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December Favourites

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation
This is an old formula foundation and though I've not had the chance to try the new ones, I've dragged this back out from the back of my dressing table and remembered why I loved it before. This is very much a night out foundation for me. It's full coverage and lasts all night. It's pretty good on dry skin too which is a bonus.

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick
This was nearly in my November favourites but I hadn't had it that long. Now I've had it for at least a month and a half it is well and truly a favourite. This colour, Soft Spoken, is gorgeous and the liquid lipstick is really long lasting and works well even when my lips are a bit dry. My go-to lipstick this whole month.

Bride to B Wedding Planner
This month I've been quite productive in wedding planning and my Busy B wedding planner has been out a lot. Having less to think about at work and some time off has given me the chance to browse Pinterest, create some lists and make some big bookings. I'm also hooked on the AliExpress website, I'll share my findings soon.

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette
This poor palette has been neglected recently but the end of November and into December saw it come back into action. I'm pretty pants when it comes to eyeshadow but this palette feels safe and easy to use. There's enough colours for me to try out a few different looks.

Garnier Micellar Oil Infused Cleansing Water
This is a new addition to my skincare routine that I bought in November to help with my dry, dehydrated skin. I was finding my usual micellar water wasn't helping to maintain any moisture in my skin. This Oil Infused micellar water is better suited to my winter skin and is quite good for tackling eye makeup at the same time.

Yankee Candles
I counted down to Christmas with the help of my Yankee Candle advent calendar and it reminded me how much I love them. I think I've got enough tea lights to see me well into February. Nothing like a cosy candle on a dark wintery night.

What I Got For Christmas 2016

Before I get started I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas. If your day (and days afterwards) was anything like mine you'll have had loads of delicious food and spent time with family with plenty of laughter and smiles. There's been a bit of negativity towards 'what I got for Christmas' posts on Twitter and Instagram but it's something I've done in the past and absolutely love reading myself. So if you're nosey like me then hopefully you'll enjoy it. 

This year both my family and my fiance's family did Secret Santas and between the two of us we stuck to a £35 budget but somehow I've still ended up spoilt rotten. I received some lovely gifts from the pupils in my class including the Teacher's Tin packed full of baking, the teacher coaster and the homemade button canvas. There was also lots of cute and thoughtful things in our couples crate, including loads and loads of food.

One of the last minute things that ended up on my wishlist was a mermaid blanket and it's ended up being my favourite. It's so comfortable and cosy. The grey matches perfectly with my living room. I've spent quite a few hours in it already, some spent browsing the Howden catalogue. So this year we were given a lot of money from our parents towards new internal doors. It's one of the things we wanted to change when we bought our house but it's not been a priority, or something that was in our budget, until now.

I love my personalised cork collector frame. My Secret Santa had paid close attention to the ever increasing pile of corks that had been gathering on our sideboard in our living room. Some of the corks were from our engagement and when I asked my Bridesmaids and I wanted somewhere to keep them. This is perfect.

As a couple we were given 2 gorgeous, personalised tree decorations this year. One was a Claireabella bauble with our names and a Claireabella couple on the front. The other is to mark our rabbit's first Christmas with us. I love that our Christmas tree is beginning to fill up with decorations that tell a story or remind us of a time or place. 

It wouldn't be a normal Christmas without some beauty products. Both of my Secret Santas made perfect choices from the Christmas gift sets in Boots. The Ted Baker scents will be brilliant to take in my hand luggage when we go to Belfast in January and then for popping in my handbag for nights out or day to day. I can't wait to try out all of the Smashbox lipsticks from the Light It Up set.

Some more of my absolutely favourites include a puffer jacket by Cameo Rose and a Michael Kors Jet Set Cross Body Bag. I was so happy to open up this jacket after moaning to my Mum and Dad about a puffer jacket that never arrived. I 'bought' one back in November from a store called Missfiga. Nothing arrived and they never responded to my emails, Facebook messages, Tweets or Instagram comments. I was gutted because I loved the puffer jacket trend but now I'm ready to be wrapped up warm through winter. As for the Michael Kors bag it's such a good size cross body and will definitely be packed for days and nights in Belfast. Perfect Jenna bag.

What was your biggest surprise this Christmas? 

Nivea Double Effect Eye Make-Up Remover

'Tis the season of smokey eyes, late nights and panda eyes in the morning. When you come home from a night out it's sometimes too tempting to skip the makeup removing process. Then for the times I am good and head to the Micellar water or hot cloth cleanser I normally forget how many extra layers of mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow that I have on that I do a rubbish job and still look like I've been given a black eye in the morning. Because I wear extended wear contacts, which means I sleep with them in, and they can react to any eye makeup left on over night I wanted to make sure I had something to help me out. Red, sore and watery eyes aren't a good look at the best of times and especially not at Christmas with all the parties and socialising.
Lots of skincare is on offer at Boots at the moment and the Nivea Double Effect Eye Make-up Remover was less than £2. It had mostly 5 star reviews and is a brand I tend to trust so I bought it at the start of the month ready to tackle my They're Real mascara and eyeliner combo. It's such a gentle make-up remover and doesn't take much rubbing because it dissolves everything in just a few seconds. It doesn't take much, just a quick dribble onto a cotton pad with the handy little bottle that stops me making an absolute mess. It does have an oily texture but there isn't an oily residue left behind. You do need to remember to give it a good shake to mix it all up so that the oil phase works with the aqueous phase meaning your make-up is removed with a gentle, caring protection. It definitely works and is 100% safe with my contact lenses.

December Details

It's been a month of getting into the Christmas spirit, catching up with friends and lots of good food. Working in a school helps me feel festive quite early with the Nativity show, Christmas jumper days and Christmas activities and crafts. Unfortunately this year we're working right up until the 23rd of December so keeping my sanity and cheer is going to be a little bit tricky but I'll do my best to scrape the children from the ceiling and watch Elf!
There's a fun day in my town at the beginning of December for the turning on of the Christmas lights. Santa was in his Grotto for the kids and the reindeer were outside. The shops had discounts and goodies all before 5pm for the light parade and tree light switch on. It's a nice way to start the month. To tie in with it I put up my Christmas tree that weekend too. Earlier than I usually do it but it's made my living room so festive and cosy. My Christmas shopping was in full swing by the start of December and I was able to wrap up most of my purchases to pop under the tree. We've got a few new decorations this year and this Merry Christmas door mat is my favourite. It's hard to believe that it was only £1 from Poundland. 

We had our works night out this past weekend. It's known as Mad Friday because it's the most popular Friday before Christmas for nights out. Everywhere was so busy and there was such a great atmosphere. About 40 of us from school went to a hotel for a 3 course meal,  wine, Secret Santa then onto some pubs for drinks. I wore a sequin number from Club L at ASOS. I had my comfort heels from New Look on too which came in handy for all the dancing. I got the free mad Friday bus home at 1am and woke up at 8 feeling fresh - success!

What did I say about good food? While catching up with friends I had a delicious chicken and goats cheese salad. So much dressing made it probably more unhealthy than a burger but boy was it good. My brother and his girlfriend came up during the fun day weekend and after watching the lights go on we headed to a Chinese. A takeaway was the original plan but we ended up sitting in and it was such a good idea. The food was so fresh and delicious. We order just the right amount to share and not feel like we'd gone over board. It helps that I worked in the Chinese when I was at school because I know all of the best dishes. In the middle of the month my fiance and I had a day out Christmas shopping. We had a pit stop in a little pub for lunch and I couldn't resist the festive club sandwich. With turkey, cranberry and brie it was so tasty. What a mountain of food! The only foodie picture I took at our works night was of the salted caramel cheesecake. I also had the goats cheese and turkey but I was obviously too hungry to take a snap. By Christmas day I'll have had 2 turkey meals already but that's what Christmas is for! 

NYX Dark Circle Concealer

I'm loving exploring the NYX makeup range, being able to get it in the UK still feels a bit novel for me, especially as my local Boots doesn't have a stand. Choosing products has been mostly about listening in to other people's conversations (thanks to the girls shopping on Princes Street, Edinburgh) and picking out my favourite types of products to use. One of my absolute essentials is concealer and NYX had 6 different concealers. I struggle with under eye circles so the obvious choice was the NYX Dark Circle Concealer. The straight-forward name actually made this something worth picking up. 

It's a cream concealer with coconut oil to add moisture, orange pigment to counteract dark circles and skin-tone pigments to provide coverage. It's a lovely, creamy concealer and though some people say it's hard to get the shade right with the orange pigment added in I feel like I made the perfect choice. This does such a good job at cancelling out any blue or purple under my eyes. It's quite creamy but doesn't seem to crease or dry out, thanks to the coconut oil. If I'm in a bit of a rush I can get away with using this as my only face concealer but it also works well in partnership with other concealers. This is also quite a good concealer to layer up if you're looking for a full coverage.  

The worst bit for me is the pot packaging. I've got long nails so getting this concealer out is a nightmare. I have to use a makeup brush which takes a bit more work to get right. I suppose that's the downside to a cream concealer but a shallower pot would help with this long nail problem.

New Look Sale Haul

I made an order to New Look during their Black Friday/Cyber Weekend deals, I couldn't resist! Unfortunately my order went missing (thanks very much Hermes) but the customer service team on Twitter were fab. It was all fixed really quickly and thankfully I was able to get a hold of most of things I wanted in store. Now I'm excited for some nights out and cosy pyjama nights kitted out in my New Look clothes.

Cold Shoulder Funnel Neck Jumper
£10 (was £19.99)
Does anyone else buy clothes from the Teen section? I've bought a few things in the past and thought I'd give it a go again. This jumper fits perfectly even though it's for 14-15 year olds. The only bit that's not quite right is the funnel neck, it's quite small. Not bad for £10 though.

Black Lace Yoke Top
£14.99 (was £19.99)
This top could be easily described as 'classic Jenna' - I wear blouses loads. The lace along the top make this a bit more fancy and the yoke style is different from my other black blouses. This is great for those times when you don't want to look overdressed but it's definitely not a casual outfit occasion.

Navy Glitter Cold Shoulder Top
£9.74 (was £12.99)
I was so glad to be able to find this top in store. This is the definition of 'jeans and a nice top'. The wrap front and cold shoulders make this really flattering on and the sparkles make it perfect for this time of year. Can't wait for a meal out or get together to wear this.

Fair Isle Pyjama Set
£6.50 (was £12.99)
How cute are these Christmassy pyjamas. My new dressing gown is pink and my slippers are pink so I wanted a pair of pyjamas to match. You really can't beat the price either. A good quality, comfy, cotton pair of pyjamas that are going to last for ages.

Platform Comfort Shoe Boots
£22.49 (was £29.99)
What a sensible pair of heels! I bought these with Christmas nights out in mind. I'm going to wear a glitter dress and tights for my works night out and wanted a nice high pair of heels that were quite sturdy, chunky and comfortable. Oh I'm so over 25 now!

Nude Lazer Cut Heels
£10 (was £29.99)
This was a definite bargain, I was so lucky to find these in a size 5. I love a good pair of nude heels but so many of mine are looking a bit shabby. These are a good alternative to my chunky heel, platform ones. I'm a little worried they won't be comfortable but with the shoe boot style my feet won't fall out them easily. 

9 Gym Alternatives You Could Become Obsessed With

If there’s one thing I know about getting fit it’s that you have to be seriously committed. There’s no point being an angel half the time and stuffing your face whilst having Netflix marathons for the rest of it. Deciding to become fit and healthy is not a part time thing, it’s a lifestyle change - and one for the better. I promise you that you’ll feel so much better in yourself once you decide to make a positive change to your body. That includes having bundles of energy, feeling way less sluggish, being a much happier person generally and the best part, falling into bed exhausted to get the best night’s sleep ever. I understand that the gym isn’t for everyone and that’s completely okay. Why would everyone like the same workout when we all differ so much with everything else in our lives? If the gym isn’t really your thing then don’t let that be an excuse to not keep fit and healthy. Here are some fantastic alternatives that you will not only enjoy but become totally obsessed with because you love doing it so much.

1. HIIT Workouts
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the best and quickest ways to get fit. If you lead an extremely busy lifestyle then this could be the answer for you. I find this works for me, a quick burst is easier to fit in than an hour long class.

2. Take a dip
Swimming is one of the best exercises for your body. It provides cardio but also tones your entire body. Just half hour of swimming can burn over 200 calories and it’s a great way to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It’s also less harsh on your joints, so if you’re recovering from an injury, suffer with arthritis or you’re overweight, this is definitely a great way to get in shape.

3. Yoga, but better
Yoga is one of the most common ways to improve on body strength and fitness, but if doing the downward dog 3 nights a week is a little too boring for you then perhaps you should try a new yoga craze - aerial yoga. You’ll be doing the same moves but in the air. This will give you the abs you desire and also help relieve all the stress from your daily life. Double whammy!

4. Get your spin on
Spin bikes are amazing at working out the body. Be prepared to sweat A LOT but don’t let that put you off as sweating means you’re doing something right. If you don’t feel confident enough to join a spin class (they are pretty demanding), then consider getting your own to use in the comfort of your own home.

5. Join the circus
Okay, so I don’t mean ACTUALLY join a circus, unless you want to that is. But circus classes are the new in thing and they are amazing at getting your body into shape. This is certainly a unique way of getting fit and how cool would it be to list that on your online dating profile as a hobby?

6. Hula hula baby
This is actually seriously fun and also a seriously cheap way to get fit. All you need is a hula hoop and enough space to do your thing. If you want to see optimum results, invest in a weighted hula hoop.

7. Pole dancing
Long gone are the days that admitting to doing pole dancing is met with gasps of horror and surprise. You don’t need to turn up to your classes in fancy lingerie (in fact, I strongly suggest against it) and no one is expecting you to ooze sexiness like Jessica Rabbit either. This is a great, fun way to strengthen and tone the body so think less taboo and more to-do.

8. Fulfil your young dreams of being a ballerina
It’s well known that ballerina’s have the most fantastically toned bodies. I’m not saying you can become a world class ballerina from working out 3 times a week for an hour (that stuff takes SERIOUS commitment and pain), but you can reap some of the fitness benefits by taking part in barre-based workouts. The ballet-inspired workouts incorporate both weight training and pilates to help shape your body. If you want delightfully toned legs and a booty to kill then this is definitely the workout for you.

9. Come on, let’s bounce

Get out of your house and onto a trampoline as a way of getting fit. You can do this in a class or at home as all you need is a mini trampoline. This is a fun way of getting your cardio fix and you’ll notice you start to develop abs and leg power if you keep on bouncing.

Liz Earle: The Botanist's Cabinet

Boots has some of the best Christmas gifts for beauty product lovers and I picked out my favourites when they first came out back in October. I've been keeping my eye on the Star Gifts each week and this week I couldn't believe the skincare bargain that was on offer. The Liz Earle Botanist Cabinet is new to Boots and isn't going to be on offer for long. Rather than being on the shelves for weeks then enticing us in with a half price offer Boots has put the brand new Botanist Cabinet set on sale for an introductory half price offer. For just £30 you can get your hands on their best selling Hot Cloth Cleanser and muslin cloths which is worth about £20 on it's own! You also get some other mini products giving you the chance to master your own botanical skincare routine. The whole bundle comes in a gorgeous wardrobe style box designed like an apothecary cabinet. An amazing gift for yourself or anyone who likes to take care of their skin - a Liz Earle fan or newbie!
Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser (150ml), 2 Pure Muslin Cloths, Instant Boost™ Skin Tonic (50ml), Deep Cleansing Mask (15ml), 2 Sponges, Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask (15ml), Brightening Treatment Mask (15ml), Superskin™ Concentrate for Night (2ml) and The Botanist’s Recipe Guide

You'll have to be quick if you want to get your hands on one of these. I bought the last one in my Boots store but they're still in stock online... just now!

Stocking Filler Gift Guide

This Matalan wine glass put a smile on my face and I knew the perfect person to get it for. If you've got someone who enjoys a glass of wine after a long week (or day!) then this little bargain would make a great stocking filler for them. I think I might match it with a mini bottle too.

Zoella Gingerbread Village Diffuser
So the Zoella candle and diffuser range is huge and well priced, the only hard part is choosing which one to go for. Gingerbread village is the Christmassy option and so far is a big favourite in our house. 

Prosecco Quote
Lovely little plaques, signs and ornaments, like this Pretty Little Presents one, are great to suit any person and personality. There's ones to suit a man cave, a family house or a dressing room. 

Nyx Liquid Suede Lipstick
Liquid lipsticks are so popular right now and NYX ones are so affordable. Now that NYX is available in the UK this would be a great stocking filler to kick start a NYX obsession. There's a colour to suit everyone.

Instant Photo Coasters
A personalised gift is good fun but getting it right isn't always easy. These instant photo coasters mean you can print out some photos to go with them and they can choose exactly which ones they want to tuck inside. One coaster for every season?

Raspberry Prosecco Humbugs
What's a stocking without some sweeties? But why do normal sweeties when you can do Prosecco sweeties! This cute little jar is packed full of pink, stripey, tasty, fruity humbugs. 

Yankee Candle
My Mum's favourite stocking stuffers is always Yankee Candles. The Christmas range is massive with one to suit every taste. I'm loving the Sparkling Snow scent, what's the chances of getting real sparkling snow this year to match? 

Chocolate Prosecco Caramels
More drink inspired treats. These M&S chocolate prosecco caramels are amazing. A definite Christmas luxury. My Mum would love these... as would all of my friends! Can you tell Prosecco is a favourite of mine too?

Statement Necklace
A bit of bling is fab but when it's a stocking stuffer you don't want to go overboard on the price tag. Statement necklaces are still so on trend and they're in all of the high street stores. This one is from Tesco but New Look and Dorothy Perkins both have gorgeous ones.

Gift Guide for Guys

Anker Bluetooth Speaker
Bluetooth speakers are a must have for any house. You can connect up without wires to phones, ipads and ipods. I've bought this one for my Dad. He'll be able to charge this up then take it into his garage and blast out the music while he works on cars (and other bits of DIY that he gets up to). There's loads of brands to choose from but Anker have got great reviews and suits loads of price ranges.

Amazon Fire Stick
This is probably one of my most talked about gadgets on my blog. I love my Amazon Fire Stick, it's so good for Netflix, Youtube, catch up TV and some of the extra apps. If you've got any boys to buy for that don't have a smart TV then this is a must-have. It's not too expensive either. Perfect for winter nights in or hungover days on the sofa.

Bedroom Atheltics Slippers
Boys are no different from us girls, they love their home comforts too! I 100% know that the person receiving these slippers wants a new pair and after he got Bedroom Athletics boots for the past 2 years I knew this would be a brand to check out. Bedroom Athletic are really high quality. These slippers are going to last and they're super cosy and comfortable while they're at it!

Fitbit Flex
I've bought this for my Dad after he's shown a bit of interest in my Fitbit and he's mentioned needing to get a bit more active after changing job. The Flex is a good option if you've got a smaller budget or if it's more for step tracking, rather than exercise and heart rate. If your budget is bigger then I'd recommend checking out the new Fitbit Charge HR 2.

Silicone Guitar Spatula
One of my Secret Santas this year is a music lover. I could have gone down the actual instrument accessory root but unfortunately I had zero knowledge of this area. Instead I went for something a little outside of the box... a guitar spatula. A practical present but with a little bit of fun.

A bit of a joke present or an added extra, these hangover ice packs are amazingly practical. I'll be adding this in to a gift of drink and might add a bottle of lucozade and a packet of crisps too. A nice little emergency hangover kit.

Football Manager 2017
Games can be an easy option for a boyfriend, brother or friend if you know what they've already got. It became a bit of a tradition for me to buy Football Manager at Christmas for my boyfriend as a new one comes out every year at the start of November. This seems like a popular one for football fans. If they're more into their XBox or Playstation then Forza Horizon 3 is a good one for motorsport fans.

Chocolate Controller
Another little extra to throw in with a game (or maybe a giftcard if you're really struggling) is this milk chocolate console controller. It looks really effective and isn't likely to last long once they start nibbling!

Gift Guide for Girls

True Friends Bottle Light
Doing a friends Secret Santa or have someone special to buy for? These bottle lights are such a sweet present with an extra sparkle. There's so many different messages to choose from so there's bound to be the right one for between you and your friend. There's sister, mother and daughter ones too. I think this would be a good present for a pregnant girly who won't be receiving other bottles this Christmas. 

New York Colouring Book
Got plans to take your girlfriend to New York? Or maybe you've got a friend who's in love with the city. This New York adult colouring book is the best! This could either bring back amazing memories as she relaxes with her felt tip pens or it could have her jumping up and down with excitement thinking about all the amazing places you could visit together. Romantic points right there.

Boots has fantastic gifts for girls but my favourite this year is the Jack Wills Scarf Set. Who doesn't love a tartan scarf at this time of year?! The colours on this one are perfect for any girly girl. The gift set is also packed full of beauty products including a body butter, some fragrances, nail varnishes and face masks. An amazing box of goodies to pop under the Christmas tree.

Who doesn't love a bit of glitz and glam under the Christmas tree? Pandora is a jewellery brand that has gorgeous packaging, beautiful pieces and is well known for it's quality. It doesn't break the bank like some jewellery designers but you can still be sure to put a smile on her face. These sparkling pink earrings are a perfect choice.

I love this doormat, the message applies to so many of my friends! If you've got a friend who's just about to move into a new house or flat, or maybe they've just recently moved, then this is an amazing present. Who'd have thought homeware would be an exciting present? I'm definitely in my 20's.

If you're buying for someone who has already got a Cinema light box then a bundle of letters, numbers or emojis would be a great gift. Or maybe if you've got a bigger budget (and she's not already got one) you might go all out and buy the lucky lady a light box and extra pack. If you're buying the lightbox you've got to put a Christmas message on it before you wrap it up!

If you've got a fashion forward girl to buy for but don't want to get it wrong then don't take the risk and go for an edible shoe instead! This is a stunning chocolatey gift that tastes amazing. You could be the first person to buy her red soles!

Have you got a friend whose phone always runs out of battery? This phone charging clutch bag would be perfect for her! This navy leather(ish) one is from TK Maxx by the Adrienne Vittadini designer. It's a really good size for a night out and would look perfectly stylish with any outfit.