Monday, 31 March 2014

Restaurant review: Wildwood

Where I ate:
Wildwood, Backnang Square, Chelmsford
I had never heard of the Wildwood chain before eating at the Chelmsford branch and now I know there’s a restaurant down the road, only in Billericay, I’m sure I’ll be returning quicker than I thought. It’s mainly Italian and rustic fare, with burgers and ‘grills’ thrown in for good measure. I went with my friend Laura who had never been before either, although she’d been wanting to go for some time. Although it was a Saturday night and we hadn’t booked, we still managed to get a table instantly, and the restaurant was so big, there were plenty of spare tables. The tables were quite close together and so, probably appeared more busy than it actually was.
What I drank:
Raspberry Bellini
As we were going out for cocktails afterwards, I didn’t want to mix wine and spirits. Both the wine and cocktail menus were extensive. I chose the raspberry bellini, over the original, as it’s a flavour I’m yet to try – I wasn’t disappointed. Laura went for a sex on the beach. Cocktails range from £4.95 to £5.15, which is very reasonable; wine prices start from £3.95 for a 175ml glass and £13.95 for the bottle (house wine).
What I ate:
Hoi sin duck pizza (with spring onions, cucumber and coriander) and portions of fries with rosemary salt
We decided to share a pizza and a couple of sides of fries – such a good idea, considering the portion size. Whoever thought of creating a hoi sin duck pizza is an absolute genius, it was incredible! Instead of a traditional tomato base, there was a liberal helping of hoi sin sauce, topped with shredded crispy duck, chopped spring onions and julienne cucumber. The coriander also added a fresh element.
The rosemary salted fries were also lovely, with just the right amount of seasoning and plenty of fragrant herb. For that extra rustic feel, they were served in a metal bucket with proper ‘chip paper’. There were loads of fried per portion and we could have quite easily shared just the one – there’s no way we could have managed a whole pizza each either.
We didn’t opt for starters or desserts but there a number of things to have caught my eye. It just means I’ll have to go back again soon!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Sunday Snapshots #25

Brightening up Monday mornings with a selfie! When I got ready for work on Monday, my hair wouldn’t go right at all, in fact I had a mare with my fringe. In the end I just brushed it all forward and sprayed in place, to look like I had a full-fringe. After a couple of compliments at work, including one person who thought I’d had my hair done again, I really want to get it cut in properly. Plus I’m in desperate need of dying my mane!
On Tuesday, my order from Latest in Beauty arrived. I bought the Glamour Beauty Edit box for myself and bought my mum the Ultimate Pampering Kit box for my mum, for Mother’s Day. I can’t remember now how and when I found out about Latest in Beauty, but it’s such a clever concept. Even though you have to register to see most of the website and create your own boxes, it’s well worth it.
I’ve been meaning to have a sort out and proper spring clean for ages, so I was thrilled to come home from work to find that my dad (and brother) had assembled my shoe rack. I managed to throw a few pairs out in the process and this addition to my room adds a pop of colour, as well as keeping my organisation skills in check. I always wear the same shoes, particularly for driving, but now they’re on display, I’m sure I’ll be changing them more regularly.
I painted my nails again on Friday and went for this nude/beige shade because I had planned my outfit for Saturday. I previously tested out my Essie polishes (and expect a post on those soon!) but fancied a change; I get bored so quickly. I think I’ll be keeping this shade a lot longer as I want a neutral shade for when I’m in Barcelona, to go with my outfits. I used to love Models Own but I find the smell quite overbearing now. That said, their polishes have quite a good longevity.
I went to Cambridge on Saturday as Barnet were playing away. It was my first league game this season so it was great to see friends and old faces. It also helped that the weather was gorgeous, we sat outside at the pubs – most of the boys were in shorts too! It was a long day, despite not being that far from home and there was nothing better than coming home, kicking off my boots, eating some Thai Box noodles and settling down in bed to MOTD. I’m getting old...
For Mother’s Day we went to my Nan’s in the morning for a couple of hours before returning home. We had a lazy day after that – mum had work to do, dad fell asleep in front of the football and I’ve been planning posts. As mentioned earlier, I bought my mum a Latest in Beauty box, as well as some gorgeous handmade chocolates from Waitrose. My brother cooked dinner, which was roast lamb – mum’s favourite.
I hope you (and your mums) had a lovely weekend. What did you get up to?

Monday, 24 March 2014

Spring splurge: Superdrug

After writing my skincare routine and haircare product posts, I’ve been looking at new bits and pieces to try. While the Urban Retreat Beautique is my new favourite website, there is no way I can really afford everything on there or justify spending hundreds on a handful of products. I turned to Superdrug and bought the following products (note to self: go in store and get a loyalty card):
VO5 refresh me quick dry shampoo - £3.59
A staple in my hair products drawer, I doubt this will steal Batiste’s crown; but at half price, I couldn’t resist. Pros: smell, ease of spray. Cons: leaves hair flat.
Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends split end protection cream – £4.79 & Bee Strong leave-in intensive cream – £3.99
I love the Herbal Essences protecting and nourishing masks, which I use weekly to keep my hair in top condition. These two leave-in treatments will be good to try and I’ll use them in between my other routine; perfect for protecting from the damage of hairdryers and straighteners.
St. Ives fresh skin invigorating apricot scrub – £3.99
Because I cleanse, tone and moisturise, I rarely exfoliate the skin on my face. With the change in season, I felt the need to and because I normally stick to Soap & Glory, thought it was time to try another brand. This invigorating scrub sounds perfect, as I do love my exfoliants to feel rough and like they’re actually working.
Superdrug face masks (various) – 99p each
I treat my skin to face mask every week and love to try out new ones – whether they’re clay, peel-off, self-heating and fruit, chocolate or otherwise. I don’t think I could even pinpoint a favourite. I chose four masks as it was 4 for 3 and I’ll be blogging about these individually, once I’ve tried them out.
Have you bought any new products recently? I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Graze: 23.12.13

In this box, I got:
  • Autumn Cobbler
  • Cherry fudge sundae
  • Salsa Fresca
  • Summer berry flapjack
A LOVE, a LIKE and two new snacks to try in this box.
I love the range of flapjacks and was no exception. If I’m having a good day, I’ll have one slice, but if I’m feeling indulgent, I can quite easily eat the whole punnet. Let’s be honest though, the former doesn’t happen often – it’s impossible to resist when they taste that good! The juicy cranberries are infused with summer berries, which is gorgeous. It’s just the perfect springtime treat. LOVE
I’ve had salsa fresca a number of times and I’m a big fan of the dipper collection too. At only 50 calories, it’s a healthy option to crisps. Unfortunately Graze have discontinued this product since I had it last... There’s a new salsa fresca though, with tortilla chips instead of rice crackers.
Autumn Cobbler was the first of two new nibbles, but it isn’t one I’ll be having again.  A mix of pear, apricot and cranberries, it sounded lovely on paper – all fruits I like – but I didn’t enjoy it. The apricots weren’t very plump or juicy and there wasn’t very much pear either. BIN
Cherry fudge sundae was the second of the new punnets and another I really thought I’d enjoy. It’s a sweet tooth’s dream – cherries, cherry infused raisins, almonds and mini cubes of chocolate fudge. I loved the fudge pieces but together, it didn’t work for me. BIN
Follow this link to receive three complimentary boxes – remember you can pick any snacks you like and can also cancel at any time. There are so many new treats to try – and you can even search by ingredients you like!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Spring splurge: Guam seaweed algae bath salts

Last month I received an email from SheerLuxe about these seaweed algae bath salts. I’ve never had a seaweed wrap before, but have always wanted one, particularly knowing the benefits. This clearly is the next best thing! The link took me to the Urban Retreat Beautique – possibly the nicest website ever. Check it out if you haven’t already, although I can’t guarantee you’ll want everything; my wish list currently stands at over £500!
What SheerLuxe say:
The all-natural formula helps to tighten, re-mineralise, soften and smooth skin (algae is a well known cellulite buster)... for a super-relaxing, uber-detox bath
What Urban Retreat Beautique say:
These super-detox bath salts have an osmosis effect that help to draw impurities out of the skin... 100% organic seaweed with sea salt and essential oils of lemon and lavender to help you relax
The tub recommends adding 5-6 dessert spoons to an empty bath, I found myself an old Vanish scoop and added three of those – more than enough. The crystals didn’t really dissolve very well as I ran the tap, so I did have to sloosh the water around a bit. Despite turning green, the bath wasn’t at all slimy and I got used to the smell; it’s quite a pungent mix of salt and lavender. I relaxed for 20 minutes, the recommended time and as I lay back, felt so stress-free.
Even after the first use, my skin felt softer and my legs a lot firmer, so it does work right away. I’ll definitely be bathing in this weekly, although there is no indication of how frequently you should use the crystals. This was my first real splurge, but now I’m hooked, I know it won’t be my last. £31.99 for a kilogram is reasonable though, as it’ll last a long time – and it’s certainly a lot less messy than being covered in slime.
I also received three gorgeous samples from the Urban Retreat Beautique and I’m really looking forward to testing those out. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about them soon.
On a final note, my goodies came in this amazing cotton bag – such a nice touch and so cute! I’ve just got to decide what to do with it now...

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Restaurant review: The Last Anchor

Where I ate:
The Last Anchor, Haven Marina, Ipswich
The Last Anchor is a lovely little restaurant situated on Ipswich marina. Light and airy on the inside, with spectacular views of the boats and docks through large windows, it’s perfect. It was my first meal there, after hearing a number of good reviews and it certainly won’t be my last visit either. I was driving and parking was a little difficult – there’s a small overflow car park around the corner, it’s just not well signposted or anything.
What I ate:
Fish and chips (with mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce), followed by egg custard tart with caramelised fig and cinnamon cream
I ordered from the Sunday lunch menu, priced at £12.95 for two courses, or £16.95 for three. Having eaten only a couple of hours previously, I knew I’d only be able to manage two courses – and I prefer desserts to starters. With it being a Sunday, I should have gone for a roast dinner, but I definitely lucked out with my choice of fish and chips. Even people on neighbouring tables stared when it arrived and couple even ordered it themselves.
It was presented beautifully, on a wooden board with the fish and chips served in a mock deep fat fryer pan – I really wish I’d taken a picture now. The piece of fish was huge and so fresh, while the batter was crisp and hot. There were loads of chips, probably even enough for two. They were incredible too, definitely twice-cooked; fluffy interiors and crisp exteriors – proper chips! I’m not usually a fan of mushy peas, but they were lovely too; the lemon rind and juice was a good addition.
There were only three options for dessert and the egg custard tart seemed the lightest option – it’s also one of my favourite pastries! While it was good, it wasn’t anything special, but I think my expectations were high after the main course. I don’t think I’d have been able to manage the sticky toffee pudding (which looked yummy) and the chocolate and marshmallow bread and butter pudding would have been far too heavy and sickly.
The staff were very good and considering the numbers (including a rather large table of 12) were efficient. Our waitress was enthusiastic, which was also nice to see.
There’s also a set menu for weekday evenings and I am determined to have breakfast at The Last Anchor – the American pancakes with berries have caught my eye. What better way to burn the calories than walk around the docks as well?

Monday, 17 March 2014

Graze: 09.12.13

In this box, I got:
  • Jaffa cake flapjack
  • Black pepper pistachios
  • Coffee & walnut cake
  • Slightly sweet popcorn
I only received one new snack in this box, but the other three are among my favourites.
I LOVE the coffee & walnut cake (you can find out here why). I always seem to get the popcorn and pistachios in the same box, it’s almost as though Graze know I love my football/film snacks. The black pepper pistachios are my favourite flavour, while I still can’t believe how much popcorn you get in the little sachet – it’s such a guilt-free snack.
Although I’m not a fan of orange chocolate, I chose the jaffa cake flapjack with ‘send soon’ – I want to try all the snacks in my undiscovered list, so opting for the ‘send soon’ request as much as I can. I’ve even been down my virtual bin for those treats I may even like now. The flapjacks are possibly my favourite and as they’re in three finger slices, you can choose to have as little (or in my case, much) as you like. This variety had a subtle orange flavour, which wasn’t overbearing and the chocolate, luckily, was just milk chocolate. Not my favourite my any means, but still enjoyable. LIKE
Follow this link to receive three complimentary boxes – remember you can pick any snacks you like and can also cancel at any time. There are so many new treats to try – and you can even search by ingredients you like!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunday Snapshots #24

This week has been so busy, particularly at work. The weather’s been lush too, so being cooped up inside hasn’t been much fun. Here’s what I’ve been up to...
On Tuesday, my parcel from the Urban Retreat Beautique arrived – and it came in this really lovely bag. I even got some free samples, which I can’t wait to test out. I’m going to be blogging about the product soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
Wednesday night was spent watching the football with my dad. I got the slightly sweet popcorn in my Graze box last week, so snacked on that – topping it with cinnamon. I’m currently loving the Metcalfe cinnamon popcorn, I’m hoping Graze make something similar soon.
Friday was my work friend’s last day. We started at a similar time and are the same age, so I was really sad to see her go. A few of us went to the local pub for lunch and as it was such a lovely day, sat out in the beer garden. I know we will keep in touch though!
Also on Friday, I woke up to find the whole village had no power. My first thought was “OH MY GOD, I can’t straighten my hair” – I was going to put my rollers in on Thursday night and I wish I had, as I had to go to work with unstraight hair – I hate wearing my hair tied up. I love how much volume my hair has when I blow dry it, I just hate all the kinks; I wish I could blow dry it straight.
I finally got my hair cut, with a much shorter fringe. I love it, but it’s going to take some getting used to and I’m hoping when I blow dry and straighten my hair myself, it still looks okay. I think I’ll be going back to blonde next month, especially as the weather is nicer now. Luckily the curly blow lasted all weekend as well.
On Saturday night, I went out with Laura (my friend from work). We went to Chelmsford – I’ve never been on a night out there, despite it being only 10 minutes from Brentwood. We went out for dinner first and opted for Wildwood, before going to a number of bars for cocktails. This was the pick of the bunch – a Rumberlina (Sailor Jerry’s, Passoa, Cointreau, raspberry puree, vanilla sugar and orange juice) at Baroosh. It went down TOO easily.
I hope you all had a good weekend.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Review: Montagne Jeunesse Passion Peel Off Masque

Gently peel away dead skin with our amazing Passion Peel Off deep cleansing masque. Our Pomegranate and Passion Flower formula cleans, purifies and protects leaving your skin feeling fresh and radiant.
In my skincare routine post, I mentioned how it’s a necessity for me to treat myself weekly and indulge with a face mask. I love the Montagne Jeunesse brand and have been working my way through their range. I’m definitely going to stock up at some point, but this time round I tried a new one – the passion peel off masque.
I’d previously been using wash off masks, so opted for this peel off variety for a change – plus I love fruity fragrances; the pink drew me in as well.
The mixture came out of the sachet quite runny and sticky, making it quite hard to apply evenly. Compared to previous packs I’d tried, there didn’t seem to be as much either – just enough to cover my whole face. I left in for the 15-20 minutes as suggested, but even at this stage, it didn’t seem to have set fully. Around my jaw line began to peel midway through the waiting time, but the peeling process seemed to take forever. It came off in really small pieces, while I was left with a stick mess in the areas that hadn’t actually dried. In the end, I jumped in the shower and washed it all off.
My skin was left soft and clear, but I was slightly disappointed with the fuss of this particular mask. As much as I love Montagne Jeunesse, I don’t think I will be buying this mask again.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Restaurant reviews: Berlin

I recently spent a weekend in Berlin and I’ll be blogging a photo-heavy travel post soon (it’s in my diary, promise), but as I usually do on my return, here’s my guide to the places I visited.
Saturday breakfast
Grounds Coffee – Chausseestrasse 101, 10115, Berlin
This cafe was opposite the hotel and we hadn’t paid for breakfast, so found this on Trip Advisor with some positive reviews from other guests.  Coffee and cakes are something the Germans do well and the cake counter didn’t disappoint – I was spoilt for choice. In the end I panicked and went safe with a pain au chocolat, accompanied by a chai latte (my new favourite hot drink – I am addicted!) which was lovely.
The hot breakfast menu catered for all nationalities, ranging from French toast for Americans, the standard fry-up for the British and various cheese and meat options for Europeans. The Hawaii toast was an interesting concept –a toasted sandwich of cheese, ham and pineapple; slightly random and something I’d never pick for breakfast, but it was actually very good.
It was a good pit stop before the day’s excursions and I was full for the rest of the morning.
Coffee break
Einstein Cafe – Friedrichstrasse 185-190, 10117, Berlin
My auntie recommended a coffee and cake at Einstein Cafe, from her time in Berlin and it was certainly a popular spot. In an excellent location, next to Checkpoint Charlie and within walking distance of other popular tourist attractions, there were queues and it was difficult getting a table. We sat in the window, ideal for people watching. I opted for a piece of carrot cake and a cappuccino, both were excellent. The chocolate cake and cheesecake also looked scrummy, so it was a difficult decision; the former was cut in Bruce Bogtrotter-esque proportions! On this visit, I can understand why Einstein is such a hit with locals and tourists alike.
Saturday lunch
The Pub – Rochstrasse 14, 10178, Berlin
Another Trip Advisor recommendation, The Pub was a real man’s paradise – but I still enjoyed myself. It’s all about beer, burgers and the Bundesliga/Premier League on plasma screens. We sat and watched Arsenal lose to Stoke, while eating some of the biggest (and best) burgers I’ve ever had. Each table has its own beer pump, so you can pour your own pints (you get charged 7,80 a litre) and it keeps track of how much you’ve drunk. It’s a clever idea for groups as it tracks individual progress and you can set up individual tabs on the same table so you can pay separately at the end. All food and drink is ordered on the computer screen – I had a couple of white wine spritzers – and on arrival, the staff explain how everything works, even demonstrating how to pull the perfect pint.
The menus came round on wooden boards and as well as burgers, you can order nachos, wings and even fish and chips! There’s even something called the burger platter, which contains 12 burgers (for 42,00€) – ideal for sharing. There were some really unusual combinations, so I just played it safe with a cheese and bacon burger, which was served with chips and coleslaw. When it arrived, it was huge and a proper burger – the beef was incredible. Of course, I struggled.
Despite obviously being aimed at men, I was pleased to see I wasn’t the only female – and they too drank wine and cocktails. It’s a novelty place, but one well worth going to.
Saturday dinner
Bonfini – Chausseestrasse 15, 10115, Berlin
Yet another Trip Advisor find, Bonfini was just around the corner from our hotel and it had decent reviews. Inside, it was cosy and traditional, with around 10 tables. The food was good, but the service really let the evening down – it was slow and the staff seemed very unprofessional.
I chose the spaghettini scampi – spaghetti with crayfish and rocket, in a tomato and sweet chilli sauce. Luckily the sauce was light and it didn’t swamp the spaghetti at all. The rocket on the top was fresh too. I rarely order pasta at restaurants because at home I eat no more than 40g, so when this arrived, I knew I would struggle. It was a lovely pasta dish but just far too much for me. I wanted a dessert but we ended up leaving, having waited so long.
The noise from the kitchen was somewhat off-putting, and I can’t imagine we were the only ones to hear it. There was a lot of laughing and odd noises, included squawking; while a young guy cleaning glasses stood behind the bar eating the bread baskets. They didn’t give a very good impression at all.
I’m sure there are lot better places that serve Italian fare in the right environment.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

AX Paris: birthday presents

I had some money from my parents to spend, as there was nothing I wanted for my birthday. With spring around the corner, I decided to buy a few bits for the season’s wardrobe, from AX Paris. I seem to be getting a fair few emails from them recently, whether it’s new stock or discount codes – I always find there’s never anything I want when I have money though. I used a 40% discount this time and this was on purchases from the spring section – I found it so difficult narrowing down my choices. In the end, I settled on:
Cuff & collar small daisy dress – £25 (I bought for £15)
I love floral print as it’s so girly and just reminds me of spring so much – it’s also a sure-fire way of injecting colour into a drab wardrobe. This dress was also available in black, but I chose the red as it’s a colour I don’t wear often and it’s uplifting. I love the white collar and cuffed sleeves, they make it that bit more girly. The material is stretchy too, so it’s flattering and I love the length – long enough to wear for work, but not too long! Although I’ve worn it to work, I bought it for weekend wear too; it’d be perfect for a picnic or barbecue. I love how my colleagues also said I looked like Minnie Mouse in it... All I need now are the ears!
Quilted PU jacket – £35 (I bought for £21)
I recently threw out my leather jacket as it was so tatty and hood was in a right state. I’m still searching for its replacement, but I was in need of a spring jacket; something light I can wear from the car to the office and vice versa. This quilted jacket is perfect for that and it’s gorge! I don’t usually go for the cropped style in clothing because it doesn’t suit my shape at all but this fits fine – so long as I don’t try and do it up! I love to show off new clothes as soon as I get them so I wore this and my peplum top with leggings in Berlin!
Zip front peplum top – £25 (I bought for £15)
When I entered the Little Mistress competition, I mentioned my love for peplum – here’s yet another item that’s found its way into my wardrobe. Again, I could have purchased this in black, but I went for the stone colour, which is effectively, nude. I like the zip-up style as it makes the top more dressy, rather than a plain peplum top.  It’s not at all tight and like the dress, is stretchy – I can even put it over my head, rather than unzip it to put it on. It’s perfect for nights out but now I just want to buy the trousers I blogged about, as otherwise I’m just going to be wearing it with wet-look leggings.
Have you bought anything from AX Paris recently?

Monday, 10 March 2014

Restaurant review: Catch

Where I ate:
Catch, Queens Road, Buckhurst Hill
Just over a year ago, I found myself blogging about Catch for the first time, and while I may not be an esteemed Catch ‘regular’, I have been a handful of times since. You could say I’ve been caught, I just love it – and I’d definitely go as far as saying it’s one of my favourite Essex restaurants! It’s the one place Kim and I go to when we fancy a catch-up and of course, the food is a bonus.
I took the train to Stratford, before going on the Central Line to Buckhurst Hill – all because I fancied a glass of wine after a long working week. I’m sure it’d have been quicker to drive, but I’d never driven before and I couldn’t really be bothered to buy petrol before Monday. I opted for a large glass of Pinot Grigio and it hit the spot nicely, cold and crisp – a great indication the weekend was finally here!
Bearing in mind it was a Friday night, I was surprised to see the restaurant only half full when we arrived. Even when we left, it wasn’t its usual lively, bustling self. Nicky did say there was a couple of cancellations and it certainly makes a difference when the large table/booth on the far side of the restaurant isn’t in use. It always creates an atmosphere with a big party – even more so, when there’s entertainment. That said, it was nice to be able to have a conversation, without the worry of noise.
What I ate:
Cod and chips, followed by sticky toffee pudding
You can’t go to Catch and not have fish! I seem to be making my way through the menu, choosing something different every time I go. Although I initially had my eye on the calamari (I’ve had it before and it’s definitely my favourite), I decided to go all-out and indulge in the fish and chips. The cod was perfectly battered and the fish itself was chunky, melting in the mouth. I chose skinny fries over thick hand-cut chips, which were well-seasoned.
I demolished the main course and still had room for dessert. I already knew I was going to have the sticky toffee pudding, as Kim had it the last time and it looked amazing! When it arrived, it didn’t disappoint – it was huge; almost like a large square muffin. The thick toffee sauce dotted around the plate was divine as well, although I could have done with a little more. The sponge was light and my plate was empty within seconds! In fact, I’m still adamant I could have eaten a second!
Yet another good evening at Catch and as always, Nicky was accommodating and chatted to us after the meal. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a restaurant that’s so good, consistently. If you’re yet to go to Catch – what are you waiting for? You’ll certainly not be disappointed.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Graze: 25.11.13

In this box, I got:
  • Banana cake with an afternoon infusion
  • Cherries & berries
  • Smoky bbq corn
  • Bounty hunter
Yet more goodies arrived in my Graze box, courtesy of ‘send soon’; while I also received Bounty Hunter, a punnet I’ve had before. I’ve even got creative and made biscuits out of the chocolatey coconutty cranberry goodness.
I love the high teas, there’s something so British about them – everyone loves tea and cake after all. I can’t think of anything better than having a cuppa and a little treat at my desk at work in the middle of the afternoon! These little creations are just incredible and I love banana loaf, so this was a real hit with me. I think it may be my favourite! – LOVE
Cherries & berries was a product I watched evolve via the Graze Instagram account; they even asked for suggestions of names, before settling on the apt, cherries & berries. I love to snack on fruit and the natural sugars stop me from craving sweets. This punnet is one of your five-a-day and the colours are so vibrant and inviting. The mix of cranberries, cherries and lingonberries is lovely. – LIKE
The smoky bbq corn was another new nibble and one I would have again. My want for salty snacks like kettle chips and nuts soon disappears and the mix of crunchy corn and smoky cashews is lovely! Since I ordered Graze boxes, I’ve found I don’t eat crisps as much – and it’s thanks to punnets like this. – LIKE
Follow this link to receive three complimentary boxes – remember you can pick any snacks you like and can also cancel at any time. There are so many new treats to try – and you can even search by ingredients you like!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Feel Unique: Competition winner

I recently went on Facebook to find that were running a competition to win a t shirt. All you had to do was like their page, find the application and then design your own tee.  To make you feel unique, there were a range of fonts and backgrounds to choose from and you could also decide the size of the font. “It’s all about me” – the campaign’s strapline was the main focus for the design, reflecting the brand’s individuality.  
I arrived home from work to find I had in fact won my design – and was one of the first 100 winners. The following four days, a further 400 winners were rewarded, so there were 500 in total. To be one of 500 is still an incredible feat and I love that I’ve won my design, which is unique to me.
I chose the pink polka dot background because it’s so me – cute and girly. I teamed this up with the fancy swirly font and although there was the option to choose different typefaces, opted for the same – simply for consistency. I arranged the first three words diagonally, before putting ‘ME’ in the middle, in a larger font, because let’s face it, it’s all about me!
The quality of the tee and print are very good and I’m so pleased with how it turned out. I only tried it on to take a few photos, but I can’t wait to wear it properly – I’ll certainly stand out! I’ve also had a lot of lovely comments from people on social media, I love that the tee is so special and personal.
As a side note, 10 lucky winners are also in with a chance to win £200 of Feel Unique vouchers. I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed and have been on the website creating my wish-list in anticipation. In order to put yourself forward for this additional prize, you just need to upload a photo of you in your tee to the Facebook page or Instagram account with the hashtag #feelunique.
I love that my tee is unique to me and that in itself is enough – I feel so privileged to have won.
What are your favourite buys from Feel Unique?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Hair care: my products

A fortnight ago I blogged about my skincare routine. To follow on from that, I thought I’d share the products I use on my hair.
Pantene Pro-V strength & shine shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair (£2.99 each)
Because my hair is always coloured (although at this precise moment it could do with being re-done and cut!), I always have to rely on a colour protect shampoo and conditioner. I love the smell of the Pantene one, it’s affordable and it leaves my hair colour-rich and shiny. In the summer months when I revert to my natural blonde ways, I use John Frieda sheer blonde everlasting shampoo and conditioner (£5.99 each). Recommended by my hairdresser, they may be a little more pricy, but it’s only for a couple of months and it’s worth every penny! I also use Umberto Giannini dazzle shine products once a week. You can read more about them, here.
For those in between days, I love the Batiste (£2.99) range of dry shampoos. My favourite is the cherry scented, although I’m currently using the tropical, which makes my car smell like piña colada. I know a lot of people who say they can’t use dry shampoo, but I love it. I can still wear my hair down and it adds so much volume, it’s a win-win situation. If I’m having a splurge, I do love Lee Stafford original dry shampoo – the smell is lovely!
I blow dry and straighten my hair every other day, so Schwarzkopf got to b guardian angel heat defence spray (£3.99) is a must-have in my drawer! It protects hair up to 220oc, has a nice fragrance and leaves my hair looking and feeling a whole lot healthier. Obviously, my ends are still split but my hair used to be so badly damaged from over-straightening and this has worked wonders.
The Keratase serums are also one of my favourite products of the moment. I’m currently alternating between the versatile beautifying oil and immortal moringa for damaged hair elixirs (£35.50 for 125ml). I often use them as a finishing product, but if I’m not in a rush and properly blow drying my hair straight, I’ll apply it to wet hair. You only need one pump so they last forever – and well worth investing in. I love the smell of the green one, it reminds me of a perfume, but I can’t think what!
And finally, once a week I will treat my hair to the Herbal Essences bee strong mask (£4.79).  It’s so nourishing and perfect for keeping hair looking healthy. The rich honey and apricot smell is just lush. My ends are quite brittle but a weekly use of this works miracles! Alternatively, I also like the beautiful ends intensive mask with its gorgeous raspberry aromas.
Which products could you not live without?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Skinny dinners: chicken

I recently blogged about a couple of my favourite recipes involving my marinade for soy and ginger salmon. For those interested, I also make a similar marinade for chicken and the best thing about this is, it’s even more versatile! All you will need for the basics are:
  • A chicken breast
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
Here are my two favourite recipes:
Chicken noodle soup
  • Cut the chicken into bitesize pieces and leave to marinade for 15 minutes
  • Fry the chicken until browned
  • Cook one nest of dried fine egg noodles
  • Add the chicken to the cooked noodles
  • At the last minute, add a handful of salad leaves and one chopped spring onion
  • Serve once the leaves start to wilt
Or omit the water and make chicken noodles for a quick and easy dinner; I prefer a spicy broth though
Chicken and vegetable brown rice
  • Cook 40g brown rice in a vegetable oxo as per the instructions on the packet
  • Leave the chicken to marinade for 15 minutes and then fry until browned
  • Add vegetables of your choice (I often just use 80g of frozen mixed veg) and combine with the rice
  • Serve the rice in a ring with the chicken in the middle, or in a mound with the chicken on top
I also love using the marinade as a salad dressing and cook the chicken plain. While also carb-free, I love to make chicken and vegetable skewers with peppers and courgettes. Just brush the marinade on the chicken and veg, grill et voila!
It’s definitely my favourite creation, spicy and sweet and so simple to make.
Will you be giving these recipes a go?