Kirsty's Unusual Gift Guide

Family and friends will agree that I love to give unusual gifts, the weirder the better in some cases, but I look for coolness and functionality; less Soap on a Rope and more NASA Space Ants. Being slightly bored of seeing beauty gift guides, and preferring a touch of something different myself, I’ve compiled a unisex guide for those that want to give something memorable to the people that really do have everything. Some I’ve bought for others before so can personally recommend them, some I’m planning to buy this year, while others just caught my eye for their funkiness, but there’s something here for all tastes and budgets.

Tried & Tested
The Beer Soap Co. Beer Soap (£5.99 each) - Something different for the beer lovers among us, these soaps use a formula of real ales and stouts. Available with the hop goodness of Guinness, Stella Artois, Newcastle Brown Ale and Kronenbourg 1664, they contain no artificial ingredients and have a manly scent so no one ends up smelling like they’ve been on the Special Brew.
66.6% Devil Vodka (£25.99) - Presented in one of the coolest bottles I’ve seen, this vodka isn’t for the faint hearted! It’s definitely one to get people talking, but remind your loved one to take it slowly or they really will have the hangover from hell.
Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn Pouches (£4 each) - Popcorn isn’t just for the cinema, and Joe & Sephs ranges feature specially selected flavours from sweet to savoury such as Fruit Cocktail & Cream, Smooth Caramel Lemon & Poppyseeds, Cheese on Toast and Thai Style Peanut Satay. Their Christmas range includes Mince Pie and Mint Chocolate, with all flavours being gluten free and the majority vegetarian. I’ve given Goat’s Cheese & Black Pepper and Mince Pie flavours as Christmas presents, and they’ve both gone down a treat!
Edible Insects (from £4.99) - ever fancied crunchy cricket snacks, mealworm larvettes or chocolate covered ant wafers as an interesting supper? Ok don’t answer that, but trust me curiosity will get the better of you.
True Utility Cashstash (£6.50) - A practical gift for the person who’s always losing their wallet, this little waterproof capsule made from aircraft grade aluminium features a steel cashclip to hold to more than enough notes for a cab journey home. Available in silver, black and pink.
Tatratea (£21.80-£44.60 depending on flavour) - This liqueur is based on black tea with fruit and herb extracts, is named after the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, and has an amazing tea scent. Available in Original (52%), White (42%), Citrus (32%), Coconut (22%), Forest Fruit (62%) or Outlaw (72%) flavours, it can be drunk neat, in a cocktail, or mixed with hot tea to create an unusual and interesting drink.
Antworks Space Ants (£11.50) - This mini ant farm uses NASA developed patented technology from their 2003 space shuttle experiment. The blue gel is rich enough in nutrients to keep the ants alive in their self-contained home, and if you can’t find any ants yourself you can send off for a starter pack and they’ll be shipped live in the post!
Vampire Chutney Gift Pack and Curry Lover’s Selection (£12.95 each) - Created by the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm, these themed gift selections are perfect for lovers of strong flavours. The Vampire themed chutney gift box includes Plum Chutney, Tomato Salsa and Apple Chutney, each with a fiery kick. The Curry Lover’s Selection includes Cheeky Monkey Banana Chutney, Hot Garlic Pickle and Peach & Mango Chutney which are perfect curry accompaniments.
Marmite Chocolate (£2.45) - Marmite isn’t to everyone’s taste but for the connoisseurs out there this is perfect. If your gift receiver is a fan of the salty bitter taste of Marmite crisps then they’ll love this! I’ve tried it and wasn’t wholly convinced on the flavour, but it makes a great gift nonetheless.
For the Photography LoverLumi Light Printing Kit (£29.99) - One of the coolest gifts in this guide, this kit uses light sensitive paint to enable you to print designs on anything from fabric to untreated wood and unglazed ceramics. Use the Lumi app to transform your image into a negative, print it onto acetate (unfortunately not included) apply the Inkodye underneath your image and watch as it develops using the power of the sun! Then wash fabrics with the Inkowash and the design is permanent. Available in either Blue or Red, and with extra Inkodye to buy once the kit runs out, this kit is perfect for any digital lover that wants to try something new, or film lovers that want a step up from sun prints. 
Konstructor DIY SLR Camera by Lomography (£29.95) - Build your own functional SLR camera with top down viewfinder in 1-2 hours from a sheet of flatpack plastic parts. This kit is suitable for ages 14 and over and includes stick on leather patches and vinyl decals to personalise the look of the camera once finishes. Featuring a 50mm f/10 lens, this fully working camera will take beautiful 35mm Lomo shots. Who else do you know who’s built their own camera?
Twitfish Camera Lens Cup (£6.95) - available in black or retro-looking white, with a flared lens cap to keep your drink warm which also doubles as a coaster or biscuit holder.
Camera Lens Travel Mug
(£16.99) - featuring an insulated interior and screw on spill proof lid with drinking tab, this is a cool accessory for drinks both hot and cold, and is detailed enough to look like you’re drinking from a real lens!

For the Kitchen
Bogey Man Egg Separator Jug  (£5.95) - disgusting and delightful at the same time!
Rose Bunting Cake Decoration Kit  (£3.95) - I’ve never before seen bunting on a cake, but this little kit would make a seriously cute gift for an avid baker.
Citrus Zinger Water Bottle (£14.99) - This is a water bottle with built in juicer for a healthy metabolism boosting drink on the go- add a citrus half to the bottom compartment of the bottle, add water to the top, and shake!
Gluggle Jug (£29.99) - these jugs mae a great gurgling ‘glug glug’ sound as liquid is poured- functional, attractive and cool. These look like a piece of art whether on the shelf or in use, and are available in Cobalt blue, Green, White and Surf Blue.
OCD Chef Wooden Chopping Board (£19.99) - Featuring grids and rulers for those that like to keep things precise in the kitchen.
Toucan Magnetic Kitchen Scissors (£9.99) - How cute is this little guy! This sturdy pair of shears is magnetic so sticks to the fridge or knife rack, and also has a built in bottle opener.
Mason Jar Shot Glasses (£9.99 for 4) - Jam jar drinks are a popular tipple at engagement parties and wedding receptions, but these shot glasses are perfect for those of us that like to take things a little less seriously.

For the Home
Mystical Fire Magic Dust (£12.50 for 10) - transform a log or camp fire into vivid colours by throwing 1-3 unopened sachets into the flames for 30 minutes of 'wow!'.
Sky Planter Recycled (£14.99 - £34.99) - these space saving ceiling planters use a reservoir system to save water and come with all that’s needed to hang and enjoy (except the plant).
Build Your Own Life Sized Human Skeleton (£11.95) - one for the biology buffs, this book features anatomically correct pop out cardboard bones and requires no glue or scissors for assembly. All joints work as they should, and Mr Skeleton measures 1.8m tall when completed.
I Could Pee on This/I Could Chew on This (£5.18 each) - for the cat or dog lover in our lives, ICPOT features amusing poems by cats and photos too, while ICCOT includes photos and poems about mischevious dogs.
Rufus Fox Draft Excluder (£24.99) - a cute hand embroidered fox doing the splits to hold a door open and block winter drafts.
Sex Tips for Husbands and Wives from 1894 (£3.50)- Published by Ruth Smythers as a serious book of bedroom tips over 100 years ago, this is now a book of giggles and shows just how much things have changed over the last century!
‘She should let him grope in the dark. There is always the hope that he will stumble and incur some slight injury which she can use as an excuse to deny him sexual access.’
'While sex is at best revolting and at worse rather painful, it has to be endured...One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: give little, give seldom and, above all, give grudgingly!'
Lifestraw (£21.99) - Not so much for inside the home as outside it, the Lifestraw filters 99.99% of bacteria and parasites so a muddy puddle or dirty stream suddenly becomes a thirst quenching drink. This straw can filter at least 1000 litres of contaminated water so doesn't just have to be saved for emergencies, and is the perfect unusual Christmas gift for walkers and countryside explorers. 

Are you planning to gift anything out of the ordinary this Christmas?


YSL Touche Eclat- Is It Worth The Money?

I have used 3 or 4 tubes of Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat (£25 for 2.5ml) since I was about 15, at that time all the fashion and beauty magazines that I read were hailing this product as the absolute answer if you suffer from dark circles, and at that time I believed them.

The packaging of the Touche Eclat highlighter is iconic- a gold metal tube with push button at one end and slim brush at the other. It really does look and feel luxurious compared to the clear tubes and doe foot applicators that we usually see. I currently have the shade 2 which is a very light salmon pink, but have also previously used shade 1 and until quite recently there were only 3 or 4 shades available.
Touche Eclat is translated as ‘radiant touch’, and this product is meant to be used as a highlighter over the face as well as brightening up the undereyes- the packaging insert shows a woman applying it around her nose, chin and cupids bow among other places. The concealer contains ‘tiny light particles and mineral extracts to create a healthy, natural glow’ and YSL claim the product is ‘Eight Hours of Sleep in a magic wand’. I admit that my dark circles are particularly striking, but if this ‘No.1 luxury face make up product’ of 2012 can’t help, then what can?

The only time I use this product is under my eyes on minimal or natural make up days, my love for this product has really waned over the last few years- the problem is that it just doesn’t do its job very well.
The coverage is very sheer, so must be used on top of another concealer if you do have dark circles, but once powdered (it stays tacky and doesn't dry properly) the brightening effect is very minimal, and if it isn't powdered you can expect creasing and product movement. I find that it only has enough reflective quality when I keep my chin up and look down my nose at everything and, as the pigmentation is so light, this doesn't have enough colour to really perform as a colour corrector on my dark circles, so the salmon tint is almost completely lost on my skin (bear in mind I'm not wearing self tan in the above swatch photo which is unusual for me).
Even though I occasionally use the Touche Eclat on the eye contours, when blended onto other areas of the face I just can’t tell the difference, whether I use it on powdered or unpowdered skin.

If you like very subtle brightening then you might enjoy this product, but if I apply a highlighter or luminiser I really want to see that’s it’s doing something. Finally, I've found that this product flashes back like nothing else in photographs, even under powder, and especially when the face is at an angle to the flash. Looking back over photos and seeing a very obvious whiteness under your eyes is both embarrassing and strange.

My current tube is a special edition design and has kept me going for a long long time because I use it so little. I've tried brightening products from other brands, and lots have products that are just as good or better with a much cheaper price- the No7 Instant Radiance Concealer (£12.95) in particular stood out to me as being just as good as the Touche Eclat with a saving of just over £12 .
A brightening concealer that is so much cheaper but, in my opinion, actually so much better is the Rimmel Match Perfection Illuminating Concealer (£5.99). It has a similar brush applicator and a squeezy tube but is brightening along with actually having enough coverage to use alone, and it really makes a difference to my dark eye contours when patted onto the skin. I use the Rimmel concealer so much more than I do the Touche Eclat and would definitely recommend it instead of splashing the cash on such an over-hyped product.

Have you tried Touche Eclat? What do you think of it?


Whats In My Bag?

The Contents of My BagI love to see what's in other peoples handbags, maybe I'm just a bit nosey but I'm a chuck-and-run kind of girl so I find it really interesting to see what other people carry round with them.

I usually have lots of tickets, receipts and sticks of gum hanging around the depths of my bag but I've had a recent clearout so it's relatively rubbish free. As well as receipts I also found a fan which isn't very useful in November, and I'll have to remember to replace it with an umbrella. As you can tell by the light in the above photos, the winter weather is closing in and I'm sure I'll be adding a pair of gloves and some earmuffs to my bag in the coming weeks!

I tend to choose bags in a neutral colour that will go with everything and keep with the same one for a few months, instead of repacking a different bag for different outfits. I bought this cream and brown bag from Matalan in the summer and it's still going strong- I find Matalan really good for accessories and they usually have a big range of affordable shoes too. 
I have the EST. 1969 Cream Studded Purse from New Look, which is a good big size (but unfortunately not very full!) and I would be lost without my phone so I like to keep it protected- the Switcheasy Avant Garde Blossom case looks pretty but also keeps it scratch and crack free, it's available in a range of different colours and you can find it discounted on eBay or Amazon. I keep my makeup together in my handbag using the Disaster Designs In a Nutshell Makeup Bag which has a lovely design and is really big, I also have a What's In My Makeup Bag? post which is a few months old but shows how much I can fit in there!

I carry a little black quilted pouch to keep girly bits together, Boss Orange perfume to keep me smelling fresh and Asda Protect hand gel to try and protect myself from coughs and colds. I have the turquoise Handbag Mirror with LED Lights that I wrote about in my Birthday Wishlist, which is the handiest thing ever and you can find them in a range of colours for about £4 each! 
Along with the essentials like Nivea lip Butters, a nail file and pen, I also carry a few sheets of toilet paper in the bag's front pocket, which seems a bit strange but is just much cheaper and easier than individual packets of tissues (and also very handy if you've chosen the one toilet cubicle without any paper!). For some reason I get a bit anxious if I don't have a bottle of water with me, so it's a must for my bag and I fill it up every time I go out. I take a water bottle everywhere, whether its a 5 minute journey to the post office or out to the pub for a drink!

As far as beauty products go, I have the Neutrogena Spot Stess Control Ultra-Light Moisturiser which I find brilliant for breakouts and congestion so I take it with me for overnight stays, the MUA Out There Gloss in Candy Pink is one of my most used glosses, and the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Cherish (click for a full review) is my favourite lip product at the moment so stays in my bag for touch ups.
Finally I have a little costume ring with three clear stones that that was hiding at the bottom of my bag, I'd been looking for it recently and thought I'd lost it so that was a brilliant little find!

This is what's currently in my bag, what's in yours? Are there any handbag essentials you couldn't be without?


A Little Body Jewellery Collection

Something you might not know about me is that I have 4 piercings- two in my ears, one in my lip and one a little further south. I've had my left nipple pierced for just over 4 years; I’d wanted it done for a while and took the plunge a few weeks before my 18th birthday. The piercing parlour was clean and gave good advice about aftercare, but looking back I wouldn't recommend them as they agreed to pierce an intimate area even though I told them I had no ID. I think nipple piercings are really attractive, but for me the healing was a drag and almost put me off piercings completely- it took a good few months of sleeping in a bra because of the soreness, not letting anyone touch it and being careful not to accidentally knock it. Nips take on average 9 months to heal, but it was only towards the 12 month mark that mine finally healed completely.
After the initial pain of the needle (one which took me by surprise and made me shout words that I didn't
 even know I had in me), it was sensitive and sore for longer than I had expected, but I haven’t had any problems with it since and I'm so glad that I had it done. While I occasionally contemplate removing my lip stud, I can’t see myself taking my nip piercing out until I need to- not only, in my opinion, does it look great but it’s also nice to have something that isn't on show and that only a handful of people will see.
Most of the body jewellery I own is very simple, but there are a few pieces which are particularly colourful or interesting that I thought were definitely worth sharing. With nipple jewellery you can be a bit more creative than with other parts of the body, and it’s always fun to see someone’s reaction when they come across something they weren't expecting.BCR steel rings are possibly the most boring items of body jewellery, but they're sometimes necessary as they're the least likely to catch on hair or clothing. I tend to prefer rings over bars, even though I do like a change sometimes, but there aren't really a lot of options when it comes to rings other than changing the little balls that close them. To jazz mine up I've gone for blue, turquoise and green jewelled balls as that's the colour family I like the most and, even though they're simple, I think they're really pretty colours.This shield is quite interesting, with its semi-floral design in clear and blue crystals. It does look really nice on and is a more feminine version of a plain cut-out silver shield, but the design lets it down slightly- the hole is quite small and when the bar is threaded through the two loops at the back it sits a way behind the shield, so it was quite optimistic of the designer to expect anyone’s nip to actually stay in place unless they kept still and were perpetually....cold. Even though you can't really tell, the shield is made from plastic which makes it a bit more comfortable than it would be in metal as its more lightweight. The bar from this shield is the one that I wear the most, it's quite big at 3cm long, but I'm not very keen on those short ones that just look like two silver balls floating on either side of the nip.I think this bow and arrow is so cute! One day I might actually buy something in a colour other than blue but I think the little crystals in this one bring it to life a bit. This one it's not quite as dainty as it looks so it doesn't come out too often as its a little bit heavy. The bar is a bit shorter than the other, and I'm thinking of getting a couple of more interesting balls to go on the end rather than a little ball and a cone. The thing with metal screw on balls is that most have the design on the top and the hole on the bottom, so when they're on a bar you can only see the design from either side rather than if you’re looking at it straight on. Tongue bars for some reason seem to have the funkiest designed balls, especially in acrylic, and I really like the look of these Two Tone Glow In the Dark Balls from Urban Piercing Shop to add to my collection.You'll either think this is really sweet or really tacky, I've got a feeling you might go for tacky but obviously I thought it was sweet! I'm sure I don't need to explain why there’s a gap where the O should be, I don't know who designs these things but that gap is a lot smaller than it looks, let me tell you! To be fair it does come in three bar lengths but the end of the L really encroaches into the bar area so I'm glad I got the biggest size. I think the font adds a tiny bit of class to this one, with some sort of chunky 'Impact' style font it might look a bit like it belongs in the jewellery section of the Argos catalogue, but its a little more classy and the letters are sterling silver instead of the normal steel. This is probably my least worn, as it has edges that can catch, and the memory of getting it caught and tangled once in a knitted jumper still makes me shiver a bit! Even so, I'm pleased to have it in my collection to pull out as a surprise every now and then.

Do you have any unusual piercings or interesting pieces of body jewellery?

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