• Review: Mont Bleu glass nail files

    3-piece women's manicure set in leather case inside
  • What I’m watching: August

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  • Recipe: Tangy Turkey Curry with Piccalilli

    CURRY RECIPE WITH PICCALILLI
  • Review: Lavender Bay Apartments Montenegro

    20160807_200343

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Review: Mont Bleu glass nail files

I have had a bit of a love hate relationship with my finger nails for as long as I can remember. As a youngster I used to bite and tear my nails which made them generally horrible to look at then one day I decided to stop and my nails grew nicely once more. However, having long nails has it’s own problems mainly snapping and bending back which I just can’t stand!

These days I try to keep my nails short and neat to avoid painful accidents and when my nails get to a certain length and they start to annoy me I will cut and file them back to more manageable length. I have used many different nail tools over the years and have found that glass nail files produce a consistent good result so when Mont Bleu, a manufacturer of Czech made glass nail files, offered me the chance to review their products I was very happy to give them a go.

Mont Bleu offer a range of glass files for hands and feet in different sizes, styles and colours with a wide selection designed with SWAROVSKI® elements decoration. I was sent three products to review: a Solingen manicure set, a crystal nail files set and a glass foot file.

The Solingen manicure set is made up of three nail accessories (nail scissors, tweezers and glass nail file) and a really lovely leather case which makes it perfect for putting in my handbag for nail emergencies on the go. The external of the case is made from genuine cowhide-leather with a popper for easy opening and closing. The inside of the case has an elegant black velvet lining. The glass file is made of tempered Czech glass and the precision nail scissors are made of stainless steel in Solingen, Germany. The set of tweezers are made of stainless steel with a handy slanted tip for easy use and covered with rubber for comfortable non-slip hold. Both the glass file and tweezers are decorated with SWAROVSKI® elements designed and hand placed by Mont Bleu.

The set of two crystal nail files come with a lovely “Waterfall Black” design made from a selection of  SWAROVSKI® elements on the black background. I like that the set comes with a medium and a small nail file so that you can still take a file with you in your purse when you are on the go and have a larger one at home. Again the files are made from tempered Czech glass made in Bohemia and come with a lifetime warranty which covers the filling surface of the file. The files come in elegant black velvet sleeves which keep them safe.

It’s not only hands and fingernails which can benefit from glass files – I was also sent a glass foot scraper file which looks impressive with its thick glass filing surface. Although the file doesn’t look like it can handle tough skin but I have really enjoying it to get smoother feet with the file being surprisingly effective but also gentle. It is easy to hold and use with its chunky size making it easy to grip whilst in use. Of course the file is also made from quality Czech tempered glass and has a lifetime guarantee on abrasive surface.

I really like all three of these products and I have been grateful for having some more files in the house and in my bag for nail related emergencies! I have been surprised with just how effective the glass foot file has been, more so than pumice style products I have used in the past. I am happy to award the selection of files from Mont Bleu 5 out of 5 stars and recommend them to anyone looking for quality nail tools.

German 3-piece women's manicure set in leather case

3-piece women's manicure set in leather case inside

2 Black Crystal Nail Files with crystals

Scraper foot file

5stars

What I’m watching: August

This month I have been enjoying follow up seasons of my favourite shows, yes ok, binge watching follow up seasons of my favourite shows. I just can’t get enough of superheros with The Flash and The Arrow being at the top of my must-watch list. This month I have also been finding some new shows to watch which happily have more than one season so I have indulged in meeting new characters and new crazy plots. Here are my top 5 shows I have been watching this August.

Tanked

Stepping away from superheros I want to tell you a bit about a new series I have fallen in love with: Tanked! No, it’s not an army sitcom but a show which follows a family fun business in America who create extraordinary fish tanks in all shapes and sizes. They use acrylic sheet moulded into amazing shapes to make both salt and fresh water tanks and fill them with beautiful exotic fish (including sharks, eels and rays) for their customers. Speaking of  customers, ATM (the company) produces tanks for celebrities, businesses (such as restaurants and shops) as well as regular people. I find it really fascinating to watch the designs come together and of course the reveal at the end is always exciting. More info here.

The Flash Season 2

I am totally addicted to The Flash and I am not embarrassed to admit it. The first season saw the creation of The Flash and other meta-humans, the coming together of ‘Team Flash’ as they fought off dangerous metas and a huge plot twist that saw one of the Flash’s closest friends turn out to be his worst enemy. The second season stuck with this formula which although was still entertaining I did feel was a bit repetitive with another new friend turning out to be the enemy, however, the show kept me glued to the screen as ‘Team Flash’ battle through with some triumph and some tragedy. I did enjoy the continued cross-overs with ‘The Arrow’. I certainly enjoyed The Flash Season 2 and look forward to the next one. Find out more here.

Arrow Season 4

I have been watching The Arrow for some time now and I have just finished watching the 4th season of this high pace, dramatic superhero series. At the end of the last series we saw the team split up with two of the main characters leaving to make a new life. The 4th season sees their return to help thwart a growing danger in Star City. We learn more about The Arrow’s history when he was believed dead for 5 years and his encounter with magic and one of my favourite characters John Constantine. Again this series provides adrenaline rushes left right and centre with multiple characters facing emotional plot twists and an unfortunate death. Again I enjoyed the continued cross-overs with ‘The Flash’ which develops plots in both series. Find out more here.

Casual Seasons  1&2

I came across Casual when browsing Amazon Prime Video for something to watch one day and although I wasn’t sure about it to start with I am now an avid watcher. Casual sees older sister Val move into her younger brother Alex’s house along with her teenage daughter Lauren after a divorce. The series follows these main characters in the ups and downs of their lives including dating, love and general disasters. I feel that although it is lighthearted the series deals with dark topics such as loneliness, abandonment and euthanasia. That being said I have really enjoyed watching the characters develop and overcome their problems with the bizarre dynamics within the family and with their friends and partners being fascinating to watch. Learn more here.

UnReal Season 1&2

Continuing the dark theme, UnReal is a series which follows the lives of the production crew behind hit reality dating show ‘Everlasting’. Rachel is a producer and spends her time manipulating the ‘cast’ of beautiful women who have come to the show to meet the man of their dreams, the ‘Suitor’, in order to get the best TV. This generally means back stabbing, cat fights, exposing the girls to ridicule and generally creating havoc to create drama for the cameras. Not only do the contestants have it tough but the crew is full of emotional unstable people who all get into trouble in their own way, from drugs and violence to casual sex and generally stabbing each other in the back for their own means. Watching this is like watching a car crash, it’s so bad it’s good and it provokes all manner of responses from pity to revulsion as we watch the characters generally having a bad time of it. Learn more here.

What have you been watching this month?

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Recipe: Tangy Turkey Curry with Piccalilli

Method

  1. This simple recipe starts off my making the curry paste; place the garlic, curry powder, cumin seeds, onion and oil in a food processor and combine to create a paste.
  2. Cook the curry paste for 2 minutes in a hot saucepan before adding the turkey breast pieces to seal.
  3. Add the coconut milk and piccalilli to the mix and bring to the boil.
  4. Simmer the turkey curry for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve the curry with a sprinkle of coriander and with a side of steamed rice and/or naan bread.

CURRY RECIPE WITH PICCALILLI

Review: Lavender Bay Apartments Montenegro

I recently turned 30 and for my birthday my sister gave me an amazing gift; a week holiday in Montenegro. In all honesty I had never heard of the place before she suggested it but I can’t recommend it enough! With a rich cultural history, fantastic sunny weather and friendly locals Montenegro is really up and coming as a destination.

We didn’t choose to stay at a hotel on this trip but instead went for self catered apartments in a small fishing village called Morinj on the Bay of Kotor. The Lavender Bay Apartment complex is a brand new resort made up of modern apartments which sleep between 2-4 people with 1 and 2 bedrooms.

The complex also boasts a cafe, spa with jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, as well as a gorgeous infinity pool and sun bathing terrace area with stunning views across the Bay. The Lavender Bay resort is also a short walk (albeit down a pretty steep road) away from the beach and a useful convenience shop. It is also a short distance from the Tramontana Beach Club which serves affordable good food on the beach and Catovici Milni, a restaurant regarded as the best in the country – review coming soon!

The complex is well situated in the Bay of Kotor and is around 30-60 mins drive from all the towns you might want to visit on your trip. We divided our time between lounging at the apartment and exploring the local towns of Perast, Kotor, Herceg Novi and Budva. We hired a car which made it easy to get around although driving on the left was interesting! Luckily the complex has parking on site, although parking and leaving is a bit tricky due to the limited width of the parking space.

The Lavender Bay apartments are beautiful; they are decorated in a simple, elegant and modern style which compliments the bright white walls. They are a generous size with lots of space particularly in the living/dining/kitchen open plan area which has a fully equipped cooking area with a ceramic hob with 4 rings, a dish washer, a fridge freezer, a kettle, a microwave and a built-in oven. Cutlery, crockery, utensils and basic cooking equipment.

The apartments also have air-conditioning, wi-fi and satellite TV for when you need a break from exploring the area or from the midday sun. The balcony is a great space for alfresco dining and comes with seating and a table for such use. I can also recommend using the balcony for hanging clothes for drying! Our apartment had a master bedroom with en-suite and a second twin bedroom next door to the main bathroom.  Both bathrooms have modern facilities with the main bathroom boasting an amazing shower and hand, bath and pool towels are provided.

Overall the Lavender Bay Apartments made for a fantastic home for our week in Montenegro boasting simple and practical facilities along with modern interior design and comfortable furniture. We spent many hours relaxing up by the pool with delicious cocktails and I even indulged in a massage at the spa. All of the staff were helpful and friendly and made us feel welcome and safe. Our only gripe was that the wi-fi didn’t work in our apartment, the only way we could get decent signal was to stand by the open front door!

I award the Lavender Bay Apartments 4 out of 5 stars. It would have been top marks had it not been for the wi-fi signal and the tricky parking. That being said I would definitely go back!

Twin room Lavender Bay Resort Montenegro

Lavender Bay Resort Montenegro Bathroom

Lavender Bay Resort Montenegro

Dining Area Lavender Bay Apartments

Kitchen Lavender Bay Apartments

Master Bed Lavender Bay Apartments

Lavender Bay Apartments Pool

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4stars

Rio Olympics Special: Olympic sport or not?

The whole world has been buzzing about this summer’s Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro and rightly so! Athletes from around the world are given the chance to shine and we have seen so many of them do just that. 11,551 athletes have been competing in Brazil in 306 contests in 28 sports from 206 nations including first time entrants Kosovo, South Sudan, and the Refugee Olympic Team.

Our modern Olympic Games have been inspired by the ancient Games held in Olympia, Greece, every four years between the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD featuring mostly athletic sports but also combat (such as wrestling) and exciting horse and chariot racing events – wouldn’t it be great if these races still happened? Amazingly it was said that all conflicts among the participating city-states were postponed until the Games were finished although this is questionable!

Watching the footage has got me thinking about Olympic sports and the wide range of sports on show at the Games. This year will see 28 different sports contested which is two more than 2016, with every year seeing changes in the line up. In fact amazingly enough only five sports have been a consistent feature at every summer Olympic Games since 1896: Athletics, Cycling, Fencing, Gymnastics and Swimming. Rio 2016 has seen the debut for rugby sevens at the summer Olympics, though rugby union did briefly make an appearance in 1924!

With such chopping and changing of the sports featured it’s easy to forget which sports are actually included in the summer Olympic Games so when I came across this Olympic Sport or Not game it was great fun to test my knowledge and I recommend you give it a go! To play you just have to identify which one of the two sport options have historically been “official” games.

The Olympic Games has a historical beginning and has seen many changes and have evolved into the world’s leading sports competition. Thousands of athletes participate in a variety of sports from 200+ nations around the world – something certainly worth celebrating. For more information about the Games and all the latest results check out the official Rio 2016 website.

What is your favourite summer Olympics sport?

Swimming Olympic Sport

Review: DIWAH DIY Jewellery Design Service

I am very picky when it comes to wearing jewellery. I usually only wear a small selection of pieces which have meaning to me like my wedding and engagement rings and a necklace my husband gave me for Christmas a few years ago.

Jewellery for me is something that represents me or a time in my life so I like to make sure whatever I am wearing is special so when DIWAH the design your own bespoke jewellery company got in touch asking if I’d like to try out their service I was happy to give it a go.

The design your own jewellery service from DIWAH allows you to be creative and select the style of necklace (length, number of chains etc) as well as selecting semi-precious beads and luxe elements to use in your piece so you can stand out of the crowd and showcase your personality or style for a unique look. As well as starting from scratch you can pick one of the many pre-designed pieces and simply edit them to make them your own.

The process is a simple one – select the type of necklace you want and the editor will open allowing you to browse all the beads and luxe elements to create your piece. The range of materials, shapes, colours and sizes is impressive! It’s easy to select and add the elements onto the necklace and rearranging them is as simple as drag and dropping.

I decided to go with a black and turquoise opera cluster which has a great bohemian elegance with a bit of a gothic edge. I rally love the look of the snowflake obsidian which makes up the majority of the necklace and the striated turquoise and bicone elements really make it eye catching. There is a cluster of pendants made up of a howlite heart and a teardrop charm of black agate for a great focus feature.

I am really happy with the look and quality of my cluster necklace. It’s great knowing that it was hand made by a jewellery designer specifically for me! I was really surprised when DIWAH sent me an email to let me know it was being made and they even sent a photo of it in progress (below). The necklace feels really solid and I have yet to find a flaw on any of the elements. The clasp is very sturdy which is important.

I really love my black and turquoise opera cluster from DIWAH. My necklace is top quality, the design process was quick and easy and to top it off DIWAH were thoughtful enough to send me process photos which really made my day. I certainly recommend their personalised jewellery design service and award them 5 out of 5 stars.

 

DIWAH necklace design

Micaela's - Black Magic-750

DIWAH DIY necklace

5stars

World’s richest pets! #WillsInNumbers

Having a pet is a big responsibility. Your animal depends on you for everything: food, water, exercise, entertainment and of course love! What happens when you are no longer around to take care of your beloved pet? I like to think that if something happened to me that my family would take care of my pets but what if that’s not an option?

Luckily pet owners can have peace of mind that there can still be a bright future for their pet as many charities like the RSPCA will be on hand after they are gone. These charities look after your pet and do everything they can to find a new, loving home with someone who can give them what they need.

Of course there are some pets out there who don’t have a care in the world after their owners have passed away and left them considerable sums of money, not forgetting most of them have a human carer on hand to take care of their every whim! I can’t quite believe that a dog can be allocated £90 million in a will!

Check out this great infographic featuring some of the world’s richest pets! What would your kitty or doggie spend their millions on?
Richest Pets Infographic

Source: The Law House Solicitors

Recipe: Brazilian Seafood Salad

Method

  1. Start by preparing the chimichurri dressing. Combine the pickled onions, herbs, garlic, olive oil, lime juice and zest in a bowl.
  2. Next build up the salad by laying the salad leaves, sweetcorn, mango and beans on a plate. Arrange the squid rings and king prawns on top of the salad.
  3. Drizzle over the chimichurri dressing and serve with a lime wedge for a splash of citrus zing.

BRAZILIAN SEAFOOD SALAD

Review: Dog Walk at Lullingstone Country Park

We are really lucky to live in Kent where there are lots of really lovely places to take Lexi for her daily walks. Recently we have been taking our morning walk at Lullingstone Country Park which was originally the deer park belonging to the estate. It comprises of 460 acres between Eynsford and Shoreham.

The park is made up of several different areas including woodlands and meadows which are home to many fantastic plants including orchids as well as the Darent river running through the eastern valley being a home for many native wildlife species such as kingfishers, herons, grass snakes, dragonflies and damselflies.

One of the most well known feature of the Park is its collection of ancient trees including 300 veteran oaks, beechs, hornbeams, ash and sweet chestnut trees – some thought to be around 500 years old! The park holds a Green Flag Award from Natural England. The park is popular by all sorts of people from hikers and dog walkers to families who come to play. The visitor centre is home to both a shop where you can find seasonal cards, local produce and a range of small gifts as well as a café serving homemade soups, hot meals, snacks and baguettes.

I really love walking Lexi at Lullingstone Country Park. My favourite thing about the park is the variation in surroundings from riverside and open grass to woodland and the beautiful wildflower meadow which means that Lexi gets to experience all of the sights, sounds and smells of each area rather than just one type of surrounding. It’s important for puppies to experience as many different things as possible to become a well socialised dog, so this is a big big plus for me. Lexi just LOVES chasing butterflies in the long grass left for wildflowers.

The only draw backs to walking my dog at Lullingstone Country Park are the lack of waste bins on the walking routes and the expense of parking. Although there are a number of waste bins for collecting dog poop along the paths I feel that there should be more which would mean dog walkers wouldn’t have to carry their poop bags so far and it would potentially encourage more people to pick up after their dogs.

When I was a kid and we walked our family dogs at Lullingstone the parking was free, however, now the parking is pay and display which can be expensive. I have paid for a season ticket which isn’t unreasonable at £40 for a year and as we usually visit once a day it isn’t bad value but I feel like I should mention it as some people might not want to have to pay to park. Unfortunately there are some people who don’t want to pay to park and they end up parking in the road outside the entrance to the park which means the narrow country roads can get very tricky to navigate!

All in all I think Lullingstone Country Park is a fantastic place to walk a dog with so much to explore and plenty of opportunities for dogs to play and burn off some energy. Despite having to pay for parking and sometimes having to walk half way around our path to find a waste bin this doesn’t stop us going. I award Lullingstone Country Park 4 out of 5 stars.

Visitors Centre Puppy Lexi Woodland at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

Wild Flowers at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

Views at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

Woodland at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

Puppy Lexi Woodland at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

4stars

Whistle Training for Recalling Dogs

Training your dog to come when it’s called is one of the most important things you can teach your canine friend. Not only will this help to keep your pooch under control when you’re out and about it can also help avoid accidents happening, for example, being able to stop your dog from running into the road.

Most people train their dog to respond to its name which usually works well but there may be some times when you are unable to shout or your dog simply can’t hear you. In this situation being able to recall a dog with a dog whistle is a great advantage as a whistle designed specifically for your breed of dog can be heard much further than a human voice.

Being a Labrador Lexi is a gun dog breed so we decided to train her to come to an Acme whistle at 211.5Hz frequency which is the right one for gun dogs. The Acme whistle is easy to blow and produces a high tone with solid tone and single frequency so that it gives a very clear signal to your canine buddy. I got a purple one, as that is my favourite colour, but there are a range of different colours and you can get matching lanyards so you can wear the whistle around your neck for fast, easy access when needed.

We are really lucky that my mother’s two Labradors (both ex working gun dogs) are already whistle trained so training Lexi alongside them has meant she is catching on fast! We make sure that coming to the whistle is associated with receiving a biscuit and Labradors being the greedy breed that they are, this works well.

Lexi is really getting the hang of coming back to us when she hears the whistle and I am hopeful that this will mean easy, fast and most importantly reliable recall for when she is older too. Although we have also trained her to come when she’s called by voice, the whistle training does make me feel a bit more confident about taking her outside off lead.

Have you whistle trained your dog?

Acme Sonec Working Dog Whistle No 211.5 Purple