Christmas Gift Guide Series 2014

I cannot believe we are in November, where has this year gone? I can remember putting these gift guides together last year, which you can check out here for extra ideas:

Gift Guide for Her
Gift Guide for Him
Gift Guide for Food Lovers
Homemade gift ideas
Gift Guide under £10
Gift Guide under £5

I love putting together these guides, I always find they give me inspiration when I see them which is definitely what you need if you’re trying to buy for someone difficult. They’re also good for ideas for your own list if you’re not sure what you want this year #guiltyascharged.

I’ll be putting these all up before December so if a bit like me you’re waiting for payday or you’ve not had chance to get organised, you can pop these in your bag and off you shop without having a mad dash on Christmas Eve!

Top Essie Winter Polishes

Top Essie Winter Nail Polishes
Top Essie Winter Nail Polishes

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Essie nail polishes. From the budget price tag to the wide brush they are just a winner in my eyes, so I’ve put together my favourite Essie polishes that I’ll be rocking this Winter, especially during the festive season when I become a bit of a glitter fiend…

Dark sultry shades are a Winter winner for me so After School Boy Blazer fits the bill perfectly. It’s a deep midnight blue, perfect for those who run shy of black nail polishes but love the sophistication they bring. As I grabbed this last Autumn, it may be a little tricky to get your hands on but I believe Space NK are selling it, so hop on over there…

I’ve been raving about Sole Mate for the last few weeks so it was no surprise this would be on the list. I’ve said many times previously it’s a gorgeous wine coloured nail polish which would also look fabulous come Christmas time if you’re not into the kitsch glitter thing.

Leading Lady is a polish I’ve had for a couple of years now and it is still one of my go to shades around Winter. It’s a gorgeously festive glittery red that looks stunning on the nails. Again, this was limited edition but I’ve seen a couple of sellers on Amazon if you really must have it!

Purple is my favourite colour so it was inevitable there was going to be an amethyst offering in this post and Sexy Divide doesn’t disappoint. It’s a beautiful deep iridescent violet colour that catches the light wonderfully.

Set in Stones isn’t really a polish to wear on it’s own but layered on top of others it adds a touch of seasonal sparkle with different sized glitter pieces which will be perfect for the upcoming party season, or if you’re just feeling like a bit of glitter to cheer you up on those dark days.

What are your go to winter nail polishes, from Essie or other brands?

Forever Repurchased #1

forever repurchased skincare products

Although I’m always eager to try new products, there are always a select few that I can’t help but purchase again and again, which is a testament to how good these products really are.

La Roche-Posay Serozinc (€4.50) is the newest addition to my list of forever repurchased items and as I am still technically on my first can I’ve not yet repurchased – Oops! but it is definitely one I will be picking up time and time again. It’s light, effective and gentle whilst being a power player in my skincare routine keeping blemishes at bay and maintaining hydration.

I had a bit of a shaky start with Origins Out of Trouble Mask (£23.00), when I wasn’t sure whether it was any better than a budget version, but it is a product that is really worth it’s weight in gold. It doesn’t work effectively on my existing blemishes, which I’ve accepted, but used as a preventative to keep my pores clear and stop them becoming blemishes, it is first rate. Despite clearing my pores effectively, it doesn’t irritate my skin. It’s a lovely thick texture and I personally love the smell of the camphor as it makes me feel like I can breathe easy. I do wince a little when I buy this but it has lasted over a year so I think it is well worth the price for clear skin. I’m just onto my second tube and I can see myself buying many more to come.

Having used Bioderma Sebium H20 -Micelle Solution (£4.99) for a few years now, I didn’t feel the need to try any other cleansing water, until I read rave reviews on Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water which prompted me to pick it up. It’s every bit as good as Bioderma – better in some ways – as I find my Sebium one stings my eyes whereas the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water doesn’t. It’s also lasted me a ridiculously long time, which means that this will forever be on standby as it’s fantastically cost effective and a brilliant product overall.

Recipe: Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

After making pumpkin pie for many years and falling absolutely in love with it, I wanted to try another American classic – Pecan Pie. It seems to be quite a tradition to make it around traditionally ‘thanksgiving’ time which I believe is soon (I’m not American so I’m not 100%)  so a few weeks ago I attempted to make this dessert, and boy is it delicious.

I made this pie with premade pastry cases as they’re much easier but you could use ready rolled pastry or even make your own. When I made this for the first time I thought I’d done it wrong, as the filling looks rather unappealing (think scrambled-egg-meets-sick), however once it’s baked it is awesome!. Also this isn’t one for the health conscious in as there is essentially three types of sugar enveloped in pastry, luxuriously decadent though if you’re thinking of a treat.

Pecan Pie ingredients
Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie

Recipe: Pecan Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 8-10

Recipe: Pecan Pie


  • 500g pack sweet shortcrust pastry or 2 pastry cases
  • 75g butter, softened (I used dairy free spread)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 175g golden syrup
  • 175g maple syrup
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 200g pecan halves


  1. If you are using a ready made pastry case go to step 4.
  2. If you are making pastry or ready rolled then you will need to line a 23cm tart tin with the rolled out pastry, then prick the base with a fork and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line the pastry case with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and bake for 15-20 mins. Remove the beans and parchment and return to the oven for 5-10 mins until the base is set and the pastry is golden and leave to cool.
  4. Heat your oven to 200C/190C fan/gas 6.
  5. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
  6. Whilst whisking pour in both of the syrups then gradually add the eggs, 1?4 tsp salt and the vanilla, and whisk until combined.
  7. Stir in the nuts and pour into the tart case.
  8. Bake for 10 mins then turn the heat down to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and continue baking for 30-35 mins – the pie should be golden brown but the filling should wobble a little in the centre when shaken. Leave to cool in the tin.

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream Review

Caudalie gentle buffing cream
Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream – £18

The Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream was somewhat of an impulse purchase. With leftover Euros to burn and a gap in my skincare routine it seemed obvious that I should try this out.

The texture is very light – containing grape seed and honey and little jojoba beads – but it’s also really effective, leaving my skin looking fresh with a radiant glow and felt soft after each use.
It’s also very very gentle, one of the most gentle products I’ve used, so that no matter how hard I scrub my skin isn’t red or irritated in the slightest.

Like other Caudalie items, the sticking point for me is the price. I got this in France for €15 which I thought wasn’t too bad but £18 for something I can see running out really quickly, well that does make me wince a little.

Caudalie is fast becoming one of my favourite skincare brands, everything I’ve tried so far I absolutely love, including this Gentle Buffing Cream. It’s definitely one of the best exfoliators I’ve tried, somehow it manages to freshen up your skin and unclog pores whilst hydrating your skin at the same time. However it is expensive for the amount you get so I think I will definitely be looking out for something a bit more affordable to use alongside this to make it last longer. If you are looking for a facial exfoliator though, give this a go and you won’t be disappointed.

Degustabox October

Degustabox October contents
Degustabox October contents

I’m always happy to receive my Degustabox each month, I love the idea of receiving lots of different foods as I am quite a keen foodie. This month I was mostly happy with my box although there were a few items I would swap out and I was a little disappointed there were no drinks in my box this month.

Toasted Marshallow Creme
This toasted marshmallow creme by Solo is an American product, which I think is similar to Fluff. I’ve never tried either but I have to say this is the only thing in my box I’m not really looking forward to trying. I have a feeling it’s going to be very sickly and sweet and I won’t like it but I shall endeavour to try it and if all else fails, there’s a recipe for fudge on the tub so I’ll use it up that way.

Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
Jelly Belly jelly beans are pretty much the only jelly beans I’ll eat, they have the best flavours in my opinion. I’m really strange as well as my favourite flavours are buttered popcorn and toasted marshmallow so I’m really happy to see these in my box this month.

Enhance for water – Apple and blackcurrant flavour
If you’ve seen the advert for Robinsons squash’d then this is the same concept. I think these are a really good idea for on the go if you want to flavour your water. I’m not sure when I’m going to use this yet as I have squash at work and at home so have no need for a carry one but I will be giving it a go. I’m glad I got apple and blackcurrant too as that is the only flavour I really like, so I’m pleased with this item.

Kent’s Kitchen Tikka Masala Meal Kit
I think this is a really great addition to my box this month giving you the essential items in a little kit. I’m not a big fan of curry but Harry is a massive curry fan so I will be testing this out on him to see what he thinks.

Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli Sauce
I haven’t eaten this sauce since I was at university so it is a bit of a throwback, but I think there’s a reason for that in that I’ve never had cause to use it and thus buy it. I do like dipping prawn crackers in it and I have a delicious recipe using this with salmon as well so I think I will be using the sauce to make those. I was slightly disappointed to see they’d given me two bottles because whilst I think I might be able to get through one, two is pushing it slightly.

Bear Dino Paws
These are pure fruit shapes that are predominantly aimed at kids so they would be a good addition to a lunchbox, however I wasn’t that keen on them as they weren’t what I was expecting texture wise so I don’t think I’d go out and by these.

Get Buzzing Original Nutty Flapjack
I’m quite a big fan of flapjacks so I was happy to see this in my box this month. It has pecans and brazils in as well as apricots, dates, cranberries, sesame and sunflower seeds which all make for a yummy mixture. The only thing is it’s 248 calories a pop, which is insane! I’d devour that in 10 seconds flat and it’s nearly the equivalent of a meal so for that reason I wouldn’t go out and buy this.

Brioche Pasquier Pain au Lait with Chocolate Chips
I received some Brioche Pasquier goodies in the box before last so I was a bit surprised to see them in again so soon, but these are a different flavour. I’m sure I will enjoy these as well, god knows I love brioche.

Brioche Pasquier Sliced Brioche Loaf
Again I’m sure I will enjoy this but as it’s a loaf I think I’m more likely to make this into a bread and butter pudding as I really don’t see me eating this any other way.

Dr Oetker Extra Dark Chocolate
I’m a little apprehensive about this item as whilst it sounds divine, at 90% cocoa solids it’s going to be very dark, rich and bitter. I don’t tend to use over 80% cocoa solids as it gets a bit too much so I think I’ll be mixing it in with some lower % cocoa chocolate to balance it out a bit. I think when it comes to baking my delicious salted caramel truffles this year for Christmas I will be cracking this out.

Dr Oetker Cocoa Powder
I’ve never tried the Dr Oetker cocoa powder before, as I tend to buy Bournville Cocoa Powder, however Dr Oetker has a good reputation and I buy a lot of other items from the range so I’m sure I’ll be cracking this out soon when I next bake some chocolatey goodies.

Kelloggs Special K Cracker Crisps
I’ve seen these in the supermarket before but never been tempted to pick them up. I think they’re a good idea as if you’re heath conscious like me but want a naughty little treat they’re ideal.The only slight disappointment is that I wish these had come in a multipack rather than one big bag as I’m going to be tempted to eat them all now rather than having a little each day.

Alphabites cereal
I received a big pack of this cereal a few boxes back so I was surprised to see this in there again. I’ve already tried the cereal and it’s ok, but I’m not a massive fan. However it comes in a nifty serving size box so I daresay I’ll take it to work one day for my breakfast.

I think it’s been a bit of a mixed bag this month for me. I felt like I got a lot of things but some of them I’ve received before and I would have preferred a drink of some kind in this month as well, I always enjoy the drinks they send. I’m not displeased though and I will be carrying on subscribing, I’ll just have to see what I get next month now!

© Kat Dootson 2014 All rights reserved ·