Thursday, 29 September 2016

10 things you don’t say to a PCOS sufferer

Health, Life, PCOS, Female Health, Polycystic Ovaries, Real Talk,
It’s coming up to 10 years since I self-diagnosed myself with PCOS, so must be nine that I was properly diagnosed. Some days have been good, even great and others have been awful – and when I say awful, I mean it. Try being hospitalised for three days without food or water and then being discharged none-the-wiser. Thankfully I’m surrounded by good people and a few people have recently messaged me about my story and blog posts. So it’s thanks to them that I bring you ’10 things you don’t say to a PCOS sufferer’.

(1) Are you ill?
Not really. My condition doesn’t stop me living my life. I go to work every day, I spend time with my family. I see my friends and boyfriend at weekends. I don’t let it stop me doing anything.

(2) You’ll get better, though...
Probably not, babes – PCOS is incurable. I’ve managed to change my eating habits and lifestyle choices to make me the healthiest version of myself I can be. But I’m no means better; nor will I ever be ‘normal’... sorry not sorry!

(3) Have you gained weight?
Thank you for the compliment. Two of the worst things for me when I was first diagnosed were uncontrollable weight gain and the inability to lose weight. I am so pleased to say I did lose a stone (post here). The meds I was on initially really didn’t help. Now the tricky part is to keep it off.

(4) You still get spots
Yep, at the age of 26, I still get spots – well done observant. I was lucky during my teens to very rarely get spots, but thanks to my wonderful condition, I get them now. Luckily it’s not many and they aren’t too bad; makeup covers them nicely. My skin dramatically turned from normal to combination though – cheers hormones.

(5) Do you wax?
I remember a boy at school and an ex-boyfriend said to me once “why is there hair on your arm?” and I completely freaked out and actually cried myself to sleep. I look back and laugh/cringe. I am obsessed with my Phillips IPL device (post here) and find it works even with my condition (a lot of devices recommend PCOS sufferers don’t use them). So while I’ll be silky smooth everywhere, you silly boys will still be arseholes *mwah*.

(6) You need to cheer up
Oh, do I? Mood swings are common with PCOS sufferers. When I have a good day, I’ll be so happy and want to skip through a meadow with my pet unicorn and when I have a bad day, well it’ll be a bad day and I’ll want to commit carbocide or eat my bodyweight in pick n mix and cry in bed. Gotta love hormones haven’t you.

(7) When are you due?
Talking periods, not babies, obv! I can’t be the only one who hates this when you go for check-up or smear or scan. Hold up while I consult the multiple apps on my phone... oh wait, they’re all saying different dates and they’re probably all wrong anyway! I can tell you when I was last on, will that help in any way?!

(8) Does it hurt when you have sex?
Or worse, can you have sex? Haha. First answer: NO. Second answer: YES. When I was first diagnosed and then on medication, I hated it because I was FAT and just felt bleugh all the time – and it was awkward. Plus sex and cysts is not a combination or conversation you want to have – attractive! But if you find a man that understands you and the condition, hold onto them ladies, as they’re a rare breed!

(9) Your hair is everywhere
My mum and brother say this all the time. Thankfully my hair is so long and thick, I don’t notice, but I imagine those with fine hair loathe this. The plug in our bath is permanently clogged; my bedroom carpet is vile and my car isn’t much better.

(10)           Surely it’s just period pain
NO. NO. NO. Having cysts burst is not period pain. You do not get woken up by period pain. You’re not unable to sleep, eat, or even breathe because of period pain. No amount of hot water bottles, fluids or ibuprofen (or stronger) will sort that kinda pain. Do not get me started.

Love, Lucy xx
Health, Life, PCOS, Female Health, Polycystic Ovaries, Real Talk,

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

City Hopping | Madrid, Spain

City, Travel, Madrid, Spain TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
City, Travel, Madrid, Spain TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
We only spent a couple of days in the city, either side of a lovely trip to the Rioja region. But we spent some time at the old Post Office – now the Palacio de la Cibeles. This multi-storey building houses a Museum of Modern Art and Photography; as well as having a gorgeous rooftop terrace and observation platform, which offers sensational views across the city. Boards explained many of the must-see sights, but I loved the different view of Gran Via and the Schweppes building. Tickets for the rooftop bar were 4.5, but we could then claim this back against a drink – I had a lovely glass of sangria.
City, Travel, Madrid, Spain TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
City, Travel, Madrid, Spain TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
We spent a morning at the Prado Museum, possibly the most famous art museum in the city – where we visited the Bosch exhibition. It was an incredibly popular temporary display, to the extent the museum had to change their opening hours to get more visitors in! Bosch wasn’t an artist I’d studied at school, so I found it very interesting – even if he was slightly on the unusual/eccentric side. Thankfully we had audio guides which explained (in English) everything we saw.
City, Travel, Madrid, Spain TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
Unfortunately, we didn’t actually go to The Ritz – and I’ve not even been to the Ritz, London. I just loved how dominant the building was amongst the trees and it was just across from the Prado. I’ll definitely have to go next time, even if it’s just for a coffee or cava.
City, Travel, Madrid, Spain TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
City, Travel, Madrid, Spain TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
When we returned from La Rioja, it was fiesta season in Sanse. The day we came back, we went for dinner in the city (post here), before going to the pre-fiesta – but we also spent the following two nights enjoying the festivities. The tents had a jovial atmosphere and we spent a lot of time at the local rugby team’s tent, where we enjoyed litres of mojito! We even went to the town centre and amphitheatre to see live bands play. It’s all very traditional and goes on every year. We never made it to the Bull Run, but saw the set-up down the streets and even managed to watch it on TV later on in the day.
City, Travel, Madrid, Spain TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
A trip to Madrid – and my auntie’s – isn’t complete without a breakfast of chocolate and churros, my absolute favourite! It’s definitely a tradition and we usually have it on the penultimate or final day of the holiday. We always go to the same shop and it really is the best – the churros there is to die for! Places in London just cannot compare!

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 22 September 2016

An Authentic Thai Banquet at Bambubox

My auntie and uncle have been raving about Bambubox for a while now and while usually we opt for Pan-Asian Bonsai, which is practically on their doorstep, we ventured into the city for a Thai feast one evening. I think everyone is aware of my love for Thai cuisine – it’s definitely one of my favourites – and I was desperate to visit Bambubox to see if it lived up to expectations. I can safely say it did – and exceeded them too!

The restaurant is just off Gran Via and is so easy to find – the restaurant name is on the front windows and from the exterior, the restaurant looks inviting. Once inside, the decor is incredibly modern, with a blend of simplicity and Oriental features. Origami lotus flowers adorn every table and the main feature is the bamboo ‘palm tree’ in the middle of the restaurant, which extends to the ceiling like a canopy. The seating is a mix of chairs and benches, for the casual, almost Wagamama-esque vibe – although you’ll never be sitting with strangers! The dimmed lighting didn’t help with photographing the food, but was perfect for that cosy and informal evening meal.
Following my auntie’s recommendation, we began with the Bambubox starter platter, which consisted of their most popular starters, with accompanying dips. There were five gorgeous little morsels to try and I quickly dug into the first: a steamed dumpling, filled with minced pork and vegetables. I’m a big fan of dim sum, so quickly followed it up with the chicken and vegetable pastry dumpling, which had that gorgeous coconutty ‘Thai’ flavour. The spring roll was light and stuffed with crunchy vegetables – and went so well with the chilli dipping sauce. I loved the chicken satay too, but the highlight had to be the centrepiece: a cold raw papaya salad, topped with peanuts. It was very similar to the one I’d previously had at the Buddha-Bar, Prague – light, simple, yet packed full of flavour.

We then all chose a main course each, with the intention of having sampling a little bit of everything. Each main course comes with a portion of sticky rice, but there are also other types of rice (and noodle dishes) available. Luckily, everyone picked different dishes, with everyone except me choosing curries. My uncle picked the Kaeng Ped Yang: a red duck curry with vegetables, which was fairly mild in comparison to other red curries I’d had before. It was also quite sweet, which I enjoyed. My auntie opted for the Kaeng Khiew Wan Kai: a hotter green curry, packed with chunky pieces of chicken and vegetables. My mum chose her favourite Thai curry, the Masamam Nua: a beef massaman, with potatoes and cashew nuts. I was late to trying that one, but the beef was beautifully cooked, so soft.

As soon I read the menu, I knew I was going to pick something a little different and decided on the Kapao Talay: stir-fried seafood with basil and pepper. Unlike the curries, there was no thick or creamy sauce and instead the herbs and spices provided all the flavour. There was a decent mixture of coated fish and seafood (including king prawns, squid and mussels) and it was all cooked to perfection. Thankfully the rice took some of the heat away, ‘cos boy did the chilli and pepper pack a punch. I could have quite easily eaten the whole dish to myself, although it was surprisingly filling.

There was plenty of choice on the menu, even if it was limited in comparison to other restaurants – and for those that don’t want curry, there are soups and salads, as well as other main dishes. I know my dad would have loved the cold glass noodle salad, Yam Woonsen *broken heart emoji*. There’s even a tasting menu for two, which is reasonably priced at 42 and consists of the Bambubox starter platter and three of the most popular curries to share.

I didn’t see the wine list but I’m under the impression it’s also fairly limited – with only one rosé wine on offer. It was beautifully chilled and the sweet, fruity aromas went with the meal a lot better than a white wine would have. I actually prefer to drink rosé with Thai food; is that just me?

I’ll finish by complimenting the service. I think there were two waiting staff and just one person in the kitchen, but everything was efficient and our server was so lovely – and passionate about his job. After hearing so many good things from my family and reading reviews online, I’m so glad Bambubox lived up to expectations and I know I’ll definitely return, whether I’m Madrid, or on the outskirts in Sanse.

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Degustabox | July box

Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
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 July’s box?

·          A bottle of Sarson’s balsamic vinegar
·         A packet of Rowntree’s fruit pastille infusions
·         A bottle of ALO aloe vera drink
·         A packet of Jordan’s swiss-style muesli
·         Two packets of Itsu crispy seaweed thins
·         A jar of Felix gherkins
·         Four packets of Bahlsen choco Leibniz biscuits
·         A packet of Seabrooks crisps
·         Two cans of Berry White sparkling drink
·         A can of Qcumber drink
·         A packet of Brookside chocolates
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
Beginning with the drinks this month and I absolutely loved the fruity sparkling drinks by Berry White. They weren’t too sweet and not overly carbonated – I definitely preferred the cranberry & guava to the lemon & ginger. Made for a summer’s day, I found them refreshing and perfect for rehydrating. Equally as refreshing was the Qcumber drink: a mix of sparkling water and cucumber extract. It would have been really lovely over ice with a slice of lemon or lime, too. I’m still yet to try the ALO drink, infused with aloe vera. It does sound interesting though.
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
There was some brand repetition, with Sarson’s featuring again. I do love balsamic vinegar, whether it’s used in cooking, a salad dressing or glaze; but I was slightly disappointed to receive it again. Anyone else think Degustabox need to start mixing it up more? I’m afraid to admit, I am one of those weirdos that love gherkins, so the jar by Felix will go down a treat for sure.
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
The Jordan’s muesli was a big hit with all the family, as it’s a brand we are familiar with and regularly buy. I am loving muesli at the moment for breakfast. I don’t eat cereal, but those that follow my Snapchat will know I’m on the bircher and yogurt hype.
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
In terms of savoury snacks, there was a mixture of good (the Itsu seaweed thins) and the bad (a share-size bag of Seabrooks crisps). The ‘peel and share’ opening was such a good idea – and something so many brands are trying at the moment – but I really wasn’t a fan of the flavour, chicken jalfrezi... I don’t like curry, though. I have seen the seaweed thins before, but never actually bought them – but oh my, they were good. They made for such a creative (and quick) lunch. I topped mine with crabstick & avocado, cream cheese & smoked salmon and spicy chicken & cucumber – and ate them like open sandwiches. They were lush.
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
Further brand repetition came by way of Bahlsen Choco Leibniz biscuits. The snack size portions (two per pack) were great for that afternoon office slump and with four packets included in this month’s box, it was almost enough to last the week. As a family, we bought further Bahlsen products and although these had featured before, I didn’t mind receiving them again. The Fruit Pastille Infusions were so much nicer than the standard flavours and the apple & elderflower was certainly my favourite – why can’t they replace lime? And finally there was a little bit of luxury with the Brookside dark chocolate pomegranate jellies. Okay in small doses, I found the texture a bit odd – and they were quite sweet and sickly.

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 July box?

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

August Favourites

August, Favourites, BBloggers, LBloggers, Lush, Sephora, Marc Jacobs, Lee Stafford, Cherry Diva, Gifting Lounge
August, Favourites, BBloggers, LBloggers, Lush, Sephora, Marc Jacobs, Lee Stafford, Cherry Diva, Gifting Lounge
I honestly can’t believe we’re in September already; it doesn’t seem that long since my last monthly favourites post. And seriously, summer can’t be over already, can it?

First up, I’m currently obsessed with the Lush Yuzu & Cocoa Shower Cream (£9.95 | 250g). It really is as bright as it looks through the bottle and I love applying it liberally; to the point I end up looking like a highlighter. The scent is described as chocolate orange, but I don’t really get that – to me, it’s more citric, with the yuzu matched with grapefruit and bergamot. It’s just a perfect summer product, but one I’ll probably use until Lush release Snow Fairy and the rest of the Christmas range!

I’ve found a new favourite brow pencil and I really wish I had stocked up on it now. I previously mentioned the Benefit Goof Proof pencil in my June favourites but I also failed to mention that in the last six weeks, I’ve got through three of them, because the leads constantly break. I am so disappointed and refuse to spend another £19 on one. But when I was in Madrid, I found a wonderful replacement. It was the first time I’d been to a Sephora store and oh-em-gee, I could’ve bought the whole store! The Sephora retractable brow pencil in rich chestnut ($12) is unreal and the perfect shade for me. I don’t like the comb on the end, so use the Benefit one, but it really is amazing. Note to self, book a brow tint/wax asap.

Summer isn’t summer without florals and these statement necklaces are pieces I’ve been loving, especially while I was on holiday. These two are from Cherry Diva and The Gifting Lounge. I love the jewels, the colours (especially the multi-coloured one) and the fact they also sit so nicely. I could do with some plainer pieces, but I’m a sucker for costume jewellery, so please let me know below where you like to purchase your everyday jewellery.

Also while on holiday, I had to heavily rely on my Lee Stafford Beach Babe Sea Salt Spray (£7.99 | 150ml). On a day to day basis, my hair is always down and straightened but on holiday, it’s far too much effort – especially with the heat and humidity. I’ve been sleeping with my hair in a plait overnight, applying the spray once tied and also re-applying in the morning. I love my TRESemme Make Waves hairspray (not pictured - £2.99 | 300ml) to finish with. Both combined are perfect for that natural beach wave style – and the hairspray is strong, the following day, my hair was still big and bouncy.

And finally, my favourite scent is Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau so Fresh (£59 | 75ml) and I literally cannot stop wearing it. My favourite perfumes are those that mix sweet scents with floral and this one’s no exception. To be honest, it’s a good job that all the Marc Jacobs fragrances smell so good, because I often buy them as I love the bottles – they are all so super cute, especially Dot. Daisy Eau so Fresh combines the original Daisy scent (which I also own) with raspberry, rose and plum. It’s a really feminine fragrance and one I’ll be wearing throughout September, too!

What were your August favourites?

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 1 September 2016

A Five Course Feast at Hotel Eguren Ugarte

Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
During our two night stay at the utterly gorgeous Eguren Ugarte hotel, we enjoyed a memorable five course dinner in the restaurant. Also included was an aperitif and a half bottle of wine per person. And it was truly special, not least because of the location and the gorgeous views, even at night.

We had to make a reservation when we checked in – and although there are 10 rooms at the hotel, the restaurant only seated about 14. Unfortunately this meant we were too late to book a table the day we arrived, but thankfully we were okay for our second and final night. The tables for two are all around the edge, so offer amazing views on the vineyards and landscapes. We sat in the middle of the restaurant and while we could still have a view, a drink out on the terrace afterwards is definitely a must.

There was only one waitress serving the tables – Corrine – and this allowed for a great level of personal service. Although she spoke in Spanish throughout, she was friendly and enthusiastic. On a whole, the staff at the hotel were great; from the receptionist, to the breakfast team, nothing was ever too much trouble.
Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
We began the meal with an amuse bouche – bonbon de foie – a small ball of foie gras, covered in hazelnuts, with a sticky balsamic glaze. This was truly divine and unlike anything I’d had before. I really loved the idea of tasting spoons too, this was a small morsel designed to eat in one mouthful.
Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
Before the starter came out, the aperitif was brought out: a glass of white muscat wine. We’d previously tried this on the wine tasting tour of the bodega and I’d really liked it. It was sweet, with notes of peach and grapefruit and while it went well with the starter, it would have equally complemented the amuse bouche. I actually wish I had bought a bottle to bring home. Wine from the supermarket simply does not compare. The starter consisted of white asparagus on a bed of aioli, with halved tomatoes and cress. Despite being such a simple dish, it looked and tasted fantastic – it was fresh, light and the aioli wasn’t too heavy.

We then ordered the wine and it was another we were lucky enough to sample on the tour. It was a bottle of Crianza, a blend of tempranillo and garnacha – and it complemented both the fish and meat courses. I would never have dreamed of ordering a red wine to go with fish, always opting for a white wine, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
 Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
The fish was pan-fried hake, on a bed of caramelised onions, a rioja sauce and basil oil. The fish was perfectly cooked, the skin crisp and the flesh, almost meat-like, simply flaked off the fork. The onions were soft and subtle in flavour. The meat course soon followed and was Iberian pork cheek with apple cream and a tempranillo reduction. I had never had pig’s cheek – or any other cheek for that matter – before and it’s definitely not something I would choose to order in a restaurant, or the butchers. But it was nice. The meat was tender, like it had been braised – and it was definitely an experience trying it.
Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
After a brief break and a couple more glasses of wine as we finished off bottle two between us, dessert was served and it contained more wine! The red wine sorbet was the perfect ending to the meal. In Spain, I love nothing more than a vodka or cava sorbet and the lemon wine mixture hit the spot nicely. It made a change from stodgy cakes or flans and it was lovely to try one of the Eguren Ugarte wines in a dessert, having drunk it by the glass and within sauces throughout the meal.

Everything about the evening was beautiful and once we had finished, we retired to the terrace for large glasses of Pacharán (or in my case, Irish cream) over ice. It was so peaceful, with the stars out and literally no noise at all. Everything about the stay was special, but that meal was definitely one I’ll remember for a long time.

Love, Lucy xx