NOTD: Nails Inc - Motcomb Street


Today has been labelled 'Black Saturday' by marketing gurus and having spent the better part of this morning stocking up on last minute Christmas things, I can certainly say that I agree!  The centre of town has been chaos today!  Anyway, I thought I'd post a quick NOTD of the nail polish that has been gracing my nails recently and seems rather apt for a Black Saturday.  It's Nails Inc's Motcomb Street; one of those beautiful 'blackened blues' that are always popular throughout A/W, and quite possibly one of my favourite magazine freebies of the year.  If you like the shade of this but would prefer a more natural alternative, then check out Zoya's Cynthia which is pretty similar.

What are you wearing on your nails this weekend?

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Winter Skin Saviour: Laidbare Butter Me Up Organic Shea Body Butter

 Laidbare Butter Me Up Organic Shea Body Butter* (250ml, £11.99, link)

I recently did some promo photos for the natural British brand Laidbare, and they kindly sent me their whole range of products to try out as a thank you.  One product that I decided to use straight away was their Butter Me Up Organic Shea Body Butter which is perfect for dry winter skin.  

It comes packaged in a huge 250ml tub and as I unscrewed the lid, I was hit by a gorgeous scent of jasmine which made me want to use it even more (if I could have shrunk myself down to fit into the actual tub Alice In Wonderland style, I probably would have!).  The formula contains key ingredients such as Organic Shea Butter, Rosehip Oil, Vitamin C and Avocado Oil to intensely soften, renew and thoroughly hydrate dry and sensitive skin.  As you can imagine this is a thick body cream, but has a much lighter and whipped texture to it than traditional body butters like those you get from The Body Shop.  

When I applied it after a shower, it sunk in easily and left my skin feeling soft and pampered.  That jasmine fragrance that I mentioned earlier is part of Laidbare's 100% natural signature scent and is a blend of jasmine, bergamot, patchouli and vertiver .  It's quite strong when you first apply it and does linger, but personally I think it's lovely and really relaxing.  I'd recommend this to anyone who is looking for a daily scented body moisturiser to use during the winter months.

Laidbare products are free from synthetic fragrances and colours, as well as chemical ingredients such as sulfates, parabens and phthalates.

 Have you tried anything from Laidbare?


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Days 11 & 12 of the 12 Days of Christmas.



My sister teaches 6th grade and I have learned {through her} that teachers LOVE LOVE LOVE getting gift cards.  It's something they can actually USE! 

{Unlike the items in my sister's hutch full to the brim of random candles and other doo-dads students have given her in years past}.

At the beginning of the school year, I send in a little form for the teacher's to fill out  with their very FAVORITE things....food, restaurants, shopping places, etc.  

This way....I always know where to grab a gift card from!

Cute Toilet Paper Christmas Gift idea.


My cute friend Carrie gave this to me the other day and it was TOO CUTE not to share!
The poem attached to it killed me!
Very clever.


Day 10 of the 12 Days of Christmas.


A bag full of Cuties!



Advent Calendars: Days 17- 20


I was really naughty and took advantage of the half-price offer on the Latest In Beauty YOU advent calendar (I blame Sandra from Beauty Balm for giving me a heads up on it!).  It's packed full of exciting goodies that I can't wait to try out and I'm so happy that I bought it.  For days 17-20, I opened up:-

Nicky Clarke Instant Calmer Shine Balm (30ml) - My hair is naturally frizzy and uncontrollable so I'm more than happy to give this a go, plus it's a handbag friendly size.

Steamcream (full size!!!) - I love Steamcream (check out my review of it here) and it's one of those multi-purpose moisturisers that always come in handy during winter.  I already had two backups of this in my stash, so I'm pleased I have a third now.

Yardley English Rose Deodorising Body Fragrance (75ml) - I don't use aerosol deodorants, so this is going to be passed onto my mum.

Eve Lom Rescue Mask (15ml) - I've wanted to try Eve Lom's skincare for absolutely ages so I was thrilled to open up this today.  Can't wait to give it a go!


In my Ciate advent calendar I opened up:- Power Dressing, Candyshop Caviar Pearls, Cookies And Cream and Magic Carpet.  Loving the look of that glittery Magic Carpet at the mo, might be my NYE nail polish this year?


And last but not least, in my Liz Earle* advent calendar I opened up:-  Energising Body Wash (15ml), Foot Scrub (15ml), Foot Repair Moisturiser (15ml) and Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion (50ml).  Interested to try the first three out as they're new to me, and I'm really happy to have a travel size of Eyebright as my current full size bottle of it is nearly all used up.


Have you been enjoying your advent calendars this year?

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Avenue 32: A Makeover for your Make-Up

There’s no better time than the beginning of a new season, or the holidays, to undergo a beauty overhaul to update your look and cosmetic accessories.  The winter months bring cold weather and cloudy skies, which can leave our skin dry and pale.  In addition to changing your moisturiser, you should also swap out your foundation, bronzer and other outdated makeup – how can you not resist with all the shimmery and colourful holiday palettes that are out?

Speaking of outdated, how is your makeup bag looking?  Have you been carrying the same one around for years that it’s starting to fray?  Do you have to keep it shut with a safety pin because the zipper is nonfunctional?  Is it completely marked up with lines from lip liners and eye pencils and blotches of spilled mascara?  Maybe it’s time to update your bag too.


If your makeup bag is just hanging on by a thread, then replacing it is nonnegotiable.  Whether you purchase it or add it to your Christmas wish list, do yourself a favor and pick out a new, trendy bag that to accompany your revamped appearance.  There are absolutely no excuses, because there is a bag for everybody.


Designer Diva


If you love your name brands and designer bags, then this Phillip Lim 3.1 Minute Cosmetic Bag fits the bill.  It has a sleek design and spacious interior.  Plus, the plum and white leather décor is the perfect complement to any winter outfit, if you choose to use it as a clutch.


Multitasker
 

Nowadays, makeup bags are multipurpose.  They store your lipstick, concealer, powder and other necessities, and they serve as a fashion handbag.  The leather Salvador Kate Mini bag by Paula Cademartori is fashion-forward and practical.  The separate compartments are perfect for storing makeup; while it’s detailed stitching and silver hardware make it appropriate for any outfit or event.

Carryall


You know the girl – the one who has the cosmetic bag the size of a suitcase filled with blush, bronzer, mascara, every conceivable shade of eye shadow and lip gloss.  Maybe you are that girl.  Well hey, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared!  Right?  If you carry a lot with you, then go for something like this Bobbi Brown Organizer which has holders for brushes and removable pouches.
 

Glam Gal

Nothing is as glamorous as a sparkles and glitter. If you like your bag to make a statement, then go for a showstopper like the sequined cases by Stephanie Johnson.  The metallic colors and tassel zipper adds the right amount of shine and glitz to a cold winter night.


Day to Night


With the holidays approaching, the days are long and the nights are even longer.  From work, to happy hour to late-night parties and the morning after, keeping your makeup fresh and smudge free is easier when you have this Two in One Phillip Lim bag.  The clear Perspex case is perfecting for toting your makeup around during the day, while the mini golden pouch insert serves as a chic clutch for a night out.


This is a sponsored post.

5 Popular German Beauty Brands


Since getting back from Frankfurt, I've been chatting to a few of you about European beauty brands, discussing what you look out for when you go abroad and which products you pick up that you can't readily get hold of here in the UK.  I love discovering foreign brands, so I thought I'd compile a quick 'top five' of the best beauty brands that you should look out for when you visit Germany.  Where possible, I've also listed where you can get these brands in the UK too, but given the exchange rate, if you're visiting Germany anyway, it's probably going to be much cheaper to buy them there!


1. ARTDECO

ARTDECO is a very popular high-end cosmetics brand in Germany and is described as the country's No.1.  It had huge displays in every department store that I visited in Frankfurt and is often available in higher end pharmacies as well.  ARTDECO are well known for their 'beauty boxes' which are essentially make up your own palettes, and you'll often see women with one of these in their hands at the display stands as they pour over the shade selections.  A beauty box is basically a sleek empty magnetic palette available in various sizes, which you can then customise with your own choice of eyeshadows and blushers.  As you can see from the first photo above, there's an enormous range to choose from!  

Aside from the beauty boxes, when I spoke to one of ARTDECO's make-up artists she said that the recent Dita Von Teese collection was also selling well, particularly the lipsticks .  Prices for ARTDECO's products generally start from around £5-6 for an eyeshadow refill and go up to around £30-35 for a liquid foundation.

Available in the UK?  Yes, you can purchase ARTDECO online via Debenhams, Beautybay & Tender Loving Skincare. 


2. SANS SOUCIS

SANS SOUCIS is a German natural brand which uses thermal spring water from Baden-Baden (the much loved and revered spa town in Baden-Württemberg) in its products.  It uses this unique selling point to mainly promote its range of botanical and mineral rich skincare line, but has also branched out into offering high quality natural cosmetics (as pictured).  Prices are mid-high, but there are often good special offers on new products.

Available in the UK?  I can't find anywhere that stocks SANS SOUCIS over here.  If you know anywhere, please comment below and I'll add it to this post.


 3. WELEDA

Oh Weleda!  If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I absolutely love Weleda.  This Swiss/German hybrid of a brand is incredibly well known amongst fellow natural/green beauty lovers because Weleda have such a strong ethos about their products being natural and never being tested on animals.  Their simple yet effective products come in many forms, with several ranges being available to suit everyone's tastes, and they stock everything related to bath, body, skin and haircare.  I'm a big fan of their cult multi-purpose cream Skin Food and their Pomegranate range.  Prices are mostly around the mid-high range mark, with skincare being on the higher end.

Available in the UK?  Yes, Weleda are available in larger Boots and health food stores, as well as online (Feel Unique, Amarya, Naturisimo, LoveLula etc).


4. DR. HAUSCHKA

I always like to think of Dr. Hauschka as a natural version of Clinique or Estee Lauder; their displays are very similar and I often find their sales assistants to have the same kind of mannerisms too oddly enough!  Dr. Hauschka pride themselves on creating natural and sustainably sourced products that work wonders on the skin and its these ethics (and products that deliver real results) which has seen Dr. Hauschka become a firm favourite of royalty and many celebrities.  Primarily known for their skincare and luxury bath products, they also have a make-up range which I really want to try out.

Dr. Hauschka's quality doesn't come cheap; prices start from around £10 for a body wash to around £60-65 for skincare treatments.  That said, I always find that the SAs are more than happy to give you free samples of products to try if you ask nicely, and many of their skincare products are available to purchase as handy travel sizes.

Available in the UK?  Yes, you buy Dr. Hauschka from John Lewis, Debenhams and Harvey Nichols to name a few, as well as the usual online sites like Feel Unique, Amarya and Beautybay etc.


5.  LAVERA

Lavera are quite similar to Weleda, but better suited to those on a budget, with most things being very purse friendly typical high-street prices.  They stock a fantastic range of great quality toiletries, so it's a good place to start if you happen to lose your luggage on the way to Germany!  You'll find everything here from skincare, bodycare, haircare and all the things in between.  Like Weleda, most of their products are set out in ranges, so you have their Basis sensitive range where I'd recommend their amazing All Round Cream, and then their Honey range, Rose range and so on. 

They also have a good range of make-up which is well worth looking into as well.   The prices for Lavera were significantly cheaper in Germany than in the UK, so I stocked up a couple of bits!

Available in the UK?  Yes, some larger health food stores like Holland and Barrett stock it, as well as online via Pravera, Naturisimo, Amarya and Cult Beauty.

I also want to give a quick mention to the budget make-up brand, Essence, who have a fab range of nail polishes for less than 2euros a piece!


Do you love any of these German beauty brands?
Have you ever visited Germany / would you like to?

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Christmas Parties...Coombs style.


Last weekend our house was full of love, laughter and some of our very dearest friends.
We held parties on both Friday and Saturday night and I decorated the same for each evening.
{Do you blame me?}

Here's a peek at some of the details....


I originally spied this cute place setting idea on Pinterest and then later found that it was from my friend's sister who has oodles of ideas on her new website HERE.

Super easy...you can find the grapevine wreaths for 99 cents at Michaels.


These porcelain napkin rings are some of my greatest treasures when it comes to entertaining.
In the past, I've filled them with fresh gerber daisies, red roses, and now....
pinecones and berries. 
 Very versatille yes they are!


Paper plates purchased at Hobby Lobby.
Gingham napkins purchased at Ikea.


We LOVE entertaining fun friends in our home.
This past weekend was no exception either. 
I always pray that our home will be a place that others enjoy gathering.

There were definitely some good laughs shared with the white elephant gift exchanges...


Attached with this tag were two pink deflated balloons.
So. Funny.


"No need to frown...just get rid of the brown."
Classy!


Who doesn't need an OH MY DOG calendar for the year?
{Oh wait...ME!}

And Joe scored BIG time with his 52 ounce insulated QT mug.
RIGHT up his alley. And mine! {Might have to steal it when he's not looking!}

As for the party favors...


Rolls of wrapping paper with a tag I made that says:
"WRAP yourself up in the holiday spirit!"

Here's a little tip.  
After Christmas, wrapping paper goes on sale for like 75-90% off.
Keep your eye on it and pick some up for the following year.

They make great favors, hostess gifts, etc.

Now...onto Grant's baptism/birthday on Saturday.
Such a busy time of year but I wouldn't have it any other way.
We are blessed!

Day 9 of the 12 Days of Christmas.



Grant and Carson's teachers {might}love soda as much as I do.
Reason # 1,098,287 that I LOVE them!

Review: New CID I-Flick Double Ended Liner

 New CID I-Flick Double Ended Liner* (£16.64, link)

I'm always interested to try out new eyeliners and perfect that much coveted cat-eyed / winged flick.   Packaged in a slim and compact pen, New CID's I-Flick Double Ended Liner looked like a perfect eyeliner for me to experiment with.   It features a liquid liner on one end and a retractable kohl liner on the other, so I happily gave it a go.


The liquid liner end at first delivers a smooth, fine link of greyish-black, but this can be built up easily so you can choose whether you want just a subtle line or a much more intense, thicker and blacker one.  The formula is wet as expected, but it quickly dries.  The shape of the tip is super easy to use, making it ideal for beginners to play with (or those who struggle with applying liquid liner like I do!).  The only thing I didn't like about the liquid was that it didn't last long (2-3 hours max) so you'd need to re-apply it frequently.  Setting it with a black eyeshadow and layering it over a good primer like UDPP helped to prolong its wear time considerably, but even then, it still had a tendency to start smudging and fading. 

The kohl liner end is smooth, soft and creamy but comes out as more of a very dark brown than a true black, and you really have to layer it for it to show up black.  Sadly, I thought the pigmentation of the kohl was pretty poor and like the liquid end, it just didn't last long on the eyes either before smudging and then disappearing.

For me personally, I like to use eyeliners that are very pigmented and last for more than a few hours, so I wouldn't recommend this, but if you're looking for a liquid eyeliner that you can experiment with and isn't scary to use (i.e doesn't come out in a jet black thick line the first time you use it!), then it might be more suitable for you.


Available from Hairtrade.com


Have you tried anything from New CID?
What liquid eyeliners are your favourite/ would you recommend?

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Day 8 of the 12 Days of Christmas.


Who couldn't use a little extra festive wrapping paper with only 8 {gulp!} days left til Christmas!?!



This Weekend:

* Started out on a somber note as the news of Sandy Hook elementary school unfolded.
I found out WHILE I was in Carson's class, helping the kids make snow globes.
There are no words really.
Praying, praying, praying for those families affected.
So. So. Sad.

* We hosted party #1 of 2 parties this past weekend on Friday night.
We had all of my young women leaders and their spouses over for dinner, games and a white elephant gift exchange.

{Pictures to follow soon with all of the party details!}

We noshed on authentic mexican food ala my sweet and adorable cleaning lady Isabelle.
To die for: tamales, burritos, beans, rice, and then salads, homemade beef tauqitos, peppermint brownies and peppermint chocoalte trifle.

* The kids had the time of their lives that same night with a Christmas party and sleep-over at Grandma Marilyn's and Grandpa Scott's house.
They were treated to gingerbread houses, treats galore and PRESENTS! 
How lucky are THEY?
And how lucky were Joe and I to actually get a FULL NIGHT'S SLEEP with no interruptions in the middle of the night?!?

It. Was. Bliss.

* Saturday we prepped for party #2.
That party, we were joined with some of our very dearest friends...also known as our Recipe Club-ers.

We served Christmas breakfast for dinner and everyone came in their jammies.  
Games were played, white elephant gifts were exchanged and we laughed and laughed and laughed.  

I know I say it all the time but...we have been SO blessed with such great friends.  
Near and far.

* Churchey-church on Sunday.

* My sis and nephew came over for dinner {leftover tamales..Mmmmm} and chocolate chip cookies.

Needless to say...the kids were so exhausted from ALL of their fun this past weekend, they went RIGHT down to bed at 7:00 on Sundy night. 

And Joe and I weren't far behind.

Amie Skincare Review: Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash, Bright Eyes Very Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover, Morning Dew Matte Finish Moisturiser & Spring Clean Cooling Clay Mask


I first came across Amie's skincare range via Tania's blog a while ago, so I was delighted when the brand got in touch with me to ask if I'd like to try out some of their products.  Although Amie's budget-friendly range is primarily marketed towards teens, it'll work for anyone who has troublesome skin like I do, so I was excited to give these a go. 

 Amie Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash* (150ml, £4.95, link)

The first product I tried was their Purifying Facial Wash; a creamy based cleanser that's ideal to use first thing in the morning.  I used this in the shower as part of my getting ready routine, and it was really lovely to use.  It has a very subtle / delicate fresh scent to it and the cleanser made my skin feel soft and thoroughly clean when I got out, without any dryness or tightness at all.  This would be great if you have oily skin because the soap-free formula balances everything out without stripping away your natural oils.  Made with 96.8% natural ingredients.

 Amie Morning Dew Matte-Free Finish Moisturiser* (100ml, £4.95, link)

I'm still on the fence about how I feel about this one.  It's probably because it's winter and my skin needs a bit more hydration that it usually does, but this didn't work so well for me.  It has a lovely subtle scent like the face wash and made my skin feel soft, but ultimately it just didn't wow me.  I'll be sure to give this another go in S/S next year however to see if I feel any differently about it then.  Made with 90.8% natural ingredients.

 Amie Bright Eyes Very Gentle Make-Up Remover* (125ml, £4.75, link)

Bright Eyes is an oil-free, non-greasy, make-up remover that lives up to its name of being very gentle to use.  It removed most of my make-up easily, but sadly struggled to shift my stubborn waterproof mascara.  Despite this, I'll still enjoy using the rest of the bottle up because it doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes and does an excellent job with the rest of my make-up.  Made with 98.9% natural ingredients.

Amie Spring Clean Cooling Clay Mask* (10ml sachets or 75ml tube for £4.95, link)

My favourite product is definitely the Spring Clean Cooling Clay Mask.  I was so impressed with this that I've already added the full size tube to my xmas wishlist; simply put it's amazing!  The mask has a deep cleansing effect that really draws out all of your impurities making it ideal to use if you battle with breakouts.  It has a lovely cooling sensation and like the rest of the range, smells subtly fresh too, with lots of mint.  I got two uses out of one sachet, so I'm saving up the extra sachet to use when my skin plays up again.  Made with over 94% natural ingredients.

Amie products contain no parabens, mineral-oils, petrochemicals, sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate.  They also have no ingredients of genetically modified origin, animal testing or animal ingredients and the range is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.  Available to buy online and from Boots. 


Have you tried anything from Amie? 

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2012 Christmas Neighbor Gifts.


Awhile back I made up a batch of my friend Molly's recipe for HOT FUDGE.
Oh. My.

I instantly knew that that recipe was worthy of being doubled, tripled and quadrupled to share with some of my favorite people this holiday season.
{I'll be sharing the actual recipe later this week. It's so good you could just eat it with a spoon.  Who needs ice-cream anyways? Ok....I do.  Peppermint Dreyer's ice-cream to be exact.}




And who DOESN'T think of the movie "A Christmas Story" 
when they hear the word F-U-D-G-E?!?

Instantly my little idea came to life. 

I ordered the Triple Dog Dare You tags from my friend Michelle HERE.
{You may remember her awesome-ness with my cookie dough tags last year HERE.}

I ordered the round OH FUDGE TAGS HERE.

They are made and delivered and I am a happy little elf!

Day 7 of the 12 Days of Christmas.


...because who doesn't LOVE a cold one from Sonic?!?

Day 6 of the 12 Days of Christmas.