• Girls Night In #Giveaway from PaddyPower

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  • Spotlight on Sicily

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  • Visit to Freesia grower in The Netherlands

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  • Review: TRESemmé 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner

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Girls Night In #Giveaway from PaddyPower

Who doesn’t love the chance to relax and have fun with your female friends once in a while? Going out is great if you have money and energy, but sometimes rather than standing at a bar all night wearing heels it’s nice to stay home with a good movie, some wine and some gal pals. Am I right?

The people over at  PaddyPower* have kindly offered me the chance to giveaway a fantastic Ultimate girly night in bundle including all the things you need to host your very own Girls Night in at home.

The kit includes:

  • New copies of ‘Blended’ and ‘The Other Woman’ on DVD.
  • A bingo board game.
  • 4 face masks.
  • A £10 supermarket voucher for a shop of your choice.

If this sounds like something you’d like to win for you and your friends see the Rafflecopter below to enter. Winner is chosen at random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spotlight on Sicily

I was lucky enough to have visited Sicily recently on holiday with my parents and my sister. I had never been before and enjoyed it very much! Sicily has many different sides to it including beaches, plains and mountains and on our trip around this Mediterranean island allowed us to see a bit of everything!

Our holiday was fill to the brim of historical locations including Greek Temples, Byzantine Churches and Roman Villas (my parents are big history buffs), but we also had the chance to see the more modern parts of the cities including Catania and Palermo.

I won’t bore you with all the details now, but I just wanted to share  some of the amazing photos I took on my journey around Sicily. I hope you enjoy!

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Visit to Freesia grower in The Netherlands

A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to have been invited to visit the Flower Council of Holland at their office in The Netherlands to learn more about them and the growers of flowers and plants who support them.

The Flower Council encourage people to buy more flowers and plants, making sure that florists, garden centres and other outlets have a permanent place on our shopping list – supporting the growers. The Flower Council do this by inspiring, informing with inspiring campaigns.

During my short 2 day visit we had the opportunity to meet some of the growers, and I wanted to share some photos from my visit to a Freesia Grower.

Freesias are my mother’s favourite and so it felt very special to be seeing where they come from and to know that I may have very well bought flowers  from this grower for Mother’s Day!

We were able to see the Freesias at all stages of growth from tiny little new plants through to the amazingly scented blooms which were being gathered in (my hand), to go either to the flower auction or to private buyers.

I learnt that yellow Freesias are the most common, which is interesting, because I tend to choose the more blue/lilac and white colours which seem to be more popular in the UK.

I was amazed at the technology used in growing Freesias – both the watering and heating system are controlled by computer, with miles of pipes running up and down the length of the nursery with the hot water flowing through them to keep the plants nice and warm. The massive hot water tank was really something to behold!

Something I had never thought about when it comes to cut flowers is what happens to the plant (and bulbs) after the flowers have been cut and sold. Well, I found out that the bulbs are simply recycled – they are dug up and dried out (see photo below) for reuse! It seems the obvious answer but I had never really thought about it before!

The owner seemed very proud of his product, and I very much understand why. Rearing flowers is a full time job which doesn’t seem to let up! People want flowers in every season so there’s no time to rest and relax – the next crop has to be sewn! I really admired the grower and will certainly be looking out for Freesias particularly from The Netherlands from now on!

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Review: TRESemmé 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner

When it comes to shampoo and conditioner I am a bit of a one trick pony, choosing the same brand over and over again without much thought as to trying something new. However, having decided that it was time to try something new recently and looking for something to help me save some time I decided to try the  TRESemmé 2 in 1 cleanse and replenish shampoo & conditioner.

I have tried a few TRESemmé products over the years, but have never really given them a good chance. TRESemmé started off in salons in 1947 and are driven by the simple notion that every woman deserves to look & feel fabulous, like they’ve just stepped out of the salon. The brand offers a range of salon quality haircare and styling products designed to give you the salon experience at home.

I have always been a bit dubious of 2-in-1 Shampoo/Conditioner products as they tend to only really be good at doing one or the other, cleaning or moisturising, and in the past have been left with hair which is a bit greasy. The TRESemmé 2 in 1 cleanse and replenish shampoo & conditioner claims to offer optimised hydration, both cleansing and hydrating your hair without weighing it down. It is enriched with a multivitamin blend, with a formula designed to remove residue and will condition in one simple step.

Using the product is simple – as you imagine you simply apply a healthy amount and massage it through your hair, working it into a lather and wait for 1-2 minutes before rinsing. TRESemmé recommends gently combing through the hair before rinsing to detangle and fully coat the hair in the product. I found it to be very eager to lather which I found surprising as Kent has hard water and it is usually more difficult to form lather with hard water, this is a good thing as it means that I can use smaller amounts moving forward , making the product last longer!

So, what was the result? My hair certainly feels clean (not greasy thank goodness), and my normally dry hair does feel in better condition – which was a surprise for me. I also noticed that my hair feels thicker and has more body than before which is a nice bonus, especially in preparation for a beachy-spring/summer look.

I am happy with the results from the TRESemmé 2 in 1 cleanse and replenish shampoo & conditioner and award it 4 out of 5 stars.

 

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4stars

#Recipe: #Grainfree Egg Muffins

Since my husband’s Hidradenitis Suppurativa diagnosis he has been cutting out all the likely foods which aggravate his condition, one of which is grains, which has meant a drastic change in his  diet. I try my best to support him by cutting out grains where I can, but one meal which is really hard for me is breakfast as have depended upon bread for breakfast for many years! My husband finds it easy to replace a ‘normal’ breakfast with one based on roasted vegetables but this isn’t really for me, so I spent some time researching alternatives.

It was when a friend at work posted about making grain free egg muffins that I realised that this might be perfect for me, as I prefer savory breakfasts and these are simple to make and can be made in batches so I can simply pop a couple in my bag on my way out of the door to work and not have to worry about fussing about in the mornings. You can personalise the ingredients for your own tastes and they make a great little snack if you don’t feel up to having a full meal.

I wanted to incorporate vegetables into my muffins, but you can choose anything you like for yours – try it with different vegetable combinations or if you are a meat eater add some bacon for an extra breakfast hit. For more ideas see this 10 Healthy Ways to Get on the Egg Muffins Trend article.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 courgette
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 100g grated cheese
  • Herbs & Spices to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Equipment:

  • Muffin Tray (I use a silicon one which makes it a little easier to remove the muffins once cooked)
  • Paper cases (if you are using a normal tray)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 5
  2. Prepare your ingredients – I grated my courgette and carrot to make it easier to incorporate into my egg mixture
  3. Place all your ingredients, including your eggs, into a large bowl and mix well until your vegetables are well combined
  4. Separate your mixture out into your muffin tins, for best results fill them right to the top as I find they do shrink a little when cooked
  5. Place your filled muffin tray in the oven and leave to cook for 20-25 minutes or until they appear solid
  6. Remove your tray from the oven and leave to cool before removing your muffins
  7. Serve on their own with a zingy salsa or as part of a meal, enjoy!

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Review: DeLonghi Magnifica Coffee Maker

My mother has always loved a good cup of coffee and having coveted her coffee maker for some time my husband and I were very lucky to have been given a DeLonghi Magnifica Coffee Maker as a new home gift from my parents, and thank goodness because we have needed the caffeine to keep us going whilst un-boxing and settling in!

The DeLonghi Magnifica Coffee Maker is a bean-to-cup machine which can be used with coffee beans  (it can hold up to 200g of beans) or  ground coffee and has a traditional milk frother which heats the milk and produces some great milk foam. There is an integrated grinder which has 7 adjustable coarseness settings as well as settings to change the quantities of water to coffee so you can really customise your brew. You can also choose your size of cup depending on how you feel because the machine has an adjustable coffee dispenser to accommodate either full size or espresso cups.

The machine has a special function which means the core of the machine is heated, ensuring it is always at the perfect temperature for espresso, no matter how long the interval between cups. Another great feature is the fully removable brewing unit which makes cleaning the inside of the machine really easy. Not forgetting the automatic shut-off of machine which is handy for when certain husbands forget they have left the machine on!

So, what is it like to use? Well, I have to admit I struggled the first few times I used the machine and later discovered it was because I was being a bit too impatient and was pressing buttons when the machine was still warming up. After I realised my mistake and went a bit slower it was actually very simple – let the machine warm up and run a cleaning cycle and when the lights stop blinking select the one cup or two cup options and the machine will produce a shot of coffee depending on your setting choices.

The next step is to warm up your milk – press the steaming button and allow the machine time to warm up, again when the light stops blinking it’s ready, place the milk container under the frother and turn the knob to start the steam. My parents also gave us an awesome milk thermometer which tells us when the milk is hot enough – and when that happens simply combine the milk and the coffee! If you’re feeling cheeky you can add some flavoured syrup to the coffee for an extra boost.

The DeLonghi Magnifica Coffee Maker is certainly my favourite new home gift I have ever received and I look forward to many delicious cups of coffee in the months to come. I award it 4 out of 5 stars for producing delicious, hot coffee every time. I have taken away one star for it being a little slow which caused my confusion to begin with, but would certainly recommend it to any coffee lover!

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4stars

Review: Samsung American #Fridge #Freezer

Now you might not be the type to get excited over a kitchen appliance, but having just moved into our new home (and having left our fridge in our London flat for our tenants) my husband and I were in need of a new fridge freezer. There are so many fridge freezers on the market these days, sometimes it is hard to make a choice.

I have always had my eye on the fantastic American style fridge freezers which seem to be cavernous in their size and usually come with an inbuilt water filter/ dispenser which is very handy for someone like me who is trying to drink more water. So, I decided to hunt out a lovely American style fridge freezer for my new kitchen and having browsed a number of different websites I settled upon the Samsung American Fridge Freezer in Gun Metal from ao.com for £689.

Yes, this was certainly pricey, but having looked over all the features of the Samsung fridge freezer and weight out the pros and cons of having a big American model I decided you only live once and having seen that many fridge freezers similar to this one were easily over £1,000 this seemed like a good deal.

The fridge freezer was delivered on time and with little fuss as we settled on a model which does not require plumbing in (for the water dispenser) as some do.  The fridge freezer’s dimensions are  H178.9cm x W91.2xm x D67.2xm which means it is quite chunky but luckily fits well in our new kitchen. Internally there is 340 litres of space in the fridge and 180 litres of space in the freezer which makes this a spacious model with plenty of space for our shopping.

You don’t really think about fridge freezers being ‘technology’ as such, but this model offers Samsung’s Twin Cooling technology which cools the fridge and freezer cabinets separately allowing chilled air to circulate throughout which ensures the perfect temperatures and humidity levels for storing and preserving food. The Multi Flow cooling prevents ice building up in the freezer to save us from having to manually defrost it – which can be a pain in the ass – as well as keeping the A+ energy rating for longer.

All in all I really like the Samsung American Fridge Freezer. My favourite features are the great capacity and the inbuilt water dispenser as well as the stylish look and the gun metal finish which is slick and elegant. The real test of the great fridge freezer is time, so we will have to see how well it lasts.

However until then I am happy to award the Samsung American Fridge Freezer in Gun Metal from ao.com 5 out of 5 stars and look forward to seeing how it performs moving forward.

Images below from ao.com

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5stars

Review: Magnitone Lucid by Pixie #skincare

This year I am on a skincare mission. I want to try as many skincare products as possible and learn what best suits my skin, keeping it healthy and happy. At a recent blogger event I was lucky enough to have been gifted Magnitone’s special edition facial cleansing & exfoliation brush, Lucid by Pixie Lott* and wanted to let you know how I have been getting on.

Pixie Lott says that “Hectic schedules can take their toll on my complexion. Magnitone Lucid helps me get more from my daily cleansing routine and easily slots into my busy lifestyle.” I have to admit I agree – before taking on my skincare mission I was the cleansing wipe and go girl, now I am learning that taking a bit more care and time really has benefits.

I have never used a facial brushing system before, so this was something altogether new for me! The Magnitone products offer daily facial cleansing & exfoliation brushes, suitable for all skin types, using active electromagnetic technology to produce glowing, soft skin with + 10,000 gentle pulsations per minute naturally unclogging pores.

Similar to exfoliation, the Magitone buffs away dry and dead skin cells as well as removes make up and is said to result in a clearer complexion. A great feature is that the Magnitone Lucid is waterproof so you can use it in the bath or shower as easily as you can use it at the sink.  It also has a  20 second zonal timer and a 1 minute auto-stop so you can avoid over-use.

As well as being waterproof the Magitone Lucid comes with a great magnetic charger and amazingly can last up to 2 weeks on one charge which is perfect for holidays as well as every day use.  I will certainly be making sure this is in my luggage when I go away!

Deep cleansing skin and removing impurities that can cause breakouts from pores is key.  The Magitone  is described as a system which prepares the skin to absorb skincare products so it’s easier to nourish and cleanse your face on a daily basis, important if you regularly use make up or visit places with a lot of pollution (like I do, as I work in London).

So, how have I been getting on with the Magitone Lucid? Using it is very easy – I simply apply a foaming cleanser to my face with some water and gently guide the vibrating Magintone device around my skin, it stops after 1 minute and I rinse away any product. After my first use my skin did feel a bit sore, looking back I think I was a little over enthusiastic and pressed too hard. Now I know that you only need a very light touch and the pulsations take care of the rest.

Since my first experiences I have certainly noticed that my skin has felt softer and more supple with any dead skin cells having been buffed away. I look forward to seeing how the device helps my complexion in the longer term, but at the moment I am very happy with the effect. I award the Magitone Lucid 4 out of 5 stars.

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4stars

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Review: Gruhme #Fragrance for #Men

One of the first things you notice about a man is how he smells. I really like masculine scents which are sultry and spicy, prefering these over the more fruity and light perfumes so when I was introduced to the Gruhme Fragrance for Men at a recent blogger event and was given a sample* I was excited to learn more about this British brand.

The Gruhme brand was the brainchild of CEO and Founder Rob Hallmark who grew up in the West Midland. Having struggled to find a strong male brand that he really identified with his passion for creativity and design took over and he was inspired to make his own brand incorporating qualities he found mostly absent from the modern alternatives. Gruhme  was officially launched on 18th December 2013.

The Gruhme signature fragrance is built on layers of woody scents with top notes of juniper berry, organic black peppercorn, bergamot, lemon and lavender, a heart of patchouli and cedar, on a base of oakwood amber musks interlaced with traces of cumin, celery seed and petitgrain – which  is believed  to calm and soothe the mind, while relaxing the body. Gruhme products are not tested on animals and are free of all known allergens.

It’s not surprising that I really love the scent – with those delicious earthy notes playing on my love of sultry fragrances. Gruhme is different from the usual scents which I enjoy in that it has some citrus notes coming through from the lemon which makes this lighter and more refreshing.

I really like the look of this product, I think the black and silver theme is very slick and masculine without being over the top. Along with the fragrance itself the packaging is made in the UK, making this a very British product.

I really enjoy the Gruhme scent and have since given my sample to my husband to put to good use! I award it 4 out of 5 stars.

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4stars

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Review: Ethiopian Guji #Coffee from ThreeSixty

Although I am a coffee lover I have to admit that I am rarely adventurous when it comes to my hot drinks so when I was offered the chance to try the Ethiopian Guji* from ThreeSixty to celebrate the launch of their new website I decided to be brave and try something new.

ThreeSixty, formerly Make Decent Coffee are passionate about making fully traceable, premium quality coffee for everyone to experience and enjoy. Amazingly each package of coffee displays the coordinates of its source which you can enter into Google Earth to see exactly where your coffee came from! ThreeSixty also has a range of equipment, barista tools and coffee gadgets to help us make the perfect cup.

I really like the packaging of the Ethiopia Guji, it has a simple elegance to it with the brown packet and bright label displaying the coordinates. I think a lot of coffee brands spend too much time on their swanky packaging and not enough time developing a quality and ethical product and so this simplicity appeals to me.

The Ethiopia Guji is described as “A light body and fair acidity with notes of red grape and zesty orange, leading to a marmalade bitter finish,” and is the latest product to join the ThreeSixty range.  It is is grown in Ethiopia, the 5th largest producer in the world,  near the town of Awasa.  The Guji tasting notes say that it is a bright, even roast, with notes of orange, a floral aftertaste and a fair acidity that is light in body.

I have to admit that I am not an expert, and I didn’t notice any strong citrus or floral flavours – however I do enjoy the Ethiopia Guji’s deep velvet texture and dark almost chocolatey fragrance. I do agree that it is fairly bitter and perhaps would be well matched with some cheeky left over Easter Egg for a bit of sweetness.

ThreeSixty new website www.threesixtycoffee.co.uk is a place where people can buy coffee, brewing equipment, and learn how to make decent coffee with its free easy to use ‘how to guides’ for Chemex, Aeropress and V60. I am happy to rate the Ethiopia Guji a 4 out of 5 for offering me something new and exciting from the world of coffee and I will certainly try and be more adventurous in the future.

4stars

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