Bloggers' Christmas Around The World

15 December 2018



For today's post, I thought we'd do something a little different around these parts and take a look at various Christmas traditions from around the world. Now, I was considering researching a tonne of different countries on Google and then collating them together in this post, but ended up coming up with a much better idea... I thought I'd ask bloggers/influencers from various places around the world to describe how their country celebrates Christmas, neat huh? So, just before we start, I just want to thank the six absolute babes that helped me write this post, it means a lot!

Portugal 
On Christmas Eve extended families (aunts, uncles, cousins) will all have dinner and then open their presents at midnight. Then, on Christmas day, families tend to have lunch with their grandparents which usually consists of cod. - Marta, A Place In Her Heart

Mexico 
Families will wait up until midnight on Christmas Eve so that they can "wake up" baby Jesus and bring him in Christmas morning. - Sandra, @sandratalcaraz

Finland
Finns believe that Santa Claus (Joulupukki) lives in the northern part of Finland called Lapland, not the North Pole. Christmas Eve is the most important day over Christmas in Finland. The festivities begin with a rice porridge that has an almond hidden in it. The person who gets it is said to have good fortune the next year. The Christmas tree is brought in after lunch and decorated, and Christmas dinner is served the evening of the 24th. Santa Claus usually pays a visit after dinner and gives everyone their presents. Christmas day itself is usually a much more relaxed day spent at home. - Anu, Based On Blog 

The Netherlands
On the 5th of December "Sinterklass" (Saint Nicholas) brings the children presents and is a totally separate holiday to Christmas. This is a day full of gifts, food, songs, and poems. Christmas day itself is then typically spent eating a family meal and attending a church service. - Marta, A Place In Her Heart

Austria 
If children have been good then Saint Nikolaus will bring children gifts on the night of the 5th of December, but if they have been bad then Krampus - who is part goat and part demon - punishes them. Children also write to the Christkind and not Father Christmas when making their wishlists. - Emina, Real Talk with Emina

Turkey
Christmas itself isn't celebrated in Turkey, but people put up Christmas trees and Santa decorations to celebrate New Years. - Doga, @dogagirinti


Do you know any other interesting Christmas traditions? 

The 15 Best Christmas Songs Ever Made

14 December 2018



I've been listening to Christmas songs since mid-November and I'm nowhere near sick of them yet. I mean, I absolutely love dancing around to a good Christmas banger, even in July. So, for today's Blogmas post I thought I'd compile a definitive list of the 15 best Christmas songs ever made. Full stop. This is them. No arguments, please.

1. Fairy Tale of New York, The Pogues
2. Step Into Christmas, Elton John
3. Merry Christmas Everyone, Shakin Stevens
4. Happy Xmas (War Is Over), John Lennon
5. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, Wizzard
6. All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey
7. Driving Home For Christmas, Chris Rhea
8. Last Christmas, Wham
9. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Michael Buble
10. Mistletoe, Justin Bieber
11. What Christmas Means To Me, Stevie Wonder
12. Do They Know It's Christmas?, Band Aid
13. Merry Christmas Everybody, Slade
14. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, The Jackson 5
15. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Darlene Love


What's your favourite Christmas song?
Do you hate any of the songs on my list?

Triple Chocolate Christmas Tree Brownies

13 December 2018

So, let me just start this post by saying that I think these are the best brownies I've ever had and I've had a fair few brownies in my twenty years of existence. I was scrolling Pinterest for Christmas baking ideas and saw a lot of winter spiced brownie recipes, but why fix something that isn't broken, hey? So I started googling brownie recipes and settled for this BBC Good Food one. It was easy enough and they genuinely taste incredible.

A few things to mention; firstly, I didn't have an electric whisk so whisked the eggs and sugar together by hand and got nowhere near the texture the recipe called for. They turned out fine, so don't worry too much about that step. My second faux pas was buying salted butter rather than unsalted, but let me assure you, there's sooooo much chocolate in these that you'd never be able to tell. So, if you have one and not the other, I wouldn't worry too much. My brownies also took way longer than the allocated 25 minutes to bake, so just keep an eye on them and put them back in if you need to. So, onto the recipe...

You will need:
185g unsalted butter
185g best dark chocolate
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 large eggs

275g golden caster sugar

Extra white chocolate to drizzle on top

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and line the base of a 20cm square tin with non-stick baking parchment.

2. Cut the butter into small cubes and break the dark chocolate into small pieces, and tip them into a medium-sized bowl.

3. Fill a small saucepan with a little hot water, and place the bowl on top. Use a low heat to melt the chocolate and the butter, stirring occasionally to mix them. Remove from heat and leave to cool to room temperature.

4. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into another bowl, and combine them

5. Chop the white and milk chocolate into small chunks

6. Break the eggs into a large bowl and tip in the golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are thick and creamy.

7. Pour the cooled chocolate and butter mixture over the eggs and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Do this gently as not to get rid of all of the air you've just whisked into it.

8. Add the flour and cocoa powder mixture and gently fold in.

9. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re evenly dotted throughout.

10. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

11. Put the tray in the oven and set your timer for 25 mins. After this, if you gently shake the tin and the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so put it back in for another 5 minutes.


12. Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, remove and cut into triangles. Melt the remaining white chocolate and drizzle on top of the trees as much or as little as you'd like.

And tadaaaa, there you have it, delicious, festive, triple chocolate brownies.

What is your favourite festive thing to bake?

Festive Beauty Picks

12 December 2018

I know beauty isn't something that's often discussed around these parts but it felt wrong not to post my beauty picks for the festive season. Everyone knows that this time of year is allll about getting glammed up and going out-out, two things I haven't been doing too much of recently. So, as I'm sure you can probably guess, I am very excited for the festive period and all the getting dressed up opportunities it brings.

As for eyeshadow, the two palettes I will most certainly be reaching for are my Morphe 35OS (which I've written an entire post on here) and my Urban Decay Naked Smoky. I love the warm colours in the Morphe one for this time of year, but you can't beat a good smokey eye can you?

Highlighter, highlighter, highlighter. At Christmas, there's only one way to go; go hard or go home. I tend to layer a liquid highlighter, such as the Revolution one in Champagne, and then set it with a powder highlight for that proper in your face shine. I can see myself reaching for this Revolution highlighter palette this season, and using a mix of all of the shades. They're so buttery and work really well layered on top of the liquid one.

My Mac Studio Fix Fluid is my go-to longlasting, heavy-duty foundation. It's amazing. I apply a fairly thin layer with my beauty blender, set it with a load of powder, and it always lasts the entire night. The perfect night out foundation, no?

Now, when it comes to lips, pinks and nudes are always what I go for. But, whether it be a gloss, lipstick or liquid lipstick depends on what I'm feeling that day. Mac's Velvet Teddy is my go-to lipstick, it's an absolute classic. The Etos lipgloss I bought in Amsterdam and don't reach for particularly often day to day, but it's gorgeous with a dark eye. But, the option I go with most of the time is the Nyx Liquid Suede in Sandstorm. It's quite a dark shade of brown but I love how it looks with my skin tone. See, I don't like how red lips look on me, so this is definitely the second best thing. It's not drying and it lasts forever, a win-win.

What are your festive beauty picks?

Also, can we just quickly mention how we are halfway through Blogmas already?! How quickly has this month gone already?...

DIY Eco-Friendly(ish) Christmas Wrapping

11 December 2018

So, as I'm sure you're all aware, we all need to do our bit (or a bit more) to help the planet. There have been quite a few posts circulating social media recently describing just how bad wrapping paper is for the planet. That is, how much of it is used every year and how none of it can be recycled. So, for today's Blogmas post, I thought I'd collate a few better-for-the-environment wrapping ideas. The best thing to use, paper-wise, is brown paper as it is fully recyclable. It isn't, however, particularly pretty and a load of presents wrapped in it won't look particularly festive under the tree. So, welcome Becc4's brown paper decorating ideas...

A really easy one is just to grab a silver/gold/red/any colour sharpie and just doodle on the paper. I've never been particularly gifted when it comes to art and drawing, but the above doodle was easy enough and I think it looks really cute. I mean, snowmen are really easy to draw, they're just circles stacked on top of each other, so this one couldn't be easier. Plus, if it looks a bit crap, who cares, it makes it a bit more personal and shows that some effort has been made.

Ribbon is also a really quick and easy way to spruce a present up, and this white and gold twine is from Tiger and costs £1. Even just this on a few of the gifts really makes a difference. Using the same twine I made the Christmas tree bunting with an old cereal box we had in our recycling bin. It took about 20 minutes to make - yep I drew it myself - and was actually really therapeutic. Whilst it was a lot of effort for one present, if you've got the free time then go for it, you make that tree bunting. I'm actually going to hang the bunting up in my room at home when I head back to my family house for Christmas, I love how minimalist it is.

The little red bauble is from a pack I bought in Poundland, and I figured that this could be added to the ribbon and tied into the bow. These could then be reused and placed on the tree by the recipient, cute, huh? I'm not sure where I was going with the pinecone and the tealight, maybe they could be stuck directly on the paper? Who knows...

So, there we have it, a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. I'm going to be doing these this year as well as using up some of the old wrapping paper I already have lying around and I think it's going to look GREAT.

Do you have any other ideas I haven't thought of?

Winter Fashion Favourites

10 December 2018

I still can't decide whether I prefer summer fashion or winter fashion. I mean, they're both so very different but at the moment I think I'm definitely swaying towards winter. I love the variety the colder seasons bring. Summer tends to be about wearing as little as socially acceptable to prevent sweating like a roast in the bag chicken from Asda, whereas winter is all about layering up, being cosy and different kinds of textures. This year I've really been getting into skirts and dresses, two things I would never usually reach for being a jeans girl through and through. 

Speaking of, the grey check skirt is from H&M and I picked it up on Black Friday for £7.20, whatta bargain. It's a bodycon but thankfully is actually a really nice length. I have really long legs and skirts usually look like belts on me, but this one fits really nicely. The pinafore dress is from Primark and is surprisingly flattering. It's not too long nor too short and cinches in at the waist. It instantly makes you look like you've made far more effort with your outfit than you have and I am so here for that. Oooh, and it was only £12. Go and get it pals, go and get it. 

The cream Monki jumper is an absolute staple of mine and was actually part of an outfit flatlay that went viral on Pinterest. It's had over 1.5 million impressions and 30k saves, so yeah, I'm basically famous now. I love pairing it with jeans, skirts, the pinafore, it just looks great with anything. Thank you Monki, thank you. 

Now, a jumper dress isn't something I've worn since I was about 8 and my Mum was buying me clothes in Gap kids, but I recently spotted this red one and I'm a convert. It's really really cosy and looks fab with tights and boots, another easy to chuck on looks like you've made way more effort than you have combo. This specific dress is from Primark and if they have any other colours I think I will definitely need to pick them up. 

And finally, accessories. I use my black Kate Spade bag allllll year round (it's not just a winter pick) but felt it ought to make it's debut over here on Becc4 as I absolutely love it. It's the perfect size and goes with any outfit, it's great. 

What would a winter fashion picks post be without a pair of boots? I love the gold heels on these, they're so gorgeous. I need to make more of a conscious effort to wear my boots rather than just be lazy and slip my trainers on. (Note to self: put boots by the front door and hide all trainers). 

What are your winter fashion staples?

Sick Tings 032

9 December 2018

This week has been so festive and I have LOVED it. We've had all sorts of things going on; from ice skating to decorating the tree, a Christmas house party and of course the much-awaited house Christmas meal. Whatta week it's been. I literally love December and everything it brings with it.

If there's one thing I am particularly terrible at, it's anything that involves balance. I'm not known for my balancing skills, and it's a bit of a running joke, so it's fair to say that ice skating didn't come naturally to me. We went for one of my best pals' birthday and it was really nice - you won't be seeing me pirouetting with Torvill and Dean anytime soon though. We then went for Franco Manca afterwards for yet another 10/10 pizza. If Franco Manca are reading this and fancy sponsoring me, pls slide into my DMs.

Speaking of DMs, guess who hit 2K over on Instagram this week?!?! (@becc4_blog if you were wondering). Yep, it was this girl. To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway across all of my social media platforms - you can enter here on Twitter, here on Instagram and by commenting on this blog post. The prizes include a Morphe palette, a Japonesque brush set, and some Christmas goodies. The giveaway closes on the 18th and is UK only to make sure it arrives just in time for the big day. So, go go go.

This week I also booked a last minute trip to Iceland for next week. I'm going with my best friend, we've got an airbnb in the center of Reykjavik and I am SO EXCITED. We have tickets to the Blue Lagoon as well as a day trip to all of the main sights. I've bought some thermals and a ski jacket, have my walking boots ready and am all checked in for the flights. I'm sure there'll be plenty of pics going up on my Instagram so get ready for the travel spam.

Saturday was by far the best day of the week. We had our house Christmas dinner and it was AMAZING. For any of you regular becc4 readers you'll already know how much I love roast potatoes so it will come to no shock that we made two whole trays of the beauties. Heaven. We made pigs in blankets, had yorkshire puddings and stuffing balls, chicken, roast parsnips, a load of veg and alllll the gravy. We really had an absolute feast. Oh, and a choice of three desserts and custard after. That evening we attended a Christmas themed house party and it was so much fun. Is there anything better than dancing around, drunkenly shouting Christmas songs with your best pals? I think not.

Today has been a really chilled day. I've been at home-home in my new Christmas Disney onesie, I've had my first mince pie of the season, put the Christmas tree up and fell asleep in front of a Christmas film. There is currently a roast in the oven and I think we should just discuss how much of a good Sunday today has been...


What have you been up to this week?
Have you ever been to Iceland?


Posts published this week:
Christmas Gift Guide: Mum's
Christmas Gift Guide: Dad's 
Christmas Party Outfit Picks
7 Things I'd Rather Do Than Eat A Sprout
Cracking Christmas Tag
Becc4's 2K Blogmas Giveaway

Becc4's 2K Blogmas Giveaway

8 December 2018

Okay, so, guess who hit 2K over on their Instagram? Yep, this girl did and I am soooooo proud. I've been putting a lot of work into creating my Christmassy theme and the #ahomelychristmas hashtag, so I'm glad that you are all enjoying it as much as I am. To celebrate that, and blogmas generally, I've decided to host a giveaway across my social channels.

The prizes are all of the above, featuring the Morphe 15H Palette, a Japonesque Baking Brush Set, a Zoella Beauty Body Cream and a few little Christmassy bit and bobs. There are going to be multiple ways to enter, and I'm going to collate them all together and then use a random generator to pick a winner. The giveaway will end on the 18th, so the prizes will reach the winner just in time for Christmas! (This also means you have ten whole days to get involved, so there are no excuses are there really...)

To enter here on becc4.co.uk, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post telling me your favourite thing about the festive season...

(For more optional entries, retweet my pinned tweet, like the corresponding Instagram post and share the giveaway to your story.)

Good luck and thank you for all of the support this year!!

Cracking Christmas Tag

7 December 2018

In case you couldn't already tell, I'm pretty Christmas keen. I LOVE Christmas. I love everything about it; the food, the lead-up, the festivities, the shopping, the clothes, everything. So much so, in fact, that Nina and I decided to make our own Christmas tag. It's ten questions and we'd love it if you also took part. If you do, be sure to link us and send it to us so that we can see it!

- Weirdest family Christmas tradition?
I’m not even sure where this originated from, but my family and I all dance around the kitchen waving tissues around when The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York comes on on Christmas Day... Mum, Dad, if you're reading this, where did this even come from?! Come December 25th I can fully guarantee you this will, in fact, be happening once again. 

- It's Christmas Eve, what are you doing?
Maybe some last minute present shopping... Definitely a last minute wander around the food shops for anything else that catches our eye. The evening will be spent chilling and going to bed early ready for the big day. I do NOT understand those people who go out-out on Christmas Eve?? Why would you risk even risk being hungover on the best day of the year? Although, I can imagine that a roast dinner is just the hangover cure.

- Top 3 Christmas dinner components?
Roast potatoes
Stuffing
Pigs in blankets

- When do you decorate your house? November, the beginning of December, the week of Christmas?
Typically it’s the beginning of December, but I definitely consider anything earlier than that also to be more than acceptable.

- Loved and loathed Christmas songs?
I LOVE Shakin Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone and Elton John’s Step Into Christmas. A song I literally cannot stand is Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas - I thoroughly despise that song.

- One big present or lots of little things to open?
Definitely lots of little things... I love it when people buy lots of different things they know I’ll love rather than just one big thing that I’ve hinted that I like. That being said, if anyone wants to chuck a macbook pro/car down my chimney I certianly won't be complaining. 

- What is your favourite Christmas decoration? (Include a photo if you have one)
This year, I bought this star tealight holder from Poundland. Yep, Poundland, for a quid. And I love it. It's so minimalist and pretty, and looks lovely on my bedside table.


- Do you like to have a themed tree or one with a bit of everything?
Definitely a themed one. This year, and the last few years, we’ve had a rose gold, gold, and white themed tree and I LOVE it. It’s so so so pretty and always looks really well put together. That being said there are a few rogue baubles that we’ve collected over the years from various holidays etc that still manage to make an appearance.

- Christmas pudding: yay or nay?
That is one hell of a nay from me. Pass me anything else; syrup sponge, cheesecake, profiteroles, crumble, you name it, anything but Christmas pudding. (And Christmas cake on that note, that's also a no from me)

- What's at the top of your Christmas wishlist this year?
I mean, I’d reaaaaaaally like a puppy, but the other thing at the top of my list is pyjamas... Being a student, I spend rather a lot of my time in pjs and there is absolutely nothing better than a new set of cosy pyjamas... The other thing at the top of my list is a cracking roast dinner - my Mum always makes the best roasts but Christmas dinner is always another level. Pass me allllllll the good food please. 

I tag: Fran, Lucy, Emily, Abi, Marta, Laura, Bea, Anna and Emma.

7 Things I'd Rather Do Than Eat A Sprout

6 December 2018

Whilst planning my Blogmas posts I realised just how much content was going to be created generally in the Blogosphere over the month of December. All of my favourite bloggers are also doing Blogmas, so when you times the number of bloggers by 24 days, that a lotttttt of posts. That's a lot of reading to get through. So, I decided to make today's post really short and sweet, and just a joke more than anything. I HATE sprouts and am always coerced into eating one every year at Christmas, so here are 7 things I'd rather do than eat a sprout...

1. Choke on a roast potato
2. Swim the English Channel
3. Not use my phone for the whole of December
4. Wear crocs on my wedding day
5. Subject myself to Christmas Pudding for dessert. (It's gross, but slightly less gross than sprouts.)
6. Not eat pizza for a week
7. Listen to Elvis Presley's Blue Christmas on repeat for an hour (and I haaaate that song)

What's your least favourite festive food?

Christmas Party Outfit Picks

5 December 2018

I LOVE getting dressed up. Every time a big event rolls around I always end up knee deep in parcels full of potential outfits. At Christmas, they're full of glittery dresses, jackets, and trousers, and so for today's post, I thought I'd collate together a load of pieces that have caught my eye this season. A mini Christmas outfit one-stop shop if you will.

My sister is turning 18 this month and so a big night out is on the cards, and your girl needs to choose an outfit for the occassion. I also offered to buy my sister her birthday outfit as one of her presents, so it's fair to say I've spent quite a while scrolling the new-in sections looking for hidden gems.

I have fallen in love with that red dress, it's gorgeous. It is, however, very similar to a dress I bought for my birthday in March and so I've decided that I definitely don't need it, even though it's gorgeous.

At this time of year, trousers are THE best thing to wear on a night out. Hellooooo warm legs, whatta life hack. I spotted these striped flares on Topshop and I think they're really cool. Those with a nice top and jacket would look incred for a Christmas do.

Christmas Gift Guide: Dad's

4 December 2018

 Welcome to the third and final gift guide of the year, the gift guide for Dad's. In case you've missed the other two, you can read my gift guide for Mum's here and my stocking filler for her guide here. Is it me or are Dad's notoriously hard to buy for? Hopefully, this guide will give you some ideas, and seeing as all of the items featured are under £16, they're not going to break your bank either.

The easiest things to buy are by far Christmas related things, so it's unsurprising that three of the items in this guide are just that. How cute are these gingerbread man socks?! They're a nice little novelty gift and I'm going to make sure that my Dad opens them Christmas morning so he can wear them all day. I think they were literally a pound or two in a local shop. I'm tempted to give him the fairisle pyjamas* early and let him wear them on the lead up to Christmas, but that sort of defeats the point of a Christmas present doesn't it really. The bottoms are really soft and fleecy and I love the Christmassy fairisle print!

I picked up the Festive Games set in Superdrug, and I'm going to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what the games entail... I'll find out on Christmas day and report back, but hopefully they're a good laugh.

My Dad always buys me new recipe books, so, this year, I thought I'd get one for him. It's a chicken recipe book, and yep, you guessed it, all of the recipes involve chicken. I've had a quick flick through it and some of the recipes sound DELICIOUS. On the topic of food, I bought this Christmas Spice Chutney as it seemed like such a 'Dad gift'. I personally don't like chutney, so don't have a lot else to say about this one other than it was £3 in Waitrose if you're wondering.

What would a gift guide be without chocolate and toiletries? I spotted these limited edition salted caramel Matchmakers and knew I had to get them, my Dad looooves salted caramel. The shower gel was just a huge Dove one I spotted in Superdrug and thought I'd pick it up. Nothing fancy about that one, just shower gel. (Can you tell I was struggling to think of gifts?)

Whilst I was scrolling on Amazon I found two other gifts that I thought were a little bit different. The first is a grow your own Bonsai tress kit... Yep, so random, but if successful I think they'll look really pretty. I like getting people gifts that involve something to actually do. So, when I also spotted the Lego Star Wars set, I immediately added it to my basket as another present/activity.

Do you also find men ridiculously hard to buy for? 
(Thank God I'm single because I'm not sure I have the time right now to be faffing around with buying more presents for guys). 

Christmas Gift Guide: Mum's

3 December 2018

Aaaaand here we have it, the second of my three gift guides this season. If you haven't seen the first one, it's a stocking filler for her guide and I'll link it here. As many of you will know, I am currently a student and so you'll be pleased to hear that all of my gift guides this year are very purse-friendly. No Chloe handbags and Canon DSLR's around these parts. So, with that in mind, let's get straight into my gift guide for Mum's.

It feels only right to start this guide off with a few beauty bits. Now, my Mum doesn't ever wear makeup, except for some lipgloss here and there. So, I picked her up a lipgloss stick in Kiko whilst I was shopping in Bath as I know it's something she'll definitely use. It's a gorgeous shade and so easy to apply on the go. Palettes always make a great gift as they are so versatile and there are about 194729 choices. Here, I've chosen to feature a Revolution blush palette as the colours are so so pretty and it costs less than a fiver. What is Christmas without perfume? Do people ever go out and buy themselves a new perfume throughout the year, or does the entire country wait until Christmas to be gifted a new one? These Daisy miniatures smell incredible and work out at £7.50 a bottle - a little luxury. Speaking of luxuries, I loooove Nuxe products and so their shower oil had to make it into this gift guide. At £11 it's not something you'd buy for yourself, Radox on offer for a quid in Tesco is far more likely, which is why it makes a great gift. Clothes are always a go-to gift idea, and at this time of year, is there anything better than receiving a new cosy jumper? The one featured is a jumper dress from Primark and it is so so soft, definitely go and hunt it down in store. Speaking of cosy, how adorable are these slippers*?! They're £7.99 and potentially the cutest things ever. It's a bit of a standing joke in my house that we always get my Mum new slippers every Christmas without fail, and I think these could be the best ones she's had yet. The last item in the cosy section of this gift guide is the Rum and Orange Candle* from Ludic Candles. It literally smells like Christmas. Christmas in a jar. I'm in love and I lowkey want to keep it for myself. All of the candles are eco-friendly and handmade in the New Forest - shop locally my dudes, shop locally. Moving on, I know they're a bit cliche, but a nice photo frame is always a really easy but thoughtful gift. The one featured is from Card Factory and I'm going to fill it with a photo of us from the summer. Books are also a bit of a standard gift, but a nice one nonetheless. The book featured here is that Gail Honeyman novel that everyone and their sister were reading over the summer. I actually really enjoyed it, hence it's spot in this gift guide.

How is your Christmas shopping going?

Sick Tings 031

2 December 2018

Happy Sunday! It felt only appropriate to continue with my Sick Tings posts throughout Blogmas, so, here we are, welcome back. For those of you who are new around these parts, Sick Tings is essentially just an entire week squished into one photo collage with a load of my rambling written underneath posted here on becc4.co.uk. This week has been rather busy, as always, so let's get into it.

The week started with my usual uni commitments, lectures, societies etc including a huge bombshell from one of my lecturers. We have been working on a group project for weeks now and it was only this week that we met him and he told us that we've been doing the totally wrong thing for our project. Oh, and it was due this week. Fun, fun, fun. Thankfully, the majority of our group were free that afternoon so we just spent the day smashing that out. You'll be pleased to hear that we managed to get it finished and submitted on time, so now all that's left to do is present the project to the entire module on Tuesday afternoon. But other than that, it's all sorted and all is good with the world once again.

On Tuesday evening I met my parents for an IKEA trip and dinner (perks of going to a uni close to home) and it was lovely. I picked up a few bits, but I was actually lowkey disappointed with their Christmas offerings this year. Maybe it's still a bit early and the best bits are yet to come. We went to Franco Manca for a pizza afterwards and it was as delicious as ever.

Not an awful lot happened Wednesday or Thursday, just the usual uni stuff, but Friday was a good day. I spent the afternoon doing some last minute Christmas shopping and then attended an event in the evening with the Sotonbloggers. We were invited down to the Christmas Market in town to experience all the festivities. We ate crepes, chocolate coated strawberries and German sausages, drank mulled wine, and wandered all of the stalls. It was a really nice evening, so if you haven't been to the market yet, I definitely recommend doing so.

Now, my friends and I were meant to be going to Nando's afterwards for dinner but we just couldn't get our peri peri fix for love nor money. There are three Nando's in town; one was fully booked with people queueing out of the door, one shuts at 8pm and so wasn't let new customers in, and the other had had a powercut. Nightmare. By this point, it was about 8.30 on a Friday night, and unsurprisingly all of the restaurants were packed. So, we ended up going for an Indian at our local drunk food/midnight curry house. The food there really isn't great, and it was only going sober that we realised just how bad it was. It was really nice to hang out with my friends though, even if the food left us all feeling a bit dodge.

I've just spent this weekend planning, photographing, writing and scheduling my Blogmas content and I'm really pleased with how it's all coming together. There are going to be all sorts of festive things coming your way over the next few weeks and I can't wait for you all to read them. This evening I'm going to cook myself another roast and get ready for my penultimate week at uni before heading home for Christmas.


Are you doing Blogmas this year?
What have you been up to this week?

Published this week:

Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Fillers For Her

1 December 2018

Aaaaah, I can't believe it's December already, Halloween and pumpkin picking only feel a matter of days ago, but nope, well over a month ago now. But, here we are, happy December and welcome to the first day of Blogmas! Yep, you read that correctly, your girl is doing blogmas this year. (What is a dissertation and other third year deadlines, hey?).

It felt only right to start the month off with a gift guide, a stocking filler gift guide in fact. Being a student, as much as I'd love to add 17 Diptique candles to my basket, a Gucci belt and a Macbook pro to my basket, and checkout and be done with it, I unfortunately don't have the funds for that. Or even one Diptique candle when I come to think of it, but that's besides the point. Alas, my gift guides this year are all going to be very budget friendly (under £20) with products that are easily accessible... Sound good? Dive right in. (I have a gift guide for Mum's and one for Dad's coming very soon!)

What is a stocking filler gift guide without some toiletries? Of course, these can be whatever you fancy but I recently spotted this Zoella body cream on offer for a few quid in my local Superdrug and thought it would make a fab gift. On a similar theme, I think facemasks are always a really good gift as they're not necessarily something you go out of your way to try or purchase for yourself. I grabbed the L'Oreal Bright Mask as it claims to even tone and illuminate - two things I think that we could all do with a bit of.

Whilst trawling the internet, I spotted the nude lipstick set on the Boohoo website and thought I'd buy it, just in case it ends up being incredible. They were really affordable and the shades looked really nice online. Obviously I haven't tried them, they're a gift, but if the recipient likes them I'll be sure to report back. Maybe I've just discovrered some hidden treasure. I know I'm definitely guilty of not replacing my beauty blender enough, so, I thought a new, fresh one would make a great stocking filler. I personally use the Real Techniques one and I love it. Corrr, imagine opening this on Christmas morning and then using it to apply your makeup for the big day, it's the little things hey.

I spotted the burgundy lace cami on Boohoo for £8 and couldn't not buy it for my sister. It's such a gorgeous colour and would look lovely tucked into black jeans on Christmas day itself, or any day of the year for that matter. If you know the person well enough, I think items of clothing make a really nice gift. I love me some new clothes. Jewellery is another go-to stocking filler and this year Jewellery Box have particulalry caught me eye. They have an entire sterling silver range and it's really affordable, yay! For example, this necklace* costs only £5.95 and the earrings* are £5.85, and they even come in little presentation boxes.

I think I'm going to group the last three items in this gift guide under the umbrella term of 'cosy'; candles, pyjamas and slippers. How incredible do those fluffy grey bottoms look? PSA: They're from Primark and only cost a fiver, and yes, they're just as soft in real life as they look on camera. Speaking of Primark, that's where the tartan slippers are from. They're £2.50 and the ideal stocking filler in my opinion. The candle pictured I bought in IKEA the other day and it's their Vinter 2018 candle. It smells delicious; like Christmas cookies and I love the jar it comes in.

So there we have it, my stocking filler for her gift guide!

Which would be your favourite thing of these to recieve?
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam- Tips, Tricks and Things To Do

28 November 2018


We couldn't go to Vietnam and not visit Ha Long Bay, could we? Toria and I opted for the Hideaway Tour as it had lots of daytime activities as well as really good reviews from other people we'd met whilst travelling. Now, if you've read my Hanoi post (linked here) you'll know that we had a bit of a messy night out the day before our trip. So, you'll be unsurprised to hear that we were feeling a little worse for wear when our alarm went off at 6am and we had to embark on our five hours of travel to the private island. We stopped halfway there and had a buffet lunch on the boat, did some boat jumping and swam in the sea.

Once we'd arrived on the island we were allocated our rooms. We were put in a room for eight with four other girls and as it turns out, we all got on really really well. That evening we had a buffet BBQ, which received some mixed reviews. I wasn't a massive fan of the food, but some of the other girls really loved it. That evening there was a really big thunderstorm, so we spent the evening hiding away and getting ready before heading to the bar for happy hour.

We woke up at about 8 the following morning ready for what was to be the most exhausting day of the entire trip. The day started with a boat ride, and then a cycle to the start of the jungle trek. Now, let me tell you, I have never sweated so much in my LIFE than I did on that bike ride. It was really hot and humid, which combined with a lot of uphill cycling, resulted in a lot of sweaty, hungover backpackers. Now, we'd been told by a girl we'd met at a hostel earlier on in the trip that the jungle trek was a bit of a breeze and nothing to worry about. SHE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG.

The walk was an hour uphill through the jungle, climbing rocks and mud, in 30-degree heat. Now, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times the girls in my room and I wanted to give up and just head back down to the start. But, after quite a few rest breaks and pep talks between ourselves we made it to the top. Now, this was very anticlimactic. We were expecting really gorgeous, panoramic views and it's fair to say we were underwhelmed, particularly after all that effort. Alas, we had a quick rest at the top before heading back down on the descent.

We then had lunch on the boat, and a quick swim off the side, before heading back to the island. We had another chilled afternoon swimming in the sea before having our second buffet BBQ. We then got glammed up and ready for our second night of drinking on the island. It was far better than the last and involved alllll sorts of drinking games.

The following morning we were all feeling nothing but exhaustion... Perfect when a morning of kayaking is ahead, hey?  It was really good fun but oh so tiring. After this, we had our final meal before heading back to the boat to head back to the mainland. Overall, we had a really good time, but definitely needed a few days afterward to recover. Hideaway isn't for the fainthearted. If you're thinking of going, definitely do the 3-day tour - it's a long way to go for only one night and really is worth the money.

Sick Tings 030

25 November 2018

Ahhhh, can we just take a minute to appreciate how festive this week's collage looks?!? I mean, look at that beauty. Apologies for the radio silence this time last week, I didn't have a lot to report other than 7 days spent doing uni work, the BEST roast potatoes I've ever made and a house party. This week also featured lots of uni work, roast potatoes and a couple of house parties, but also a bloggers event, Black Friday, Christmas markets and a bloggers sleepover on top. So, yeah, this could potentially be the busiest Sick Tings Post to date.

This week two of my best friends turned 21 on consecutive days, so it's unsurprising that a couple of house parties were in order. (Also, shall we just talk about the sheer coincidence of having 2 birthdays in the space of 2 days in a group of four friends - what are the chances of that?!). This was really good fun. We don't have any lectures together this year so it was really nice to see them and catch up.

Ahhh, Black Friday... My Mum and I spent the day wandering around West Quay along with the other 184739482 keen shoppers, picking up all sorts of bargains. What was supposed to be a shop for Christmas presents ended up as a Becca buying herself things kinda trip, oops. (I posted my best Black Friday bargain over on Twitter, here, if you'd like to have a nosy.) That aside, I also picked up a few more wintery pieces including a jumper that I've had my eye on for ages. Hooray for not buying it at the time and getting it for half price now.

On Friday evening I was lucky enough to be invited to Beaulieu for the opening night of their Christmas trail. I took my gorgeous Mumma as my plus one and we had a really great time. We started the evening by having a cream tea in the cafe before heading for a wander around the grounds. There were lots of different things to see and do, and so many gorgeous Christmas light fixtures. It was a really lovely evening and we both left feeling all kinds of festive.

This weekend has been spent wandering a Christmas market and shooting Christmas content with Fran. She came down from London to spend a few days with me here in Southampton and have a blogger's sleepover. On Saturday we visited Bath for a wander of their Christmas markets, which, considering it was the opening weekend, was potentially not the best of ideas - there were people EVERYWHERE. It was, however, really really pretty and I had the tastiest salted caramel white hot chocolate. We spent our Sunday shooting Christmas content so get ready to see allllll the Christmas posts between now and December 25th. I have a couple of major deadlines for uni this week so my Sunday afternoon has just been spent doing work ahead of submitting those. It's all about balance my dudes, work hard play hard.

What's your favourite Christmas market?
Did you pick up any bargains in the Black Friday sales?

Posts published this week:

Thrift Haul and Tips

23 November 2018

In light of Stacey Dooley's documentary on fast fashion and its consequences, I have really been trying to think more about the impact my consumerism has on the planet. I mean, yes, I still love Primark and trend pieces, but less so at the expense of the environment, yanno. I think it's important that we all do our bit here and there because when added together, the impact could be huge. (Enough of the preaching Becca, enough of the preaching).

So, I've decided to start thrifting a bit more. I had a bit of a charity shop phase a few years ago but hadn't really been in one since. Well, fast forward to now and one of my best friends and I went for brunch and then did a charity shop tour of our local highstreet. Talk about rock and roll. I picked up four pieces that I absolutely love and paid less for all of them than I did my smoothie and berry compote pancakes the hour before, win-win. 

I picked up a red, white and blue stripey tee to wear with my mom jeans, which, can I just say, looks very Urban Outfitters but I paid approximately a tenth of the price. On a similar stripey theme, I found a green white and pink three quarter sleeve top which I'm planning on wearing with my Monki denim pinafore. And finally, the piece de resistance; my two red skirts. I found a red denim mini skirt, that fits PERFECTLY and also a red tartan skirt, helloooo Christmas. One of my best friends is having a Christmas themed 21st birthday house party, so you can bet your bottom dollar that one of these to will be making an appearance at that.

So, you've decided that you want in on this thrift shop, sustainable but inexpensive fashion malarkey... Here are three tips for thrifting:

- Set aside a large chunk of time 

There's no such thing as just popping into a charity shop for two minutes and walking away with a new outfit. It takes time, and patience, so is definitely not something to do in a rush when you've got 10 minutes left on your parking meter. In their very nature, they're all over the place and filled with random toot, so finding the hidden gold takes a long ol' while.

- Ignore the size labels 

I cannnnot stress this enough. For one, lots of the clothes have been worn lots and so hence have been washed lots and so have shrunk. The stripey tee I bought is labelled as a size 16 and is fairly snug on me (I'm an 8). Also, there are all sorts of brands in charity shops with all sorts of different sizing. What is an 8 in Primark is not always the same as an 8 in brands X, Y and Z. So, I would recommend just looking at all the rails and working out what might fit by eye. Most charity shops have changing rooms so just grab a load of stuff and try it on.

- Plan outfits in your head

Yes, the clothes might be cheap, but if you can't picture yourself wearing them as part of an outfit then it's definitely time to put them back down. Whilst shopping with my friend we made a real point of doing this, trying to come up with different outfit combos for potential buys. That £6 hot pink fur coat might be a nice statement piece, but if it's going to sit festering in your wardrobe for 12 months, then maybe leave it in the shop.

Do you ever go thrifting?
What's your favourite thing you've ever found?

Hanoi, Vietnam - Tips, Tricks and Things To Do

21 November 2018


Our bus to Hanoi from Tac Coc only took three hours, so, we grabbed our bags from the bus and headed to our hostel to check in feeling all sorts of peachy. We were shown to our room and had alllll sorts of conversations with the people in our room on things like Brexit, peadophiles, you know, the standard small talk (?!?). That evening we went for dinner with one of the girls we'd met from our room and decided to eat at the restaurant Obama's. Which, yes, is named in honour of Barack Obama... When in Hanoi, hey? Although, I just wanna say that the food there wasn't great at all and the staff were particularly rude, so maybe not one to add to the must-visit list.

That evening we went for cocktails at Beer Corner which was really good fun. I don't want to spoil it for anyone that is planning on going, but Beer Corner really is quite the experience. So, essentially the bars and restaurants aren't legally allowed to have tables and seats out on the road but still do it anyway. Every hour or so there'll be a huge mad panic as all the restaurant staff whip chairs from underneath people and fold up and throw tables inside just before the police make their visit. Then, as soon as they've left the vicinity, the furniture comes back out and the customers can sit back down to eat and drink. It's hilarious to watch and really is a domino effect.

The following morning we went on the free walking tour provided by the hostel. This was actually really enjoyable and the only walking tour we did the entire trip. Our guide was really friendly and knew everything there was to know about Hanoi. We were wandering for a good few hours and then finished with an egg coffee. Yep, you read that right. I personally don't like coffee, so settled for an egg hot chocolate instead, which, can I just say, tastes way better than it sounds. After this, a group of us from the walking tour all went for Banh Mi together at Banh Mi 25. I had the BBQ pork and would highly recommend - not quite sure it beats the one from Highland Coffe though, just saying.

We then trekked to train street (which was much further than we expected) and waited to see the train coming from HCMC pass through the very narrow residential street. This was quite the experience and another thing that was nothing like I'd ever seen before. That evening we had a Domino's for dinner - yep that's a thing - and then went on the club crawl being hosted by our sister hostel. This was actually really good fun, the drinks were cheap and it was just an all-round fun night. The following morning we had our Hideaway tour (more on that coming soon) and it's fair to say we weren't feeling fantastic.

After the trip, we had a few more days in Hanoi before flying to Laos, and decided to stay in the same hostel as before in the hope of getting some peace after the three day bender. That evening we had another Domino's which did not agree with us in the slightest. (Note to self: stick to the local food next time). The following morning we headed for full body massages - they were great. The in-between the toe rubbing, not so great.

We then hunted down a tattoo shop that we'd read was really good and Toria got her first tattoo. The staff were really friendly and it was done really well, so a win-win all round. Next up on our Ha Long Bay recovery, peace and tranquility, agenda was a manicure. We went and had gel nails done at a salon near the markets before heading for a bit of shopping. Dinner that night was at Little Vietnam and the food was INCREDIBLE. So delicious. I had black pepper pork and it was amazing!! We woke up leisurely the next morning, packed up our stuff before checking out of the hostel and heading for a final wander of Vietnam. We had our final Banh Mi at Highlands Coffee before taking a taxi to the airport.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Very busy and lots more to see and do compared to Ho Chi Minh City

THINGS TO DO 
- Train Street 
- Walking tour of the landmarks 
- Try egg coffee 
- See a water puppet show (which we didn't end up doing but is meant to be an 'experience')

TIPS AND ADVICE 
- Visit Beer Corner solely for the entertainment value
- Don't order a Domino's
- Plan a lazy day or two for after the Hideaway Tour if you choose to do it
- If you haven't already, have a Banh Mi at Highlands Coffee

WHERE I STAYED & REVIEW
Central Backpackers (original)
So, there are two Central Backpackers hostels in Hanoi and the original one (where we stayed) turned out to be the really quite (read: dead) one. There were hardly any people around and we were often the only ones down having breakfast in the morning. The other one, however, is the opposite. It was packed full of backpackers and even had a bar on the top floor complete with pub crawls, beer pong etc. That aside, the hostel itself was nice, the bathrooms were huge and the beds were comfy. It's also important to note that the Ha Long Bay tour we did was operated by the hostel, so this is why we chose to stay there.

HOW LONG TO STAY?
2/3 days - if you plan on going out, if not 1/2 will suffice.

How To: Create an Instagram Theme

16 November 2018


Ahhhh, creating an Instagram theme... For me, it's simultaneously been the best and worst thing I've ever done for my Instagram. It's great because it means that my grid looks cohesive (or tries to at least) and my photos all have a similar look, they're 'my' photos. It has, however, put unduly pressure on the platform as a whole and limited the range of photos I can post, read: made it a bit of a chore. That being said since having more of a 'theme' my following has grown more significantly as has my engagement. Swings and roundabouts hey, swings and roundabouts.

- Choose a colour

Or a few colours, and use these as the basis for all of your photos. In Autumn, for example, my colours were oranges, nudes and browns. So, I made sure that any flatlays I took had a pumpkin or some leaves in, and any outfit photos had similar tones too, either in the clothes I was wearing or the location they were shot. I am currently amidst a Christmas theme, so the focus colour is of course red. So, when taking photos for the gram, you guessed it, I'm trying to make sure the colour red makes an appearance somewhere.

- Use the same props/similar locations

This is the by far the easiest way to keep to a colour scheme. As I'm sure you'll have noticed, the same little munchkin pumpkin featured in 99.99% of my autumnal photos, lurking here there and everywhere in my flatlays. I also shoot most of my photos against my white bedding, so teamed with the same props, this creates a really good sense of consistency even if the other content in the photo is totally obscure.

- Edit using the same routine

Anyone who knows me in person will know that I alwaaaaays use VSCOcam to edit everything and anything without fail. Selfies, outfit photos, flatlays, food - the lot. I tend to faff around with the brightness and saturation longer than I should admit to and then go onto the filters. I always use the same one and just adjust the intensity of it. Personal favourites include; A6, C1, HB2, and T1. You can also copy and paste edits from one photo to another on VSCO and this is by far the quickest way to edit all photos identically!

- Get a grid previewer

Of all of these tips, if you only follow one, this is the one to follow. I cannot tell you how handy it is to be able to see what photos look like on your grid without having to do the mad-dash-rush-upload-and-delete-I-hope-nobody-saw-that-routine. The one I currently use is Feedr and it's great. When I take photos in bulk I edit them and then add them straight on there to work out which photos to post and when. 

- Only end up posting about 3.7% of the photos you want to

As much as I love having a theme, it really really is frustrating. Now that I'm knee deep in my Christmas content I don't feel like a recent outfit snap in the autumn leaves would fit in very well, even if I love the photo itself, my hair looks great and my outfit is fit. And that, my friends, is annoying. I mean, I know it's not that deep, and it's only social media after all, but once you get into the swing of things it becomes oh so difficult to snap out of these routines.


I think it's important to take all of this with a pinch of salt and take a step back every once in a while and remember that it really doesn't matter thaaaaaaat much. You do you, boo.

Do you have an Instagram theme?
What app do you use to edit your photos?

#ahomelychristmas

15 November 2018


I know I've been banging on about #ahomelychristmas quite a lot recently but I thought I'd create a place over here on my blog dedicated to it. In case you hadn't already heard, I've created my own hashtag over on Instagram for allllll things Christmas. It's a place for food, outfits, flatlays, decor, gift guides, the lot. There are already a handful of posts on the hashtag so if you're in the need for some Christmas inspo, that's a good place to start.

I'm going to be sharing some of my favourite posts on the tag over here in this post every few weeks, so definitely keep your eyes peeled. I'd really appreciate it if you could share this post (and the hashtag) so that we can make this the go-to place for bloggers' Christmas content. I have a few Christmas themed events to attend in the next few weeks as well as a trip to the Bath Christmas markets so you better be ready for allllll the Christmas content.

Tam Coc, Vietnam - Tips, Tricks and Things To Do

14 November 2018


Our bus arrived in Tam Coc at about 5am so we just sat around in the lobby of a hotel which, fortunately, was open. When 6.30am rolled around we headed to our homestay as this was the time they opened. We weren't able to check in, but they did allow us to leave our bags in one of the dorm rooms and Toria had a nap. I headed out for breakfast on my own and sat in a cafe watching the world go by at such an early hour. During this time I discovered that pineapple jam is a thing and was blown away by how good it was.

Following this, we went for the famous boat ride through the limestone mountains and in the caves. Now, the interesting thing about these boat rides is they use their feet to steer and paddle the entire time. The boat ride lasted about 2 hours and was £6.50 each. The scenery really was stunning, and fortunately, we were early enough to miss the crowds so it was a really peaceful experience. As we were leaving there was just a constant stream of boats one behind the other, which sort of ruined the tranquility.

We then headed back to the room for a nap after our night on the bus and the early start. Can I just say how good it was to have a comfy bed AND A DUVET. I think this was the best nap of the entire trip. For lunch, we had vegetable noodles before hiring bikes and cycling to the Mua Caves viewpoint. Now, I was not prepared for what was ahead. 500 extremely steep, uneven steps. It's fair to say we took quite a few breaks on our ascent. But, when we got to the top, the view made it all worth it and more. There was even a wedding shoot happening at the top, with a bride in her gorgeous dress. Honestly, the things you see in Vietnam.

After making it back down safely we cycled to a nearby temple to have a look around. On the way home, we spotted a hostel in the middle of nowhere so stopped there to have a sprite to cool down. Whilst there, we met a couple of Aussies and ended up going for dinner with them. We went for an Indian, and let me tell you, the food was AMAZING. By far one of the best curries I've ever had. I had a chicken tikka and a garlic naan, incredible.

That evening we played pool in a bar and had a few drinks before heading to bed. The following day we woke up and had the free breakfast at the homestay. We then went for a wander and had smoothies, followed by lunch, and then boarded our minibus to Hanoi. The journey was only about 3 hours, so by far the easiest of the trip so far. The minibus itself was also really nice, so no complaints at all here.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Very quiet, but plenty of accommodation and restaurants 

THINGS TO DO 
- Boat Ride
- Mua Caves viewpoint
- Cycle to the temples

TIPS AND ADVICE 
- Do the boat ride as early as possible to avoid it being too busy
- Hire bicycles to see more of Tam Coc
- There's free/cheaper parking by the entrance of Mua Caves, don't be lured in by people at the beginning of the road telling you you need to park there

WHERE I STAYED & REVIEW
Ha Trang Guest House
If you're going to stay here, book a private room like we did. The bed was really really comfy and it was nice to have our own bathroom. It was fairly clean and the aircon was really good. Breakfast was included, and the stay overall was really well priced.

HOW LONG TO STAY?
1/2 days - there's not a lot to see and do
© BECC4. Design by FCD.