Christmas Gift Guide from Jeff @The Belfast Times

These fabulous graphics are from Jeff @The Belfast Times he is a fantastic graphic artist, his work is popy, fun and celebrates lots of Belfast sayings, that if you were to walk down the street inour city you would hear fill the air.  
I am absolutely thrilled to introduce  and interview Jeff - he is guest posting for us later today, and his products, which you can buy from his online shop - they make awesome presents.

1. How did you get started making graphics based products?

I just fell into it really. I designed a popart Warhol inspired image for a friends birthday, which led to a commission for my 4 Cranes popart image. It really just snowballed from there.

2. What do you call your business?

I called it Belfast Times. I started my Belfast Times blog around the same time as I started creating a series of popart images and as they were mainly Belfast images it all sort of fitted together. 

3. Where can people buy your products if they can't make it to St George's Market? 

My designs and various products are for sale online through

But in the City centre you can buy various products from Belfast Welcome Centre, Queens Welcome Centre, The Wickerman and Crumlin Road Gaol.


4. What inspires you?

I'm inspired by a lot of things. I love great designs, great advertising and great marketing. I love watching the world around me and just soaking up inspiration from everywhere, that could be from a shop window display, or it could be from something someone has said.


5. Tell us about how you work with an idea to make a product? 

Making a product comes from something I've been inspired by and that could be from another product I've seen while on holiday or from something one of my stockists has requested or even from a customer. From there it's a lot of internet research to fine tune ideas, and find suppliers.

7. What's your favourite thing about Belfast?

I've travelled a lot, but I always say that Belfast is up there amongst my favourite cities in the world. Everywhere I go in the city I just have a laugh.... So I guess i have to say my favourite thing is the people!


Thank you Jeff.  We are really excited for your guest post.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable




Thankful 28

Today I am thankful for ...

Time with Sarah, Jake & Brian

Celebrating thanksgiving with Brian, Sarah, Jake and Roxy

My friends who are scattered across the world

A testimony of my writing & how it travelled touching hearts

Safe spaces and places

Christian Fellowship Church Belfast



Throwing out some old & heavy stuff

Meeting a chums potential new boyfriend

Chats with Naomi

Receiving Prayer from friends

Lyrics painting pictures in my head

Erwin McManus


Safe drives

Plans for wkd


Lovely music from Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Kris Krisstofferson, John Mellencamp and Norah Jones

The desire to write a song

What are you thankful for today?

That's it for now.

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Beauty Christmas Gift List - Guest Post from That Belfast Girl


Today I am kicking off our Christmas Gift Guides with a guest post from one of my favourite Beauty Bloggers. I am absolutely delighted to welcome the wonderful That Belfast Girl to Salt and Sparkle.

Hello all! I am Gemma-Louise from That Belfast Girl and Nicky is letting me take over Salt and Sparkle today to let me tell you all about the amazing beauty buys I think you should be gifting (and hopeflly receiving!). There’s something for every budget. Enjoy!


1. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, £25 for 50ml

A classic cream which can be used for many different functions. I first discovered Eight Hour Cream after a particularly horrendous sun-burnt back on a vacation to Puerto Rico. Since then, I’ve repurchased Eight Hour Cream at least 10 times. The gel/Vaseline type texture means it’s great as an overnight treatment for super dry skin and amazing on lips and brows. A beauty must have!

2. Rimmel Moisture Renew lipsticks, £6.49

A recent release, these reformulated Rimmel lipsticks come in an amazing array of colours to rival many of the MAC range. They are super vibrant and not drying. Check out the shades Notting Hill Nude and Diva Red- both classic colours.

3. OPI Nail Polish in Tickle Me France-y, £11.50

This is my all time favourite polish and every time I wear it, I get compliments. It is the perfect nude/brown colour and matches everything. OPI polishes are amazing quality so they have great lasting power. Make sure to check out the OPI base and top coats too.

4. L’Occitane Hand Cream, £8

I have never been big on hand-cream... that was until I met L’Occitane. Their hand-cream contains Shea Butter which nourishes and conditions the skin. The tubes also look very chic in your handbag! They have lots of nice gift sets for Christmas at the moment too.

5. Clarisonic Mia, £125

The Clarisonic is a skin cleaning system. If you have open pores, or like me, struggle with occasional breakouts, the Clarisonic cleans deep into the skin. I use mine with a gel cleanser once or twice a week for a facial at home type treatment. Expensive, but an excellent investment. I have had mine for 2 years now.

6. Nars One Night Stand Palette, £45 exclusive to Space NK

Nars do the most beautiful blushers and they have a limited edition collection out at the moment including the One Night Stand Palette. This includes 6 of their classic shades of blusher, highlighter and bronzer. £45 is a good price as a single blush is £21.50. Plus, you will have this for ages! It’s also a great gift for girls who are constantly on the go as it neatly slips into your handbag.

7. Babyliss Curl Secret, £119.99

Every Christmas there seems to be a popular hair tool and 2013 is no exception. The Babyliss Curl Secret is the ultimate tool for any girls who are challenged with hair styling- this literally does it for you! Hair pops up inside the chamber and comes out curled. YouTube it if you don’t believe me! I have no idea how it works- it looks like magic! A pricey tool but well worth it for big bouncy curls and hair with serious volume.

8. Kiehl’s Creme de Corps, £27 for 250ml

The winter is a time when the skin gets particularly dry and a heavy duty moisturiser is required! Kiehl’s have just opened a store in Victoria Square and I have become obsessed with them! Their classic Creme de Corps smells divine, isn’t sticky and leaves the skin supple. No wonder it has fans such as Beyonce and is applied to the Victoria’s Secret models before they hit the runway!

9. Aussie 3 Minute Miracle, £4.99

As well as the skin being more dry in the winter, the hair also feels the effects. My go to is Aussie 3 Minute Miracle. It smells amazing, leaves hair soft and really managable. It’s also great post colouring to keep the hair in great condition.

10. HD Brows Palette, £19.96 from

Last by no means least, brows have continued to be so popular in 2013. To fill in, enhance and shape brows, nothing is better than the HD Brows Palette which contains 4 shades to create the perfect brow. Use an angled brush to apply the powder in light brush strokes to create a natural full brow. This palette is also great for travelling as you can create a really simply but effective smoky eye.

I hope you all enjoyed my beauty picks and have a wonderful festive season.




This week That Belfast Girl is ...

Listening to ... Yours Truly by Arianna Grande
Excited about ... my birthday!
Preparing for... a very busy few months as a post-graduate student
Singing ... Lots of gospel tunes with the Belfast Community Gospel Choir
Celebrating ... that I am in a much more positive place than I was this time last year
Working on ... making That Belfast Girl the best it can be
Travelling ... Sadly, just the work commute but planning a trip to Paris for Easter!
Eating ... Lots of soups and bagels
Arranging ... coffee dates and blog meetings
Drinking ... Toffee Nut Hot Chocolate made with soy milk from Starbucks
Spending time with ... my beautiful family
Reading ... Sane New World by Ruby Wax
Dreaming about … the future

If you fancy having a look at more of my beauty ramblings, head over to That Belfast Girl


follow her:




Instagram: gemmalebond


Twitter: @GLTBG




Thank you for joining us Gemma Louise, its been a joy to have you.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Thankful 27

Today I am thankful for ...


Colour therapy from the sky

Making a start on sorting out the piles of magazines

Pause and rewind and record tv

Music of Israel Houghton

Great friends

My family

The ease to sort out some complex stuff

Crackers and cheese


Clean water from the tap to drink

What are you thankful for today?

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Marks and Spencer Christmas Party - celebrating Irish Suppliers

One of the things, and there are many, that make me such a big fan of Marks and Spencer, is their passion for workingwith local food producers in Ireland. 

The producers I have spoken with have all complimented M&S as a brand of execellence to work with, and have spoken highly of the product development team from who work with them to create really good products which are sold all over Ireland and the United Kingdom.  

'They work with us, rather than against us.  They want to see us succeed.  We have a sense of being on the one team to make brilliant products, and they are tremendously supportive. I am already discussing next years lines with them.' one of the Genesis Crafty Brothers told me.

The results are delicious, I am sharing with you some of my favourite Marks and Spencer Christmas products made in Ireland.

Chocolates created for Marks & Spencer by Irish company Lir Chocolates

These sweets look like jewels to me.  They are as pretty to look at as they are to eat.  Handpainted, using natural dyes and made from extremely high quality ingredients, the result is a taste which is rich, with smooth flavours.    

My favourite was the sea salt caramel, the hint of the sea in the smoothness of the sweetness was invigorating for the palate.

Mulled non-alcoholic punch made by Glenpatrick.  This refreshing punch is every bit as good as the alcoholic version, in fact I prefer it.  There is a depth of flavour and a lightness in the blend, which makes it very refreshing to drink, as well as the normal Christmasy spices of orange, cinnamon, clove, there is also a hint of elderflower.

 Poinsettas grown in Ireland by Keelings

I put it too you there is nothing better than a house filled with Poinsetta's at Christmas.  I have them in virtually every room, and when I have been asked to florally decorate businesses and other peoples home's for Christmas, they feature widely in my arrangements.  Their rich red and green leaves, bring warm and colour, into the home, a bright and vibrant contrast to the darkness that stretches around us outside.

This is the time of year to make our homes look warm and inviting.

Open Topped Mince Pies with Brandy Cream and Golden Stars

Chocolate Brownie gold dusted Mince Pies

Mince Pies made by Genesis Crafty

These Mince Pies, are the best on the High Street.  The secret is the thin pastry, and the quality of the mince meat.  Read about how they are made here.  This year as well as the traditional Mince Pies,  Chocolate Brownie Mince Pies, and open tops, with a small piping of Brandy cream, and a sprinkle of stars have been added to the range.  They come in boxes of six which made beautiful presents. 

Mini Toad in the Hole

Cheese and Herb Bites

Cheese board, with crumbly butter crackers and scratching sticks.

Percy Pig Snow Globes - simply adorable

Fruit Stollen Christmas Cake

Marks and Spencer make good products, ethically sourced, and they support local food producers, throughou Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, for us at Salt and Sparkle, this is something to be celebrated.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable



Thankful - 26

Today I am thankful for ...


The legacy of Christian women I live in, with my mum, Gran, Great Gran, Auntie Bell, Granny, Great Granny and onbackwards all being Christians

The plans God has for me, His hope and Future


Running with what's in my hand

The ability to cast off curses and leave the bad stuff behind

Freedom of Christ

The Cross

Jesus love for me

Great authors

Rice Pudding

Challenging Writing

The ability to say 'No, it is not okay, to treat me like that'

Christmas Decorations

Some amazing Christmas posts, and gift guides coming very very soon!

Wonderful Guest posts

My blogging friends and community

Knowing that tomorrow we enter into what yesterday and maybe even today was beyond our reach

Planning a party

This post about Awakening

Starry nights

Split milk

Great telephone chats

Excited about Thanksgiving

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Thankful - 25


Today I am thankful for ...

The colours in this painting make my heart sing

Telephone calls

Dinner with loved one's

Walking the dogs

Light over the lough from a high vantage point

Catching the last of the dying light

Photos with Brian, Sarah and Jake



The smell of turf

Reading in a warm bed

Great music from John Denver

Writing here

Remembering we are Victorious

Knowing it is all about being thankful

Christian Fellowship Church Belfast

Great friends Hx2

Power of Prayer

The Cross

What are you thankful for today?

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable