Monday, May 8, 2017

Product Review: L'Oreal Botanicals Fresh Care Coriander Strength Source

I am always on the lookout for green(er) beauty products that actually work, so when BeautyCrew offered to send me L'Oreal's new offering aimed at this market, I was more than willing to give the range a try. L'Oreal has launched a completely new range of products, Botanicals Fresh Care, featuring four different collections based around four hero ingredients aimed at four individual hair concerns. 
  • Coriander: Strength Source (green)
  • Safflower: Rich Infusion (orange)
  • Geranium: Radiance Remedy (pink)
  • Camelina: Smooth Ritual (purple)
After a quick questionnaire, I was sent the Coriander Strength Source for Fragile Hair, designed to reinforce, revitalize and strengthen fragile hair from root to tip, which seemed perfect for my fine hair that is constantly being damaged by lightening my hair!

The Coriander Strength Source range is made up of four products, all containing Coriander Seed oil, and all completely free of parabens, silicones and colourants. L'Oreal claims the range will reduce breakage and fall-out, and promote new hair growth to help even the weakest hair find its better nature.  I was a bit wary about the fragrance - coriander is not something I usually associate positively with haircare - but was pleasantly surprised. The scent is a lovely earthy herbal, almost medicinal but very refreshing, and in no way overwhelming. It leaves your hair smelling clean and fresh all day long.

I can honestly say I think I've found my new holy grail hair care range! I have been using the entire range for a fortnight now, and my hair has never looked nor felt better.  After two weeks, my chemically lightened hair has definitely improved in condition - it is stronger, shinier and softer, with less breakage and a lot less hair falling out.  What I loved the most is that it left my hair bouncy and full of volume with clearly defined, non-frizzy waves, no mean feat for my fine, somewhat wavy, somewhat frizzy hair.

The Shampoo ($17.95) is a light gel texture, that foams only lightly (which is a surprise given it does contain SLES) and two pumps is enough for my shoulder length hair. I generally only shampoo once, not twice, and I continued doing that with this shampoo. It's not a conditioning shampoo, so your hair doesn't feel conditioned after using it on its own, but it doesn't feel dry or straw-like either. The shampoo comes in a 400ml pump bottle - it's great value for money, and the pump is really easy to use.

After shampooing, I follow with the Conditioning Balm ($12.95).  The texture of the conditioner is lovely - a thick cream - that is easily worked throughout the lengths of my hair. It de-tangles beautifully, and washes out quickly and easily, leaving my hair smooth and conditioned. What I really love about this conditioning balm is that it a) doesn't weigh down my fine and wavy hair at all, and b) allows me to go at least two days in between washing, without leaving me with greasy roots and dry ends.  I really love the packaging - a squeeze tube is so much more convenient in the shower for a thick balm, and there is less wastage then putting a thick conditioner in a pump bottle. 

The Conditioning Mask ($17.95) should be the hero product of the Coriander range - it is that amazing! It is thick, creamy and luxurious to use, and I apply after a quick towel dry of my hair after shampooing, combing through with a wide tooth comb. Three minutes later, I wash out to reveal hair that is deeply hydrated and repaired, but with absolutely no heavy or greasy feel. After my hair has dried it is soft, bouncy and light. I have been using it twice a week on my fine and wavy hair, and each time my hair improves more and more. I have even started using it on my daughter's hair, as she swims 5 days a week, and it has significantly improved the condition of her chlorine damaged hair. The lack of chemical nasties is also reassuring when using it on the sensitive skin of a 9 year old.

The Strength Potion ($17.95) is a leave in treatment that according to L'Oreal has even more significant  benefit than the mask! I apply to towel dried hair as my last step, mostly before letting my hair air dry, but occasionally before heat styling. The potion is a thin, almost watery serum, easily dispensed from the very cute dropper bottle, that I apply throughout my hair, including at my roots, unlike regular hair serums. I love that it is light and doesn't weigh down my hair at all, or make my roots greasy.

As you can see, I really loving this range, and recently purchased a whole replacement set the other day when my local drugstore had 40% off all "big brands". I think this range fills a nice gap in the market between your typical supermarket ranges (which I have never found to be any good on my colour treated hair), and the much higher priced salon ranges, and I can with certainty say that I am a convert!

PS: If you live in Australia, the entire range is on sale now at Priceline.

Linking to these great websites here

Disclaimer: I was sent the range to try, with no obligation to provide a review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way. Further, there are no affliliate links in this post. I have included links simply to make it easy for my readers to find the products.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mask Monday: Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask

Hi everyone! Long time no see, and my apologies for that, but life has been super crazy!! I thought a good post to ease us all back in would be another installment of Mask Monday and today I am sharing a real winner with you, Dr Dennis Gross' Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask.

This mask is one of the more unique masks I have used, and involves a little bit more work, but the results are outstanding; so much so that I am now onto my second box. The Modeling Mask is made up of two parts, a gel and a powder, that you mix in a bowl just before application. As usual, apply to a clean face, and then watch as the mask works its magic, turning from a goopy blue goo into a rubbery mask that my kids love peeling off at the end.

According to Dr Dennis Gross, the mask is:

A gel + powder transformative mask that delivers intense hydration to your skin.  Transforms from a gel texture to a solid, peel-off mask through a cooling chemical reaction in which an oxygen exchange removes impurities from the skin. Containing algin and hyaluronic acid, it delivers essential minerals and elements, and boosts moisture levels. Parched, lacklustre skin is left firm, plump and supple and the appearance of dry surface lines and pores minimized in just one treatment.

And it delivers on all of these claims!  You definitely feel the cooling effect as it sets on your skin, and once removed, my skin felt baby soft, plumped and refreshed, a feeling that lasted overnight and through into the next day. I have been using it weekly over the change from summer to autumn, always a problematic time for my skin, and it not only instantly makes my skin feel so much better, it has improved its texture and radiance over the past four weeks.

Application is simple, but as I said earlier, does involve more steps than the lazy girl sheet masks I have been using!
  • To use, mix a packet of Hyaluronic Cushion Gel (Step 1) with a packet of Activating Powder (Step 2) in a bowl. 
  • With the spatula (supplied), immediately spread the formula in a thick, even layer on clean, dry skin- starting from the bottom of your face and working in upward strokes, avoiding the eye area. The thicker and more even the application, the easier it is to remove the mask. 
  • The mask sets in about 5 minutes, but may be left on for up to 15 minutes for maximum hydration. 
  • To remove, lift off the mask and wipe away any excess with a damp cotton pad. Follow with your regular skincare regime.
I highly recommend the Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask for anytime your skin needs that extra boost of hydration and radiance. While I have only used it so far at night before bed, from the results I've seen I think it would also be the perfect mask to use before a big event to really perk up your skin.

US$46/AUD$67 for 4 treatments.


Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

When I was growing up I lived in a country town, and the closest thing we got to ethnic food was the very Australian "Chinese" restaurant.  Despite loving (and being able to get) real Chinese food now, I still have huge nostalgia for the sweet and sour dishes we used to order, vividly red in colour, and so laden with MSG, fat and salt that I am surprised any of us made it out of the 80s in tact!

These Sweet and Sour Meatballs deliver all of that nostalgia, with none of the nasties! Served with rice and some stir fry veggies, these would make a complete meal, but they would also be great served with toothpicks for a retro spin on entertaining.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1kg low fat beef mince

2 eggs
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (2 slices bread)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup milk

Juice from 2 x 440g tins pineapple pieces, pineapple reserved
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 red capsicum, diced

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Combine the meatball ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Shape into meatballs and place into a casserole dish in a single layer.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. While meatballs are cooking, combine sauce ingredients except for the capsicum and reserved pineapple in a small saucepan, and whisk over medium heat until sauce boils for 1 minute and sauce is thickened and glossy.
  6. Add in reserved pineapple and capsicum, and pour over meatballs once they are done.
  7. Bake for another 10 minutes, and then serve with steamed rice.

Linking to these great websites here

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Can I Really Wear My Yoga Pants All Day Long? An Athleisure Capsule Wardrobe

Ah, January, the month of resolutions that will be lucky to make it out of the month alive. Despite knowing that, I have resolved to make exercise regular part of my life, and almost half way through the month, I am sticking to it, with plans to step it up another level once school starts.  What that does mean, however, is a rethink of my daily wardrobe, and asking myself the question, "can I really wear my yoga pants all day long?"

The answer is, of course, a resounding yes! More than ever, athleisure has moved from being a trend to being an entire category of fashion. As more and more women realize the importance of health and fitness, they are integrating it into their daily lives. The key for me is to have clothes that are functional for my gym classes/Pilates/to and from the pool, while also looking chic and stylish when transitioning from school drop off to workout to errands to coffee with friends.


Athleisure Capsule

Just like any other wardrobe capsule, think basics first. Key pieces in neutral colours are a great place to start and will make it easy to build outfits that can take you to more places than just the gym. Begin with a well fitting pair of black compression capris/tights and a pair of joggers, a couple of black sports bras and 3 longer length tops. These basics will work together and with other items to create many different outfits to suit whatever your day throws at you. Obviously, the more times a week your workout, the more pieces you will need to invest in (or do the laundry more often!).


Sometimes it is better to pay a little bit more for performance fabrics. Fabric that is moisture wicking, quick drying and odor resistant is the key to being able to go from the gym to a coffee shop without feeling icky.

The third piece

third pieces

A slouchy sweater, a cocoon cardigan, a well worn leather jacket or an open front vest provides the extra coverage that will transform your gym wear into an actual outfit.



A quick change of shoe, the addition of a scarf, and a gym bag that doubles as a stylish tote can make all the difference with little to no effort.  Now, I'm not suggesting adding in a heel (let's leave that to the magazine stylists, shall we?), but switching out the trainers for a cool moto boot after spin class, or wearing sporty ballerinas to Pilates instead of flip flops can complete your stylish athleisure look.


Not technically part of the capsule wardrobe, but just as essential, I like to pack a toiletries bag with dry shampoo, face wipes, deodorant wipes, tinted sunscreen base, mascara and lip gloss. These six items take me from flushed to fresh in no time.

Early morning swim

When school goes back both the kids have early morning swim club and instead of the old me sitting and reading a book, I've decided to dive in as well. Track pants and a tank slip over a swimsuit on the way, but paired with a scarf and coordinating tote look simply stylish for the school run.

spin class
Throwing a longer length cocoon cardi over your spin class Lycra turns functional into fashionable when you add in some geometric silver jewellery and trade in the cycle shoes for a pair of packable ballet flats. Red lips an optional extra!


The graphic print tank and track pants are perfect for my pilates class and a simple pair of graphic studs won't get in the way. On a side note, I can't recommend the Nike Studio Wraps highly enough for pilates or barre class - perfectly grippy, but I can still feel my toes on the ground. After class, slipping on a pair of moto boots and silver aviators and grabbing a structured tote will take me through running all of my errands, and is even stylish enough to go on a quick lunch date with my hubby!

So as you can see, a well considered athleisure capsule is not only functional, but stylish as well, and will go a long way towards motivating you to get up and keep moving.


Linking to these great websites here

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hawaiian Rice Salad

This vibrant salad is delicious on its own, but I like it even more as a side dish paired with grilled chicken.  Despite the long list of ingredients, the salad comes together really easily, and it makes a big batch so I store the leftovers in the fridge and we eat over a couple of days.

Hawaiian Rice Salad

3 cups jasmine/basmati rice
3 cups water
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
Fresh coriander, to serve

4 spring (green) onions, white and pale green parts only, finely sliced
1 440g tin crushed pineapple
1/3 cup shredded (unsweetened) coconut
1 tbs curry powder
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs finely grated ginger, or 1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tbs vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook rice as directed on packet (I use a rice cooker) and fluff with a fork when cooked.
  2. Toss cooked rice, carrots, onions and the nuts in a large bowl.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over rice, stirring well.
  4. Top with coriander and serve warm or cold.

Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Goals and strategies for 2017

This picture I took just before dawn this morning really brought home to me the new beginnings that a fresh new year can bring, if we only make it happen. 2016 was a tough year for so many people, and for me, it was a year where I really felt like I started the year behind, and just never caught up. This year will be different, and I am putting a number of plans in place to achieve my goals. 

Goal 1: Organization 

2016 really demonstrated to me that if your organizational systems are not in place, then everything else has no choice but to fall down around you as well. So, 2017 is the year that I find/create systems that will not only work for me, but be sustainable as well.

Lack of organization this past year meant that I was always in catch up mode, which meant the house was a disaster more often than not, the kids homework routine was less than ideal, and I constantly felt like I was putting out spot fires. 

Using my planner consistently - I have had an Erin Condren Life Planner for the past two years, and while for the first year I used it the way a planner should be used, for some reason this past year I didn't work it well.  Sure, I used it for jotting down doctors' appointments, etc, but I wasn't using my planner to plan. This year, I am committing to a weekly planning session on a Sunday evening, to review the upcoming week, add in more specific to-do's and goals, and look at where potential trouble spots are and plan solutions before the trouble occurs. I also forgot how much I love decorating my planner spreads, so I'm building in time during my planning sessions to be able to do this. 

 Stay on top of housekeeping - I think the best thing to do when thinking about the state of my house over the past year is to never think of it again! Instead, I purchased The Clean Mama Planner, which works on the philosophy of "everyday a little something". With lists of monthly tasks, together with her weekly routine, I am confident that this system will finally keep my home spic and span. 

Meal planning - healthy eating fell by the wayside last year for no other reason than lack of planning. Life was busy, and without a plan in place, I'm not surprised that takeout and canteen lunches became the norm.  On my Sunday evening planning session I will review our weekly calendar and then plan dinners according to what is going on each day (it's no point planning a dinner that needs hands on time if we're not back from soccer until 7.30), with the main grocery shop to happen on Mondays and Thursdays. I have also re-signed up to Momables Lunch planner program.  I was a member in 2015, and it was a fantastic way to a) have someone else do a plan for me(!) and b) get the kids eating a variety of foods, not just the same old sandwiches everyday.

Goal 2: Health

Health for me and the family was something that I completely dropped the ball on last year.  As I mentioned above, we relied all too much on take out, the kids bought lunch almost every day, and my exercise program disappeared completely.  This really reflected on our waistlines and our general state of well being, and improving in this area is my primary goal for 2017.

These are my key strategies to help me achieve my health goals this year.

I have signed up for Crystal Paine's program 15 Days To A Healthier You (Sign up ends soon, as the program starts on the 9th), and can't wait to start. I have used Crystal's other programs Makeover Your Mornings and Make Over Your Evenings (and found them so helpful I plan to revisit then again to give me a further kickstart), so when I saw her latest one, signing up was a no brainer!  With the tagline "stop surviving and start thriving" I think this is just what I need to give myself a head start towards living a stronger, healthier and more joyful life this year.

Schedule in exercise I like - OK, this is the tough one, since TBH, I just don't really like exercise, but once it's done I enjoy how I feel.  I sat down and had a really good think about what has worked for me in the past, and decided that I need the structure and support of a class, so I narrowed down what I enjoyed and then matched that up with what was available at convenient times. My plan is for 5 sessions a week, a mixture of Spin, Aqua Aerobics, Pilates and Body Balance, a fusion of yoga, Pilates, and barre. The key for me is to schedule it in, and see each class as an important appointment, not to be moved/cancelled unless absolutely necessary. 

Drink only water - ages ago I ditched the diet soda, but somehow the habit crept back in, and I was regularly drinking one or two a day. I'll be honest, I have never been a fan of plain water, so to make sure I am drinking at least two litres every day, I making up a big batch of "detox" water in a drinks dispenser that now has a permanent spot on my kitchen bench. I am changing the flavours each day (above was strawberry, basil and lime; today I had lemon, lime and ginger), and as a bonus, my son who has never been a big water drinker is now chugging along with me, even putting in requests for future flavour combos!

30 Day Super Elixir Challenge - In the past, I have used WelleCo's Super Elixir on and off, but was never consistent about it. This super greens powder is full of nourishing ingredients, and I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel after a month of taking it every day. If you click on this link and enter your email, you will receive $10 off your first purchase of $50 or more.

Vegetables at every meal - my final health goal is to consume some vegetable at every meal. The key here is breakfast. I do pretty well at having veg at lunch and dinner, but if I can add them in at breakfast and snack time as well, then I will significantly up my veg intake. I'm thinking kale and spinach in a smoothie, or mushrooms with eggs on toast. Again, meal planning will be key so I can have things prepped and ready to go the night before so no excuses!

So there you have my two major goals and how the strategies for how I plan to achieve them over 2017. I would love to hear what goals you are planning to achieve this year! 

Linking to these great websites here

Disclaimer: Some of the links are affiliate links, but all opinions are my own, and each item mentioned in this post has been purchased/subscribed by myself.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Easy Last Minute Appetizers for NYE - Baked Brie and Antipasto Board

New Year's Eve is here tomorrow, can you believe it? I feel like I say this every year, but where on Earth did this year disappear to? I made these two appetizers for our Christmas party, and they were both big hits, so I thought I would share them now in case you are in search of some easy last minute appetizers for NYE.

Baked Brie

This baked brie is so unbelievably delicious I promise you that you will make it again and again, entertaining or not!

Brie in a wooden box - I used King Island Dairy's Cape Wickham Double Brie
1 unpeeled garlic clove, bruised
1 bay leaf, bruised
1 sprig rosemary, bruised
1 tbs olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. To prepare the brie, remove cheese from box and discard foil wrapper. Line bottom half of box with a square of baking paper, enough to come up and over the sides, then put brie back in.
  3. Score the top of the brie into 1 cm diamonds using a sharp knife. Push the bruised garlic clove into the cheese, then place the bay leaf and rosemary on top. Drizzle with the olive oil.
  4. Fold the excess baking paper over the top of the cheese, then replace the lid of the box, tie with kitchen string to secure, and place on a baking tray.
  5. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Serve with slices of baguette and fresh honeycomb.

Antipasto Board

This is honestly so easy to put together, while looking amazing! This antipasto board is a great option if you need to bring a plate but don't have time to prep, and if you keep some of these items on hand, it is literally a five minute job to whip together if you have unexpected guests.

Three cheeses - try for a mixture of textures and flavors. I used a mild and creamy Camembert, a sharp and crumbly vintage cheddar, and a smooth and flavored cranberry Wensleydale. 

Two meats - this board has shaved prosciutto and sopressa, but slices of Italian cacciatore or even your left over Christmas ham would be perfect as well.

Pate or terrine - go for a high quality one from the deli. I used my fave, Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm pate, because it is a) delicious, and b) it's what I had in the fridge!

Olives - any will do, but I highly recommend ones from a deli rather than a jar.

Fruit - fresh fruit is what really brings this board to life, so again, go for a variety of colour and texture. I chose figs and green grapes, which are so beautiful here in Perth, as well as some blueberries left over from my dessert recipe. If it is winter where you are, then some lovely Bosc or Anjou pears would be perfect, perhaps with some dried apricots.

Crackers - the final element is some sort of crackers/bread. I used min lavosh and grissini sticks, but a freshly sliced baguette would be amazing as well.

Simply arrange everything on a board and serve. Too easy!!

Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Product Review: Chanel Rouge Allure Ink Seduisant

The Festive Season is nigh upon us, and that means Christmas parties, New Year's Eve events and for us here in Oz, BBQs galore! For me, nothing screams holiday more than a punchy red lipstick, and I think I've found the perfect one for any event you may be going to do.

OK, so while not technically a lipstick, but a matte liquid lip colour, Chanel's Rouge Allure Ink has to be one of the most amazing lip products I have ever tried. If you are of a similar vintage to me, than you know all to well the matte lipsticks we wore through the 90's. Drying, uncomfortable on the lips, the matte lippies of old bear absolutely no resemblance to this latest offering from Chanel.

Weightless on the lips, long lasting (well over 6 hours on me, with only slight transfer when eating), and not at all drying, Rouge Allure Ink feels and looks amazing. The range contains 8 colours at the moment, but the one I chose (and am wearing in the pic above) is 146 Seduisant, a beautiful punchy coral red with a hint of golden shimmer. 

Of course, the packaging is gorgeous as you would expect from Chanel; a frosted glass tube topped with the classic Chanel glossy black lid. The colour applies like a dream with the doe foot paddle applicator, and as you can see in my pic, you can achieve a perfect outline with ease. This is the type of lipstick that can really take you anywhere; dressed to the nines in black velvet, or dressed down in a classic white tee and jeans, Seduisant completes both outfits perfectly, and will take me right through this holiday season with style and grace!


Linking to these great websites here

Saturday, December 3, 2016

GYPO Winter Challenge Capsule Wardrobe

Regular readers know that I am a big, big fan of capsule wardrobes. A tightly edited capsule of clothes not only saves you money, but saves you the time and stress of looking at a jammed pack closet of clothes only to sit there thinking "why don't I have anything to wear?"  Of course, you could put one together yourself, but a super easy and stylish way is to get a personal shopper to do it for you. Yep, in my fantasy universe that would be exactly what I would do, but in reality, I can't see that happening anytime soon!


Instead, I rely on Alison from Get Your Pretty On, who puts together capsule wardrobes for you each season as part of her style challenges. Alison does all the work for you, so you can wake up every morning knowing exactly what you're going to wear that day, walking into a closet full of mix and match on-trend pieces that you love!

I've been a member now for over a year, and the capsules each season just get better and better. I've had a sneak peak of the Winter Challenge, and it is just gorgeous!! Each season you get access to a list of your wardrobe basics (often including different options), combining classic items and on trend pieces. The list includes links to recommended items, and a printable PDF so you can take it shopping with you. Most importantly, Alison then gives you daily outfits for 21 days, showing you just how versatile the wardrobe is. Finally, you can take part in a vibrant private facebook group, where you can share your successes, hints and tips with other like-minded women!

If you are looking to jump start your style, then I highly recommend you head here and sign up ASAP! Registration opens today and the first outfit comes out on the 12th.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Unique Holiday Gift Guide with UnCommon Goods

Can you believe that in less than a month, Santa will be coming down our chimneys, and Christmas morning will have arrived! I was just discussing with a fellow school mum, that unlike in the northern hemisphere, where the holiday season and end of school are two completely separate entities, here in Oz, these two events combine to create utter mayhem. Between end of year concerts, speech mornings, and class parties ad nauseum, I am somehow meant to have completely got myself prepared for Christmas. Yeah, not going to happen!!

Just in case you are suffering from a total Christmas meltdown like me, or just need some last minute present shopping help, I am happy to be partnering with Uncommon Goods to help you out. Founded in 1999, Uncommon Goods is all about exactly that - Uncommon. Goods. Celebrating amazing, creative design, whether from an emerging artist just starting out, or a seasoned artist handcrafting beautiful heirlooms of the future, here is a one stop shop bringing artisans and their wares from around the globe directly to you. And if this focus on shopping small isn't already right up my alley, then their unwavering commitment to sustainability in all areas of their business is just the cherry on top!

Unique Holiday Gift Guide - Women

Lets be real here, it just seems easier to shop for women compared with any other group. If it's pretty, smelly, or shiny, then we will probably like it. But if you want to step up you gift giving game, and present something unique and special, then you really can't go past the amazing range of gifts here.

I've just ordered three of these Birthstone Wishing Balls, (one of them may be a present to myself!) as I think that they are quite possibly one of the best presents I've ever seen. Designed by Jill Henrietta Davis, the Wishing Ball is designed to capture a wish, accomplishment or gratitude every week for a year. To encourage someone in your life to pause for just a few moments once a week and reflect is truly a priceless gift.

This Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden is something that would make a wonderful hostess gift over the holidays. Pretty, and practical, this would look amazing sitting in your windowsill. They are also self watering, making them a wonderfully low maintenance way to grow plants for those of us without a green thumb!

For a more personal gift, the Mother & Daughter Letter Set is a gift destined to be handed down the generations. Celebrating the bond between a Mother and a Daughter, this gift book, containing 40 nostalgic cards designed to be sent, shared and treasured, before finding their way back into secret pockets in the book, would make an amazing gift for a young lady or her mother.
Another item also winging its way to me is the very pretty Cherry Blossom Snow Globe. My daughter collects snow globes, and I love the timeless design of these piece from married artists Liz Ross and David Westby. The simple and elegant snow globe is another piece that I hope one day my daughter will pass down to her child.

Unique Holiday Gift Guide - Men

For the men in your life (and I am surrounded by husbands, sons, fathers and nephews ranging in age from 10 through to 73!), there are also a plethora of unique and creative choices.

I must admit, while I am tempted to just give each and every one of them the 6 Pack Beer Soap Set, I will resist and only give this to my 21 year old nephew. Because, come on, it's beer. In soap. He will think this is so cool!!

For once, I actually have found a present for hubby that isn't a t shirt or socks and jocks (so, thanks Uncommon Goods!!). He is notoriously hard to buy for, but this Deep Sea Sand Art will look perfect on his home office desk, and the meditative qualities are exactly what he needs when he is spending that one too many hours sitting there working.
I already have this On The Rocks set, and can attest to just how beautiful they are in person. Hand-crafted from stones collected on New England beaches, these granite discs are ideal for chilling aged spirits, such as whiskey or scotch, because they won't dilute the complex flavors like a handful of ice. I don't drink alcohol, but I still use these with other cold drinks (mostly ice tea), because as well as being beautiful, they work so well.

Unique Holiday Gift Guide - Kids

Irini loves her fairy garden, so this Fairy Kit will make a gorgeous addition to it. Kids will love making everything from tiny fairy doors, to fairy beds, to a welcoming garland, a "fairy dust" necklace and of course, the pretty fairies themselves.What I love most about this crafty kit is that while it is entertaining while Irini is actually constructing it, it will still give hours and hours of creative play afterwards as well.

When shopping for kids gifts, I am always on the look out for open ended play; things that don't just have one purpose, but will inspire greater creativity. The Stop Motion Claymation Kit fits the bill perfectly. Both of my kids have been experimenting with stop motion animation through their STEM programs at school, so this will be perfect for the two of them to collaborate on over the long break.

My star choice for those of you with tween girls is the DIY Lip Balm Kit, as it is a gift that will keep on giving. Not only will it keep your daughters and nieces entertained over the holiday break as they concoct pampering treats for themselves, it also helps provide job skills for women in the Washington DC area. 

Thank goodness board games are coming back into fashion - as a family we love playing them - and the Trick Question Game would be a fabulous gift for teens. The game is packed with 400 sneak-attack brainteasers, like "What building has the most stories?" Answer: a library, of course!

Hopefully my selection of gifts has helped you out with all of your giving this holiday season!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I have received compensation, but all opinions and statements are my own and are not influenced in any way.

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