Festive Round-Up! [Inc. my Parisian pictures!]

The 20-metre high Christmas tree at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris.

First thing's first; I hope you all had a merry little Christmas! Personally, I've spent the past two days lounging in front of far too many Disney movies and indulging in my first ever self-made (Vegetarian) roast dinner, which was refreshingly relaxed, in comparison to my usual Christmases, and made for a nice change. 
Various shots from the Trocadero Christmas market (directly in front of the Eiffel tower!)

In case you missed the various posts/tweets/instagrams, I snuck away on a day-trip to Paris a few days before Christmas to have a bit of a nose around a few Parisian Christmas markets and have one or two splurges on some French pharmacy essentials and goodies from Sephora (post to come next week), which was incredible, to say the least; there are tonnes of photos I'd love to share, but I won't bore you with all my shots of food/market stalls/the exterior of pretty much every store on the Champs-Élysées!
My Christmas tree.
My mother generally waits until I get back from university to decorate our apartment, so I headed to Liberty and picked up a few last minute ornaments in the sale before blitzing the place with some fairy lights and serious sparkle (all whilst playing 'Fairytale of New York' on repeat, obviously). It was crazy, manic, even, in a lovely way.
Some Christmas goodies.

Had to do the standard 'look what I got for Christmas!' shot; in this case, a leatherbound copy of both Peter Pan (available here) and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (which you can buy here) - now I've really got no excuse not to complete my reading challenge by the end of the year!

Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: Last Minute Stocking-Fillers!

This is part of my 2012 holiday gift guide, which will focus on slightly 'different' gifts for your loved ones; they're being posted all this week, so keep an eye out for them, or check the current selection here.
I find myself in the same position, every year; having finally wrapped up my various gifts for loved ones, exchanged presents with all the nearest and dearest that I won't be seeing for 'the big day', it hits me, late at night, usually around the 22nd or 23rd of December...I've forgotten about the stocking!
Cue the mad dash around London at the eleventh hour, clutching desperately at anything 'cute' or 'quirky' - trinkets and in-jokes that will be the root of a smile, come Christmas morning. Of course, this last-minute madness often means I end up desperate, willing to spend any amount on presents that will fill that dreaded stocking (and knowing my luck, it'll always be for someone who's chosen an extra-roomy one this year); so I figured, to save you all finding yourselves in the same position, if you're as unorganized as me in this department, I'd share some of my favourite 'go-to' stocking fillers, cheep and cheerful and bound to please.
How adorable are these little candy bear rings? I've been snapping them up for absolutely everyone, this year, they always seem to get a laugh (it even prompted a bit of a trade between a certain group of friends for their favourite flavours!), and even my mother couldn't resist trying one on!
Teapigs' sample packs are one of my favourite 'stocking fillers' to give anyone - most of my friends are fans of tea but even those that aren't can't quite resist the lure of calorie-free chocolate! So there's a flavour to suit everyone. They're readily available at the Teapigs website, but if you're in a last-minute rush then they're well-stocked in most Whole Foods Markets, Fenwicks, Selfridges and even Debenhams.
Beauty box samples, various sources
It's only recently that I've unsubscribed from the Glossybox service (a monthly expense I just can't justify, any more), as I have a stack of unused beauty products filling various drawers and storage boxes under my bed; products which are lovely, and from well-known brands, but just not suited to my needs - and as cheeky as it might sound, sometime they really can make an ideal gift - and for no extra cost! 
Will you be joining me on the mad, last-minute hunt for stocking fillers, or are you all sorted, ready to sit back and enjoy the festivities?
How do you feel about recycling beauty box samples?

Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: The Crafty Type

This is part of my 2012 holiday gift guide, which will focus on slightly 'different' gifts for your loved ones; they're being posted all this week, so keep an eye out for them, or check the current selection here.
I'd like to think we all have those friends who love a bit of homemade love around the holidays; whether they're making their own Christmas cards, stamping their own wrapping paper, or taking a glue gun to their latest charity-shop find to make it into this years' NYE party frock, it seems they always have some project or other going, and it can be more than a little difficult to find the ideal gift for someone who's more than happy to make everything they need.
That's where my latest gift guide idea comes in; rather than trying to find some new, exciting, Do it Yourself Kit type of present, I've decided to put my own crafting skills to the test, and am knitting a scarf.
Now, knitting's one of those things that you either had a grandmother, mother, or pushy textiles teacher to encourage you to learn, or you didn't; personally, I've been knitting since I was a kiddie, so I managed to get through the first half of my scarf (pictured above) in a couple of hours whilst vegging out in front of Made in Chelsea re-runs, but if you're slightly newer to this particular craft, I'd recommend checking out this tutorial over at Heidi Bears Creative for some of the basics - it really is an ideal gift, especially if you're on a bit of a budget, this Christmas.
If you'd like to make a scarf like the one I'm making, this wool is Sidar's Baby Snowball Knitting Wool in Ice Cream (#101); the needles I'm using are Pony's 6.5mm knitting pins, and you'll need about six balls of wall to complete an average-length scarf (about double the size of the one in the above pictures). 
Pony 6.5mm knitting needles are available from Amazon, here, for £3.59, and Sidar Baby Snowball wool is available for £2.95, also from Amazon, here.

Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: The Creative Soul

This is part of my 2012 holiday gift guide, which will focus on slightly 'different' gifts for your loved ones; they're being posted all this week, so keep an eye out for them, or check the current selection here.
I am surrounded by 'creative types'; whether it's friends I've made through fashion courses, aspiring writers/actresses/directors/photographers, amateur bakers constantly, so gifts to satisfy those with an active imagination and creative nature are something I'm constantly on the look-out for.
'Wreck this Journal' by Keri Smith is kind of an 'anti-book' - in fact, it's more of a work book, with activities to do with the journal every day. The twist? As the name might suggest, most of the activities are intended to be destructive, bending, burning, throwing, drenching the journal beyond all recognition.
There are some rather strange pages throughout the book - I won't ruin it for you by revealing too many of them - and they have to be completed in no particular order; some of the instructions are pretty vague, so it's all open to interpretation, and is a complete dream for anyone who likes to get 'stuck in' to a project.
Overall, it's just a fun concept for a quirky gift that anyone who likes to 'mix mediums' a little would love - I know I adore mine - and no two are ever the same, with so many activities and tasks for the reader to complete, so it really is the 'gift that keeps on giving'.
'Wreck this Journal' has an RRP of £8.99, but is currently on offer on both Amazon, here, and Waterstones, here, for £6.29.
You can also check out Keri Smith's other 'workbooks' on the Waterstones website, here.

Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: The iPhone Gamer

This is part of my 2012 holiday gift guide, which will focus on slightly 'different' gifts for your loved ones; they're being posted all this week, so keep an eye out for them, or check the current selection here.
Most of my friends, at one time or another, have been lost to the Angry Birds games; from refusing to contribute in a social situation because they 'have to just finish this one level', to barely suppressing their death-glares because you dared to send them a text whilst they were trying to collect all their stars, it's a problem I'm sure I can't have been the only one to have suffered through over the past couple of years.
However, I'm generally a bit of a 'if you can't beat them, join them' kind of girl, so when I spotted these Angry Birds Soda Collection over on the Cybercandy website, I knew they'd make the ideal gift/stocking fillers for some of my nearest & dearest app-addicts.
The sodas are available in four flavours; 'Paradise', a pineapple/mandarin combination which is pretty unique (I've never tasted anything like it, anyway), 'Lagoon', which is an apple/pear combination, and reminds me, unsurprisingly, of Copella, 'Tropic', referenced as a 'tropical-fruit-flavoured' soda, and tastes a little like Fanta Fruit Twist, and 'Space - Comet', which I have to admit, didn't sound at all appealing to me, as it's a cola/orange combination, but, having given it a go, I was pleasantly surprised, and it'd be great for anyone who's into slightly more obscure flavour combinations.

I personally think these make slightly unconventional but fun additions to a Christmas gift this year, but if you were looking for some slightly more 'normal'-tasting treats, you can check out the rest of the Angry Birds range over on Cybercandy's website, here.
The Angry Birds Soda Collection retails for £3.99 (*) from Cybercandy, here.

Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: The Music Lover

This is part of my 2012 holiday gift guide, which will focus on slightly 'different' gifts for your loved ones; they're being posted all this week, so keep an eye out for them, or check the current selection here.
Whenever I'm travelling anywhere (including making the five minute walk to Tesco), I'm plugged into my iPhone; a good soundtrack is pretty much all I need to keep me happy on any journey...but, well, it's cold outside. And I really don't cope well with cold weather. At all.

Naturally, then, when I spotted these Hear-Muffs (earmuffs with built in headphones), I knew I had to get my hands on a pair, and I'm not exaggerating when I say they're one of the best winter wear discoveries I've made; they're fully lined, keeping ears toasty and warm, and plug in to any device's headphone jack, making them the ideal gift for anyone who, like me, can't go without their music, even on short journeys. They're designed to fit behind your head, as opposed to on top, like conventional earmuffs, meaning they're ideal for hair-conscious boys and girls, and come in a variety of colours and designs, so there really is something to keep every music lover toasty this season.
Hear-Muffs are suitable for any device with a standard headphone jack, and retail for £15 and are available from John Lewis' website (*) in a variety of colours, here.
(The shade I'm wearing is 'White Sand').

Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: The Bookworm

This is part of my 2012 holiday gift guide, which will focus on slightly 'different' gifts for your loved ones; they're being posted all this week, so keep an eye out for them, or check the current selection here.
I am a complete and utter bookworm (just in case you hadn't guessed by my regular contributions to Blogger's Bookshelf and obsession with Harry Potter and The Hunger Games themed jewellery, I thought I'd confess). Anyway, as the resident Girl Most Likely to Have Her Nose in a Book in my family, I have to say, anyone who buys me a book as a gift (even one I've never heard of!) is likely to be on my list of favourite people for the steadily approaching new year, but, well, being a girl infatuated with all things beauty, fashion and just pretty things generally, I am more than a little guilty of judging reading material by their covers (whoops!).
Well, some books are just better-looking than others, aren't they? It doesn't mean I don't love my beaten-up copies of Medea or the Hunger Games, it's just...well, some books are never going to leave my bookshelf, and it's nice to have a swanky, nice-to-look at cover peaking out amongst the university books, and reads I've never quite managed to start.
These leatherbound classics are produced by the US store Barnes & Noble, but, since my one-time insane splurge, in which I paid more in postage and packaging than I did for the actual books, they have actually become available to purchase on the Waterstone's website, here; with a variety spanning from Dracula and Frankenstein to Hans Christian Anderson's Classic Fairytales and Little Women, with most featuring gorgeous illustrations and gold-edged pages, making them perfect for any book lover's collection.
The Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics collection is available on the Waterstones website, here with most books ranging from £10-£22.
My copy of Alice in Wonderland retails for £21.30, from here, and Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales has an RRP of £19.70, and is available here.

I'm Gone As the Day is Fading

Necklace: Forever 21
Cardigan: H&M
Dress: H&M
Boots: New Look

The weeks seem to be dragging past ever-so-slowly as we get closer to the Christmas break at university. I have what feels like a hundred deadlines, tests and reports to do (read: five), and have yet to make a dent in anything, so I'm willing away my time. 
I'm also ridiculously behind with my Christmas shopping, which is quite unlike me; I love buying presents for people, and usually dedicate an absurd amount of time (and money!) doing so every year, so I don't quite know what's going on right now, but it feels slightly odd. Maybe buying one of the Christmas jumpers I've had my eye on for a while is what I need...although generally it doesn't feel like Christmas to me until I've got my decorations up, so maybe that's what's missing.

This dress is, hands-down, one of my favourite purchases from the year (despite only buying it in September) - I'm all about oxblood/burgundy/crimson tones for the season, and although this dress is slightly shorter than I'd really like it to be, I can forgive it for being so versatile.
The cardigan was a bargain at £3.99 - it's since sold out in the black online (although they do have it in other colours), but there are still quite a few floating around stores, so it might be worth taking a look.

Am I the only one struggling to get into Christmas shopping mode, this year? What generally gets you into the Christmas spirit?

You Wear Your Best Apology [Outfit Post]

Jumper: AX Paris
(via New Look)
Jeans: Primark
Boots: New Look
Necklace: Forever 21

I am currently in that strange, semi-hyper, overtired state that you only find yourself experiencing when you've had somewhere short of three hours' sleep; today was an important assignment hand-in, and I stayed up til well past 4am attempting to cut down 1,000 much-needed words so I could meet my word limit (I don't think I've ever finished an essay and not gone over the word limit), but, thankfully, it's finally over and done with. 

This jumper is my ultimate creature comfort; it's huge, warm, and divinely slouchy, perfect for days where I'm feeling a bit 'meh', and don't want to make too much of an effort. I fell in love with it in a New Look around this time last year, but AX Paris are selling them this year, too (here), and New Look have some in stock online, here.
Is it just me, or does anyone else miss old Primark denim? Their skinny jeans lately have seriously failed to impress me, the slightly odd cotton-y material is nothing like denim, but thankfully, this £8 pair of black skinnies I picked up a couple of years ago has lasted me pretty well, so I don't have to worry about finding a replacement just yet. 

I'm off to London tomorrow with my housemate for the annual VIP Pedestrian Shopping Day, where they close the whole of Oxford & Regent Street to traffic and make it strictly foot-traffic only, so I'm pretty excited to finally get some Christmas shopping in!



I've never tried to hide the fact that I'm a huge fan of Motel; in fact, they were one of the first brands I ever went to, in search of party dresses, as soon as I deemed myself old enough to need one (or two, or five...), and they're still a staple in my wardrobe, even now - although their collections have expanded far beyond pretty dresses since then.
With this in mind, when the annual invite to the Motel Rocks Christmas party, hosted this year in the gorgeous Floripa, arrived in my inbox a couple of weeks ago, I knew it was an event I'd have to haul myself back to my hometown for, with my favourite pair of heels in tow.
Lots of brands were present at the event, from one of my favourite beauty companies, MyFace Cosmetics, Lee Stafford and his team were there to style bloggers' locks (I opted not to terrify any of them with my frazzled Ombré!), and a lovely girl from Eylure was applying some of their bestselling lashes.
As some of you might have spotted over on Motel's Instagram, I decided to brave my first ever pair of falsies, and opted for this 'super full' natural pair (Eylure Naturalities #100, £5.25 from Superdrug), and fell in love with them - although I'm not sure I could do quite as good a job at applying them - I'm definitely in the market for some to expand my non-existent collection!
My favourite part of the evening was, quite obviously, gawking at all the gorgeous items on offer in the coming weeks at Motel; gorgeous textures ranging from velvet, to embroidered baroque, to head-to-toe sequins littered the selection on the rails, and even one or two studded items graced the collection, all of which scream 'party season'!
The best part of the collection, aside from the luxe textures, however, would, for me, have to be the gorgeous necklines on offer; sweetheart dresses, off-the-shoulder crop tops, and playsuits with some seriously impressive bodices built-in, what's not to love?
Left: Jessica from Copper-Garden Right: Amy from AmyValentinex
I was lucky enough to meet a few lovely ladies on the way to the event, and spent the night sipping on one to many cocktails in their company (name-drop: Jessica, Amy, Stacey & Kirsti, to name a few)...and even went away with a gorgeous little Christmas present from Motel; a pretty impressive start to the Christmas season, I'd say!
You can check out Motel's newest arrivals here (some of the items pictured are already available online, but the rest should be appearing in the not-too-distant future...!); type in francescasophia at the checkout for 20% off your purchase!
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