Christmas Gift Guide for Her

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My love language is definitely gifts! I really appreciate it when someone takes the time to select something for someone that they think they’ll like, which is something I do often as I love giving gifts. During Christmas however things can become a little crazy, so this gift guide should help you with some ideas and steer you in the right direction.

Beauty

It is definitely safer to stick to colour products as there will be no guessing shades of foundation, just simply whether the person will like a shade. Whether you’re buying for a makeup lover or someone that just appreciates a little bling, there really is something for everyone. This beautiful palette from LA Girl has been a hit, but if you’re looking for something high-end you really can’t go wrong with Chanel (think something like Chanel Boy lipstick). In the middle there are MAC classics like Syrup or Patisserie. I also really like the matte lipsticks from Wet ‘n Wild.

If you’re slightly apprehensive when it comes to makeup, then brushes are a really good alternative. Real Techniques do a great line available at all Clicks and some  Foschini stores, and there are also accessories like a brush cleaning glove which would be a safe bet for someone that has it all.

Fragrance is another good choice, but if you aren’t certain whether a person will like a scent stick to a smaller 30 ml. The Jo Malone fragrances are a good option as you can combine them with another one to make your own custom scent, so the recipient could possibly make it suit them by combining it with another scent. They also offer gorgeous candles and luxurious gift sets! My personal favourite fragrance is the Peony and Blush Suede, but with so many new holiday scents to choose from it could become tricky.

Home

H&M Home are seriously killing it in the home accessories department right now. I’d love any of their trivets, this or this beautiful cup and this alternative vase.

Another store to hit up would be @Home (this marble tray would be perfect for a cheese board) and Mr Price home (I want the entire Soho collection).

Accessories

Clothes can be hard to gift as you have to get the size and fit right, whereas accessories still fall into the same category but are so much easier to gift. I like giving (and receiving) jewellery that I think fits the person’s personality, but in general you can’t go wrong with quality like real silver or gold plated pieces with cubic zirconia (lets not pretend we’re giving Tiffany’s on an Accessorize budget!). Places like Lovisa, Colette and Accessorize all offer these type of pieces at varying price points. Favourites include these classic gold plated diamante studs, these ear crawlers and a classic tennis bracelet.

Handbags and purses are also good options, especially if you know things like whether the person prefers cross body, gold or silver hardware, etc. Aldo (Derogali pictured) is one of my favourite places to browse handbags but my realistic dream bag comes from Fossil. Forever New and Forever 21 also have beautiful bags.

Books

I have a Takelot book wish list that is about a mile long (desperately waiting for something to go on sale!) so I obviously think a book would make a great gift! If you know what genre the person likes, a fiction/non-fiction would be great. I personally prefer coffee table books ranging on topics like home decor, food and style. There literally is a book for every interest though, which makes it such a versatile gift.

Alternative

Typo usually has a wide selection of beautiful diaries and calendars that is equal parts pretty and functional. This diary and this nerdy calendar are some of my favourites, but there are even more in store.

Bath and shower products from Lush and The Body Shop are also always welcome. Think fun scrubs and holiday scents from The Body Shop (on 3 for 2 until Christmas!) or pink bubbles courtesy of Lush (seriously though, these bubble bars are so much better value for money than they look).

Lastly don’t forget about subscription services like magazines and flower delivery (seriously there are so many options right now – Blossom On,  All Things Bloom which delivers in beautiful boxes and Bouwer Flowers). This is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

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Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer

I’ve documented my struggles with finding the perfect foundation before (here), but after living with just a BB cream for about four months I started to feel the need for more coverage. So the hunt for the perfect foundation began all over again. For me that would be a medium coverage (but buildable) foundation that is glow inducing, lasts about 12 hours, is undetectable and comfortable even on my sensitive and dry skin. I’ve come to accept though that the PERFECT foundation most likely won’t fit within my budget, so some sacrifices would have to be made.

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Doe Foot Applicator

Enter the Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer, which manages to cover all my flaws (dark circles included) without being detectable or irritating to my skin. The foundation delivers enough moisture to keep my skin feeling happy, but the finish is very natural and not as dewy as I would have liked. This is however easily rectified with a little bit of facial oil mixed in.

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer

I usually apply my foundation at around 07h00 in the morning and only take it off at 22h00 in the evening and this is where it beat all the previous contenders, as it looked even better after a few hours of wear. My cheeks usually have foundation for breakfast, but this manages to keep the rosy-ness (made-up words are the best!) at bay and only goes slightly patchy around my nose (nothing that my finger can’t touch up).

In terms of coverage, less definitely is more. I usually make around 3 to 5 small dots on my face with the doe foot applicator and then blend in with my Real Techniques Expert Face brush.  Then I go back in for concealing should I need to (usually a little bit around my eyes). I’ve found that the coverage is definitely buildable to full but then it takes a while to settle before it starts to look natural. It doesn’t crease like other concealers do around my eyes and also doesn’t feel dry.

With a wide shade range available and ticking so many boxes, I believe that this could be a favourite among many.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

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A friend of ours recently proclaimed that “Surely no-one has all the ingredients necessary for a cake at all times!” I kept quiet about the my stash of my favourite cake mix and answered with a resounding, “Yes, cake recipes usually require so much butter! It is rare that I’ll have a full stick of butter on hand.”

I didn’t lie, I often don’t have enough butter for a full recipe which is how this chocolate chip cookie recipe came about. My sweet tooth demanded some chocolatey-goodness so I took a recipe I’d been meaning to try for a while, made some adjustments (replacements and halving the recipe) and I won’t look back! I’ve made fairly good chocolate chip cookies before but everyone that tasted one of my latest creations has been demanding more of this version. It is the perfect balance of sweet, salt and crispy-ness with a gooey centre.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cake flour minus 2 table spoons
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 160 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup treacle sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 90 g dark chocolate slab, roughly chopped into chunks

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Method

  1. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients with electric beater. Add the chocolate chips last.
  4. Cover the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 4 – 24 hours.*
  5. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  6. Roll the dough in your hand to make small balls approximately 3 cm in diameter and press then down slightly on a prepared baking tray (baking paper sprayed with Spray & Cook). I made two batches and the ones I didn’t press down were smaller, thicker and wasn’t as crispy.
  7. Bake biscuits for approximately 15 – 20 minutes.
  8. Let biscuits cool on a cooling rack before serving.

* I haven’t tested this yet, but apparently the longer you refrigerate the dough the better the results are.

Mine made about 11 cookies (It is possible that I ate more than one cookie’s weight in raw dough though)

 

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My favourite home decor trends

 

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Image credits: 1

Being a lover of all things classic, I typically find myself swooning at things like moulding, velvets and shaker styles when it comes to home interiors. Every now and again I do however find myself taking notice of newer trends, and following last year’s round up of my favourite trends I thought it would be a fun idea to see what tickles my fancy this time around.

Although I still love round mirrors, my love for indigo blues has waned and I now prefer a different shade of cerulean.

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Strawberry Frosé

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Strawberry Frosé Drinks

Summer isn’t quite here yet, but if you’d like to help it along or find yourself in a warmer clime these frosé drinks are exactly what you need! Super quick and easy to make, yet so impressive when served in sugar rimmed glasses! These are the perfect addition to any summer party, or reason enough to convert your next Netflix and chill session into a mini party.

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Velvet Teddy On A Budget

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In a recent conversation with friends we wondered why so many beauty products names’ could double as porno’s (here is looking at you Nars!). Wet & Wild is an affordable range available at Clicks that I haven’t taken seriously until now. Shout out to Cara Fay for this discovery- Bare it All is a peachy-brown shade and almost straight-up dupe for MAC’s famous Velvet Teddy.

As with most popular drugstore finds, it was a little hard to track down but Tygervalley has recently been restocked.

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My Top 5 Favourite Products for Reusable Containers

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Lisianthus and ranuncula

The saying that “It’s what’s inside that counts” really rings true when it comes to grocery shopping, but today’s post might just shift your focus to pay a little more attention to the packaging. I’m sharing my top five products to buy in the grocery aisle, not just for their awesome content, but also for its awesome storage potential! The packaging of products we finish often end up on landfils, so upcycling this really is a great way to spare the environment. Plus scoring awesome containers – practically for free – is just the icing on the cake!

Flowers and copper candle on magazines.

 

Mrs Balls Chutney
Such a classic in any South African’s kitchen, we go through this chutney on a monthly basis! I use this mainly as a bud vase for long-stem flowers, but you could store home-made cordials, ice teas or homemade condiments in here. Fair warning though, the labels are tricky to remove!
Nailpolish storage

Ferrero Rocher
I’ve been storing my nail polish and other manicure essentials in these handy lucite containers for years. They are the perfect size for a 2×5 nail polish arrangement and you can use them both with and without the lids. Just another reason to add this delicious treat to your Christmas wish list!
Airtight glass containers

Douwe Egberts Coffee
Now I don’t have nearly enough of these yet, but I am slowly but surely building up a collection. These airtight glass jars are the perfect size for finer grains and things like ground coffee. Investing in glass airtight containers could cost you a fortune, now it will only cost you a caffeine high! I think stick-on chalkboard labels would be a really chic solution for important info like expiration dates.
Bonne Maman preserve

Bonne Maman
Just as versatile as the ever-famous Dipytique candles, Bonne Maman jars are equally Instagrammable. There is just something about that faceted glass and delicate label! I like to use mine for storing canned preserves, but you could just as easily display make-up brushes, candles or posies in it.
Beauty essentials

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
This an awesome affordable alternative to other choc-hazelnut spreads that I stock up on at Checkers (for only R23!) The best part is that I never get sad when I finish a pot – partially because I’ll have a back-up ready but also because I love the containers. They are very similar to empty candle jars and are the perfect size for cotton buds and wool pads. You could of course also melt down candles into the empty jars.

Which containers do you end up repurposing and what do you use them for? I’d love to know.

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Life Hacks

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Often it is the small things in life that gets us down, like not being able to find your ringing phone between all the slips in your bag. So to prevent a mini breakdown, I’ve found implementing these easy tricks really makes life simpler. Now if only there was a way to make it easier…
1. Store your socks in pairs
This trick wasn’t the easiest for me to addopt, but eventually Ryno convinced me that it is worth the few extra minutes spent sorting the laundry. Besides saving on time when searching for socks and knowing that you’ll always wear a matching pair, I also find that it helps me track down missing socks before the washing machine has a feast.

 

2. Buy in bulk

Think of what you are always using, especially things like cleaning products that don’t have an expiry date, and stock up when it is on sale. No one has every bought too much toiletpaper!

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3. Keep everything you need when leaving the house by your keys

There are two spots in the house that I always check before leaving: the wall hooks where I keep my bags and jackets and the shelf where we keep our keys. This is also where I drop my phone and lunchbox before leaving for work each morning, which helps me ensure I leave nothing behind. Designating one or two areas where you drop and pick-up everything before leaving is essential to staying on top of things, even when you’re leaving at 04h00 for that business trip.

4. Dry clothes on hangers

This might seem obvious to you, but it wasn’t until a friend suggested it to me that my ironing life became so much simpler. Now the clothes are already stored on hangers (no need to go in search of them) and the creases are reduced ever so slightly.

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5. Add to your shopping list as you finish things

I keep two lists, one on my phone (to which only I add) and then one on the fridge to which my husband can also add. I try to update my phone list from the one on the fridge before going out shopping, but often I just remember what has been written on there. This prevents hubby from finishing the milk without me knowing or forgetting that I opened the last toothpaste.

6. Have snacks handy

I like to keep a loaf of fresh rye in the freezer (not everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for us) as well as a few avos and eggs on hand. So when hunger strikes or I realise that there is no leftovers for lunch, I have something quick and fairly healthy to grab to prevent me becoming hangry or overindulging in crisps. We also try to keep snack bars, drinking yoghurt and dried fruit on hand. These unfortunately don’t always survive the wait…

7. Save a list of fool-proof meals on your phone

Cookbooks are nice for inspiration, but when I am meal planning for the weekdays I like to fall back on my tried and trusted recipes. Thing is, I often find myself stuck – which is where my list of “Astrid” recipes come in handy. Think lasagne, chicken pie, beef pie, spagetthi, bacon carbonara, chicken wraps, etc. This is my go-to reference and I have over 30 dishes named and saved. So there is no recipe involved and no excuse to repeat the same meal each week!

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8. Store travel mini’s and mini containers in one easy-to-grab spot

Ryno and I both hoard our travel minis in one bag, making it easy to quickly grab what we need before heading out. Whereas previously we might have wasted  a lot of time decanting things and ignored the minis provided in hotels, we now keep everything ready for impromptu trips.

9. Keep a plastic bag in the car

The only way I am able to prevent my whole car from turning into a rubish bin is by having a bag handy. As I am always carrying a shed-load of stuff to and from the car, the chances of me emptying my car on a daily basis is slim. This way I empty the car once a week and have everything in a small bag instead of scattered around the car.

10. Use spare minutes to clear your phone & bag

Whenever I am wasting time in line or waiting somewhere, I like to take a few minutes to sort through my phone and my handbag. I like to sort through the image gallery on my phone and have created multiple albums. I also take this time to delete old texts and emails.

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11. Check traffic on your phone before departing

This is another useful tip I’ve picked up from my husband as this could potentially save you hours! Not all accidents will be indicated, but the bigger traffic jams should show.

12. Schedule monthly to-do’s in advance

Indicating when you need to flea dip the cat and feed the roses etc will help you stay on top of things. I find if I don’t do this and set reminders on my phone, I’ll get panicky a few weeks later and won’t be able to keep up a regular schedule.

I would love to know which life hacks you implement to make things a little simpler. Please share you tips in the comments.
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My Top 10 Home Stores in Cape Town

20160520_162359_1471208149368So as you guys might know, Ryno and I have been in our first home for just over a year now. And I have to admit, I love decorating it but am nowhere near done! Whilst we don’t own everything that we want yet, we have a pretty good idea of where to find it when our ship comes in. So I thought I’d share my favourite home stores where we get everything from the perfect white sheets to inspiration (and leave dreaming about winning the lottery).  So without further adieu, here are the top ten spots you just have to pop in to when dreaming up your perfect home.

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LA Girl Pro BB Cream Review

DSC_4045So I finally broke down of six months (yup, that was half a year!) and started wearing foundation again. I blame the cold winter air for drying out my skin and making it look extra blotchy and red. I remember looking into the bathroom mirror one day at work and rushing over to the MAC counter during lunch just to get something on my face, I was that embarrassed!

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