Thursday, 27 October 2016

My Guilt-Free Carrot Cake Pancakes

As my previous foodie post suggests, I absolutely adore brunch. I’m going to be blogging about my bottomless affair with Big Easy next week, but in the mean time, let’s go clean with my guilt-free carrot cake pancake recipe. Why guilt-free I hear you ask? Well because there’s no sugar involved. I know, a recipe that contains carrot cake and pancake mix without being over-indulgent. It certainly isn’t too good to be true. This recipe makes eight decent size pancakes, serving four quite easily.

·         100g oats
·         3 medium eggs
·         1 medium carrot, chopped
·         3 tsp cinnamon
·         2 tsp ground ginger
·         1 tsp baking powder
·         4 tbs natural yogurt

·         Put all the ingredients in a blender, mixing until smooth
·         Spray Fry Light into a frying pan and heat
·         Ladle the mixture into the frying pan, making two pancakes at a time
·         Turn with a spatula once the edges start to crisp
·         Serve with yogurt and chopped nuts (and sultanas, if desired)

What I love about this recipe is that you can make eight pancakes in bulk, freeze them and then re-toast when required. I find the best thing to do is separate each with a bit of greaseproof paper and keep them in a Tupperware box or sandwich bag. And they really do taste like carrot cake, without the calories (and sugar!).

Please let me know if you try this or any of my other recipes.

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Katie Kirk Loves Giveaway Winner

Katie Kirk Loves, Giveaway, Yankee, Etsy, Benefit, Barry M
I’ve been meaning to blog this post for absolutely ages, so I’m honestly sorry for the delay – things have been manic recently and I’ve not been able to dedicate as much time to my little space as I’d like. If you didn’t know, Katie (of Katie Kirk Loves) was running a ‘One Year Anniversary’ giveaway and out of a couple of thousand entrants, I was named the winner... how exciting is that?! My prize arrived in beautiful condition, well packed into a pink and white polka dot box, which was super cute. So what was inside?

Barry M Natural Glow Palette 2
This gorgeous palette consists of six shimmery and matte neutral shades – as well as two double sided applicators and a primer. These colours are perfect for autumn and as I often wear neutral shades, I love this palette. The primer easily rivals Urban Decay, too! *note to self* work on swatching!
Katie Kirk Loves, Giveaway, Barry M
Katie Kirk Loves, Giveaway, Barry M
Benefit Ready, Set, Brow!
I spend so much more time on my brows than I used to. And on the days I don’t fix my makeup, I use this brow setting/shaping gel. I’ve never really been a fan of Benefit for their makeup, but this is a must-have in my cosmetics bag. It’s not thick or sticky and definitely does the job all day!

Yankee Candle Votives
Everyone knows how much I love a Yankee and Votives are the perfect option when you want to try a new scent without committing to paying for a jar. I received five lovely scents, as well as the cutest branded bucket holder – which will also hold tealights. The five votives I received were:
Cassis – a fruity blackcurrant scent; as sweet as it is sour
My Serenity – a calming mix of orange, musk and floral scents
Shea Butter – another relaxing scent; hints of freshness and fruit blossoms
Sweet Apple – gorgeous; crisp sweet apple; smells just like an orchard
Vanilla Lime – key lime pie in a candle; sweet vanilla juxtaposed with sour lime

‘LOVE’ necklace
And saving the best until last – I was never aware that Katie made her own jewellery (you can check out her Etsy store too!), but this beautifully handmade Sterling Silver necklace was also included. I love the simplicity of it and I’ve been wearing it to work instead of my usual costume jewellery. The chain is a good length, so it sits nicely.
Katie Kirk Loves, Giveaway, Etsy, Jewellery
I’d just like to say thank you to Katie for running the giveaway; it was honestly such a surprise to find out that I’d won and I’m so grateful.

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Instagram #10

Instagram, Life, Update, Personal, Social Media, Lucylocket_x
Dat PCOS life – Selfie: taking the grandparents for lunch – Working lunch: the last of the summer salads – Cute afternoon out to the Country Park – Selfie: rockin’ that winter hat – Throwback Thursday: miss my papa – Wonder Woman Snapchat filter = goals – Brunchin’ with Mariah & Joe – Lean in 15: chicken & new potato hash – When you have that in joke – AW2016 hair – When a quote sums it all up

So in my last post I mentioned that I had been really busy. This post is quite the opposite – I’m cramming three weeks worth of excitement in. To be honest, my week is taken up with work and when I get in, I rarely do anything than eat, bathe, blog and bed. I did go out for food last Friday (payday) after work, but that’s it. The weekends are busier and usually involve lots of driving (not always me!).

So let’s rewind to three weeks ago. On the Saturday, my brother and I went to visit our grandparents. They live about 20 minutes away, towards Southend. Robert drove and we treated them to lunch at The Royal Oak, Great Stambridge. It was so nice to catch up with them and it’s something I’m going to make a conscious effort to do more of. Anyone else feel the same way?

Ash came down on the Sunday and we had a chilled one. I took him to the Country Park at Thorndon; somewhere I hadn’t been to for years. It was lovely just walking around in the autumn air and I’m definitely feeling a picnic there at some point. On the way back, I went to see dad, as I had a week’s worth of diary entries to read to him.

Then a fortnight ago, Ash was back in Essex. On the Saturday we went to Nando’s and bowling (and I am so pleased to say that I won BOTH games... even though I had the barriers up). On the Sunday we were both in London, so met up with the lovely Mariah and her boyfriend Joe for brunch. I hadn’t seen them for months so it was great to have a long overdue catch-up, some lush food and in my case, some fizz. We went to Tom’s Kitchen at Canary Wharf, which I couldn’t recommend more. How lush does the French toast look?

Last weekend, I dyed my hair at last. I was getting a bit bored of the ombré and often go darker for autumn/winter anyway. It’s only a semi-permanent home kit, but I may treat myself nearer to Christmas, bite the bullet and go properly brunette. I love this colour and was pleased with the coverage – I was expecting the ends to be lighter where they were previously tinted. But the colour has a lovely mix of reds and browns and the ends are as dark as the roots! What do you think?

And I have to mention that quote, because I know my blog has suffered a bit this year. When you’re not in a good place, it’s impossible to have the motivation to write, or even talk at all. 2016 has been an absolute killer, but I feel like I can dedicate more time and effort to my little space – and hopefully you all have noticed that I’m a lot happier now! And I will be buying a proper layout by the end of the year.

What have you been up to lately?

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Leisurely Sunday Brunch at Tom’s Kitchen

Dining, Review, Tom's Kitchen, Canary Wharf, London, Fdbloggers
As I often say, breakfast is by far my favourite meal of the day – that is until brunch joins the equation. And it’s even better when there’s alcohol involved – even if it isn’t free-flowing. So when Mariah (new blog here) suggested we brunched at Tom’s Kitchen, I was really looking forward to it – not least because I hadn’t seen her and Joe for ages and I was also bringing Ash along. I blogged about Tom’s Kitchen (St. Katharine Docks) a couple of months back and as it was absolutely fabulous then, I had high expectations.

Like the St. Katharine Docks branch, the Canary Wharf restaurant was modern, spacious and ever so light. As soon as we arrived, I felt that chilled Sunday vibe. From the moment we met at the table, there was no urgency to quickly order and we caught up as we perused the menus. I say we looked at them, myself and Mariah already knew what we were going to order *shock*. With a mixture of sweet and savoury dishes, small plates, larger offerings and whole load of sides to make your meal your own, there was plenty of choice.

We made it incredibly easy for our waitress: the boys had minute steak sandwiches, while Mariah and I both had the brioche French toast. As the tables around us received their orders, I was in a constant state of food envy: everything was well-presented and the portion sizes looked generous. But I certainly wasn’t disappointed when my toast arrived.
Dining, Review, Tom's Kitchen, Canary Wharf, London, Fdbloggers
When I brunch at home, I love to be healthy, but creative – so when I go out, I’ll always opt for pancakes, waffles or French toast. If you can’t have a cheat day with friends, when can you? I can’t make French toast for love nor money, so I was pleased to find a large thick slice of bread, crisp to the centre, without any of that sogginess or stodginess you’d expect. The toast was served with caramelised apples and cinnamon cream, a winning combination in my eyes. The one slice was more than enough; anything more and it would have been a severe case of carbocide! Or it could have been that I filled up on fizz – my flute of rosé champagne was beautiful. I even heard the cork pop so it was most definitely fresh. At midday, it was definitely acceptable too.
Dining, Review, Tom's Kitchen, Canary Wharf, London, Fdbloggers
Ash and Joe’s steak sandwiches looked absolutely divine and I’d definitely be inclined to try that next time. Thick slices of rare steak, beef tomato and rocket atop thick rustic toasted bread. The dish was finished off with shallot rings, a balsamic glaze and a side of chips. As you can see, the open sandwich was a meal in itself! The steak was perfectly pink in the middle – and there was plenty of it.

The prices were all very reasonable, particularly given the location. I’d expect to pay more if it was a bottomless brunch, but I think we paid about £20 per head. It was just a lovely leisurely afternoon – even once we had finished eating, we weren’t rushed to leave. I loved dinner at Tom’s Kitchen and brunch was equally as good. There’s no doubt I’ll return.

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Degustabox | August 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 August’s box?

·         A bottle of Tabasco Sweet & Sticky Barbecue Sauce
·         A box of Clipper Green Tea with lime
·         A pot of Nutripot Aromatic Thai Noodles
·         A pot of Nutripot Moroccan Couscous
·         A box of Dorset Cereals Bircher Muesli
·         A bottle of Get More Multivitamins spring water
·         A pouch of Olove Olives
·         A bottle of Mahou Cinco Estrellas
·         A pouch of Capsicana cooking sauce
·         A packet of Willy Chase’s Fit Corn
·         Two packets of Rakusen’s Snackers
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
I’m starting with the drinks again this month and was so pleased to find a box of Clipper Green Tea in the August box. I regularly buy Clipper tea and have previously tried the lime variety (as well as the lemon, mango and mint) so knew what to expect. I would definitely purchase this again – the flavour is strong, not too bitter and I always keep a box or two in my top drawer at work. The sparkling Get More Multivitamins lemon & lime water was nice too. I wasn’t a fan of the artificial sweeteners, but a product with ‘added health benefits’ will always be a hit with me. I didn’t try the Mahou Cinco Estrellas lager, as I don’t really drink beer – I know my mum or brother will enjoy this and I’m sure they would have had this in Spain before!
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
Of the two sauces included in this month’s box, we’ve only tried one so far. For me, it’s far too cold to be using the Tabasco Sweet & Sticky Barbecue Sauce. Hopefully it’ll keep until next year! However, the Peruvian chilli & lemon cooking sauce from Capsicana was absolutely lovely. It made a great family meal with chicken, onion and peppers – served with rice. I’d buy this again, or even try one of the other varieties on offer.
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
This month’s ‘winning product’ has to be the Dorset Cereals Bircher Muesli. I realise I’m so late to this foodie trend, but wow! I loved the mix of seeds and dried fruit in this mix and I’ve been eating it every morning before work – leaving it to soak while on my commute. I’m yet to try this soaked in apple juice... does it make that much difference? Do I need to try it?
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
From the good, to the bad – and I was massively disappointed by the Nutripots offerings. I tried the Moroccan couscous one lunch time at work and just found it so boring – the texture was mulchy, the flavour was so bland and it has this really cardboard-y after taste. With that in mind, I’m too scared to try the other flavour: aromatic Thai noodles. I don’t like slim noodles or any of those ‘no carb’ alternatives, so really don’t have high hopes for that one. I love olives when on holiday, but it’s definitely not the right weather for them now – I will definitely enjoy snacking on the Oloves, which have been marinated in chilli & oregano.
Degustabox, Food, Drink, Monthly Subscription, Fdbloggers, Unboxing
I love popcorn. I love all those healthy equivalents – Metcalfe’s, Sunbites, Portlebay, Propercorn, I’ve tried them all. My favourite flavour is sweet & salty. With that in mind, I had high hopes for the Willy Chase’s Fit Corn. On paper, the salted honey flavour should have been right up my street – but I hated it. It was neither sweet, nor salty and I just found it so boring and unusual. The final products were two packets of crackers. The Rakusen’s Snackers included were original and gluten-free – with both coming in at 7kcal per cracker. These will be great now it’s getting colder and will accompany my lunchtime soup nicely.

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 August box?

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Treating the Grandparents at The Royal Oak

Dining, Review, The Royal Oak, Stambridge, Rochford, Essex, Fdbloggers
As I’ve got older, I’ve realised I don’t see my grandparents nearly enough. Working long hours Monday to Friday and having a social life at the weekend means I barely have time for family. I should see them more often, even if it means using a day’s holiday to go round and catch up.

A couple of weekends ago, my brother and I decided to visit them, share photos from our respective holidays and then take them out for lunch. Robert had booked a table at The Royal Oak in Rochford, not too far from where they live in Hullbridge – and he was designated driver, meaning I could enjoy a large glass of pinot grigio blush!

Upon arrival, we were shown to the restaurant, where we were the only people dining – everyone else was in the bar area, which was fairly cosy. Thankfully, a couple of other parties later arrived – although I did like that we were able to hold a conversation without heavy background noise and laughter. Our waitress was friendly and bubbly; she was patient with Grandad and even recommended a number of dishes. I wish we’d got her name, as she was just fabulous – and efficient, bearing in mind there were many tables in the bar area to also serve.
Dining, Review, The Royal Oak, Stambridge, Rochford, Essex, Fdbloggers
The menu was extensive and we were given the options of the a la carte, bar menu and the specials board – certainly spoilt for choice. Following our waitress’ suggestion, my brother and Nan both went for the ‘pie of the day’. I actually may have some competition, as Robert sent me the following: I never normally go for a pie... it's never really an exciting option I find. But having looked at the extensive and exciting menu, my eyes kept going back to this slow cooked lamb pie. Homemade. My Nan said she was going for that, so I knew it would be a winner. Served with vegetables, there was the choice of mash or chips – as I was going outside my comfort zone by ordering pie in the first place, I thought, what the heck, I'll go for mash. It didn't disappoint, huge chunks of melt in the mouth lamb were encased in a crispy solid pie shell. Little carrots (my fave) and green beans on the side, and a yummy gravy all over. Hungry yet?
Dining, Review, The Royal Oak, Stambridge, Rochford, Essex, Fdbloggers
Grandad had one of his favourites – scampi and chips, with garden peas. I couldn’t decide from a number of dishes, so had a bit of a panic when the waitress came over and everyone else was ready to order. I decided upon the Thai curry on the specials board: a red curry containing king prawn and monkfish, served with sticky rice and vegetable spring rolls. The fish and seafood was cooked perfectly and the sauce had the right amount of heat, with the coconut milk balancing it nicely. The Royal Oak certainly don’t scrimp on the portion sizes – I had enough food to feed two. But the prices are more than reasonable, the pies were only £10 each and my main meal was £14.
Dining, Review, The Royal Oak, Stambridge, Rochford, Essex, Fdbloggers
Dining, Review, The Royal Oak, Stambridge, Rochford, Essex, Fdbloggers
Despite being unable to finish, we all had room for dessert (shock!). Both my grandparents chose Calypso coffees, while Robert and I had cheesecakes. I had the toffee apple variety from the dessert menu, which was absolutely lush. The cream cheese layer was thick, the apples perfectly sliced and the toffee sauce wasn’t too sweet. I did get a little food envy when Robert’s ‘specials’ cheesecake slice arrived – containing mini Oreo cookies within the cheese layer, sandwiched between crushed biscuits and served with Oreo ice cream, it looked absolutely divine. I couldn’t resist but to try a spoonful and it was beautiful – although I don’t think I could have eaten the whole plate.

For a family meal, or casual affair, I couldn’t recommend The Royal Oak more. There isn’t really much to do in Stambridge, but for a 10-minute ride, it wasn’t a bad choice.

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Relaxing Retreat | La Rioja & Beyond

You may have seen my Madrid post, in which I mentioned we also spent two nights in the La Rioja region. Expect to see lots of wine in this post, as let’s be honest, it’s what La Rioja is famous for!
Travel, Rioja, Spain, TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
En route to our hotel in Laguardia, we stopped off at a little village called Lerma, in the region of Burgos. We sat outside in the Plaza Mayor and enjoyed tinto and tapas – Burgos is famed for its morcilla, so we sampled that, along with a couple of other dishes. The village was really beautiful and after lunch, we made our way up and down the steep, narrow, cobbled streets – making our way to the church and even stopping at the Parador on the way back to the car.
Travel, Rioja, Spain, TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
Travel, Rioja, Spain, TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
We stayed at the Hotel Eguren Ugarte, which has to be hands down, the most luxurious and incredible hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Not only were the facilities fantastic, but look at this for a view! We could see out onto the vineyards and the lush landscapes for which the region is famed. Also included in the price of our room was a tour of the bodega and we even partook in a little wine tasting. It was truly fabulous and I long to return. If you wish to find out more about our stay, you can read my ‘Five Course Feast at Eguren Ugarte’ post.
Travel, Rioja, Spain, TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
Our first bodega visit was to El Fabulista in Laguardia – where we enjoyed a guided tour underground, before going on to taste a selection of the wines. I loved that the bottles' labels depicted fables and we sampled ‘The Deer & the Vine’ and ‘The Fox & the Grapes’ – both of which were red wines. El Fabulista produces five varieties of wine, one of those being a white. I was pleased to see they still used traditional methods, including the treading of grapes – in fact, we were invited back in October to do this ourselves. I was actually devastated I had no holiday left. One thing I noticed as we visited multiple bodegas was that the methods and storing of wine production were different, even if the same or similar varieties of grape were used.
Travel, Rioja, Spain, TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
The Vivanco Wine Museum was loads of fun, but unfortunately an hour and a half just wasn’t long enough to go around the five rooms. From the history of wine, to wine accessories through the ages; bottles, barrels and corks, to the grapes themselves and the methods involved, this place had it all. My favourite room was the sensory section, where you could smell different notes (the same way you test perfume at the airport!) – from the good (fruits, vanilla, floral and chocolate) to the bad (smoke, grass, charcoal and petrol), you couldn’t help but smell each one! I also loved this screen showing the different colours of wine; although is it really bad that I’d love a glass of each?
Travel, Rioja, Spain, TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
Muga was the third and final winery we visited and this by far, had to be my favourite – in terms of the tour and the tasting – even if we were sampling wine at about 11:15am! During the tour, not only did we see staff hard at work, cleaning barrels and bottling the wine, we were fortunate enough to see the masons even making the barrels. This made the experience a lot more intimate and gave a fantastic insight into some of the aspects I had never even thought of considering. While in the area, we also enjoyed a coffee in the plaza of Haro, known for its fine wine and Wine Festival.
Travel, Rioja, Spain, TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
Travel, Rioja, Spain, TBloggers, Jet Setters, City Hopping
On the way back to Madrid, we stopped off in Burgos. I didn’t feel at all well this day so couldn’t really enjoy the walking, lunch or the town as a whole. It was also unbelievably hot! Again, the buildings were so ornate and beautiful and the Cathedral was particularly spectacular. It was such an imposing building anyway, but those spires and the detailing to the facade were incredible. The Arch of Saint Maria was equally as impressive and acted as the gateway to the plaza.

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

September favourites

September, Favourites, BBloggers, LBloggers, Boohoo, Primark, Neutrogena, Kerastase, L'Oreal
September, Favourites, BBloggers, LBloggers, Boohoo, Primark, Neutrogena, Kerastase, L'Oreal
Firstly, how are we in October already? And I don’t know about you, but I love the final three months of the year, expect the next three monthly favourites to be jam-packed! What did I love in September?

Well, rose gold errythang! Who doesn’t love a bit of rose gold? It’s just too pretty, photographs well and is... well, rose gold! All these pieces are from Primark – the earrings and necklace triangle ‘set’ is beautiful and a total steal at £3.50 (items sold separately), while the diamante studs were £1.50. I also recently purchased the iPhone 7, also in rose gold and I instantly fell in love. It’s so much better than my 5S – would you like to see a ‘what’s on my phone’ post?

With the dramatic change in weather (how cold and dark is it now getting?!), my skin and hair have really been suffering. Thankfully, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel (£12.99 | 50ml) has helped rehydrate and moisturise my skin, as well as make it soft to the touch. I’ve been using it in the evenings after cleansing, but it would equally work as a primer or base in the mornings. As a little goes a long way, I can see myself using this throughout the winter months and it’s fast become part of my everyday routine.

Likewise, I tend to take more care of my hair during the colder months and I absolutely love the richness of the Kerastase Elixir Ultime masque (£31 | 200ml). I tend to leave this in the mids/ends of my hair for five minutes after conditioning. It’s quite thick, so easy to apply and as well as the scent, which is gorgeous, I love how this leaves my hair looking and feeling healthier. I only use this once a week, but for me, that’s fairly standard for a treatment. I’ll also use the hair oil, prior to styling.

And I just had to add an item of clothing, because I love autumn colours, styles and trends. This khaki duster jacket (£15) from Boohoo is utterly gorge, despite being so simple. I’ve been teaming it up with jeans and boots. I love the sleeveless style, as it can be worn with any length-sleeved top underneath. I’ve got a brown waterfall-style jacket, similar to this, but belted, but I really need to add to my collection. Has anyone seen any faux fur or shearling dusters, as I’d love one of each, too.

What were your September favourites?

Love, Lucy xx