Thursday, 23 June 2016

Degustabox | May box


Degustabox, Drink, Food, Subscription,
If youve not heard of Degustabox, then where have you been? Its a food & drink monthly subscription box bringing you 10-15 surprise products, many which are new to the market. When you sign up, you get to fill in your very own profile, meaning a couple of the products may differ. Its actually the highlight of my week when this little beauty arrives on my doorstep so what was in May’s box?

·         A bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Barbecue Glaze
·         A packet of Garafalo fusilli pasta
·         Two bottles of Cranes alcoholic drink
·         Two packets of Kallo corn cakes
·         A packet of Brioche Pasquier croissants
·         A Get Fruity bar
·         A bottle of Beloved date nectar
·         Two packets of The Wonderful Company nuts
·         Two Pechkeks misfortune cookies
·         A carton of Pomegreat juice
Degustabox, Drink, Food, Subscription,
I’ll begin this month’s post with a bit of brand repetition. I don’t mind it so much when it’s brands or products I like, but I definitely feel like Degustabox need to stop with the consecutive monthly repetition – I know so many people that are getting bored. Brioche Pasquier are one of those brands and this time round, we received a packet of all-butter croissants. Individually wrapped in packs of two, these were a reasonable size and made for a lovely weekend breakfast. The two products by Kallo were different varieties of corn cake: yogurt-topped and milk chocolate-topped. I loved both and took them to work to snack on during the day. I’d buy both products again and wouldn’t begrudge receiving them in a future Degustabox.
Degustabox, Drink, Food, Subscription,
The Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Barbecue Glaze will come in handy when we barbecue, if we get a summer this year. Alternatively, it’ll be a great marinade for grilled chicken or ribs. I love the JD sauce at TGI’s, so I’m sure I’ll love this too. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t eat white pasta, but I know the Garfalo fusilli will go down well with my and brother – there is always pasta in our cupboard!
Degustabox, Drink, Food, Subscription,
I had never heard of Cranes of Cambridge before, but it was good to see a lesser-known and fairly local brand within this month’s box. The alcopop-style drinks were lovely and fruity and not too sweet. Containing real fruit juice, they didn’t have that artificial taste like other drinks. I preferred the raspberry & pomegranate to the original cranberry, but would love to try the strawberry & kiwi flavour. Each bottle contains 99kcal and no added sugar. I’m also a fan of Pomegreat’s pomegranate juice so it was a lovely surprise to find this in the box. It’s a perfect summer drink and I’ll probably use it to make cocktails.

The Beloved Date Nectar was a great alternative to honey. I had this with crème fraiche and fruit at breakfast and although it contained lots of naturally occurring sugars, to me, it wasn’t as sweet as honey. I imagine this would equally be as nice on pancakes or porridge.
Degustabox, Drink, Food, Subscription,
There were plenty of snacks this month and I’ll start with the Pechkeks misfortune cookies. Black in colour, the fortunes in the middle were equally as dark. One of mine read: Break a mirror tomorrow. Seven years back luck would be an improvement. The nuts by The Wonderful Company were great for work and the portion-conscious, at 20g a bag. I loved the salted pistachios but felt the almonds could have done with some kind of seasoning. And finally the Get Fruity bar was good too and reminded me a bit of the Nakd oat and fruit bars. I had the apricot, orange & ginger bar, which was fruity but also very filling.

Try your first box, with a £7 discount. Either follow this link. Or go to the website and enter my special reference code: LUCYW-2B19. Enjoy!

What were your thoughts on the May box?

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Restaurant review | Rum & Sugar, Canary Wharf

Rum & Sugar was one of the restaurants on my ‘to visit’ list, because let’s be honest, ain’t no better combo than steak and cocktails! The restaurant is in such a fab location, on West India Quay, so close to Canary Wharf. The warehouse is on a strip surrounded by other bars and eateries, although I was surprised to see a lot of them closed on a Saturday night. With an outside terrace area, you can easily enjoy a drink overlooking the river, before entering the restaurant.

Rum & Sugar specialises in rum and rum-based cocktails – and there are over 150 types of rum behind the bar. I began with one of my favourite cocktails: a mojito, opting for a coconut flavoured one. It was beautifully refreshing, light and creamy. And with so many options available, it would have been rude not to try as many as possible.

After our aperitifs, we went inside and to our table. The restaurant wasn’t that busy, considering it was a Saturday night, with most people drinking outside in the sunshine. That said, there was a rum master class going on – either for a birthday or stag do. Rum & Sugar also host cocktail master classes, something I’m more inclined to get involved with. It did look like a lot of fun though, with the group sampling a variety of rums – with the atmosphere getting slightly more raucous as time went on and more alcohol was consumed.

We went straight into main courses and I had the ribeye steak (rare) with a side of Cajun spiced fries. The steak was cooked well and to my liking – it was also perfectly seasoned so need for me to add salt and pepper. The Cajun fries were a lot chunkier than I was expecting, resembling wedges but they were also very good. I was worried the spices would be too hot for my tastes, but the seasoning wasn’t overpowering at all – and the mayonnaise also cooled any heat down. The meal was also served with a sprig of watercress and some purple coleslaw. The portion sizes were excellent and the menu offers great value for money – even when you add on the cost of side dishes.
With dinner, I had a strawberry daiquiri, which was enjoyable – although it was chilled rather than frozen. Instead of a dessert, I decided to sample a final cocktail and went for my after-dinner drink of choice: an espresso martini. This was possibly the best I’d had; the ratio of espresso and rum was spot-on. I definitely need to return to try and few more of the other cocktails on offer.

The service was good, up until a large party of 10 came in, when it started to slow down. It was in no means bad, but at the same time, I didn’t feel the staff did anything to make us feel welcome or special. For a simple grill dinner in a relaxed setting, I’d definitely recommend Rum & Sugar – but it’s certainly not somewhere for an occasion or a ‘fancy’ meal.

Love, Lucy xx

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Favourite Five | Hair Care

Beauty, Favourite Five, Hair, Kerastase, Maria Nila, Michael Van Clarke, Salon Science, Schwarzkopf,
Beauty, Favourite Five, Hair, Kerastase, Maria Nila, Michael Van Clarke, Salon Science, Schwarzkopf,
A friend of mine recommended I blogged my hair care routine. The problem with that is it’s so varied, depending on season, the condition of my hair, whether or not it’s coloured and also how much time I have and what the occasion may be (if there is one). Instead, I thought I’d share my favourite five hair care products, why I like them and why you should invest in them!

(1) Maria Nila Luminous Colour Conditioner (300ml | £13.99)
This product recently featured in my monthly favourites, but it’s one I’ll definitely be re-purchasing, especially considering my hair is more often than not, coloured. I often struggle to find a conditioner that not only locks in the colour, but also leaves my hair tangle-free and looking healthy. This certainly ticks all those boxes. Plus the scent is lush – it contains pomegranate extract. A lot of people have been saying recently my hair is starting to look blonder where it was dip-dyed and I’m not sure whether it’s the sun, this conditioner or a combination of the two.

(2) Salon Science Cellutensive Masque (150ml | £19)
I first heard about Salon Science from Latest in Beauty’s Libbie Club and after testing out the shampoo and conditioner from the Celluluxe range, I just had to try out the hair mask as well. I always much prefer splurging on more expensive hair care products such as treatments, as I only use them weekly and would much rather pay more for an effective product. This particular mask keeps hair healthy, thick and strong – and I’d thoroughly recommend all three products in the range. I apply this mainly to the ends and leave in for five minutes after conditioning, before rinsing. I’ve noticed such a difference in the condition of my hair since using it; it’s so moisturising.

(3) Schwarzkopf got2b Guardian Angel Heat Protection (200ml | £4.19)
Whether I’m blow drying, straightening or curling my hair, I absolutely love the Schwarzkopf heat protection spray. It prevents frizz and works on temperatures of up to 220°C. I use this every other day and it still lasts a long time, isn’t too wet on hair and doesn’t leave it sticky or greasy. It sprays like a fine mist and I’ve tried a number of other brands (Tresemme and Lee Stafford), but this one’s my all-time favourite.

(4) Three More Inches by Michael Van Clarke Magic Oil Styling & Finishing Serum (50ml | £24.50)
Another product to have featured in my monthly favourites before, Three More Inches by Michael Van Clarke is a serum designed to nourish and prevent frizz. I apply it to the ends of my hair every day – before washing my hair and then the following day when I straighten it. It’s certainly a miracle product; my hair looks healthier and split ends are less noticeable and people have even commented it’s looking longer. You only need to use it sparingly (three/four drops) and it’ll last for ages. 

(5) Kerastase Versatile Beautifying Oil (100ml | £37)
I’ve had a collection of L’Oreal Kerastase beautifying oils for a couple of years now and they have barely gone down. Dependent on the condition of my hair, I alternate which one I use. I’m currently swapping between the pink bottle (for coloured hair) and the green (for damaged hair). I use about half a pump on the ends after straightening, or if I’ve curled my hair, I use one my pump on the lengths and ends – particularly on the underneath sections. Although on the expensive side, the product lasts for years and it’s the most effective oil I’ve used, so well worth investing in.

Which products are key to your hair care routine?

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Lean in 15 | Cheesy Chicken & Chorizo Salad

Lean in 15, Salad, Healthy, Fitness, Lunch, Working Lunch
This is one of my favourite recipes of the moment. Since buying the Lean in 15 book, it’s become my bible and I’ve noticeably become healthier and fitter. I would much rather eat little and often, but by upping my portion sizes, I’ve filled up on ‘good’ fats and proteins – as the programme suggests. This salad is perfect for lunch: it’s colourful, flavoursome and packed full of nutrients. Who said salad and healthy eating had to be boring?

Serves 3

Ingredients
·         280g chicken, sliced
·         150g chorizo, cubed
·         1 small red onion, diced
·         205g reduced fat mozzarella, sliced
·         12 cherry tomatoes, halved
·         120g washed spinach
·         30g toasted pine nuts

Method
·         Pan fry the chorizo for a minute, on a medium heat. Add the onion and continue to fry for a minute
·         Add the chicken, turn up to a high heat and fry for a further three minutes
·         Add the tomatoes and fry for an additional minute, before throwing in the spinach to wilt
·         Make small wells within the mixture and add the mozzarella. Take off the heat and leave to melt
·         To serve, top with pine nuts
Lean in 15, Salad, Healthy, Fitness, Lunch, Working Lunch
This can be eaten warm or cold; I usually eat it cold and prep all three servings in one go – it keeps well in the fridge. I recommend adding the pine nuts before serving, so they don’t go soft/soggy. But I just love the combination of chicken and chorizo – and by adding the mozzarella and pine nuts, not only does it add some extra textures, but it makes the dish super filling.

Will you be trying this recipe?

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Restaurant review | The Botanist, Broadgate Circle

London, Dining, Review, The Botanist, After Dark, Broadgate Circle, Liverpool Street
I had never been to Broadgate Circle, prior to visiting The Botanist, but I had heard good things. As it was a Saturday night, our table was booked under the ‘After Dark’ experience – a set menu, unlimited drinks (well prosecco, Bellinis or wine) and live music. What better way to start a Saturday night?

Upon arrival, it was so busy outside. The weather was gorgeous so the daytime drinkers will still outside in force. It was lovely, with bar tables and deck chairs to relax on – and so light. It was a lot darker inside, but the atmosphere was still really relaxed. The bar was directly in the middle, like an island and we sat towards the back of the restaurant. There’s a mix of booths and tables, but as soon as we were seated, I felt comfortable and ready to enjoy the evening entertainment.

I began with a peach Bellini as we perused the menus – and as our table was perfect for people watching, I noticed that a lot of other diners were taking advantage of the deal. I booked our table through Emerald Street who were promoting the experience at £40pp (usually £50pp) and this included a three course meal and the drinks for two hours from your table time. We managed to get an extra 15 minutes out of it, as we arrived early and were immediately seated.

The singer was absolutely fabulous and it was a shame we weren’t sitting closer to appreciate it more. He sang a real range of genres and eras, from Prince to Justin Timberlake and it made the evening so much more special. People were even singing along and just soaking up the atmosphere. Sometimes live music ends up overpowering everything around you, but this wasn’t the case at all and we were able to hold a conversation, while also appreciating the singer’s talents.
London, Dining, Review, The Botanist, After Dark, Broadgate Circle, Liverpool Street
To start I had the crispy squid with sriracha mayonnaise. The squid itself was very good, not too chewy, nor stringy; but the spicy crispy coating was unreal! The portion sizes are huge, so I was pretty much full before the main course came out. That didn’t stop me having a couple of glasses of prosecco, though.
London, Dining, Review, The Botanist, After Dark, Broadgate Circle, Liverpool Street
For the main course, I panicked and chose the longhorn burger with cheese and bacon – which was decent enough and served in a brioche bun. Again, the patty itself was huge and the fillings were stacked high. I wasn’t a fan of the fries, which were quite salty and not that well cooked. But kudos for the burger, it was fresh, juicy and tasted pretty much like steak. I’m a huge lover of pickles as well, so that on the top made it a winner for me. I do regret not using the kilo pot of mussels or the crab linguini – maybe next time?
London, Dining, Review, The Botanist, After Dark, Broadgate Circle, Liverpool Street
After a few more flutes of prosecco and a Bellini for good measure, we decided to plump for dessert – and boy was it good! I had the sticky toffee pudding with cornflake ice cream (vanilla ice cream topped with crunchy nut cornflakes). I wish I hadn’t been so full, or else I’d have demolished it. The pudding was light and sauce, sweet and salty. The ice cream was also light and milky and it was just an all-round good dessert.

The food, drinks, entertainment and atmosphere was good, but the only slight negative was the service. We were the only table who had to ask for more drinks, while the tables around us were having theirs refilled. We also had to wait 40 minutes to get the bill, but one of the waiters was very apologetic and gave us a couple of drinks to make up for it.

I would definitely go back to After Dark at The Botanist, or even try bottomless brunch. It’s a great place to go to catch up with girlfriends, relax with family or even go on date. And even better when you can enjoy drinks outside in the courtyard, beforehand.

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Degustabox | April box

Food, Drink, Degustabox, Monthly Subscription,
If youve not heard of Degustabox, then where have you been? Its a food & drink monthly subscription box bringing you 10-15 surprise products, many which are new to the market. When you sign up, you get to fill in your very own profile, meaning a couple of the products may differ. Its actually the highlight of my week when this little beauty arrives on my doorstep so what was in April’s box?

·         A pot of Candarel Sugarly
·         A bottle of Pimm’s Cider Cup
·         A packet of Levi Roots Cook n Coat sauce
·         A bag of Popchips
·         A bottle of Rejuvenation water
·         Two packets of Veetee rice
·         A packet of Milkybar Milky & Crunchy
·         A bar of Smarties Sharing Block
·         A packet of Bebeto Fruit Strings
·         Two packets of Parle biscuits
·         A bottle of Green Lady sparkling drink
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Monthly Subscription,
Starting with the drinks this month and you know summer is on the way when talk to turns to ice cold cider and Pimm’s. Well Pimm’s now have a new summery drink – the cider cup. This was a beautiful mix of strawberry and cucumber, which was oh so fresh. I loved it! The Rejuvenation water was really refreshing, although the ginger & lime flavour was quite overwhelming. It was a great combination but a little too strong for me – and I’m someone that loves ginger! The Green Lady sparkling drink was unusual but something I’d like to try again. It was a mix of green tea, carob and nutmeg, which made it unlike anything else I’d ever had before. Thanks Degustabox!
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Monthly Subscription,
Veetee are a brand that have featured a few times before and while I’m not usually a fan of brand repetition, these microwavable rice pots are a lifesaver. We often have a couple in the cupboard in reserve for a quick and easy midweek meal. The brown & rice quinoa was my favourite of the two varieties – but I love the jasmine rice with a homemade Thai curry. I’m yet to try the Levi Roots jerk sauce but can’t wait to give it a go when we have a barbecue. Do I baste chicken or ribs?
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Monthly Subscription,
I love Popchips so I was really pleased to see the share size bag in this month’s box. The salt, garlic and rosemary flavour was quite strong and almost overbearing. They also left my mouth quite dry. These would be great for sharing at a barbecue or picnic, but I don’t think I’d personally buy these again.
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Monthly Subscription,
Another brand that looks set to be a Degustabox regular is Parle and this month, we sampled two more of their biscuit products. The Parle G biscuits were small and rather plain – they reminded me of Marie biscuits. I’d love to use these to top a bowl of natillas. The rusk biscuits were unusual and although I was initially put off by the cardamom flavour, it was barely noticeable and they went so well with a cup of tea. The treats kept on coming with the offerings from Nestle. The Smarties Share Block went down with all the family and each square was just the right size for a little treat. I also shared the Milkybar Milk & Crunchy cows with the girls at work and they were lovely too. The crunchy rice krispies made each bar so moreish and they’d be ideal for children.
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Monthly Subscription,
The Bebeto Fruit Strings were my favourite product this month – I particularly liked the week-size bag, with each individual bag labelled with each day of the week. The apple flavour was my favourite and this was such a good afternoon snack at work. I would definitely buy these again. And finally, we have the Candarel Sugarly. I don’t generally add sugar to my food and never use sweeteners, so gave this to one of the girls at work.

Try your first box, with a £7 discount. Either follow this link. Or go to the website and enter my special reference code: LUCYW-2B19. Enjoy!

What were your thoughts on the April box?

Love, Lucy xx

Sunday, 5 June 2016

May Favourites

Beauty, Luxury, aurelia, Scentered, Maria Nila, W7, Kurt Geiger, Carvela, Bag, Fashion, Monthly Favourites
Beauty, Luxury, aurelia, Scentered, Maria Nila, W7, Kurt Geiger, Carvela, Bag, Fashion, Monthly Favourites
First up we have the beautiful Aurelia Miracle Cleanser (£38.00 | 120ml), which has fast become the only cleanser I will use. I got the 30ml sample in a Latest in Beauty box ages ago and have only just began to start using it – although I will be purchasing the full size soon. I love the soft scent, which is a mix of Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Rosemary and Bergamot essential oils. The muslin cloth makes the cleanser easy to remove and it doesn’t irritate the skin or eye area. My skin is left smooth and glowing.

My brother gave me the Maria Nila Luminous Colour Conditioner (£13.99 | 300ml), which I’ve been using since I got my ends dip-dyed. It’s been a really product that has kept the colour fresh and strong, while also deeply conditioning my hair. I often suffer with split ends which also make my hair knotty when it’s washed. But this has helped keep it tangle-free and also nourished it to keep it healthy. Of course, I love the pink bottle, but I also love the pomegranate scent.

I had previously mentioned the Scentered Stress Less Therapy Balm (£14.50 | 5g) when I received in the February Libbie club box (read here) but it’s something I’ve been using a lot recently. The stick is designed to ease tension and clear the mind, but it’s also perfect for relaxation if you have trouble sleeping. The scent is really uplifting and long-lasting, soaking into the skin nicely. It would also be ideal for those with anxiety issues. Simply apply to pulse points, take a deep breath, inhaling the essential oils and relax.

The W7 Banana Dream Loose Powder (£6.95) is something I’ve only just started to use. Having heard nothing but good things about the Ben Nye powder, I was looking forward to trying this cheaper alternative – and it didn’t disappoint. Don’t be put off by the yellow colour, it’s more translucent on the skin. The finely milled powder was easy to apply and was like a light dusting over the top of my foundation. I find some face powders clog the pores, but this wasn’t the case at all. I love it.

And finally, I am in love with my Carvela Danna Winged Tote (£44.99 - was £69.00). I had been in need of a new work bag for ages and this is the perfect size for carrying my essentials and lunch. I much prefer the handles rather than the strap. You can never have too many black bags, because let’s face it, they are classic. I am so desperate to get the orange now, too.

What were your May favourites?

Love, Lucy xx