Decorating on a Budget

I’ll start this post with something I’ve learned in hindsight: if you’re buying a cheap tree, make sure you don’t buy one that has been netted up in advance.

Pre-packaged trees give you no indication of how they will look when you take off the netting. So you may end up with an adorably ramshackle one, like this:


Hmm. I still need to vacuum those needles.

On the plus side, it’s a real tree so it has that lovely real tree smell. And it only cost me a tenner from Sainsbury’s – as did the LED fairy lights.

That’s another thing I’ve learned in hindsight – supermarkets are brilliant if you’re looking for pretty things at even prettier prices. My tree isn’t very big, so I only needed a few bits, but here’s what I managed to get hold of:


Silver glitter snowflakes – pack of 4, £2.50 from Sainsbury’s.


Candy cane decorations – pack of 6, (6 for you Glen Coco you go Glen Coco), £3 from Sainsbury’s.


Christmas Spice Candle – £2 from Sainsbury’s. This smells much more expensive than it was. I’m a big fan of Jo Malone candles, and tend to find cheap ones to be either so weak you can hardly smell them, or far too sweet and cloying. This one was perfect.


Finally, my boyfriend said I can’t have a tree without putting chocolate on it. I didn’t know this was a thing, but found these little Lindor decorations when I was passing Waitrose the other day. They were just over £3 there (for a 6 pack) and I imagine they can be found cheaper in other shops.

What are your top shops for budget decorating? Have you ever made your own decorations to beat the January blues?

Christmas wishes,

Effie xx


The Under £5 Christmas Gift Guide / How to Make an Advent Calendar



Step 1: If your name is Maddie and you’re my sister, stop reading this immediately. Have you gone? Ok cool.

This year, my sister and I decided to make each other advent calendars. Not the chocolate kind, or the paper kind – the kind where you get a little gift every day in the run up to Christmas.

It all came about after I bought her the Boots beauty advent calendar last year. By way of a return present, she decided to pick up as many gifts as she could for under £2 each, with a slightly nicer one for Christmas Eve. She wrapped them up like a pass-the-parcel, so for every day she opened a door on her Boots advent calendar, I’d unwrap a layer of paper from my Maddie-made one.

It was nice. So this year we’re doing it again. I bought a big box from Lakeland (slightly cheaper and much bigger than the Paperchase ones at £5.99), some wrapping paper, and off I went, bargain hunting.

I think the first stage to getting gifts for under £5 is to look out for the offers. I set myself a £2 limit for every present, only going over on about 3 of them. Here are a few of the bargains I took advantage of this year, to help bulk up my calendar:

The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Hand Sanitiser, Shower Gel, and Body Purée. £2.00, free, and £3.50 respectively, thanks to a handy 3 for 2 offer.

Thorntons’ everlasting 4 for £3 offer also went down a treat (pun intended).


Still buying your Lucky Charms and Peanut Butter Cups in Selfridges? STOP! Tesco and Asda now do great American delicacies at a fraction of the price we used to find them at.

This Reece’s Peanut Butter Tree was 60p, and you can now get a decent sized pack of the cups for the same price. I also picked up these Pretzel M&Ms for £1.50 (thank you Brittany for fuelling my obsession with those after our box swap!) and the Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts (I haven’t seen that flavour before over here) for £1.

Maddie had asked for some BluTack (89p) and a Eyeliner Sharpener (£1.50), both of which I grabbed at half price in Sainsbury’s. On the same trip, I also found a lovely Christmas Spice scented candle for £2. Maddie isn’t into her candles so I got it for me, but it makes a lovely gift if you’re on the hunt! Either way, if you’re on a budget, supermarkets are your friend.


Stationery shops are also a good place to find nice gifts. I got all this from a Paperchase outlet – the little turtle push pins were only £2, and the festive gold nail wraps were reduced from £4 to £1.20. Winner. And never underestimate the joy that 99p stickers bring to grown women – especially when they feature fairy princesses and cute woodland creatures, like these do.


Here are a few random bits I picked up. No girl ever has enough nail varnish remover, and Maddie is no exception, so this mini bottle (£1.60 from Boots) makes a useful and cute gift. Likewise, no girl can resist childhood nostalgia, so this Strawberry Laces hand wash (£1.85 from Boots) and Gingerbread Man cookie cutter (£1.29 from Lakeland) will hopefully go down well.


When I found out that two of Lush’s bath bombs come under the £2 budget (Ickle Baby Bot and Butterbear are both £1.95) I couldn’t resist making a trip there too. I’m going to put this free sample of Buche de Noel (the most Christmassy cleanser I’ve ever seen) in one of the earlier days of the calendar due to the (lack of) price, while the nice bath bombs will come nearer Christmas. Being only £1, Lush’s charity pot has also made an appearance. Handy and charitable. We better recognise.


Finally, I found this in Sainsbury’s for Christmas Eve. Maddie loves cutesy Tim Burton movies, and this seemed like the perfect film for the night before Christmas.

So that’s it! I’ll be wrapping up the presents tonight and numbering them up nicely. I’m very excited!

What are your top tips for Christmas shopping on a budget? Have you ever made your own advent calendar? Do comment and tell me about it!

Christmas love,

Effie xx

A Cheeky Travel Haul!

What beauty blogger worth their salt wouldn’t go mad in various beauty departments at the prospect of going abroad?

Being so obsessed with skincare, hair care, and the best makeup for particular situations, a change of both country and clime is enough to make even the most restrained of us have a bit of a…well, a “moment”.

By the time you lovelies see this I will have already got back from Morocco, but I thought you’d like to see all the things I decided I “needed” for the trip. We all do it, after all. It’s nice to have some solidarity. Ahem.


Sorry about the light in this photo, I’m aware it’s a bit crap. What can I say? Winter is dark and I have no lamps.

Hair Stuff:

Mini Charles Worthington Colour Enhancer Heat and UV Protecting Spray – Obviously, to protect my poor bleached hair from the sun and heat. Hopefully it will do a good job!

The Body Shop Rainforest Moisture Hair Butter – A cheap and cheerful option to keep mes cheveux moisturised in the heat.

OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo and Conditioner – They were less than 100ml, promised to nourish my hair, and most importantly had “Morocco” in the title. Never been one to resist the thematically appropriate, me.

Skin Stuff:

Yes to Grapefruit Correct and Repair Brightening Facial Wipes – Because if I brought my whole cleansing routine on the plane with me, it would never fit in that little plastic bag they give you at the airport. Also, grapefruit smell. Mmm.

Piz Buin Allergy Sun Cream, Factor 30 – This is pretty much the only sun cream that doesn’t bring my poor sister out in a rash, and it smells gorgeous. I always say “like butter”, although I can’t put my finger on what it actually smells like.

Lush Tea Tree Water Toner – An old favourite that I just had to pick up in the mini size. If nothing else, it’ll be lovely and refreshing to spritz on my face if it gets too hot to handle out there.

Sanctuary Spa Brightening Facial Radiance Exfoliator – It was in Boots’s 3 for 2 on travel minis offer. What was I supposed to do?

Mini Palmer’s Cocoa Butter – Another old favourite. It smells beautiful and makes a lovely after sun, as well as completing my 3 for 2 on travel minis.


Blink Contacts Soothing Eye Drops – If you wear daily contact lenses, taking one of these little bottles on trips is much more convenient than carting around a load of saline. Seriously, a godsend!

Sure Cotton Ultra Dry Anti Perspirant – You’re welcome, fellow plane passengers. Do feel free to offer me the same courtesy. It’d be most welcome.


MAC Eye Kohl in ‘Teddy’ – A gorgeous dark brown liner with a touch of bronze shimmer. Pretty and perfect for travel! I’ve had my eye on it for ages – pun not intended.

Samples of Estée Lauder Double Wear Light and MAC Studio Fix Foundations – I probably won’t wear foundation out there, which is why I’m only taking a little sample pot. These are free, just go to your nearest counter and express an interest in trying whatever foundation you fancy. The likelihood is you’ll buy after you try (we’re such easy sells, aren’t we?) so they should be more than happy to give you a little pot to last 7 days.


Tisserand De-Stress Aromatherapy Roller Ball – I was tempted by the This Works version, but managed to hunt down this one for less than half the price. I’ve never really liked flying, but with this on my wrists, Cosmo on my lap, and a Harry Potter audiobook on my iPod, hopefully I’ll feel nice and calm!

What are your favourite products to take with you to travel? Let me know in the comments! Lots of love xx

Latest In Beauty: Glamour Beauty Power List 2014 Box



I gave in guys. I ordered it. There was so much pretty. And it only cost me £15.99 for a year’s subscription to the digital version of Glamour, AND all this beauty stuff:

  • Maybelline Stripped Nudes Lipstick in “710 Sultry Sand” (full size, shades vary)
  • James Read Sleep Mask Tan (25ml)
  • Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (30ml), with muslin cloth
  • Philip Kingsley Daily Damage Defence (60ml)
  • Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara (full size)
  • 10 Eyeko Eye Makeup Remover Wipes
  • Laura Mercier Foundation Primer (30ml)

It was worth it. Je ne regrette rien.


Well, je regrette un peu. There was some difficulty with the Maybelline Stripped Nudes lipstick. Being a pale nude, it made me look a bit ‘2002 Page 3 Girl.’ In fact, it would have served me very well for the ‘Makeup Through the Ages‘ collaboration that we did a few months back, where I based my look on S Club 7. Jo O’Meara LOVED nude lips. But it wasn’t really for me.

I’m also a bit fearful of the James Read Sleep Mask Tan. I’ve been exfoliating the shiz out of my face of late, so would probably be able to avoid any patchy tanning disasters, but I’m scared. I don’t fake tan my body, so there’s a strong risk that this might look a bit weird on me.


HOWEVER. The other stuff. Oh wow, the other stuff. The main reason I ordered this box was to try the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, and it did not disappoint. It removes makeup easily, and makes me feel like I’m in a spa. It’s made my evening routine 100 times more relaxing.

You know how some Chinese restaurants give you a hot flannel for your hands, between courses? And how you always want to press them to your face, but it’s slightly inappropriate? The hot cloth cleansing method answers that need. In the most soothing of ways. Sigh.

The Philip Kingsley Daily Damage Defence is also gorgeous. I can’t say much about the long-term damage defence yet, but after I spritz this on, it detangles my hair and makes it feel lovely and soft after a blow dry. It also smells beautifully sweet, so that’s a plus. Thumbs up there.


As for the Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde mascara, although it certainly takes more than un seconde to apply, I’m pretty pleased with it. If you’re careful to apply it right from the roots, it fans out, lengthens, and of course volumises lashes beautifully, without making them clumpy. Hopefully you can see that from my right eye in the picture! The only downside? I live in fear of poking myself in the eye with it. That brush is capable, man.

I’m yet to try out the Eyeko Eye Makeup Remover Wipes, but I use their eyeliner pen almost daily, so I have no doubt that these wipes will remove that brilliantly. That’s what they say, isn’t it? Whoever makes the makeup will make the best remover for it. If they know how the liner or mascara is made, they also have the secrets of the best way to break it down. Cleverrrr. Anyway, I’m saving these wipes for when I need a quick makeup-removing fix – i.e. when I stagger in after a night out. Because I’m classy like that.

Finally, we have the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. I’ve been using the oil free version of this for a few months, so it’ll be good to have a mini back-up for when I’m travelling light. I’m also intrigued to see the difference between the oil free and normal versions. Although the original foundation primer is not specifically made for greasy skin, I’ve found with some products that the original can work better than the special versions. We’ll have to see if that’s true in this case!

Have you ever ordered a Latest In Beauty box? What are they like? As this box is dedicated to Glamour’s Beauty Power List 2014, do you think these products accurately represent the best in their categories? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go on, drop us a comment.

Selfridges Shopping and A Cheeky Lush Haul


On Bank Holiday Monday I went shopping with my sister Maddie and my old friend Imo, who was passing through the city. Much to my delight it was a beauty-heavy shop, as Mads had just finished her last undergraduate exams (Biomedical Science) and needed some serious pampering.

AWESOME River Island dress on Mads.

AWESOME River Island dress on Maddie. She bought it of course, but probably won’t be wearing it with socks this summer.

After a little bit of retail indulgence in River Island, we headed down to Lush and spent a good half an hour trying to choose which bath products to get. In the end, Mads and I forgot to use them before she left on Wednesday, but they are sitting in the pamper drawer ready for her next visit!


In the end, we chose the ‘Twilight’ bath bomb, and the ‘A French Kiss’ bubble bar. These are both lavender and bed time themed, as their soothing, sleepy effects are exactly what Maddie needs after her exams! Can’t wait to try them.

We also picked up the ‘Catastrophe Cosmetic’ Fresh Face Mask, which we reviewed here, and I got another bottle of their ‘Tea Tree Water’ toner, which I tried and loved a few months back. The little package on the left contains a free sample of the ‘Coalface’ cleanser – Imo picked it up for me while we were playing with the bath bombs. I had no idea that Lush were so generous with their samples! Apparently they last for ages.

Finally, we went to Selfridges. We headed straight for the MAC counter, where I finally picked up the single version of the lipstick they used on me at Pointless! The shade is called ‘Lovelorn’ – you can see it in the picture above among my Lush haul. Thanks for convincing me to buy that guys, it’s so versatile and pretty!

Maddie hanging at Dior

Maddie hanging at Dior

I also suggested that Maddie sit down at the Dior counter and try some of their foundations. She has perfect skin so doesn’t really wear it that often, and she usually picks up free 7-day samples when she goes shopping so that she has something to wear for nights out.

She’s never tried Dior before though. They put Diorskin Nude on her and it was beautiful. If you have any spots it’s no good, but for Mads’ skin it just neutralised any redness and made her complexion look so even and pretty. It looked really natural, and I’m so proud of her for buying a full-sized bottle instantly! She doesn’t usually like to shell out, but if you find a foundation that works for you, you must buy it.


Gah so natural and gorgeous. Even in daylight!

Needless to say, it was a good day for beauty purchases! What did you do on Bank Holiday? Whether you had a nice rest or went out for the day, you deserved it!

Happy June!

Effie xx