Category Archives: Gift Guides

6 Books You Should Totally Give as Christmas Presents

Do you know that I’m fond of books? You probably do. Reading has always been one of my favourite things to do, and I think there’s nothing better than a great book as a gift. Here are my Christmas 2014 suggestions for your friends/family/other-people-you-have-to-buy-a-present-for:

  1. The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde: Wilde’s plays are always an amusing read, and his wit is absolutely hilarious. These timeless plays are great for young and old alike, and The Importance of Being Earnest will prove to be a forever-favourite.
  2. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne: I read this when I was very young, and Verne immediately became one of my favourite authors. His stories are always magnificent, and if someone in your life hasn’t read this classic, go ahead and buy it for them to read on Christmas weekend.
  3. On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan: I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but this is one of my absolute favourite books by Ian McEwan, and he’s my favourite author. It was the first one of his books that I had ever read (it was either this one or one of his short story collections…), and I fell in love instantly. It’s a very quick read, and a beautiful, sad story. I’ve actually already bought a copy to give to someone myself this year!
  4. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg: While reading this book (which is not without its irrelevant bits and not without its flaws – like any book, I guess), I kept nodding and thinking “YES.”, and sort of wanted everyone in my life to read it. It’s certainly not just for women, but it’s a fantastic book about leadership and having an effective work ethic. I also really want to read the Graduate edition, which will probably be a thousand times more relevant for me at the moment.
  5. The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations & Books – Eviatar Zerubavel: This book was recommended to me by my wonderful + so beautiful Dutch friend, Eline, who mentioned it to me while I was struggling with my Doctor of Laws thesis. It really, really helped, and bits of it stuck in my mind, so much so that I think about it and its suggestions even when it comes to different types of writing, not just thesis-writing. Buy this for any aspiring novelist/writer in your life, or for the poor student who’s struggling to write that wretched thesis/dissertation.
  6. Kulħadd ħalla isem warajh – Clare Azzopardi: My Maltese pick for this Christmas – a beautiful book that became an immediate favourite by the time I was halfway through it. Its structure makes it very pleasant to read, and the characters are ones that will keep lingering in your mind forever. I kind of wish this book could go on forever.

Let me know if you have any other Christmas (book) present suggestions! I might just buy them for myself…

The Frankie Daily Journal 2014

Last year, I finally took the plunge and purchased a Frankie Daily Journal (the previous year, I had wanted one but they had sold out too quickly!). I had seen a lot of good things about them online over the years, but it’s a different thing to own one.  I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts about it, since it’s been quite special to have a daily journal at hand for a year – not something I usually do. (I usually stick to jotting things down on my Google Calendar, and that’s about it).

This diary is a beautiful little book – and feels so luxurious. The almost-square shape is so pretty, and it’s going to look gorgeous on a shelf when I’m done with it. It’s lovely to have something to keep my thoughts and special moments from a particular time jotted down, even if I did neglect the journal for a few months this year… I hope I’ll be more consistent next year! (Yes, I’ve already ordered the 2015 one, and I’m so excited to fill it in with thoughts from a new life in Luxembourg.)

Now, let’s talk about what’s inside. The journal is SO FULL of things:

  1. A ribbon to track your place.
  2. A pocket at the back to keep whatever you need to keep.
  3. Delightful patterns (that change with the month!)
  4. Gorgeous illustrations.
  5. Month “front pages” that are like little paintings.
  6. STICKERS.
  7. POSTCARDS.
  8. Little bookmark-style pull-out lists.
  9. A couple of pages showing the whole year.
  10. Pages showing each month.
  11. A little double-page year-view calendar just for birthdays.
  12. Oh-so-many more things.

(Some more photos here.) (And here.)

It goes unsaid that this would make a fantastic present, and I highly recommend this beautiful journal. (So totally can’t wait for the 2015 one to arrive in the mail and to start using it!)

Christmas Wishlist 2014

Christmas Wishlist 2014

 

I’m probably only going to write a couple of Christmas gift guides this year, and this is the one with All Of The Things, whereas the next one will be about All Of The Books. This year, I’m trying to move the focus away from thing-things (since I’m moving to another country and can’t carry over too many things), but for my Christmas wishlist here, I’m going to list a few things which could be very useful wherever I am.

  1. Escentric Molecules (Molecule 1) – I’ve wanted this fragrance forEVER, and I haven’t been able to buy it myself because most websites don’t ship perfumes, and I’ve never seen it in an airport or in Malta (or anywhere when I’ve been abroad recently). Maybe I’ll find it when I’m in Luxembourg, or maybe I’ll be given it at Christmas (I WOULD DIE <3).
  2. The Wet Brush – this is one of the latest crazes in hair brushes, but promises to be good for my wild curly/wavy mane. It’s not expensive, but I’ve never committed to buying one myself, so it would be a lovely gift.
  3. RMS Living Luminizer – this seems like a perfect highlighter, and I’m always looking for a great one, especially after my beautiful theBalm Mary Lou Manizer shattered *sad-face*
  4. Fancy Pure Vanilla Extract – OK, I probably wouldn’t take this with me to Luxembourg if someone gave this to me this Christmas, but I have ALWAYS wanted to own a bottle of realfancy vanilla extract, for extra-delicious baked treats.
  5. A T-Shirt relating to Feminism – I want most of the T-shirts on this website. What can I say? I’m passionate. An excellent gift for the feminist in your life (AKA anyone in your life, I should hope).
  6. A really fancy candle – again, I don’t know if I’d trawl this over with me to Luxembourg, but I’ve always wanted a ridiculously amazing fat candle that fills up a space with the most beautiful scent, especially if it’s chilly outside. Or maybe I would totally take this with me. It’s a clear necessity.
  7. A GoPro – UGHHHH I WANT ONE SO BADLY. That is all.
  8. A handy, stylish, practical Kanken backpack – whenever I need a backpack (at festivals, for example), I’m always at a loss. This is why I need Swedish design in my life and on my back, especially if I’m going to be cycling it up in Luxembourg.

I hope that gave you a few ideas. Have fun Christmas shopping for your nearest and dearest (and Secret Santa victims). :)

Summer 2014 Reading List

Summer 2013 Reading List 001

After the idea was planted in my head by two lovely Facebook friends yesterday, I’ve decided to compile a little Summer 2014 Reading List. This is mostly comprised of reading suggestions for summer, but there are also a few that I’m hoping to read myself over the next few months.

The ideal books to read during summer are usually relatively light books (weight-wise) (unless you have an e-reader) that are also not very heavy when it comes to the themes in the books themselves. A few books I mention below break this last rule, but are short enough to be enjoyed over the summer (or any time, but we’re going to pretend that this is a special reading “season” or something).

Let me know if you’ve read or hope to read any of these.

  1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys – this one is definitely a “heavy” book. It’s about Lithuanians being deported to Siberia during the Second World War, and has received a crazy amount of awards. Don’t just read books like The Book Thief. Read this too.
  2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – the perfect young adult novel that I wish I could have read when I was 15. A few very steamy hand-holding scenes in this one.
  3. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – a delicious whodunit to read at the beach. I couldn’t stop reading this one (even waking up extra early to finish it!).
  4. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – this is such a beautiful story, with battles and growing-up, and the most gut-wrenching love you’ll ever read about.
  5. Perfume by Patrick Süskind – this book still haunts me, and I don’t think I’ve ever read such beautiful, haunting, tactile descriptions. Definitely one I want to re-read one day (and I don’t really ever re-read books).
  6. Kulhadd Ħalla Isem Warajh by Clare Azzopardi – this is my Maltese pick for a Summer Reading List. It’s perfect to read over a few days or weeks because it is essentially a collection of short stories (which actually end up being linked) about several wonderfully-interesting, complex women.
  7. The Clockwork Muse by Eviatar Zerubavel – a quick read to prepare you for your next writing project, whether it’s a thesis, dissertation, or a novel.
  8. A Bill Bryson book – these non-fiction reads are fantastic to pick up during the summer months. Enjoy dreaming about visiting another country, like Australia or Britain, or the USA.
  9. The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan – read this if you’d like an impeccabbly written story that will make you wonderfully uncomfortable.
  10. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – I’ve been meaning to read this for months, and I’ve got such a beautiful edition, so this is definitely on top of my to-read list for the summer.
  11. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – I think I’ll love this, and it has been recommended for a long time. Plus, it shouldn’t take too long to get through, so then I can even get to some other Virginia Woolf books.
  12. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber – I bought this months ago after seeing it recommended somewhere online, and it’s quite chunky, but I’m hoping I’ll love it.

Have a great summer of reading!

25th Birthday Wishlist

Birthday Wishlist 2014

On my birthday this year (my 25th!), I’m going to be stuck in a musty building doing one half (9 hours) of the notarial warrant exam. It’s going to be gruelling and it’s going to be awful. And then two days later I’ll have another 9 hour exam session. Ugh. Therefore: this year’s birthday will be a weekend affair, following the two exam sessions. So I’m planning a lot of fun and frolicking to be had.

(I’m also popping over for a quick trip to Rome with my bestie the following week – so exciting!)

As has been a relative tradition on this blog, I’m going to show you a few things which are on my birthday wishlist this year.

In the beauty/make-up corner on the top left, I’m coveting Dior’s Crème de Rose lip balm, MAC’s Plumful lipstick, Tany Burr’s Aurora lip gloss, the Benefit POREfessional primer, LUSH’s Big shampoo and Retread conditioner, and the Le Blanc de Chanel sheer illuminating base.

The top-right corner contains a few home/miscellaneous items: beautiful candles, my most-wanted perfume of the moment, a picnic basket, and a book lamp(!).

Finally, obviously, a few books from my ever-lengthening book wishlist: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsLegend by Marie Lu, and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. (PS: the BookDepository have a crazy sale today! So excited. Totally using my studying-procrastinating time to refresh ever half an hour…)

LUSH 2013 Boxing Day Sale Haul

LUSH Boxing Day Sale Haul 1

Last year’s LUSH Boxing Day haul post is one of the most popular on my blog, and with good reason, because LUSH products are awesome and a LUSH haul is easily one of the best posts to read, ever. This year, again, on Boxing Day morning, I was quick with my clicking towards the UK LUSH website to nab some sale goodies (at 50% off!). The bunch above is the entirety of my haul, and I’m so excited about all the products!

Firstly, I got a little pot of Santa’s lip scrub, which smells like sweet cola, and is the absolute best lip scrub you can ever wish for. Lip scrubs are really easy to make from scratch (oil and sugar), but the LUSH lip scrubs are too lovely to pass up. This one even had little red hearts in the mixture, awwh.

I also got a little bottle of I Love Juicy shampoo, which is supposed to be a great cleansing shampoo, and I really look forward to try it out and see how it works with removing build up and all the gunk of products in my hair.

LUSH Boxing Day Sale Haul 2

Lastly, I splurged a little on the Winter Garden bauble gift set, which is such a lovely bundle of products. It contained a little bottle of Rose Jam shower gel, and I’ve already spoken about how it is one of my current favourite products. There was also a tiny sample of the Helping Hands hand cream (which is really nice), and a tub of Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner (which I’ve been wanting to try for over a year). Finally, I got a huge slab of Sultana of Soap, which is so creamy, and I hope I get to use it ASAP (even though I have a million and one other things for the shower which need to be used up).

I love LUSH. So much. Especially their Christmas stuff. Especially on sale. Mmm.

Merry Christmas to my lovely readers (and a Christmas meal idea)

Florence 2013 155

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers. I’m grateful for every one of you, and hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy compiling posts throughout the year. My blog will be three years old on January 1st, which is insane, but also warm and fuzzy and familiar.

On Sunday, I went to a mega Christmastime meal with the paternal half of my boyfriend’s family. As my own offering, I made some from-scratch cranberry sauce to accompany the stuffed turkey main course. It turned out to be quite a success, and only took about 15 minutes of effort (which mostly consisted of rinsing cranberries and gentle stirring). A tip for that recipe: don’t be stingy with the sugar – I even chucked in a few heaped spoonfuls of brown sugar.

Have a lovely few days. :)

Christmas Gift Guide 2013: Miscellaneous

It’s the final Christmas 2013 Gift Guide today! This one is all about the miscellany and the randomness. They’re extra options in case you’re still stuck for a gift.

Pretty prints – These are lovely gifts for people who have walls to fill in their home or office. Etsy has some great ones, but you can find ones all over the place. They can be cheap or really exclusive (or both).

A great book series – Yup, books again. These make fantastic Christmas presents, because they look good and they’re delicious to get into during the holidays and the whole of the new year.

Awesome mugs – Everyone has simultaneously too many and too few mugs in their lives. They’re always a lovely gift, especially when they have Quentin Blake illustrations on them.

A hedgehog table brush – That’s it. I’ve decided. Everyone needs one of these in their lives. So wonderfully posh yet cute at the same time. Whip this out in between courses at a dinner party and you’re basically the coolest person ever.

A big bunch of fresh flowers – When all else fails, this is a pretty great present, especially if you’re just bringing a gift to a party host, and they’re not partial to wine, for example.

Address stamps – Perfect for people with new addresses, new titles, or newly-formed couples, or anyone, really. They’re so elegant and great to just pop on your return address at the back of envelopes or on the top of letters. Snail mail is lovely.

A grippy pad – I only found out about this a few days ago and isn’t it COOL? I really think it could be great for people who have smartphones and other things that they’d like to stick onto places (especially dashboards). I want it, personally.

A magazine subscription – A few years ago I gave my best friend a year’s subscription to Empire, and she adored it. It’s quite a great ‘gift that keeps on giving’, every month or every few months. Find the person’s niche or hobby and get them a gift in their letter box every so often throughout the whole of the following year. Ideally, buy the December or end-of-year issue and attach the gift receipt for the following year’s subscription, so they can start reading as soon as you give the gift. Lucky Peach looks soooo promising. Other personal success stories include National Geographic (for my boyfriend’s brother) and Intelligent Life (for my boyfriend).

Journals and notebooks – Always useful, great gifts. That’s it.

And that really is it. Secret: I could probably churn out a few more of these gift guides, but maybe I should save a few ideas for next year. Thanks for reading, and hope you found a few fantastic (+ successful) ideas! :)

Christmas Gift Guide 2013: Home

Christmas Gift Guide 2013 (Home) 

This Christmas Gift Guide falls under the ‘Home’ category, sort of. It’s got candles and fluffy cushions and a nice big bottle of good wine. Everyone enjoys these gifts, and they’re particularly great for the “odd” gift recipients such as people you don’t really know, relatives you’re not really close with, and teachers/party hosts/parents. And also people you really, really know and love, because decadent candles and pretty measuring cups are mind-blowingly amazing gifts. 

(I even numbered them and everything this time – someone’s learning about the increased options of Polyvore…)

1. CANDLESCANDLESCANDLES – These would make anyone smile – who doesn’t like having a luxury candle burning in the background during wintertime? (Maybe someone who hates a particular scent or has a very sensitive nose… but let’s forget about those people for a second…) They are all a little expensive and high-end (these aren’t good old Yankee Candle prices), but I have a feeling they would be oh-so-worth-it. The little pack of five Diptyque candles looks particularly enticing, and a ‘safer’ present since there are lots of scents to please.

2. Cushions – This might be a strange suggestion, but a great graphic cushion is always welcome and can be used in a variety of places around the house. The link I’ve included is to an H&M page, but you can find a tonne of options at lots of local places (I’m sure M&S have a nice selection, for example).

3. Perfume or room spray – More stuff from Diptyque. But seriously, this a dream brand for me, and I’ve never tried anything from them, and all I want is to slather myself in all their scents and everything. Perfumes (or something more ‘homely’, like a room spray) would be luxurious gifts which are personal yet promising.

4. A fantastic bottle of wine – If you’re not sure about a person’s preference (white/red/sparkling/rosé/etc), give more than one, or ask someone who knows. These make fantastic host gifts (obviously), and are very special presents when they’re a little more expensive and/or hard to procure (or how about a yummy bottle of port!). I gave one of my best friends a bottle of pink sparkling wine for her birthday (among other things), and it was quite a success (particularly since she shared it with me a few weeks later…) :D

5. Measuring spoons/cups – Aren’t these ridiculously cute and cheerful and useful? Whenever recipes have ‘cups’ and ‘spoons’ in them, I get a little confused and impatient. Yes, it’s usually smarter to go by weight in certain recipes, but in most you can get away with a generic ‘cup’ here and there – and with these, you can be as precise as possible!

6. A candle snuffer – Again with the candle-related things! But I’ve wanted one of these for a while, since they’re useful in maintaining the scent of a candle after you blow it out (instead of having to endure a smoky smell). This one by Diptyque is ridiculously expensive, but I’m sure there are cheaper options which are equally as elegant and suitable as gifts to candle-lovers.

7. A cactus or a succulent plant – When my Spanish housemate had given me a little cactus, it felt like it was the actual best gift ever. This isn’t a gift of responsibility, but it’s a gift of something pretty, stylish, and alive for your home or office. Succulents have been particularly appealing to me lately, and I kind of want one for my desk at home. They come in all shapes and sizes too.

I’m going to keep churning out gift guides until I’m blue in the face, it seems. My initial “Christmas Wish List” text document has sprouted into lists and lists of tangential items, which I am now blogging about, alongside Polyvore collages. I hope you have found them useful, or at least amusing or nice to look at/read. I’m thinking about compiling one final ‘Miscellaneous’ gift guide, which should round up the series nicely for this year, and should be particularly useful for more ‘odd’, and more ‘last-minute’ gifts.

Christmas Gift Guide 2013: Beauty

Another one for the Christmas Gift Guide series today, and this time it’s all about luxurious beauty products. I could go on and on about make-up products and beauty products that I’m dying to own and try out, but I’ve tried really hard to compile a little collection of special products which might make perfect Christmas gifts. Quite a few of these are unisex (like the LUSH moisturiser, the nipple lip balm (tee hee), the hair oil, and the face mask), so we’re not just talking about gifts for ladies or girlie girls here. 

Ojon rare blend oil – I’ve read about this at length over on this blog, and I really need it in my life. Really. Apparently, it will give you perfect hair. I would like that.

Hourglass ambient lighting palette – So apparently this will give your face an amazing subtle glow. I would like that, too.

Dr Lipp’s Original Nipple Balm for Lips – If it’s good enough for nipples, it’s good enough for my lips. My lips always get cracked and uneven in winter. Always, actually. And this looks like it might smooth them nicely. (Plus, this would make for a hilarious + thoughtful present.)

Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask – This is a beautiful, luxurious mask that should re-invigorate and cleanse the skin. I’m aching to try this, but it’s too expensive for me to justify it… so it would make a fabulous present for lovely skin.

Butter London nail polish in Bit Faker – Bronze glitter. Do I even need to say anything else?

Essie nail polish in A Cut Above – Shattered pink diamond glitz. Wow.

Christian Dior rose lip balm – This is luxury at its finest, and it seems to be a perfect lip balm. A rose scent, some plumping action, some smoothing action – it’s all good. (Plus, it’s a little expensive so it would be totally welcome as a Christmas gift.)

Benefit They’re Real! Mascara – I bought this as a present for one of my best friends and she let me try it a few months ago and I WANT IT SO MUCH FOR MYSELF IT HURTS. (I wish Benefit shipped to Malta…) It’s really fantastic mascara. The best thing about it (apart from the fact that it thickens and lengthens) is that it does not smudge or budge. I had slept with it still on (oops.) and I woke up the following day with the mascara looking like it had just been applied. What.

Le Blanc de Chanel sheer illuminating base – Aforementioned awesome blog says that this is practically flawless. I would like to have this in my life to illuminate my skin. And it would make a great gift since it is (1) luxurious and (2) there is no need to match it to a particular skin colour. Want.

The Body Shop Honeymania body butter – This seems amazing (I’ve smelled it) and the Body Shop’s body butters are always brilliant. Not the most luxurious present ever, but I would pretty much adore it if I got it myself, so it might still be a perfect gift for your particular recipient. :)

LUSH Celestial moisturiser – This smells like vanilla and is fantastic for sensitive skin (so you don’t need to worry too much about your gift recipient getting a bad reaction from this). It’s just a lovely thought to give someone the gift of a small pamper session every day – it only takes a few seconds to moisturise your face in the morning, and yet it makes all the difference.

Neal’s Yard Remedies rose facial oil – I’m very much into roses, as you have probably deduced, and this facial oil sounds like a perfect luxurious step in a beauty routine before bed. Again, a lovely gift.

Laura Mercier brow powder duo – Maybe this should be a gift for a close friend rather than a simple acquaintance, but this brow palette seems like a beautiful addition to a make-up collection, and I’d love to give it a go one day.

I hope this has been useful. More… miscellaneous gift guides should be coming soon, including one which is more focused on stuff for the home, if you will. Christmas is so close!