. I personally think the ones that are a tied piece of elasticated fabric work better for me.

Invisibobbles are now available in Boots and you can pick them up on the Feelunique and Glossybox websites.

Have you tried Invisibobbles?

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