Monday, November 30, 2015

Books for Christmas

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I'm going to get straight into this without waffling, because books are one of my favourite parts of Christmas and I want to squeeze as many into this post as I can.

On My Christmas List

Truth be told, I have ordered or bought most of these for myself for Christmas already - I love having a pile of new books on Christmas morning.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
This is King's sixth collection of short stories, and features 20 previously published/reworked stories from 2009 onwards, with two previously unpublished.

Counting My Blessings by Francis Brennan
Francis Brennan is one of my favourite television personalities, and this guide to how he stays happy is definitely on my Christmas list. He's currently touring around Ireland promoting it and doing signings, I was gutted to miss my local one but I'm still really looking forward to reading the book.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling & Jim Kay
I've wanted this since I first heard about it - it's a beautiful, big coffee table book that features amazing illustrations by Jim Kay. Unless this is a one-off, this collection is going to end up absolutely robbing me because I'll want them all!

Everyday Superfood by Jamie Oliver
I'm not a huge fan of watching Jamie, but I love his cookbooks. His recipes are easy to follow and easy to adapt, so I'm looking forward to reading this one.

The Nation's Favourite Healthy Food by Neven Maguire
I enjoy Neven's cookery programmes, so I was delighted to find a signed edition of this in Eason last week. He has simple recipes that everyone would enjoy, and I'm glad to see a healthy eating version.

A Slanting of the Sun by Donal Ryan
Donal is one of my favourite authors - he writes post-boom rural Ireland and begrudgery like nobody else. His books are some of my favourites, I would especially recommend you look him up if you live in a small town or village. He's just a fantastic writer, he has an amazing way with words. This is a collection of short stories that follow on in the same vein from The Thing About December and The Spinning Heart.

About Face by Aisling McDermott  with Laura Kennedy
If you enjoyed Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes, you'll love this. Aisling is incredibly well respected among the Irish beauty community, having been responsible for the creation of along with her sister Kirstie (now editor of Stellar magazine). Apart from being a gorgeous looking book, it's full of skincare and makeup advice, product recommendations, and focuses on what will work for individual skin types.

Me & My Mate Jeffrey by Niall Breslin
Bressie's first book is an honest account of coping with his anxiety and depression. It's such an important subject and there seem to be a plethora of books by females on the subject, but hardly any by men - for such a prominent public figure to come out and talk about it so frankly is fantastic, and it's a book I'll be keeping to pass on to my own sons when they're old enough to deal with the subject matter.

Christmas Themed Books

I don't know about anyone else, but I love nothing more than a bit of light, fluffy Christmas fiction to keep my festive spirits up during November/December. There are so many Christmas themed books - but how do you know which ones are any good? I like to switch my brain off and just enjoy them for what they are, if you like the Christmas movies on Christmas24 then you'll enjoy all these.

Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson
Bella Bradley and Amy Lane were friends once. Now, they're worlds apart - Bella is the star of her very own Nigella-esque cooking show, while Amy is struggling after her husband has left her. When Amy realises that Bella's new book is full of her mother's recipes, the gloves are off - Amy enters (and wins) a competition to spend the perfect Christmas with Bella.

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot
Single Mum Hayley Walker is taking her nine-year-old daughter Angel to spend Christmas with Hayley's brother in Manhattan. She has every intention of trying to find Angel's birth father, but when she meets a handsome stressed workaholic Oliver, her plans are thrown into disarray.

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson
Maggie is spending Christmas on her own, with only a ready meal for company. Until she (literally) crashes into 6-foot-American-hunk Marco. Suddenly, her Christmas is looking up! But you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper, do you? Really sweet and funny.

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements
A The Holiday-esque romcom about a London career woman and a Yorkshire woman worried about her marriage deciding to swap houses.

This is a Film Too

I love Christmas films, so I'm always interested when I find out that something was either based on a film, or released to tie in with the film. I read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham last year (it later became Christmas With the Kranks) and I was horrified, it was a horrible book. Thankfully, here are four that live up to the movies:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I read this years ago, but I plan to re-read it this year. The much-reproduced original Christmas story is one that we all know - mean old Ebenezeer Scrooge (I keep going to type Ebeneezer Goode - child of the 90s right there) is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
I love Dr. Seuss books because they're so much fun to read aloud. Even a child with little interest in reading will have great fun - The Grinch is a heartwarming tale with great illustrations and a nice fun festive story for all ages to enjoy.

Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
One of my favourite Christmas films, this is the story of little Susan Walker, her workaholic Mum, and an old man who believes he is Santa Clause. Released in 1947 to tie-in with the original Natalie Wood film. This is another re-read for me this year.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
A beautiful children's book that later inspired the magical animated film starring Tom Hanks - this is the story of The Polar Express, a magical train that takes children who have lost the magic of Christmas to the North Pole. Warning - I cry at this book. And the film. And most things, to be fair - but this book is stunning and very much worth seeking out the special editions with the little bell free.

Sporting Books

There are a number of new books out this year written by Sports personalities - I haven't read any of these, but I thought I'd let you know about them anyway.

The Autobiography by Henry Shefflin
Widely regarded as one of the best hurling players of all time, Henry Shefflin talks about his life and career including revelations on injuries, rivalries, and pressures.

Until Victory, Always: A Memoir by Jim McGuiness
Described as "an account of achievement in the face of incredible adversity", this is McGuinness' account of taking over as manager of the Donegal senior football team in 2010. At the time, they had been dismissed - but four years later, they had completely turned things around.

The Last Line: My Autobiography by Packie Bonner
The story of one of our greats - Packie shares stories from his International football career, including the performance at Italia '90 that turned him into a national treasure and the one at 1994 that a lot of us would rather forget..

Twelve Feet Tall: The Autobiography by Tony Ward
Rugby fans who followed Ireland in the '70s and '80s will welcome this book by Irish sporting legend Tony Ward - who still holds the record for the Lion scoring the most points in a test (18). He talks about leading the Munster team to victory against the All-Blacks in 1978, about his career, his life, and what he thinks of Irish rugby today. I might actually pick this one up for myself...

Books for Children Aged 10+

My own son is 11, and these are the books that I've bought him for Christmas:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney
Book 10 in the series. Greg's town voluntarily goes electronics-free, so how will he and his family cope without the conveniences of modern life? My son loves these books.

War Horse by Michael Murpurgo
Released in 2006 and spawning a Spielberg movie, this is the story of a horse who sees WWI from both sides of the trenches. My son borrowed this from the library and begged for his own copy.

Grandpa's Great Escape by David Walliams
The latest from surprisingly good children's author David Walliams focuses on Grandpa, who still thinks he's a pilot in the war. He plans a great escape from his nursing home but needs the help of his Grandson. David Walliams' books are all dog-eared in our house, they've been read and re-read multiple times.

Moone Boy: The Fish Detective by Chris O'Dowd & Nick V. Murphy
Martin's family are having a budget Christmas, so Martin decides to get a job and buy his own presents. He starts working at a butcher's shop, but the local fish shop across the road is taking business. Martin decides to infiltrate the fish shop but with surprising results.

Books for Younger Children

You can't go wrong with the aforementioned Dr. Seuss - but here are some more ideas for younger children. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
If your little ones don't have this book, please get it. It's the best fun to read, and there are little finger holes in the pages too (you'll understand why when you read it).

That's Not My Santa by Fiona Watt
A nice Christmas story for young toddlers with touchy-feely parts for sensory play.

Farmyard Tales Lift-the-Flap Christmas by Heather Amery & Stephen Cartwright
A 24-page hardback book with 30 flaps to lift and enjoy alongside the story of the Boot family preparing for Christmas.

Mog's Christmas by Judith Kerr
Now available in a board book, this is the story of forgetful cat Mog exploring her house at Christmas.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
There are many, many versions of this book available, but I'd urge you to buy one for Christmas. It's a lovely tradition to read it at night in the week coming up to Christmas, or even on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Twinsie Tuesday - Inspired By Your Favourite Food

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So, I missed Twinsie Tuesday last week because I just wasn't feeling nail polish at all - but I've more than made up for it this week (I swatched 19 nail polishes over 2 days to try and make the most of the light) - so here's this week's prompt AND one for last week.

Last Week: Autumn to Winter Transitional

Late October is the time of year when I start embracing glitter again. I don't tend to wear it at all during the Spring/Summer, but from Halloween on, it's like Ke$ha threw up on my nails. I like to ease in, so for my Autumn/Winter transition, I tend to stick to nudes, slate greys, minks - all those lovely muted colours that Essie are great at. Then I wallop a load of glitter on the ring finger. It's my go-to transitional look every year.

For this one, I used Vintage Girl by Madam Glam (swatched yesterday) and a new Rimmel polish called Mistletoe Mischief.

This week: Inspired by Your Favourite Food

I cheated. I have no idea what my favourite food is (just give me ALL the food) so I went with a Christmassy food instead. I used Sally Hansen Commander in Chic and Essie Matte About You for my base, then used some darker brown and lighter brown polishes to make dots, Rimmel White Hot Love for the cream, China Glaze Running in Circles for the holly leaves and a red nail art pen for the berries. I really like how my Christmas pudding turned out!

I can't wait to see what the other girls did for the food theme!

Savannah - Addicted to Polish
Róisín - Cuti-CLUE-les
Claire - Kerruticles
Chelsea - Nailed Blog
Bridget - A Painted Nail
Amber - Nails Like Lace
Amanda - Fashion Footing
Amanda - Amandalandish
Alaina - The Little Canvas 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Madam Glam Nail Polish - Swaches & Black Friday Coupon

Products Provided for Honest Review


I hadn't heard of Madam Glam nail polish before their lovely PR lady got in touch to see if I'd like to review. I had a quick google and was intrigued more than anything else by the shape of the bottles, so I said yes and chose some shades. A few days later, Róisín had swatches of some other shades, and I was excited to receive mine because they looked really good.

My four chosen shades arrived last week, here they are:

L-R: Such a Star, Vintage Girl, Text me Later, Dark & Classy. 

Such a Star available to buy here

This is a glitter polish that feels slightly gritty to the touch when dried, almost reminiscent of the OPI Liquid Sand polishes. The picture shows two very thin coats but one would almost be enough. This was still going strong 3 days later when I removed it.

Vintage Girl available to buy here

This is a dusty lilac cream polish that applies well. The formula is lovely and the colour is really flattering - I love colours like this for Autumn/Winter. I removed this polish after 2 days, it was still fine.

Text me Later available to buy here

A deep purple cream, this was good to go in one coat. It's pictured with the flash on, but it's a gorgeous colour, great gel-like shine, and very wearable. This was my favourite and I wore it for a week before I had to remove it, I had a bit of tipwear after about day 5.

Dark & Classy available to buy here

Again, I could have gotten away with one coat. It looks like black but it's very dark purple. It's a beautiful polish that would make a less harsh alternative to black, this one was another favourite that I wore for a few days before removal.

International Shipping
Madam Glam are based in the United States, but they ship Internationally for $8.95 (tracked) which isn't a bad deal at all - I was expecting it to be much more expensive. The polishes are $10.95 each and are 5 Free (no toluene, formaldehyde, DBP, formaldehyde resin or camphor), Cruelty Free and Vegan.

Overall Verdict
My least favourite thing is the brush - it's a long thin one like the one on the mini Essies, and while I can tolerate them, they're not my favourite kind because they need a couple of dips to cover the nail. I had to be careful to not overload the brush, but thin coats were the way to go here. The polish dried quickly, it applied well, and it didn't stink. I could have easily gotten away with one coat of each colour if I was in a rush. The colours are very true to the swatches on the website, which is not always the case when buying online so that was brilliant. I like the bottles, but I'd prefer if the logo was on a sticker instead of printed on so that it doesn't rub off as easily. Overall I'd recommend the polishes - they're really nice, and especially  if you can take advantage of a discount code, I'd say they're very much worth ordering. The polish lasted for 4-5 days with no topcoat which is brilliant in anyone's book. It tended to wear away instead of chip in huge lumps.

I'm really impressed with the brand - glitters and novelty polishes are all great but if a brand can't do the basics well, I won't bother with them (hello Nails Inc). Madam Glam do the basics VERY well.

Discount Code
Madam Glam have very kindly given me a discount code that runs until Black Friday, November 27th. The first 10 people who shop using THIS LINK and enter the code BFBehindgreeneyes at the checkout will receive a massive 40% off their order. Every customer who uses the link and the code after that will get 30% off. (I don't receive any payment for this).


Friday, November 20, 2015

Bumper Christmas Gift Guide 2015 #3 - Online Shopping in Ireland (Men)

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Parts one and two of my gift guide got such a great response, thank you to everyone who liked it. This is part two - the men's guide. I'm going to do things a little differently this time and break it down by ten categories instead of ten shops - hopefully then if the man in your life has a specific interest you'll be able to get some inspiration. As with the last guide, there are cheaper stocking filler items included too. Prices are all correct as of 17/11, some items may be out of stock at the moment but check back in a day or two. I've stuck to online shops that price in Euro.

1. Sports
Whether he likes to play sports or just watch them, hopefully you'll find something here that suits. Specific teams shown are just an example, click through to the sites to find other teams.

Clockwise from top left: Men's Football Team Slippers, €15 at Life Style Sports. Garmin FR10 GPS Running Watch, €132 at Life Style Sports. Leinster Rugby Scarf, €18 at Life Style Sports. Cateye Velo 9 Cycle Computer, €49 at Littlewoods. The Last Line by Packie Bonner, €14.99 at Eason. Nike Free 3.0 v3 Men's Trainer, €77 Elverys. Retro Know Your Sport T-shirt, €20 at Hairy Baby. Hit Him, He's No Relation Mug, €14.50 at Hairy Baby. Under Armour Storm Undeniable Duffel Bag, €45 at JD Sports.  This Works Muscle Therapy, €22 Boots.

2. Grooming
Some men are into grooming, others aren't - but everyone needs a few basics! Here's something different to the usual Lynx twin pack.

Clockwise from top left: Bulldog Man's Best Friend Duo Face Wash & Moisturiser, €12.95 at Cloud 10 Beauty. No7 Men Protect and Perfect Advanced Serum, €34.50 at Boots. Percy Nobleman's Beard Balm, €24.99 at Boots. Dolce & Gabbana Intenso EDP 40ml, €54 at Cara Pharmacy. Shea Butter Hand and Foot Creams, €21 at L'Occitane. The Shave Doctor Manual Shaving System, €45 at Littlewoods.  Nip + Man Power Skin Gift Set, €14.99 at Cloud 10 Beauty. Glamglow Supermud, €49 at Cara Pharmacy. Ziaja Men Gift Set, €9.99 at Original Beauty. Braun WaterFlex Wet and Dry Shaver, €99.99 at Boots.

3. Travel
For some, travel is unavoidable. For others, it's a pleasure they indulge in regularly. I haven't left the country since 2004 so I may be a little rusty on the subject but here goes!

Clockwise from top left: Nuxe Men Travel Kit, €12.95 from Cloud 10 Beauty. Mini Global Travel Adaptor, €15 at Travel Shop. Tripp Glide Lite II Large Holdall, €25 at Tripluggage. Zipit Anti-Tangle Headphones, €20.49 at Mobile Fun. Fleece Travel Pillow, €8.19 at Outdoor Adventure Store. Garmin Nuvi 2597LM Irish/UK/Europe Sat Nav, €139.99 at Halfords. The Lonely Planet Book of Everything, €23.70 at Eason. Leather iPad Travel Case, €67 at Marks & Spencer. Travel Journal, €17 at Marks & Spencer. Skechers V-Stride Walking Shoes, €73.50 at Debenhams.

4. Cooking
Foodie gifts are my favourite to research, there are so many great ones around. Unfortunately the main man on my Christmas list doesn't cook, so I hope someone else gets ideas from this section! Something like the mixing bowl would make a quirky alternative to a gift basket.

Clockwise from top left: Food Nation Pestle & Mortar, €26 at Boots. The Hairy Bikers Casserole Pot, €29 at Boots. Sizzle & Sear Chip Buckets and Flavoured Salts, €14.50 at Boots. The Nation's Favourite Healthy Food by Neven Maguire, €22.99 at Gill & Macmillan. Tower 19-Piece Knife Block Set, €38.40 at Littlewoods. Morphy Richards 3.5 Litre Slow Cooker, €33 at Littlewoods. La Cucina 10 Jar Spice Rack, €24 at Debenhams. 2.5 Litre Stoneware Mixing Bowl, €16 at Heatons. Kikkerland Colourful Kitchen Counter Savers, €8.50 at Cara Pharmacy. Christmas Tea Towels Pack of 3, €8 at Dunnes.

5. Gadgets
I've tried to stay away from very pricey gadgets - we all know about Apple Watches and iPads and whatever, but I wanted to keep it relatively affordable (apart from that multi-tool which is flipping AWESOME).

Clockwise from top left: Thumbsup! Dual Power Bank 6600mAz, €42 at Littlewoods. Belkin Android Express Dock, €35 at Littlewoods. Waterpik Ultra Water Flosser, €57.99 at Boots. Fitbit Flex Activity/Sleep Tracker, €99.99 at Boots. Sony ZX310 AP Headphones with Mic, €31.99 at Boots. Swisstool Spirit (27 Functions), €105 at Peterson of Dublin.  PowerUp Smartphone Controlled Paper Aeroplane, €59.95 at The Gadget Store. iMusic Speaker Pillow, €29.95 at The Gadget Store. Amazon Fire 7" Tablet 8GB, €69.99 at Currys.  Apple TV Box, €79 at Harvey Norman.  

6. Retro
There are loads of great Retro gifts around. I'm a huge fan of nostalgia, so if you're looking for a throwback treasure, check these out!

Clockwise from top left: Oatfield Emerald Sweets 1.7kg Jar, €24.99 at Planet Candy. Philips Sound System with Turntable, €149 at Harvey Norman. Polka Dot Braces, €8 at Heatons. Classic Gold Tone Casio Watch, €56 at Littlewoods. Original Bosco Mug (with Box), €12.50 at Hairy Baby. Judge T-Shirt, €20 at Hairy Baby. Subbuteo Team Editon, €42.99 at Smyths. Nokia Phone Case for iPhone 5, €4.95 at Phone Box Red Retro Telephone, €65 at Harvey Norman.

7. Vehicles
Cars, tractors, whatever - if it's got wheels, hopefully these will inspire!

Clockwise from top left: Busy B Vehicle Document File, €12 at Cara Pharmacy. KK Opel Kadett 1/18 Scale (Hundreds more models), €89.99 at Mark's Models. Streetwize Heated Car Seat Cushion, €19 at Littlewoods. SuperTooth Buddy Bluetooth Visor Car Kit, €42 at Halfords. Holts Winter Car Care Kit, €3.95 at Mick's Garage. Irish Vintage Scene 2016 Tractor Calendar (also available: Retro Classics, Vintage Cars), €6.95 at Irish Vintage Scene. Mondello Park Supercar Driving Experience, from €235 at Mondello. David Brown Tractors by Colin Holwell, €29.50 at Eason. Scalextric Continental Sports Cars, €79 at Littlewoods. Keep it Country mug, €14.50 at Hairy Baby

8. Movies
Specific movie posters/DVDs are just examples, click through to the sites to see hundreds more. 

Clockwise from top left: Back to the Future Trilogy DVD, €12.99 at HMV. Batman Glow in the Dark Mug, €11 at Littlewoods. Lego Star Wars Force Awakens Millennium Falcon, €139.99 at Smyths. Cineworld Gift Card, €10-€100 at Cineworld.  Framed Movie Poster, from €39.99 at AllPosters. Sun Star Diecast DeLorean 1/18 Scale, €119.99 at Mark's Models. Spielberg: A Retrospective by Richard Schickel, €37.50 at Eason. Darth Vader Cardboard Cut-Out, €39.99 at AllPosters. POP! Vinyl Scarface Tony Montana, €14.99 at Eason. The James Bond Archives by Danny Graydon,Paul Duncan €130.04 at ShopIreland.

9. Fun
Right - so you're not close enough to someone to spend a lot of money or give them something too personal - all they need for one of these gifts is a sense of humour!

Clockwise from top left: Rhythm Sticks, €16 at Littlewoods. Guitar Multi Tool, €9 at LittlewoodsCork/Not Cork T-Shirt, €22 at Hairy Baby. The Big Bang Theory Cluedo, €32.99 at Eason. Guinness Book of World Records 2016, €16.99 at Eason. Volkswagen Washbag, €20 at Cara Pharmacy. Superman Suit Cover, €16 at Littlewoods. Cards Against Humanity, €29.99 at Board GamerNo Better Buachaill Mug & Tin, €14.50 at Hairy Baby. Secret Service Earphones, €16 at Littlewoods.

10. For the Man Who Has Everything
For the woman who has everything, it's pretty easy - a Charlotte Tilbury advent calendar and you're sorted. For the man who already has everything he wants, it's a little harder. I heard about the shirt service on Conrad Jones' snapchat (conradjones13) and thought it was a great idea, so hopefully the other bits will be inspiring too!

Clockwise from top left: Bespoke Shirt, €69 at Shirt By Hand. The Man Box, €25 at Grand Grand. Hornby The Flying Scotsman Train Set, €229 from Duffy's Toy World. Engravable Cesar Pen, €40 at Newbridge Silverware. A Grand Stretch Mug, €14.50 at Hairy Baby. Moccasin Slippers, €20 at Dunnes. Paul Costelloe Living Brass Telescope, €60 at Dunnes. Build Your Own Ship in a Bottle, €47 at Mark's Models. North Coast Cable Knit Scarf with Wool, €40 at Marks & Spencer. Jo Malone Oud & Bergamot Cologne Intense 100ml, €130 at Brown Thomas.

Hopefully you'll find something helpful here!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bumper Christmas Gift Guide 2015 #2 - Five Great Irish Brands

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This gift guide focuses on Irish brands. These are the ones that I personally use - I know there are many, many more but I have limited experience of them so I can't recommend something I've never tried. Here are my Top Five Best of Irish.

1. Newbridge Silverware

Newbridge were established as a Cutlery Company in Co. Kildare in 1934. Today, they're one of Ireland's leading brands of jewellery and homeware. Their most recent Ti Amo range is beautiful - I was very kindly sent a necklace from the range and I adore it. When we got married in 2012, I gave my Bridesmaids Newbridge earrings. We received a Newbridge Cutlery Set as a wedding present and we use it every day - it's something I'd never have bought for myself. While I still think Naomi Campbell was the most bizarre choice to front a collection, the new 'Ti Amo' range is gorgeous and there are some other lovely bits and pieces on the website. If money isn't an option, have a look at the Grace Kelly collection and try not to drool all over your keyboard. Newbridge offer free delivery to Ireland and the UK, and International delivery at €15 or free over €100.

Ti Amo Rose Gold Bracelet, €35. Guinness Rose Gold Plated Earrings, €40. Claddagh Ring (S/M/L), €30. Sleigh Scene Tealight Holder, €20. Maureen O'Hara Necklace, €65. Tealight Holder, €45.

2. Cocoa Brown Tan

Is there a woman in the country who doesn't own one Cocoa Brown product? The Cocoa Brown tanning range was launched in 2012 by creator Marissa Carter. In three years, Marissa has made Cocoa Brown a household name, making it a substitute for the words 'self tan'. Nobody needs an explanation when it's mentioned, everyone knows what it is and where it came from - that is one hell of an achievement (there's even an ad for a local salon offering a Cocoa Brown spray tan in my local Chinese). I personally don't get on with the beloved original one hour mousse - that's just me, I'm not a good tanner, I don't have the patience - I get flustered and I make mistakes. However, the Gentle Bronze and I are very good friends - or were, until the latest release came along. The new Instant Tanning Gel in Matte (I haven't tried the Shimmer) is fantastic. It's absolutely foolproof. I've linked a list of stockists under the header, but I'm sure at this stage we all know where to get our fix. Cocoa Brown makes a brilliant stocking filler, I always pick up a few for family and friends.

Instant Tan Bronzing Gel (Matte/Shimmer) €6.99 each. Deluxe Tanning Mitt, €5.99. Chocolate Whip Moisturiser, €5.95. Tough Stuff Scrub, €7.99. One Hour Tan Mousse, €7.99. Be Bronzed and Beautiful Gift Set, €9.99.

3. Gill & Macmillan Books

I previously featured Kennys booksellers in my Christmas Gift Guide - I wanted to feature an Irish publisher too. Gill & Macmillan, founded in 1856, are based in Dublin. They publish a wide range of books, but are probably best known for their work with Educational publications. If you've never owned a schoolbook with Gill & Macmillan printed on the front, you probably didn't go to school in Ireland. Here are my 6 picks of the books currently available from the website (I haven't read any of these yet but About Face is on the way and the rest are all on that ever-growing TBR pile) - delivery is free on all orders over €25 (UK and Ireland).

About Face by Aisling McDermott & Laura Kennedy, €22.95. Irelandopedia by Fatty Burke & John Burke, €24.95. Counting My Blessings by Francis Brennan, €14.99. The Irish Countrywomen's Association Book of Christmas by the ICA, €22.99. The Nation's Favourite Healthy Food by Neven Maguire, €22.99. Foster's Historical Irish Oddities by Allen Foster, €10.99.

4. Waxperts

Established in 2008 by Ellen Kavanagh and now ran by Ellen and her business partner and best friend Trish, Waxperts has quickly become the go-to brand for tackling ingrown hairs and spots at home. Their Wonder Pads (aka Ingrown Hair Pads) are one of the best inexpensive multi-use products for tackling not only ingrown hair, but stubborn spots and Keratosis Pilaris (those annoying little red bumps on your arms/legs). Their Beautiful Body Oil is scented with lavender, and soothes the skin after waxing or shaving - I love it after shaving my legs. Waxperts products are the type of thing you don't realise you need until you don't have them - so I always have a spare pot of pads to hand. A pot of Wonder Pads and a bottle of Beautiful Body Oil make perfect stocking fillers - a gift voucher for salon with a Waxpert (a Salon Professional trained at the Waxperts Academy) would make a great present too. The Waxperts Salon is based in Dun Laoghaire, to find a Waxpert in other areas of the country, you can find more information here.

Ingrown Hair Pads (Wonder Pads) - €7.95. Beautiful Body Oil - €12.99.

4. Blank Canvas Cosmetics

Blank Canvas Cosmetics are an Irish company founded in November 2011 by Una Tynan from Donegal. As someone who has only really gotten big into make up brushes over the past 2-3 years, Blank Canvas are now my go-to brush brand. I always check them first if I'm looking for something specific - and 9 times out of 10, they have it. Available from their website, they can also be found at Cloud 10 Beauty,, and Cara Pharmacy. Their most recent release was the much-anticipated collaboration with Pippa O'Connor - The Pippa Palette. I didn't buy one for myself - I thought that the price point was a little high considering the affordability of the rest of the range - but I did buy one as a gift for a friend. I always treat myself to some new brushes around Christmas - and I always get a couple for others as stocking fillers.

The Pippa Palette, €34.99. Eye Perfection Collection with Travel Case,  €59.99. G25 Large Powder/Blusher Brush, €13.99. F28 Fluffy Contour Powder Brush (as recommended by Orla from Makeup Over Mind for highlighter - it's fantastic), €7.99. F20 Flat Buffer Brush (also available in pink), €14.99. 6 Piece Set #1 with Case, €49.99.

5. Hairy Baby

I LOVE Hairy Baby so much, they're worth every cent. They have stuff that suits the Irish sense of humour so well, where else could you buy a t-shirt with "did you turn off the immersion?" on it? Or a child's top with "Daddy or Chips?" emblazoned across the front? They have a great line of Father Ted merchandise too. I've bought several of the t-shirts for myself and my husband, and they're great quality. They also do t-shirts for kids, and they have mugs (the mugs come in a tin that's also a money box), tote bags, phone covers and greeting cards too. The company is based in Cork and was founded by Daragh Murphy from Kerry in 2005. I actually found it really hard to just pick 6 things to show you - go and look at the website, it's brilliant! I have my eye on another t-shirt for my obituary-obsessed husband for Christmas and I want to replace my smashed A1 Sharon mug, but there are SO many choices. Seriously, I could have shown you 66 great things here. But here are 6:

Jax|BeanJax Men's Tee, €23. Bouli Tee, €20. Red Rover Ladies Tee, €22. Tote Bag, €8. Feile '94 Mug, €14.50. Small/Far Away Mug, €12.50.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great Irish companies - as I said, there are dozens and dozens more. I'd love to hear about your favourites, so please do leave me a comment if there's a great Irish brand you think I need to know about.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bumper Christmas Gift Guide 2015: Online Shopping in Ireland (Women)

Not Sponsored/No Samples

Prices subject to change. All prices correct as of 16/11. 


You know me, I love a bit (okay, a lot) of online shopping. I'm a huge fan of shopping for bargains at all hours of the day and night, but with the terrible exchange rates at the moment, I'm sticking to Irish websites as much as I can. I've picked my top ten favourite sites - these are the ones I use myself.

Today, I'm focusing on online shopping for gifts for women. I'll cover the men and children over the next week, PLUS I'll have a guide to my favourite Irish products and a couple of ideas for people who are hard to buy for.

Here's a guide to my 10 favourite websites that deliver within Ireland, and a little wishlist from each just to give you an idea of what's available, I've included lots of stocking fillers. Grab a cup of tea and cut your bank cards in half.

1. Brown Thomas - 

This is your first stop if you're after high-end brands. Brown Thomas stock Charlotte Tilbury, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Clarins, Clinique, Chanel, Dior, Jo Malone - the list is endless. They stock designer fashion, homeware, footwear, bags, accessories, jewellery, even luxury foods. I've used the site many, many times with no issues. They deliver within a day or two (it can be busier around Christmas) via Registered Post. Delivery is €3.50 per order. Here are my top ten picks from the website, click on the prices for direct links.

Clockwise from top left: Charlotte Tilbury Nocturnal Cat Eyes to Hypnotise, €35. Max Benjamin Dodici Candle, €19. Clinique Days of the Week Lipstick Set, €45. YSL Black Opium 30ml EDP €58. Molton Brown Hand Cream Set, €30. The White Company A5 Notebook, €21. Charbonnel & Walker Pink Champagne Truffles, €14.50. Dior Diorific Vernis State of Gold Polish, €26.50. Charlotte Tilbury Matte Lipstick in 'Very Victoria', €30. Jo Malone Christmas Cracker, €38.

2. Cloud 10 Beauty -

Based in Co. Monaghan, Cloud 10 Beauty are notorious for their fast delivery and their excellent range of hard-to-find brands. If any items are out of stock, you can join a mailing list and receive an email the minute they become available again (I've done this many times). With free shipping over €15, free samples with every order, and frequent promotions, it's a site I can't stay away from. Here are my current ten favourite things from Cloud 10:

Clockwise from top left: The Balm The Manizer Sisters, €28. First Aid Beauty FAB Holiday Cheers Kit, €50. Blank Canvas Eye Perfection Collection, €59.95. Cocoa Brown Instant Tan Bronzing Gel Matte/Shimmer, €6.99 each. Crabtree & Evelyn Noel Botanical Candle, €35. Ciate Mini Mani Month Advent Calendar, €59.95. Trilogy Rosapene Beauty Collection, €36. Sleek Eye & Cheek Palette in 'See You At Midnight', €13.49. The Balm Meet Matt(e) Hughes Liquid Lipstick in 'Charming', €15.50. REN Hit The Spot Clearcalm 3 Gift Set, €18.

3. - are based in Kildare, and are home to a huge range of Irish and foreign brands. They carry an enormous line of skincare from brands like REN and Neostrata, plus the whole line of CND Vinylux polishes. Customer service is fantastic and delivery is fast, with a flat rate of €3.49 or free when you spend over €50. Here are my current picks:

Clockwise from top left: Boyne Country Candles Take Me To Beverly Hills, €15.50. Waxperts Ingrown Hair Pads €7.95 and Beautiful Body Oil €12.99. CND Vinylux Contradictions Fall 2015 Collection, €11.95 each. AYU Complete Face/Contour Brush Set, €45. Nia Calendula & Orange Blossom Cleansing Balm, €20. Physician's Formula Argan Oil Bronzer, €17.90. Green Angel Aloe & Seaweed Eye Gel, €20. Neostrata Enlighten Combo Set, €44.95. Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips Kohl Kajal Eyeliner Trio, €16.90. Human + Kind Deep Cleansing Cloths, €6.95.

4. Simply Foxy - 

Simply Foxy are an Irish site that are relatively new on the scene. Their product selection has grown enormously over the past few months, and they have a great variety (including lots of Flormar). I've used them a few times, they're hassle-free and I've had delivery within 1-2 days via An Post. Delivery is free on orders over €25, or €5 otherwise. Earlier this year they had a massive €1 sale on Catrice and Rimmel, so they're definitely worth keeping an eye on. Here are my top ten picks from the site right now:

Clockwise from top left: Royal and Langnickel 'Love is Kindness' Travel Brush Set, €29. Katy Perry Royal Revolution 30ml edp, €18. The Wet Brush, €10. Nip + Fab Destress Body Blends Set, €13.99. The Balm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette, €43. Colab Dry Shampoo 200ml, €3.99 each. Brown/Gold Tone Costume Necklace, €10. Flormar Revolution Lipstick in 'Revolutionary Red', €6.95. W7 The Cheeky Trio, €7.99. Zoella 'Just Say Yes' Makeup Bag, €9.99.

5. Cara Pharmacy - 

I've written about Cara a few times - it's my favourite chemist by far. The value for money is exceptional - made even better by the regular weekend-long sales throughout the year. When you order online you have the option of home delivery or instore pick-up. Home delivery is free on orders over €50, or €5 otherwise. Instore pick-up is free. Cara have NYX, W7, Yankee, Benefit, Blank Canvas - not to mention a huge Homeware section with lots of cute and quirky gifts. Their product inventory is enormous. Here are my top ten Christmas gift ideas from Cara:

Clockwise from top left:  The Pippa Palette for Blank Canvas Cosmetics, €34.99. Bayliss and Harding Dressing Gown Set, €4.20. Radox Feel Fabulous Gift Set, €7.40. Michael Kors Rose Radiant Gold 50ml edp Gift Set, €79.  Nip+Fab Party-Prep Glycolic Set, €17.95. Yankee Candle 3 Small Jar Gift Set, €29.95. NYX Matte Lip Cream, €7.75 each. Colour Yourself Calm Colouring Book, €11.99. Busy B Weekly Planner, €10. Glamglow SuperMud, €49.

6. - 

Launched earlier this year, Hippenings is the brainchild of Confetti Magazine editor and all-round good egg Laura Cunningham. Hippenings stock party supplies, gifts, and really cool stationery from and Kate Spade. Delivery is fast, customer service is excellent, and packaging is as cute as a button. Here are a couple of my picks:

Clockwise from top left: Thermal Mug - €19.50. Good Ideas Notebook Set - €17.50. Florabunda Notebook - €14.50. Porcelain Tray, €28. Disco/Lilac Ear Buddies - €19.50. Florabunda Agenda - €27.50. Kate Spade Large Agenda, €46. Girl Talk Pen Set, €17.50. Kate Spade Tackle Box, €45. Pom Pom Garland, €18.

7. Boots Ireland -

The Holy Grail Chemist for many, Boots online carry a far bigger range of products than most stores including NYX, Chanel, Barry M and Smashbox - but they excel at quirky Christmas gifts. Boots offer both in-store pick-up (€2.50 or free over €25) and home delivery (€5 or free over €50). You can still collect Advantage Card points on online purchases. They do fantastic gift options, including sales and 3 for 2 promotions. Here's my Boots wishlist:

Clockwise from top left: Soap & Glory Once Upon a Lime Set, €14.50. No.7 Cracker Collection, €23. Starbucks Cocoa Duo, €24. Vintage Collection Bedroom Storage Box, €22. Festive Heart Slate Chalkboard, €11.50. Aroma Home Fox Hottie, €29. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Starter Set, €20.75. Rosies Pantry Recipe Journal, €17.50. 50/50 Colouring Pencils, €11.50.  Pantone Universe Nail Polish Set, €23.

I've ordered from Heatons many, many times without any issues. They offer free in-store pick-up or home delivery costing €5 on orders under €30, or free over €30. They have regular sales and a great selection of clothes, gifts, homewares, and toys. Here are my top ten picks (lots more to come on the site before Christmas): 

Clockwise from top left: Pitch Perfect 2 DVD, €13. Text Candle Jar, €8. Faux Fur Onesie, €20. Birdhouse Calendar, €10. Vaseline Make Up Bag, €8. Taylor Swift Wonderstruck 50ml edp, €24.95. Tartan Slipper Boots, €8. Velvet Throw, €12. Gingerbread Mug, €3.50. Reindeer Lantern, €4.  

9. Kennys -

Well you didn't think I'd leave books out, did you? I do love my kindle, and I do shop at Amazon and their various subsidiaries, but I've been trying to buy all my non-kindle books in Ireland where possible. Kennys are based in Galway, and they offer competitive prices with free worldwide delivery (no minimum order amount). They have a huge used book section, they always include a little bookmark, and they're really reliable and trustworthy. Here are ten books from Kennys that I'd love to see under the tree this year: 

Clockwise from top left: Spectacles by Sue Perkins, €13.62. A Slanting of The Sun by Donal Ryan, €13.42. Fresh! by Donal Skehan, €16.20. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, €9.68. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, €15.56.  A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, €10.73. Keith Lemon's Big One, €16.39. The Heart of Winter by Emma Hannigan, €10.28. Counting My Blessings: Francis Brennan's Guide to Happiness by Francis Brennan, €15.96. Pulling The Strings by Peter Stringer, €16.79

10. Littlewoods Ireland -

Littlewoods Ireland is one of my most-used websites. You can avail of 20% off your first order if you set up a new credit account, or you can keep an eye out for discount codes that crop up every so often (google is your friend). They have regular sales, and you can pay straight away - you don't have to buy on credit. I find it so handy for presents, they do a great 3 for 2 on beauty/gifts, and they were cheaper than another leading toy shop this year for the toys I wanted to buy for the lads. They offer free delivery and free returns, and even though most items are dispatched from the UK, orders are usually delivered by courier within 4-5 working days (you'll get a delivery estimate when ordering that I've always found fairly accurate). Here are my picks!

Clockwise from top left: House of Holland A5 Notebook, €14. Lipsy Rose Gold Watch, €55. Vera Wang Lovestruck EDP 100ml, €45. Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Complete Series, €47. Vero Moda Check Scarf, €15.50. Remington Curl Revolution, €64. Converse Chuck All Star Sequin Plimsolls, €68. Bombay Duck Trinket Box, €11. Fiorelli 'Luella' Grab Bag, €65.75. ICE London Lucky Charm Pen Trio, €23.

Spot anything you like?