What to Buy on Your Next US Trip

 

US Beauty shopping

I’ve shared my New York wishlist on the blog, so most of the items featured in this post shouldn’t come as a big surprise. I’m excited to share with you what I decided to take home as well as some of my favourite stores in case you might have an upcoming trip to the US or a willing mule. I know I did brig home quite a few things, but I want to disclaim that I had been saving for a while and that it also was my birthday so I had quite a bit of birthday money to splurge on myself as well.

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My New York City Guide

Brooklyn Bridge views

We just came back from the most wonderful trip to New York this spring and I can’t wait to share it all with you and relive it in the process. It still feels a little surreal and it might have been a little too close on the heels of our previous trip, but when opportunity presents itself you have to jump!

I approached this holiday a little differently to previous ones and decided to plan as little as possible. Obviously I didn’t want any regrets so I did do some research into what I’d like to see, but we took things as they came on most days. This means more wandering around aimlessly, shopping and stopping for coffee often.

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Meatball Gyros Recipe

Meatball gyrosMy husband and I like this so much that we included this in our meal lineup almost every week during the summer and now that it has cooled down I still find myself craving it every now and again. This is the result of researching falafels before our Paris trip (can you believe we didn’t even know what they were!?) and trying to create something similar looking with what we had on hand. So not very authentic and actually much closer to Greek gyros. The best part though? One batch will serve about four adults and you might even have a little leftovers for lunch.

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My US Shopping List

My US Shopping list

I’m incredibly lucky and excited to be heading to New York in a week’s time for my birthday! As a surprise to no one, I’m definitely setting aside some time for shopping. Between shopping for my home and hauling beauty products I also hope to find some time to squeeze myself into some Old Navy jeans- this is the land of fast-food after all! So fingers crossed I find something that fits.

If you’re heading to US any time soon or can get your hands on a willing and able mule, you might consider adding some of these to your list. I’m hoping that by listing everything I won’t go overboard or forget to check something when overwhelmed on that side. If there is anything you think I’ll regret not getting, please holler at me in the comments below.

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Lisbon Travel Diary & City Guide

Its been over a month since our return and I’ve only just been able to put all my thoughts in order as this trip was absolutely packed with amazing memories.  Not only did I get to experience the beautiful Portugal, but I also managed to tick Paris off my bucket list (although I’d love to go back!). To be honest, this trip kind off caught me off guard.

Portugal wasn’t ever really on my travel bucket list, but when the opportunity arose to join my husband on a business trip I jumped. Once you start looking into Portugal, you can’t help but fall in love. And now I can give you reasons to visit too!

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Easter Chocolate Bark Recipe

Looking for something fun and easy to do this Easter? I’ve got you covered with the ultimate in sweet treats – Easter egg chocolate bark! This is a great way to use up the last bit of Easter candies or, as was the case for me, a good excuse to stock up on some of your favourites! I’d like to say that this recipe is fool proof, but unfortunately you do run the very real risk of finishing the ingredients off before they make their way into the melted chocolate! If you managed to keep your taste buds under control though, you’re good to go! I would venture to say that this is even a good one to keep the kiddo’s busy (under supervision of course!) and of course you can customise this to include some of your personal favourites, these just happen to be mine.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Valentine's Day MacaronsI’ve loved rounding up this Valentine’s day gift guide because I feel like I can really indulge in my love of blush pink without any shame! Most of the gift are fairly simple – I say save the big ticket items for anniversaries and birthdays – but their just kind of token  of appreciation I’d appreciate. I hope that there is something in here for you too!

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DIY Christmas Gift Tag & Gift Wrapping Inspo

Christmas gift wrapping and DIY name tag

As much as I love gift shopping, planning and co-ordinating my wrapping and name tags to my Christmas decor has always been just as fun to me. This year, I decided on a beige and gold wrapping paper with a wreath-like DIY name tag. I love all the lovely wreaths I’ve seen and decided to take on this Christmas classic and make it slightly more modern. I love that these name tags are reusable and could just as easily double as Christmas decorations on a tree!

Granted this DIY is time consuming and maybe not as practical if you’re wrapping more than a handful of gifts, but it sure is pretty! Plus making the stars is the perfect activity to do whilst watching Christmas movies.

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Christmas Gift Guide for Him

Mens gift ideasI mentioned in my previous gift guide that I find buying gifts for men incredibly hard, which does not explain my delay in publishing this post, but perhaps makes you feel slightly less alone? Either way, with four days to go to Christmas you might find this gift guide for men helpful when it comes to shopping the beloved men in your life.

Comfies

In my experience, new clothing rarely excites men as it does women. So if you’re considering a cloth-based gift, might I steer you in the direction of lounge wear. So far this has gone down a treat with both my husband and brother. Things like slippers, stretchy pants and robes aren’t necessities but they sure make life that much more enjoyable! These H&M pants (in a different colour) are a firm favourite in our household and these slippers look so cute.

Tech & Accessories

This might possibly be the most frequently requested gift category for men. Ranging from techy watches to the latest phone gadgets, there is sure to be something tech related on their Christmas wish. Whether it comes in under budget is a completely different question though!

If you recently won the lotto, I’m sure the VR Playstation will score you extra brownie points that might carry you to the next gifting opportunity. Quality over-ear headphones is another favourite, that can easily be scaled to suit your budget. Noise cancelling seems to the next big things, with the price increasing if you choose to go with a wireless option. Both Sennheiser and Sony make good options, but these Bose ones are more common.

Leather tech covers and laptop bags are also often welcome gifts and will be a treat for both your eyes, especially if there is a tendency to have these lying around. My husband has a leather iPad pro cover (similar to this) with storage for the iPen, which would have made the perfect gift if he didn’t already own it. We don’t spend that much on Christmas gifts, so this leather bag is out of the question, but it sure is beautiful and would make a great gift.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Thank goodness the digital age makes gifting for men a little simpler! With online gaming platforms like Steam it is easy to purchase new games (often on special) or things like game time for their favourite game. Game time can also be purchased for gaming consoles, so best find out exactly what he has before whipping out the credit card.

If so inclined, a carefully selected board game can also result in hours of fun lasting well into the future! Personally we like CarcassonneCodenames (much less dramatic) and Dungeons and Dragons. Raru has a pretty impressive selection online, so time to start browsing!

Tools

If you’re buying for the handyman, chances are there is something that can be added to his tool kit! Whether they’re missing something basic or require something specific for a future project, scanning their tool box might soon reveal a gift idea. Multi-tools are popular for a reason, but this year my husband requested a more specialised laptop screwdriver set. This is perfect for the guy who likes to tinker with his tech, but an electric screwdriver set could also be a nice gift – this I can personally attest to!

Books

For some reason it seems like e-books tend to be more popular with men, but that doesn’t mean that the category has to be foregone when purchasing gifts for men. Whether you settle on a hard copy or electronic version, we’re sure there is something to suit every man’s interests.

Books my husband recently read and loved:

Travel Accessories

If you’re buying for a frequent traveller, anything that can make travelling more comfortable and relaxing would be much appreciated. I can personally attest to how wonderful packing travel cubes are, so if you’re buying for a frequent traveller this is certainly where I’d start. Noise cancelling headphones are also high on the list for most travellers, with other accessories like a neck pillow being slightly more personal choices. If you are aware of an upcoming trip, then buying a travel guide for that specific destination could also be a lovely personal touch. Although guide books might be dying out, these DK Pocket Map & Guides are my favourite. As they are small and have a handy map, they make great travel companions when WiFi isn’t readily available.

Old Favourites

If you still find yourself stuck or simply don’t know the person you’re gifting to that well, you can rarely go wrong with a good tipple, roast or related paraphernalia. My husband likes a good whiskey but I’m completely lost when it comes to buying mid-ranged whiskeys. I’ve found buying the most expensive one you can afford with the word “Grant” in the title is a good way to ensure you’re getting the best value for money. Other things like a beautiful glass whiskey decanter or even some freshly roasted beans would also always be welcome. I like the idea of purchasing some beans from your favourite local place. We love both Boston Coffee and Alchemy Coffee Roasters. Special coffee mugs are also always welcome, especially when bought in pairs.

On the other end of the spectrum, fragrances are incredibly personal. So if you find yourself in a position where you know the person well enough to gift this, receiving a back-up of a favourite is always a lovely sentiment.

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Christmas Chocolate Stars

DIY Chocolate stars for Christmas

I thought between posting my gift guides I’d throw in a quick and easy DIY to gift to anyone from a host to a teacher this festive season. Although it is a small gesture, making something yourself like these chocolate stars, can mean so much to the recipient. It would also be the perfect addition to your Christmas table, serve as a great accompaniment to coffee and compliment many a dessert. So really this is an all-rounder! As an added bonus, it is really simple and affordable to make! All you need is chocolate, your favourite toppings (added bonus if they’re in festive shades) and a silicone ice or chocolate tray.

DIY Chocolate stars ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 200g milk or dark chocolate
  • 40g pistachios, chopped
  • 40g cranberries, chopped
  • Spray and Cook
  • Gold dust

DIY Chocolate stars for Christmas

Method:

  1. Break up the chocolate in a microwavable bowl and put to the side.
  2. Chop up the pistachios and cranberries and keep at the ready.
  3. Give a festive ice or chocolate silicone tray a light spray with Spray and Cook. If you are working with an ice tray, see whether you need to fill the whole shape or whether filling it half-way would be better. My stars turned out quite thick and it might have been better to only fill the shapes halfway.
  4. Take the bowl of chocolate and melt it in the microwave. I usually put it in for 30 seconds at a time at full power. I take care to stir it in between microwaving it and often stop it shortly before everything is completely melted, knowing the final small lumps will melt as I stir. Each microwave is different and your melting times might be different to mine. I know this isn’t conventional or the best method, but it is by far the most convenient! I always microwave my chocolate to melt it (a double-cooker is the correct tool) and rarely use bakers chocolate, but know that if you use regular milk chocolate it will only melt once. So you have to work quick, before it sets.
  5. Fill your tray with chocolate, stopping two milimeters before you get to the top.
  6. Sprinkle the tray with the nuts and cranberries and lightly press each star to ensure that the toppings will set in the chocolate.
  7. Leave the chocolate to fully set.
  8. Once it is set, turn out the stars and dust the top of each chocolate with gold dust.
  9. Store in a cool spot in an air-tight container.

 

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