Inspiration: {Luxury Gifts for Moms}

{... a few of my favourite and new-found luxuries, to spoil yourself or for others to spoil you... for more details, visit my guest post at DotcomsforMoms, xo}

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November Empties


This month I've used up the following, all except the Chanel are travel/sample sizes:-

Cowshed Moody Cow Balancing Body Lotion - a light, non-greasy body lotion that smells gorgeous, has essential oils of rose geranium, linden blossom and frankincense. I think this was a magazine freebie. Repurchase? Yes, though I'll probably try some of the other scents by Cowshed first.

Crabtree and Evelyn Lavender Body Lotion & Hand Cream - these were OK, but smelt a bit too artificial for my liking. Repurchase? No.

Chanel Protective Base Coat - this was an impulse buy, it's a very sub standard base coat and no better than something from Barry M. Repurchase? No.

Cetuem SCR Gold Illuminating Mask - a fab exfoliating mask that I got from Boudoir Prive, featured in last month's favourites. Repurchase? Maybe, if I'm treating myself as it's pretty expensive.

Dermalogica Renewal Lip Complex - this was lovely to use but the full size is just way too expensive for me to justify buying! Repurchase? No.

REN Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel Mask - I was expecting this to be like a peel-off mask but instead it was like applying fruity marmalade to your face, strange but made my skin feel clean and soft afterwards. Repurchase? Maybe.

Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream in Light - I seem to be in the minority of people who don't love this. It just didn't suit my oily/combination skin and felt more like an average tinted moisturiser than a proper BB. Repurchase: No.

What are your beauty empties this month?

Christmas Table Settings.

I'm hosting a couple of Christmas shin-digs at my house this holiday season.  Christmas, afterall, IS my favorite time to entertain!  Better Homes and Garden is always one of my favorite go-to places for inspiration.  Here's a look at some of my favorites:

Small tree name tag

LOVING THIS at each place setting!

Closeup hot pink & burlap napkin

Still such a huge fan of burlap!  Who'd have thought to use it as a napkin ring!?

Clear rock candy on plate

This white rock candy looks so CLASSY on the plate.  LOVE.

Closeup place setting

white hydrangea flower table centerpiece

Brilliant.  Red and Green apples on display!!  They say to dip the apple wedges in lemon juice to keep them from browning.

Candy Canes and Carnations Holiday Centerpiece

I'm a big fan of the Red and White color scheme at Christmas time {you should see my house right now!}  This table setting makes me smile.

Christmas centerpiece


Love the possibilities of a glass dome.  My mom has a big one that I always borrow.  Can't borrow it this Christmas though because she has all of HER mother's vintage glass ornaments in them.  It looks stunning.

green ornament table arrangement

Quite possibly my favorite idea OF ALL.  Ornaments used as vases!!! Just remove the little hanger and pop your favorite blooms in!

Boudoir Prive - November 2011


Finally managed to rescue my Boudoir Prive box from Royal Mail, so here's what was in my November box:-


(1) Dead Sea Spa Magik Silky Smooth Body Lotion, 50ml travel size (full size 350ml - £7.70) - "this creamy and silky body lotion will leave your skin feeling deeply hydrated and nourished. It aims to improve elasticity whilst soothing and preventing dryness." This has a nice clean scent to it and does what it promises to do, a simple yet effective body lotion.


(2) Korres Wild Rose 24 Hour Moisturiser, 10ml sample (full size 40ml - £19) - "a 24 hour moisturising and brightening cream. The Wild Rose oil is a natural source of vitamin C and helps repair fine lines and uneven skintone." I have seen lots of great reviews for this and I've loved everything I've tried from Korres so this is a great sample for me to try before considering to buy the full size pot.


(3) Rahua Voluminous Shampoo and Conditioner, 2 x 10ml sachets & 2 x 8ml sachets (full size 275ml - £27/£28.50) - "create thick, glossy and bouncy hair with this 100% natural voluminous shampoo and conditioner. The lemongrass and green tea remove excess oils from the hair, whilst jojoba adds moisture and nourishment." Interested to try these, they sound amazing. I haven't had the best experiences with all natural haircare in the past so I'm hoping these will work for me.


(4) Vinies Ayurveda's Soul Luminous Skin Mask, 2 x 15g sample pots (full size 40g - £32.85) - "as featured on, enhance your complexion with gentle exfoliating and natural skin brightening ingredients to keep your skin glowing all day." I know what you're thinking and I thought it too, it's not the most appealing product I've seen! Erm yeah.... it smells really weird too. I'll try it, luckily you only need to leave it on for 3-5 mins!


(5) Studiomakeup Rich Hydration Lipstick in Tender Pink, full size (£12.25) - Not really my colour, but if you like nicely pigmented frosty pinks then you'll probably love this. The packaging is very sleek and has a cute click mechanism.

Summary: I know a lot of people don't like Boudoir Prive, but for me personally I really like them, especially the general quality of the items included. They always have products in their boxes that I want to try and will use, and I'm SO happy that this box doesn't have perfume samples in it!

NOTD: Revlon - Facets Of Fuchsia


You've probably seen this nail polish a million times already but I still love it.

November Book List


A recap of what I've read this month:-

Ariel by Sylvia Plath - This is, in my opinion, Plath's best collection of poems. It's a slim volume which I have read many times and probably will read many times more in the future. My favourites in this are 'Daddy', 'Lady Lazarus', 'Death & Co' and 'Wintering', although the entire collection is really quite amazing. The Giver by Lois Lowry - The classic YA dystopian novel that I have been meaning to read for such a long time. Really enjoyed it and I can certainly see why it has heavily influenced so many new YA dystopia books. I would have loved to have read this as a kid. Down And Out In London And Paris by George Orwell - An inspired novel which is part-fiction, part-non-fiction (of Orwell's actual time spent in Paris and London) and part-amusing/depressing social/economic narrative of what it's like to be poor. Although poverty is certainly not sugar-coated in the book (it's really warts and all), there is a sort of romantiscism surrounding it, like this very humbling sense of making do with what you have and making the best out of it.

Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky - An extraordinary and eye-opening book that discusses US foreign policy and politics, the Middle East, labour and social movements, mainstream media propaganda techniques, the military-industrial complex and so much more. I am a great admirer of Chomsky's words and would recommend this to as a starting point for anyone interested in his books. Payback For Revenge by Alex Markman - Boring crime-fiction/thriller with bland characters. Won it on Goodreads and wanted to give the author the courtesy of finishing his book, but otherwise probably would have given up on it. Divergent by Veronica Roth - Great YA dystopia, one of the best ones I've read recently and much more focused on the action/adventure side of the story than the typical romance of the others. Can't wait to read the second book when it comes out next year.

The Guardian Review Book of Short Stories 2011 - This was a freebie with The Guardian weekend newspaper which came out recently. A good mix of contemporary short stories covering a range of genres which have elements of politics, history, romance, religion, current affairs, the environment, science-fiction etc. I mainly picked it up because Margaret Atwood had contributed a story to this collection (entitled 'Underbrush Man'), and particularly enjoyed Audrey Niffenegger's 'Moths Of The New World' and Rose Tremain's 'The Closing Door'. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - I'm about 3/4s of the way through this book and although it's quite an epic, slow-paced story, I am enjoying it so far.

Add me on Goodreads for more books & short reviews :)

Mexican Hot Cocoa recipe.

Since my last post all about THIS, I received several inquiry's as to the recipe for this yummy cinnamon-ey chocolate-y goodness.  I verified with my original source {a girl I grew up with in VA whose Mom used to make it for me!} and got the AOK to share it with you.  Lucky you.  Because it is dee-lish.  Enjoy!!!

MASTER MIX of Mexican Hot Cocoa

10 2/3 cup non fat instant dried milk

1 6oz jar powdered non dairy creamer

2 cup powder sugar

1 16oz can instant chocolate drink mix (like nestle quick)

1/2 cup ground cinnamon 

Add 3 Tbs of mix to 1 cup of hot water

Bodhi Ylang Ylang Incensa Sensual Gift Set, Jasmine Falls & Mint The Bath & Shower Therapies


I was introduced to Bodhi through my first Amarya organic beauty box earlier this month, and instantly fell in love with the brand's ethos and their heavenly scented products. Bodhi (meaning 'enlightenment') are an English company who make their products with organic and natural ingredients ethically sourced from sustainable origins and blended with 100% pure essential oils. They have a strong ethos of living in harmony with nature which is reflected in the way that they do not use any 'nasties' in their products: no petrochemicals, sulphates, parabens, phthalates, glycols, PEGs, DEAs, synthetic polymers, synthetic fragrance or colours, palm oil (which is a major eco-disaster ingredient) and animal ingredients. Likewise, their products are tested on humans and not animals. I was very keen to explore more of their wonderful sounding 'botanical therapies' and was kindly sent these four products to try out.

One of my favourite essential oils is Ylang Ylang, so I was more than excited to try out the Ylang Ylang Incensa Sensual Gift Set, which compromises of a full size (250ml) Body Moisturiser and a full size Bath & Shower Therapy. The packaging of this is absolutely gorgeous; very simple and understated but quietly expensive looking at the same time. A matte orchid designed sleeve is wrapped around a thick two-tone brown cardboard box which is made from recycled materials and would be handy to reuse. When I first saw this gift set, I thought that it would be perfect to give to someone who appreciates the finer things in life and who perhaps doesn't like the tackiness of typical Christmas marketed goods.

The Ylang Ylang Incensa scent is created with its title ingredient, Patchouli, Honeysuckle, Neroli and Pink Peppercorn, all blended together to create a heady mix of Oriental inspired luxury. The Bath & Shower Therapy was a delight to use with a little going a long way and my bathroom instantly filled with this glorious scent. Combine with some candles (unscented, you won't be needing any more fragrance!), a glass of wine and a good book, and you have the perfect 'me time' remedy to soak away any stress or worries. It's almost a sin to use this in the shower, but you can if you're rushed for time and the formula works just as well with a shower poof. Personally though, I will be keeping this strictly for long and indulgent bath times. After I had sufficiently turned into something resembling a wrinkled prune, I used the accompanying Body Moisturiser which has organic shea butter, kukui nut and coconut oils, and lathered it all over. It sinks into the skin very well, is light and non-greasy and the scent lingers for hours afterwards. Perfect for people who don't like or don't wear much perfume but still want to smell really nice.


Having already tried the Jasmine Falls Body Moisturiser, I wanted to use it combined with the accompanying Relaxing Bath & Shower Therapy and achieve that same fragrant effect. Jasmine Falls is a blend of Jasmine, Lavender and Vetyver and like the Ylang Ylang Incensa, it's potent and heady in a very good way. As promised, it was a lovely relaxing bath and luxurious to use.

For something completely different to my relaxing and sensual favourite floral blends, I tried the Refreshing Mint The (accent on the e there, my Mac keyboard is playing up) Bath & Shower Therapy which I would recommend using just in the shower for when you need waking up first thing in the morning! The peppermint, marjoram and frankincense in this really refresh and awaken you and I can see why people use it after going to the gym.

Summary: I would recommend Bodhi to anyone who wants to indulge in proper luxury baths with products made from the finest and most natural ingredients. They are expensive but you're paying for some serious quality here. Plus, their products do go a long way and would be perfect for when you want to treat yourself (and someone else) to something extra special. They also have a range that caters for (IMO) everyone, including more typically male friendly scents such as Pep Noir.

The full range of Bodhi products are available online from their website where they offer free UK standard delivery, free gift wrapping service and a free 40ml travel size gift with any purchase.

Disclaimer: Products sent for consideration by brand.

Fashion Inspiration: {Cropped Sequined Pants}

* Alep cropped sequined pants by Antik Batik via Net-a-Porter.

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It's a Wrap.

Thanksgiving has come and gone....can you believe it??  I don't know if it's my age or what...but yesterday's turkey + late night Black Friday + cough and lost voice has contributed to me being incredibly exhausted!!!  I've almost been zombie-esque with my little energy today.  

We spent a fabulous afternoon with Joe's side of the family.  Had I have remembered to bring my camera {duh!} I would've been able to show you Marilyn's beautifully decorated table, the kids' DARLING Pottery Barn turkey hats, the yummy spread of food {there was SO much!} and an outside picture of the entire fam {minus Jenny and Will...we missed you guys!} with the lovely weather that we appreciated SO much yesterday.  Forgetting my camera really gets to me!  

Since I am pretty much a day late and a dollar short on doing any such type of 'Thankful' ya go.  Things I am thankful for this holiday season in no particular order:

* My easy-going, go with the flow, FUN LOVING hubs.  He lets our family have SO MUCH fun together.  He allows us to create memories that we are SO grateful for.  Most wives would cringe at the the thought of their husband working full time from home.  Not me.  I feel completely blessed.  We get to see him A LOT.  And that's a good thing :) He 'gets' my weird quirks....and still loves me all the more for them!

* My energetic three kids.  They wear me out during the day, but dang are they cute.  My very favorite time of the day is at night time when we ALL gather in the boys' bed and 'snuggle'.  We talk about our 'favorite things of the day', laugh, someone usually bonks their head from acting silly, we say our prayers, give kisses, and it continuously reminds me of how much I love them.

* Our families that BOTH live close to us.  How lucky are we??   Again...some might cringe at this idea....but not us.  We LOVE seeing both sides of the fam on a regular basis.  Our kids have the BEST grandparents around!!!

* Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi and Diet Dr. Pepper.  Yes, all three.  I'll take what I can get when I'm in a pinch.  Thank you carbonated goodness for keeping me sane.

* Sunny AZ.  Man I love it here.  We are SO lucky to have such NICE weather.  Yes, the summers are brutal...but the rest of the year seems to always make up for it.  While the rest of the country is freezing their nads off, we have our windows open and are playing at the park.  Lucky indeed.

* Grateful for my beliefs.  It keeps me strong and gives me faith.  Not to mention...I get to work with some pretty amazing and talented teenage girls who are such a light in my life.

I could go on.  But I'll spare you the gushiness.  Just feeling incredibly blessed.  And so are my kids right now as I've lost my voice and can barely talk! {Wink!!}

Jewelry Inspiration: {Goldplated Feathered Earrings}

{... lovely goldplated silver feathered earrings by Iosselliani, xo}

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Shoe Inspiration: {Zebra-print Sandals}

{... have always adored zebra-print, coupled with calf-hair and with the added feminine touch of a silk red flower... what's not to love about these gorgeous sandals; also 10% of sales goes to the Jimmy Choo Foundation, which supports a number of women's charities, xo}

* Faye Jimmy Choo zebra-print calf hair sandals via Net-a-porter.

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Lingerie Inspiration: {Tulle & Lace Bra}

{...welcome to the first post of my new blog, Sequins and Tulle, which features lovely items for purchase; today's is Agent Provacteur's Lucienne tulle and lace underwired bra, available at Net-a-Porter... xo}

* image no. 2, here.

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NOTD: Nails Inc - Embankment


This is one of my favourite shades for the current 'vamp' trend that's come around again. It's a deep burgundy red with a very subtle amount of shimmer mixed in. I think Nails Inc may have discontinued it by now as I bought it ages ago, but they have similar colours.

Another fab giveaway win!


I won a giveaway from the lovely Karen who writes AussieGirlBlogs (her blog is great for having all of the latest beauty related sales and offers in one place, saves me so much time when I'm splurging or buying gifts online!). I received a Blistex Raspberry Lemonade Blast lip balm which smells amazing, good enough to eat! I also got some sample sachets which my sister has run off with. I was excited to try the ELF Luscious Liquid Lipstick - I've been wanting to try these out for ages, they're intensely glossy and have a minty flavour to them, swatch below. I think I'll be getting some more of these in the future:-


And I also received this ELF Smoky Eyeshadow Palette:-


The shadows all swatch really nicely so I'm looking forward to playing with these. The purple shade in particular is gorgeous and I think these palettes would be great as little stocking fillers. Thank you Karen for a lovely giveaway!

Christmas 'Neighbor' gifts.

It's one of my VERY favorite weeks of the year.  THANKSGIVING week!  Tonight we deck the Coombs halls.  And trim the tree. {Ok...not really....we have a pre-lit artificial tree that we put up every year}.  The kids will help put on ornaments { much as I'll let em until my OCD kicks in and I have to rearrange everything after they go to bed!} Baking is involved this week for Thanksgiving, of course. heart is all a-flutter for BLACK FRIDAY. very favorite week indeed!

I also like to get a head start on our neighbor/friend gifts, this time of year.  I have some ideas  up my sleeve...excited to get going on em.  Last year we handed out these:

Homemade Mexican Hot Cocoa {my absolute FAVORITE!}

And our very own Coombs Christmas Carols cd...a mix of our very FAVORITE Christmas songs!

We wrapped em up cute in gable boxes and we were good to go.  The kids had SO much fun delivering them to friends and neighbors.

Two years ago we handed out these:

Christmas gumballs!

What ideas do YOU have up your sleeves this year for gift-giving???