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So the Christmas lights in the US – or at least in Connecticut – are something else. Seriously. And, being the Christmas-obsessive that I am, I’ve done a fair few tours around the neighbourhood in order to check them all out, snap a few photos and generally just marvel at all of the incredible festive fun that seems to be waiting around every corner.

Last night, said festive fun reached a peak thanks to Wonderland at Roseville, an incredible winter wonderland that has been created in and around a residential home. And while the other light displays that I’ve seen have been impressive (note the first two photos), this place really has to be seen to be believed (note the final four photos).

Every inch of garden is covered in an array of spectacular lights, all of which have been set up to work in time to the music. There are toy trains that make their way around the garden, there is an incredible nutcracker display, a collection of light-up festive scenes, a selection of different Santas… the list goes on!

In other words, one heck ton of work has gone into setting that display up – they spend SIX MONTHS putting it all together, and that’s on top of planning for the first six months of the year - and the family who run it ask for nothing in return. Donations to local causes are welcome, but other than that they’re just happy for you to wander round and enjoy all of the immense Christmassy stuff that they have put together.

And it really is immense. So much festive fun. 

If you live in the area and want to check it out, head on over to their Facebook page here, and if you have any Christmas light pictures to share, let me know in the comments below! 

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* christmas jumper fun *

* christmas jumper fun *

IT’S LESS THAN A WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS! WOO WOO.

Five favourites

Place: The house down the road that is COVERED with Christmas lights. You can’t even see the house! It’s amazing. Check out my Instagram to see what I mean…!

Food: The Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea. It’s delicious and oh-so festive.

Experience: FINISHING WORK FOR CHRISTMAS!

Read/watch: It’s all Christmas movies all the time at the moment – Elf, The Santa Clause, It’s a Wonderful Life, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Eloise at Christmastime… I’ve watched ‘em all!

Beauty bit: Not technically a beauty bit but my Bath and Body Works Fresh Balsam Candle is probably my favourite thing ever at the moment!

Have a good weekend everyone and don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram @CharlieLanks!

* what a view *

* what a view *

* counting down to christmas *

* counting down to christmas *

* gobble *

* gobble *

* festive nails ftw *

* festive nails ftw *

Crimbob Crimbob2

In case you hadn’t guessed it by now – I’m a huge fan of Christmas. I just love everything about it, from the decorations to the food to the movies and so on. And every year, without fail, I pretty darn devastated when it comes to an end.

But, after relaying my post-Christmas concerns to some of my colleagues in the office, they very kindly reassured me that it would be fine to keep up some of the decorations throughout January – and even said that I’d be more than welcome to keep singing the odd carol well into the new year.

And while I’m not sure I want to be that crazy person who just can’t let go of the festive season (anyone who has seen the Santa Clause 2 – I’m thinking about this lady), I do think that there are some festive beauty traditions that can be carried on through into the New Year.

First up, the red lip. Now I’m not usually too adventurous when it comes to red lips – I love a good berry shade and will even venture as far as a deep purple at times, but when it comes to red, I’m something of a chicken except during the month of December. Well, no more. 2015 shall be the year of the red lip for me – and in fact, red in general. It’s not really a colour I tend to wear, but I feel like that may change during the coming months. We shall see. 

Next up is festive nail effects. For me, a Christmas nail isn’t really a Christmas nail until it has some form of shimmer, glitter or confetti-type effect on it, and that’s something I’d quite like to crack on with come January. Maybe not all glitter all the time – no need to go too OTT… – but just the odd shimmery nail here and there. What do you guys think? 

Speaking of shimmer, I plan to re-embrace highlighter with some serious enthusiasm in the New Year. My festive beauty looks are usually all about a cheeky bit of glow and for some reason I’ve been a bit lazy about it this year. Luckily there are still a few days left for me to turn that around…!

Last but not least, beauty samples. This year I was lucky enough to be given a couple of beauty-based advent calendars (The Body Shop, Yankee Candle and Ciate), and I’ve really loved getting the chance to try out a load of new and different products. I’m not usually the biggest fan of sample-sized products but I think the time has come to change my ways…

Next thing you know, I’ll be putting up my tree in July!

October2January

Given how many beauty products I churn my way through on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis, it’s pretty easy to spot when something really is a winner because it will be one of the few things to stand the test of time and hang around in my beauty arsenal for months (even years!) at a time.

So I thought it would be fun to take a quick look back at some of the beauty bits and pieces that I was loving this time last year and see which ones have stuck around and which ones… well… haven’t.

Let’s look back at October last year first. Other than tissues – I had a pretty awful cold at the time - which I still use, obvs, Diptyque candles ($68) still feature pretty regularly in my life. When I can afford to splash out that is. Then there is the Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil ($35)I went through three or so bottles of this stuff and absolutely intend to purchase it again in the future. At the moment, I have four other oils on the go but as soon as those are done, I think Pai will be back in the picture pretty quickly.

The Clinique Chubby Stick for Eyes in Lavish Lilac ($21.90) still has a place in my make-up bag and, while it’s not something I whip out every day, it gets a lot of use. Similarly the Becca Lip Priming Perfector ($30)is something I tend to use on a fairly regular basis, particularly if I’m going to be rocking a bold lip.

In fact, the only product that I haven’t used since just after it featured in my favourites is the Ellis Faas Mascara ($34)purely because I ended up finding other products that I really liked a bit better.

Moving on to January, and I think pretty much all of these products are still a big part of my daily beauty routine, with the exception of the Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil ($25)Try as I might, I just couldn’t get my head around how to make this work well on me. I don’t know what it was but for some reason, me and this lip pencil just don’t get on. Sigh.

Other than that however, January’s favourite products all get a big thumbs up – Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze & Glow ($65)and the matching brush, the Avène TriAcneal Skin Care ($48)the MaxFactor Face Finity All Day Flawless 3-in-1 Foundation ($12.99)and, last but not least, the Bobbi Brown Sheer Powder Brush ($48)All remain firm favourites and all are still used on a regular basis.

What products have you guys loved for the longest?

 

Another week, another Vlogmas video! I think this one is a bit better than last week’s… Although I do seem to spend an awful lot of time nattering away to the camera about random old rubbish, while wearing my favourite Primark PJs! I promise next week will involve a change of clothes or two, but for now, enjoy!

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The festive party season is well and truly upon us! I myself will be attending a work Crimbo do on Friday night – woo woo – which will, due to my being a fully employed human, involve a super speedy make-up top-up at my desk in the hopes of rejuvenating my everyday face and transforming it into something a bit more pizazzy.

So, for those of you who are likely to find themselves in a similar situation – I should also add that I will be working in the office on New Year’s Eve and am therefore likely to whip this technique out on that occasion as well - I thought I would put together my five tip top make-up products that will help you to achieve this desk to dancefloor beauty transformation.

First up, get yourself a good concealer (I’m currently loving the Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Concealer in Light ($25)) and a buffing brush of some kind. Before applying any concealer, use the buffing brush to re-blend the product that you already have on your face. I don’t know about you but my make-up often tries to make a bid for freedom throughout the day and giving it all a good blend with a brush tends to leave it looking a whole heap more put together. Then, apply concealer and blend in to any bits that you’re eager to cover up.

Moving on to the eyes – the key aspect of the look in my opinion. First of all, I like to smoke things up slightly with the least amount of fuss and miss possible. Enter the By Terry Ombre Blackstar in Bronze Moon ($43)a super simple, but incredibly effective, eye option which allows you to create a beautifully smokey bronze eye in just a quick swipe and smudge. Easy as that.

To add a bit more drama, I think opting for a quick cat-eye flick can work wonders – if you feel totally comfortable with wielding a liquid eyeliner in the office that is. I remain a bit undecided if I’m honest! The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner ($20) is probably the most fool-proof option I’ve come across if you do fancy giving it a go. Last up, a few lashings of mascara, and you’re ready to roll.

Unless of course you fancy adding in step number five, the bold berry lip, which is to some an absolute essential when it comes to completing your festive shindig face. I personally like to rely on an old favourite when it comes to lip colour, the Kate Moss x Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in 30 ($5)because I know it will a) work with whatever other beauty products that I have opted for and b) last throughout the evening without creasing awkwardly or smudging all over my face the minute I try to gobble down a few canapes.

So, there you have it, as easy as 1,2,3… and 4 and 5.

 

TooFaced1 TooFaced2 TooFaced3 TooFaced4* too faced natural eyes palette // $36 *

I admit it, I’m actually running out of room to store any more palettes… It’s becoming a real issue. I’ve basically filled my new flat  full of my palette-heavy beauty collection before I’ve even moved into it. Leaves little room for the bed, worryingly.

But when it came to this beautiful palette, the Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette ($36)there was no question, it was coming home with me.

And for those of you thinking ‘what on earth, you have more neutral palettes than anyone could ever need!?’ hear me out… First of all, this palette offers a whole heap of shades that I just don’t have from any other products, there’s a beautiful gold shade that is out of this world and I love the fact that the base colours are slightly bigger, meaning you can go to town when it comes to covering the lids and not worry about running out of your favourite shades. Clever, eh? 

Then there are the stunning colour combinations which just all work so well with one another, whether you’re sticking to the suggestion shade trios that they have laid out, or you’ve decided to criss cross and experiment. It all just looks ace.

Formula-wise, they’re pretty ruddy brill too. Smooth, soft, buttery and pigmented… essentially all that you can ask of in a shadow.

‘So why the almost perfect?!’ I hear you cry. WELL, since welcoming this palette into my collection some weeks ago – we’re talking two or three – it’s broken not once, not twice, but thrice and that’s not even down to my personal clumsiness! The magnet which is supposed to hold the palette together has broken, not quite sure how, and two of the shades have fallen out of their pans. Hurrumph.

Thankfully, a bit of super glue seems to have solved the majority of those issues – the wobbly shadow ones at any rate! and I’m still happy as Larry that I decided to finally purchase this semi-perfect palette after deliberating for ruddy ages. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see a man about a palette magnet…

GUIDE

We all know those people, the ones that you slightly dread having to buy Christmas presents for – not because you don’t want to seek out something super for them, but because it always seems so impossible to figure what exactly they might like.

So, in honour of these rather pesky present-deserving people, I’ve put together a special gift guide, which I believe contains a little something for everyone – whether they’re one of your bestest pals, or a fellow colleague whose name you picked out of the Secret Santa stash at work.

Enjoy! 

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen £7.99 One of the most iconic novels in British literature (in my opinion, that is!), wrapped up in a beautifully-designed cover. What’s not to love?

2. Caterpillar Bud Vase $20 I mentioned back on one of my other gift guides that vases are just a lovely gift to receive – and aren’t something that people really tend to buy for themselves. This one is particularly quirky and would look amazing with a few fresh Spring blooms in it.

3. Glass Filled Scented Candle £25 This is the present that just keeps on giving. After the candle has burned down, the recipient is left with a beautiful glass decorative item that can be used again and again.

4. One Line a Day, a Five-Year Memory Book $10 I have one of these myself and think they make for a great present. It’s a great way to document the new year – and how you’re feeling at the start of it, particularly as you can go back again and again for five years to see what you’ve been up to.

5. Siracha To Go Keyring $7 Calling all spicy food lovers…

6. Skinny Dip USB Cable £10 I know a USB cable might seem like a bizarre present to buy for somebody, but actually they are really ruddy handy, particularly when they look as cool as this one.

7. Selfie Stick $30 A telescopic selfie stick – the only present for social media fans this Christmas.

8. Manatea Infuser £10 I feel like no tea lover could fail to find this amusing.

9. Copper Rimmed Box $15 H&M’s home section is just full to the brim of beautiful stuff at the moment; whether or not you give this to someone else (or perhaps keep it for you…!), it will undoubtedly look beautiful wherever it goes.

10. Unicorn Hottie £9 I couldn’t resist, it was just too cute…

11. Fixie Pizza Cutter $23 Whether or not your chosen recipient is a cycling fan, I feel like this pizza cutter could provide the perfect amount of quirky banter between the two of you. Just sayin…

12. Copper Box $7 I know I’m starting to sound a bit obsessed but I just think this copper stuff from H&M is amazing.

13. Mason Jar Speaker and Amplifier $65 A helluva lot easier to carry round than the full size deal, but with all of the sound qualities of one of the big brand speaker systems.

14. & 15. Neon Acrylic Boxes £18-25 Another pretty jazzy decorative item which I think few people would pick up for themselves.

16. Smartphone Projector $27 A build-it-at-home, DIY projector which lets you beam the contents of your iPhone onto a big screen or wall. What person woulnd’t want this?!

17. Owl Mug £8 Another seriously cute interiors present that I think  you could get away with giving a guy or a girl. What do you guys thin? 

18. World Salt Set $40 Any cooking fans out there? This one is for them…

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‘Christmas isn’t just a day, it is a state of mind.’

Is it just me, or is this month whizzing by far too quickly? In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m such a huge fan of this time of year and, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it actually makes me a little bit sad that December seems to be going by so fast.

But it got me to thinking – there are things about this time of year that I certainly need to do more to try and carry on through every other month. Because, as much as I love all of the decorations, the gift giving and the incredible carol singing, when it comes down to it, the best bit about December is the general feeling of happiness and festivity that can be found all around.

It seems that most people just can’t help but be inspired by a bit of holiday cheer – and as a result they’re smiling at others, doing nice things and just really being totally lovely. Which is something I think we need to keep doing all the year round, no? 

Similarly, I tend to be so much more enthusiastic about everything at this time of year. Even really basic tasks like going to the supermarket or walking home from the train station become instantly more exciting and enjoyable thanks to the Christmassy decorations and festive twinkle lights that can be found everywhere you venture. But that go-get-em mentality and (sorry to sound like a cliche) thirst for life is another thing I want to bring forward and remember on every other day of the year – Christmas decs or not.

So, while I’m desperate to cling onto December for as long as possible, I’m also eagerly looking forward to the months ahead – and carrying some of that Christmas spirit on through the year. Ho ho ho, Merry 2015.

 

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* crimbo card from the fam *

I’m both sad and excited that there is less than two weeks until Christmas. Excited because I LOVE CHRISTMAS but sad because this month has just sped on by and I don’t want it to end any time soon. I think next year I’m going to just embrace the festivities as soon as I ruddy well like (within reason… we’re talking mid-November) and really relish the holiday spirit as much as possible.

Which is exactly what I’m doing now…

Five favourites

Place: On the sofa in front of the fire, watching the Christmas tree. Sad but true.

Food: Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints. Limited edition – sob – which means I have to gobble as many as humanly possible for the next few weeks!

Experience: Chopping down our own tree! It was so much fun, despite the rain.

Read/watch: I’ve been vlogging my way through December which has been really enjoyable actually, more so than I thought it would be. You can head on over and check out the first instalment here if you fancy (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT)

Beauty bit: The Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stay in Parisian PassionIt’s just so purply and pretty.

Have a good weekend everyone and don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram @CharlieLanks!

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* oh christmas tree *

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* i love this dude *

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* the cutest christmas cups from costa *

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* snug as a bug *

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