Tuesday, 28 February 2017

What’s on my bedside table?

I’ve been meaning to write a post like this for a while now, because it’s a little bit different. Unfortunately, my table is forever cluttered, as I have far too many products – and to be honest, the table is quite small. Before I go into the products in a little more detail, the table itself is Lloyd Loom and I have no idea where my dad bought it from, but I’ve also got the matching chair. They were bought when my room was first decorated and I’m starting to wish they were both white, instead of blue. But they are beautifully designed and have served me well for years now... So what is on my bedside table?

Perfume
I keep my most-used perfumes on this table, to grab and spritz while getting ready for work – or throwing into my handbag when going out at the weekend. My favourite at the moment is Donna by Valentino; although, as you can see, I love anything by Marc Jacobs. The Escada Desire Me fragrance is the one I wear if I’m out on an evening and while I don’t wear it often, I love the bottle, which is why it stays on my table.

Skincare
My skincare routine doesn’t really vary throughout the year. In the mornings, I use the Clarins cleanser and toner for combination skin, followed by Studio 10’’s primer as a base for my makeup. In the evenings, I remove my makeup with the Garnier oil-based micellar water, before using Garnier’s miracle sleeping cream, Instant Comeback by Benefit and the amazing Espa 24-hour replenishing eye cream. There are a couple of other products including Lush lip scrubs and Sanctuary Spa moisturisers, but I use those as and when, rather than daily.

Haircare
I keep the majority of my haircare products in a separate drawer, along with all my stylers (hairdryer, GHDs and Curl Secret). However, I absolutely love the L’Oreal Kerastase range of beautifying oils and have three on the go: the pink for when my hair is freshly-coloured, the green for when it’s in need of a trim and the gold, for that in between stage. I use TREsemme’s heat defence spray before blow drying and the Three More Inches oil is such a miracle product – and totally works!

Lipstick Collection
I bought the cheapy acrylic lipstick holder from Amazon and it’s the perfect size for my table – although I realise I need to up my lipstick collection. My favourite current brands are Charlotte Tilbury, Dior and Illamasqua. Which brands do you recommend? The majority of my collection are matte-finish, because I prefer that and find it ideal for work. Would you like to see an in-depth post on my collection?

Accessories
I also have couple of other cheapy Amazon bits – the cotton bud holder, which I love as it keeps them easily accessible – and my makeup brush holder. My brushes are a mix between Real Techniques and cheaper RT dupes (which I find equally as effective). I keep my eyebrow products (pencil, brushes and gel) in this pot, as well as my tweezers and emery boards. It’s just the perfect go-to for all things beauty. To be honest, when I move, I’ll be chucking the acrylic bits – and definitely be switching to copper/rose gold. Is it bad that I’ve planned it all out in my head?

Would you like to see more posts like this? Let me know in the comments below.

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Brilliant Baked Oat Muffins

Breakfast, Recipe, Baked Oats, Health, Eat Clean, Nutrition,
Breakfast, Recipe, Baked Oats, Health, Eat Clean, Nutrition,
Baked oats are currently my go-to breakfast. They’re incredibly simple to make; can easily be prepared the night (or two days!) before; the flavour combinations are endless; and they keep me full all morning. I love making mine in muffin cases – I have the most amazing silicone ones, which are easy-to-clean, as well as to use. You could quite easily make larger portions in ramekins, but I quite like having three mini muffins each morning. I’ve practised this so many times, so what started out as trial and error, is now actually perfection! Once you’ve got the basics, you can add anything you like... I’ve included some of my favourites below to get you started.

This recipe makes six muffins

Ingredients
·         80g oats
·         200ml milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
·         1 egg, beaten

Once you’ve mixed these three ingredients, you can start getting creative. I always add these to the basic mixture before transferring to the cases.

Lemon & Blueberry
·         Zest & juice of one lemon
·         Handful of blueberries

Strawberry & Banana Proats
·         3 scoops strawberry protein powder
·         1 banana, mashed

Choco-nana-nut
·         3 scoops chocolate protein powder
·         1 banana, mashed
·         1tbs crunchy peanut butter

Cherry Bakewell
·         Handful of raspberries
·         Handful of flaked/chopped almonds

A tip – if you’re using protein powder, mix this with the milk and leave it to settle slightly. The immediate bubbly formula makes it slightly difficult to combine with the other ingredients and also spoon into the muffin cases.

Once your ingredients are combined and spooned into the cases, bake in the oven for 25 minutes on gas mark 5 – or until the oats are baked and the tops are golden.

I make these in batches of six – so three muffins for two days. These will keep in an air-tight container for three days before going soggy... so enjoy them while they’re fresh!

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

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Degustabox | January Box

Food, Drink, Degustabox, 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 January’s box?

·         A jar of We Are Little’s coffee
·         Two cans of Aspire Drinks
·         A packet of Finn Crisp crispbreads
·         A tub of Natvia sweetener
·         A bottle of Protein Boost
·         A packet of Propercorn Crunch Corn
·         A packet of Fruittella 30% less sugar
·         A packet of Yushoi Snapea rice snacks
·         A can of Crabbie’s ginger beer
·         A packet of Popchips Ridges
·         Two sachets of The Chia Co chia seeds
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Subscription,
There were lots of drinks in this month’s box, which was a nice surprise and the pick of the bunch was the Little’s coffee. I’d tried the vanilla flavour before, so was pleased to have the other variety: coconut, in my box. Surprisingly coconut and coffee works together and as there was a slight natural sweetness, there was no need to add sugar. This has certainly perked me up in the mornings. The Aspire drinks were interesting – with zero sugar and calories, there was no compromise on flavour. Although I found the cranberry can quite sour, the mango lemonade was lush! I’d never had ginger beer before, but the can of Crabbie’s, flavoured with raspberry was divine. It would probably be suited to a warmer day over ice, but it was nice nonetheless. And the Protein Boost I'm yet to try, but I'm likely to drink it after a work-out, or even use it to make baked proats!
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Subscription,
By stark contrast, the savoury snacks were quite disappointing this month. I’d previously bought Popchips and I think I’ve had the majority of the range. I loved the ridge-cut chips, but unfortunately the flavour – crazy hot – was just that! I don’t really like spicy food, so I found the snacks basically inedible. But even my mum and brother said it was a little extreme – think 50 times hotter than flamin’ hot Monster Munch! Similarly, I’d had some of the Yushoi Snapea rice sticks range before – but again the flavour (coconut & chilli) just did nothing for me. Give me salt & vinegar or meat any day! However, no matter how much I love salty snacks, salted popcorn for me is a massive no-no; I really didn’t enjoy the Propercorn Crunch Corn. I’d be willing to try one of the other flavours though...
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Subscription,
I don’t eat artificial sugar or sweetener, so the pot of Natvia sweetener will either sit in our cupboard, or I’ll take it to work. I wish Degustabox would ask for your preferences more often, so you’re more inclined to receive products you’re interested in, or actually like! The two Chia Co chia seed sachets were perfect for my healthy breakfasts – I’ve got a real thing about baked oats at the minute (except a post later in the week!). And the Finn Crisp crispbreads were an excellent accompaniment to my working lunches – whether it’s soup or salad. I loved the combination of salt and seeds.
Food, Drink, Degustabox, Subscription,
But this month’s winning item, undoubtedly, has to be the share-size pouch of Fruittella 30% less sugar. Strawberry is my favourite flavour when it comes to sweets and because these contained less sugar, I was more inclined to eat a third more than I usually would. Needless to say, I didn’t share and the bag lasted about three days... whoops! Where I’ve been eating healthy, I’ve significantly cut down on sweets, so this was a well-deserved treat!

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 January’s box?

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The easiest (and yummiest!) lemon drizzle cake

Another recipe post this evening, which is quite funny considering I’m healthy eating and even went to the gym for the first time on Sunday in years. But this is genuinely the easiest recipe ever. I made this cake for the first time for Ashley’s birthday and it was a massive success. I even treated myself to a little slice and it was just divine. The crunchy sugary lemon topping totally makes it, by the way.

Dependent on how thick the slices are cut, this recipe serves 8-10.

Ingredients
·         125g butter
·         175g caster sugar
·         2 large eggs
·         175g self raising flour
·         2 lemons, unwaxed
·         50g granulated sugar

Method
·         Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, if necessary and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper
·         In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar, until fluffy
·         Beat the eggs and slowly add to the mixture, alternating with tablespoons of flour
·         Grate the zest of one of the lemons and add to the mixture, before adding the juice
·         Spoon into the tin and level
·         Bake for 30 minutes
·         While the cake is baking, grate the zest of the second lemon and mix with half of the granulated sugar
·         Squeeze the juice of the second lemon in a small saucepan and add the remaining sugar, stirring gently and leave to simmer for 3-4 minutes – or until of a syrup consistency
·         Remove the cake from the oven and with a cocktail stick, pierce the cake. Sprinkle over the lemon and sugar mix, before pouring the drizzle over
·         Leave to cool in the tin. Remove and serve

I’d love to make this again, but with lemon and lime for a really citrusy twist.

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

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

What I’d tell my 16-year-old self

I’ve got a light-hearted post this evening and it’s one I meant to post at the end of last year. I turned 27 midway through January so it’s been over a decade since I was 16. In that space of time, I feel like I’ve made mistakes, learned a lot but now I’m properly adulting (albeit still living at home). Plus, if you can’t laugh at yourself, girl you got issues. So what would I tell my 16-year-old self?

Invest in GHDs... They may ruin your hair but it will be oh so worth it and it’s gotta be better than being a frizzy mess. I didn’t get mine until my 18th birthday – first world problems, or what?

Makeup – less is more... You definitely have no reason to re-apply your makeup halfway through the day, at the same time every lunch. Who you trying to impress, anyway?

Listen to your parents, they speak a lot of sense... So you may not always see eye-to-eye but it’s not until they’re gone that you’ll realise they were probably right all along and you were a spoilt, obnoxious little bitch

Friends come and go... That’s life. You don’t have to get along with everyone, but true friends will stick by you – no matter the distance, your interests or wider social life

Food is important, but nutrition is too... Having a love/hate relationship with food will mess you up in later life. Don’t deprive yourself and don’t binge. Be healthy and you’ll be happy

Haters gon’ hate... Whether it’s your appearance, your hobbies and interests, your opinions, your friends – someone is always going to dislike you or have something bad to say. The best thing to do is ignore it – we’re all different and it would be boring if we were all the same

Relationships are hard... You’ll have your heart broken and/or break someone’s heart. This will only make you a stronger person, so try not to dwell on it when it all goes wrong. On the plus side, you’ll realise what a great support network you have

Life isn’t supposed to be easy... You’ll make mistakes, learn from them. You may have no idea what you want to do, from an education or career point of view, but you have time to decide. Work hard and everything will eventually fall into place

What would you tell your younger self?

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Brownie Recipe

Recipe, Sweet Treat, Brownies,
I am so excited to be sharing this post this evening – hand on heart, these will be the best brownies you’ve ever tasted! The peanut butter makes them, but obviously you can omit it – they will still be ridiculously rich and gooey. I made these for the first time for my birthday, to take into work and they were very well received. I need to make them again! The image above is the recipe I tried the previous year – this one is miles better, so good I forgot to take a photo.

This recipe makes 24.

Ingredients
·         200g dark chocolate
·         100g softened unsalted butter
·         250g caster sugar
·         4 eggs
·         1 tsp vanilla essence
·         60g plain flour
·         60g cocoa powder
·         3 tsp crunch peanut butter

Method
·         Preheat the oven to gas mark 5
·         Break up the dark chocolate and melt in a bain marie. Remove and leave to cool
·         Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl, mixing until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla essence
·         Spoon in the melted chocolate and stir. Add the flour and cocoa powder, combine
·         Spoon the mixture into a lined or greased tin (I used two small loaf tins) and spread evenly
·         Melt the peanut butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds and pour on the top, swirling into the mixture with a palate knife
·         Cook for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. The chocolate will continue to cook, even when out of the oven, so don’t worry if they are a bit fudgy
·         Leave to cool on a wire rack, before cutting into squares

These brownies will last for three-four days in an airtight container, but I don’t think anyone could keep them that long!

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

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

January Favourites

Mulberry, Espa, Charlotte Tilbury, Studio 10, Beauty, Fashion, High End
Mulberry, Espa, Charlotte Tilbury, Studio 10, Beauty, Fashion, High End
Another month, another favourites post – although this one should probably come with a warning, it may as well be the high-end edit! Eek!

The first two things I’m currently (and will be forever) besotted with, are my Mulberry scarf and purse – you may have already seen them both on my Instagram. Ashley bought me the scarf for Christmas. It’s in a gorgeous pink shade, Mulberry call macaroon, which just makes me love it even more. Can we just take a moment to appreciate how utterly gorgeous it is *heart eye emojis here*. The colour is definitely me and I’ve worn it to work a handful of times already – I’ve even been told it makes me look sophisticated! I treated myself to the purse I wanted (the one on my Christmas list) just after New Year, before forgetting what an expensive month January is. It’s the Continental wallet in clay – and grainy leather! It’s quite possibly the best thing I have ever purchased and it’s the perfect size, especially for all of my cards. Next on my list is a handbag, but as I’m saving to move out next year, I think I’ll have to wait a while...

Back at the end of December, I went on a spa day at Whittlebury Hall, where I had the most amazing facial. The therapist recommended the Espa 24-hour replenishing eye cream, which she used during the treatment. As I’d yet to find an eye cream that actually works, I decided to buy it and I’m so glad I did – I have noticed the difference almost immediately. My eyes often look tired, with dryness and the start of small wrinkles appearing. The skin around my eye area looks a lot more radiant now, the dullness has also gone and I no longer have ‘old eyes’ (as the therapist so politely put it). Although on the pricy side, I’ll buy this again if it last longer than four months!

Another Christmas present that I’ve been using a fair bit, is my favourite current lipstick. I feel like I have a monthly favourite lipstick at the moment. My brother bought me two of the Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks I’d been lusting over since I-don’t-know-when. Lost Cherry is gorge and part of the matte revolution range. On the website, it’s described as a fuchsia shade, but it’s not really a pinky-purple – but perfect for providing a pop of colour. The formula is buildable and the colour is long-lasting. I do find after a while, it doesn’t have as much of an impact, but at least it’s not dry and grainy like other matte lipsticks. I deffo need to up my CT collection!

And finally, the Studio 10 Miracle Effect Priming Serum is a product that’s been sat on my side table for far too long, unopened. I’d previously been using a hydration boost in the mornings, as opposed to a serum and I found that it actually made my makeup ‘slide’. I can’t believe how much more flawless my makeup is, since I’ve started using this product – and when I don’t use a fixing spray or powder, it lasts so much longer than it previously would. If anyone has any good recommendations for a drugstore equivalent, please let me know, as I don’t think I could justify buying this at full price.

What were your January favourites?

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Leisurely Sunday Lunch at The Ostlers

It’s a tradition in our house that we go out together as a family to celebrate birthdays – usually on a Sunday for lunch. Last year, my dad booked a table at one of my favourite Essex pub/restaurants: The Bell at Horndon-on-the-Hill. This year, we weren’t able to get in there, but instead, mum booked a table for four at their sister restaurant: The Ostlers, which is conveniently next door. When I say four, it was my mum, Robert, Ashley and me.

Whereas The Bell is your typical Georgian pub with burning log fires, low ceilings and wooden beams; The Ostlers is much more modern. The bar area is open and the restaurant, light, airy and spacious. We sat at the back of the restaurant, where there was plenty of natural light coming through the large French doors... it was almost like being in a conservatory, without the heat or stuffiness.

The menu on a Sunday is different from during the week or a Saturday and is your typical Sunday roast, with a selection of meat and fish options, but just one vegetarian offering. We all decided to skip starters, but while we were looking at the menus and making our minds up, were brought a slate of fresh bread and butter. The bread of the day was ale, while the butter was dill & garlic. It was lovely: the bread was still warm and the butter, although a little on the salty side for my palate, was so flavoursome and simply melted on the warm dough.
Despite choosing pork the night before at Bob Bob Ricard, I opted for it again – this time, roast loin with apple puree, sage & onion stuffing and crackling. The pork was so tender and with three slices, there was plenty of it. The crackling I could take or leave, but I loved the stuffing – it was beautiful. My mum and Robert had leg of lamb, with mint jelly; Ash chose the chicken crown with creamed leeks. We had two portions of vegetables between us, which were more than enough. The roast potatoes were really good, probably one of the best I’ve had in a restaurant – just not as good as mum’s – but there just needed to be a little more gravy.
Surprisingly, we all had room for dessert – I think I must have ordered the largest and sickliest sweet on the menu. I had never had baked Alaska before, it doesn’t feature on menus often and it’s not the kind of thing you just whip up at home. I love meringue though, so I had high hopes... I was defeated! The centre contained tutti frutti ice cream, which was lush; the sponge base was light and soft; the addition of nut brittle and popping candy added texture and surprise. However, there was too much meringue for me. I picked at the peaks, but ultimately it was too much – well look at the size of it!
The service was good, up until the point we wanted to order coffee and get the bill. I was ready to go after dessert, probably because I was carrying a large food baby and needed a nap. There was a large party of about 10 or 12 on the table next to us, so the slowness was totally understandable. This certainly hadn’t put me off though and I’d definitely return. I thought the food was on par with The Bell, but atmosphere was livelier and I just loved the light, contemporary feel of the restaurant. Thank you to mum for treating us all, too.

Love, Lucy xx