Monday, 30 November 2015

handmade advent calendar

I was prompted to start writing  this post as I finished off all my Christmas shopping last week, a bit early perhaps but I am going away for 2 weeks in December so instead of leaving it late and joining the Christmas shopping rush as I would normally do, I have done most of my shopping online, I found a great website that has a lot of handmade items similar to what you would find at a craft fair or Christmas market with something for everyone and I am cheating a little by getting all the gifts shipped directly to the recipients.

Anyway back on topic....
Last year at work we decided to do something different instead of secret santa so after a looking for some inspiration on google we decided to make our own advent calendar.

You will need:
24 loo rolls
24 pieces of A5 paper in colours of your choice
Stapler and staples
Double sided sticky tape
Decorations such as stickers, glitter etc
Pen or number stickers
Shredded tissue paper

Heres how:
1. The first step is to staple one end of the loo roll shut to create a pocket. I used two staples spaced evenly apart, and partly covered them with double sided sticky tape.
2. Line the paper up with the bottom giving a gap of about a millimetre
3. Fold the paper over from one side covering about 2/3 of the roll (Ensure the paper can fold over as shown) and press down to secure against the tape

4. Now fold the other side of the paper over, this will need to be cut to size in a slight diagonal line and secured near the bottom with tape again.

5. The top will also need to be cut down. This can be as much as you want depending what you plan to put inside the pockets. I cut them down to a few millimetres.

The pockets will then be ready to decorate as you wish, this is the perfect time to get the kids involved.

The pockets will also need numbered, again it is up to you how you do this. I chose to write a number discretely in the bottom corner though the numbers could also be part of the decoration.

There are a few options to display/hang the calendar.
The first is to use cork/display boards
At work we have the advantage of having wall mounted display boards to pin the pockets to. A cork board can be brought to pin the pockets to and this could also be decorated using wrapping paper, tinsel etc.
Option two uses string or ribbon.
Small decorative pegs or staples can be used attach the string or ribbon along the back of the pockets to create strings which can be tied or pinned to shelves or a another suitable location.

The last step is to fill them. Last year at work we all had a budget of £5 to buy 5 gifts to fill the pockets (Examples from our calendar last year included a small keyring torch, Christmas earrings and luxury sample sizes of cosmetics such as nail varnish). This year we are filling them with our favourite chocolates. The pound shops are great places to look for small inexpensive gifts to fill the calendar, sample sizes of cosmetics, skincare and toiletries are also excellent. If your gift doesn't fit don't worry, simply use some of the left over paper to create tags detailing what the gift is and pop that into the pocket instead. We stuffed shredded tissue paper at the bottom of the pockets to ensure the tags did not fall out the bottom, the shredded paper also helped the gifts sit nicely in the pockets.

example from threadedbasil
example from Serenity You

Our Advent Calendar from 2014

Our Advent Calendar 2015

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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

M&S - The Ultimate Beauty Advent Calendar

Having had a beauty advent calendar for the first time last year, I am hooked! After scrolling through a very comprehensive list of all the beauty related advent calendars available this year I narrowed my options down to a few budget friendly options and picked the M&S calendar for the sneak peek of products I saw. The Marks and Spencer Ultimate Beauty Advent Calendar is worth over £200 but can be brought for just £25 when spending £25 in beauty.
I have not opened many of my boxes but all the products are listed on the back of the box so if you want to keep the contents a surprise you have been warned. 

The contents include Pixi glow tonic, Diego Dalla Palma The Lipstick n.46, Mio Liquid Yoga Restorative Bath Soak, Philip Kingsley Elasticizer and many more well known brands including M&S own brand Autograph

Most of the products are luxury samples so this is a great way to try some different brands without splashing out. The packaging is gorgeous and inside each box the products are carefully wrapped in purple tissue paper. I cannot wait till December and if you follow me on Instagram (ellenloves) I will be posting throughout the Christmas period.

I spent my £25 on:
NUXE holiday travel kit - £13.50 

Autograph All in 1 Nail Varnish with Argan Oil in Minx - £6
Ragdale Hall Relax Restful Pillow & Body Mist - £5
Eye Mask - £5 (but free on BOGOF)

I am flying off to sunnier climes shortly so kept that in mind when choosing my products. I already know that I love the Crème fraîche de beauté and have been wanting to try other products from NUXE so this ticked two boxes as everything is travel sized. The eye mask and pillow spray were brought in the hope that they will help me sleep better. I always used a relaxing lavendar pillow spray as a teenager to help me drift off.
I can't resist trying a new polish and this one claims to not require a base or top coat! They do not have any claims for the added Argan Oil and Vitamin E though I would assume they help with strengthening your nails!? We shall see how it fares.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Current go to makeup

As we move into Autumn/Winter and the mornings are darker I find I want a really easy make up routine where I can just grab the products, quickly apply and be out the door all before I'm properly awake! 

Currently I am reaching for: Primer - Maybelline Baby Skin Pore Eraser Foundation - Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude Foundation in Ivory (10) Under eye corrector - Garnier BB Eye Roll On in Light Concealer -Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Fair (15) Powder - Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder Peach Glow Blush - Makeup Revolution The Matte Blush in Fusion Contour & Highlight - Sleek Face Contour Kit in Light Brows - Maybelline Eyebrow Satin in Dark Brown & Model Co Brow Gel in Medium/Dark Eyes - Maybelline 24HR Color Tattoo Creamy Mattes in Crème De Nude (93), Makeup Revolution single shadows in "Touch Me", "Hung Up" and "MMMM" and Essence All About Vintage eyeshadow palette
Mascara - Topshop Doe Eyed Lashes
Lips - Makeup Revolution "Looking Ahead" or Maybelline Divine Wine matt lipstick

For application I use a damp beauty sponge to blend the cream and liquid products in, the Real Techniques Powder Brush to apply a light amount of powder to my T-Zone and The Body Shop Face & Body Brush for my contour. I use a brush (from ebay) for my blush and if I feel like it I use the Real Techniques fan brush to apply a light amount of highlight. Brows are done quickly, filling in any sparse areas with the eyebrow pencil followed by the brow gel to set them in place.

When it comes to eyes I tend to go with my trusted trio and the vintage palette from essence if I want a touch of shimmer. Though if I have more time I do pull out the chocolate bar palette for MUR for something more dramatic/smoky. I always curl my lashes and then apply

For lips I tend to flick between just a lip balm, something neutral or more dramatic depending on my mood.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Makeup Revolution Haul

After taking advantage of the Halloween offer at the weekend my parcel arrived today from Makeup Revolution which I thought I would share with you.

For those of you that haven't heard of Makeup Revolution, where have you been? Get yourselves over to their website or down to your nearest Superdrug and check them out. They are an inexpensive make up brand that do dupes of the high end brands very well. They also claim to be cruelty free however they do not appear on the leaping bunny list (which if you don't know about go and read this article here by LBQ).

Anyway without further ado here it is:
The Haul

Excellent Packaging

This all started because having seen an email with an offer code and knowing I wanted a new matte blush for the winter I headed over to MUR website and £42.45 later (well actually minus 10% the total was actually £33.05 including shipping) 12 products where winging their way to me.

After reading some blogs and looking at swatches I went for "The Matte Blush" in Fusion which is a soft nude pink and is very soft and blendable, shown in the picture as a harsh swatch on the left and blended out softly on the right.

  Blush swatch              Contour - Normal Light       Contour - with flash

I then had a peruse of the new section and finally added the contour palette (after months of deliberating) to my basket after reading some really good reviews. It appears to be a very good multitasker with both dark and light matte and highlight shades that can double up as eyeshadows. Just from swatching the products onto the back of my hand they seem very soft and pigmented and I can't wait to try it out.

I also selected the Pro Blend Sponge to try as I have been really enjoying using my Real Techniques make up sponge and wanted to try others on the market. It seems soft but as I have yet to use it I really can't comment on whether it is actually good yet so I will report back.

I purchased several eye products which included an eyeshadow single in Temptress which is a rich leafy green with shimmer. I think this colour will be gorgeous as a liner with a smoky brown eye.

I also selected two of their eye dusts (i.e. loose pigments) in the shades Dynamic (rust/bronze) and Agonise (silver/taupe) which I think are really pretty and are an easy way to add a pop of colour to the eye.

The last eye product that I picked up was the Rose Gold Awesome Metals Eyeshadow which I am curious to try. It comes with a liquid eye primer and a mixing tray (though nothing to do the mixing with!). The shadow is slightly gel like in texture and a gorgeous colour that is more straight gold.

I also picked up two lip products. The I ♡ Make Up Lip Lava in Tremor after seeing Miss Budget Beauty talking about it and Salvation Intense Lacquer in "nothing like you and I" (which sadly broke the second time I opened it so whilst it is still usable it is no longer portable) Tremor is a typical pretty pink that isn't too bright and the lacquer is a "my lips but better" type shade with peach/coral undertones. I hope they will both wear well.

I took the opportunity to purchase a few products from the recently added DGJ organics range and will do a full post on those soon, all I can say at the moment is that they smell rather nice.

I can't wait to try everything out and will hopefully do an update at a later date.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Nailbox - September 2015

For those of you unfamiliar with nailbox it is a monthly nail polish subscription box. Every month you get something different, at least 3 nail polishes and then a few extra little bits.

September’s theme was Creepy Colours and included well known brands Nails Inc and Elegant Touch and two that I have not encountered before; True Brit and Sinful.

Sinful Nails are a UK based company who don't test on animals. They sell via selected wholesale outlets and can also be found at The polish included is called Show Off which is described as a Luxurious dark purple pearl. It has what I would term a "normal" brush (i.e. not anything special) and I did two coats in the swatches to get full opacity. Personally I would not say it was that dark a purple but I do think it is gorgeous and will be wearing it soon.
True Brit London are another UK based company currently only available online at Their polishes are 6-free and include Vitamin E, Elderflower & Rose extract for "the ultimate in decadence", whether this helps the nails at all remains to be seen. Taxi Cab is a classic black polish that is opaque with two coats. The square cap pulls off to reveal a normal (and easier to hold cap) and has a fairly narrow flat brush which I personally find easier to paint with.

The last polish is from Nails Inc, which can be found in many department stores such as Debenhams and House of Fraser. This is Queen Victoria Street which I would describe as a teal shade and has a "normal" brush. I am not the biggest fan of Nails Inc as I find they are very prone to chipping. This was practically opaque in one coat but I would always do two.

This months box included the Toughflex base coat from Elegant Touch which they say "creates a strong adhesive bond between the natural nail bed and nail enamel, acting as a primer enabling longer lasting wear and is enriched with triple complex keratin to strengthen weak, brittle nails and protect against chipping." As someone who spends most of the day typing away on a computer I will be putting the chip claim to the test!

The box also contained a leaflet about Elegant Touch Nail Apothecary range, which is 6 different nail that can be teamed up for perfect results. The packing resembles potion bottles with dropper style caps which I think would look quirky all lined up together.

Also included were a set of non branded brushes perfect for nail art. There were two different 2 flat brushes in different widths a fan brush, a small brush for detailed work, a striping brush and a dotting tool.

 Worth it?

Box cost - £15 (based on a month to month subscription)
Toughflex Base Coat - £6.95
Show Off - £7.95
Taxi Cab - £12.50
Queen Victoria Street - £11
Various nail brushes - (unknown)
Total - £38.40
Saving - £23.40

Overall yes I feel this box had plenty of options for nail art and the tools to get you started, though I would have liked a glow in the dark polish to fit the Halloween theme. 

Unique ToughFlex technology in this base coat creates a strong adhesive bond between the natural nail bed and nail enamel, acting as a primer enabling longer lasting wear.
Enriched with triple complex keratin to strengthen weak, brittle nails and protect against chipping. - See more at: