Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lizi's Granola

Today I thought I would tell you about a granola that I've been trying recently. With breakfasts I go through different phases of particular foods, I then find myself bored of them after a few weeks of eating the same thing every day. I go from porridge to toast to a variety of cereals. Being bored with the usual ones, I went to the supermarket on the look out for a new breakfast cereal to try. I knew I wanted to try some sort of granola or muesli. If I'm away on holiday then I often have that but I've never bought a granola to have at home.

I decided on this one from Lizi's with passionfruit and pistachio. I chose this one particularly because of the passionfruit, I'm a lover of all tropical fruits and especially passionfruit. As I was expecting it to have quite a strong fruity flavour, I was disappointed when it didn't! Every now and then I got a hint of the passionfruit but not very much. On a positive note, the nuttiness of the pistachios is lovely. The pieces of pistachio add a lovely crunch and a lot of flavour to the mix. I like mine with really cold skimmed milk and sometimes a few added berries. On the packaging it states that it is perfectly measured for slow energy release and I'd definitely agree with this as after eating it I was full and satisfied until lunchtime.

I would buy this granola again, but I would probably buy some passionfruits as well so that I could add some more. Even though in my opinion there isn't enough passionfruit flavour coming through, I would imagine for most people it would be enough. It's simply because I love passionfruit that I wanted it to be a stronger and less subtle flavour. 


Monday, October 29, 2012

TRESemmé Heat Defence

Up until a couple of years a go I would straighten my hair almost every day, but after the years of straightening I've found that my hair has become almost straight on it's own without the need for straighteners. Since I've frequently stopped using heated styling tools I've found that my hair is in so much better condition. I have less split ends, it retains it's natural shine and is much healthier looking.

I still use straighteners every now and then but no where near as much as I used to. However now whenever I use heat products like straighteners or curling tongs I always make sure to use a heat defence spray of some sort to help protect my hair.

I also use the spray every time I use the hairdryer which is almost everyday. Onto partly towel dried hair I generously spritz the defence spray and then continue to dry and style as normal. This particular Heat Defence Styling Spray from the TRESemmé Protect range is the one which I've been using for a long time. It protects your hair from the heat of styling tools up to the heat of 230 degrees.

The main thing I've noticed from using this product, apart from protecting my hair against the heat is how soft it makes my hair feel. If I use my hair dryer and forget to use the spray then I can notice the difference in the feel of my hair. I've found that it makes my hair shiny and soft.

There are a couple of other different heat protect sprays which I've bought to test out so I'll be sure to let you know what I think of them soon!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Bicester Buys

Earlier in the week I posted about my weekend away in Bicester and I thought I would share with you a few of my purchases that I made.

I bought this lovely scarf from Ted Baker, it's a fairisle print with pink, grey, black and white colours.
it's a cosy knit which will keep my neck warm throughout the winter and with the little prints of reindeers makes it even more fitting in the winter months. The RRP of this scarf was £55 but the outlet price was £30 and with the 10% off I got it for £27. I've never spent so much on a scarf before, but i'm sure it's a worthy investment! This cosy scarf has already been used several times this week as the weather has been rather chilly!
My favourite shop from the village was Cath Kidston. I'm a lover of their products and prints. If I had the money I could have spent hours in the shop buying loads of things. In the end I decided on a bag which i'll be using to transport a few of my crafty bits about. The bag is green with a pink based floral print. The RRP of the bag was £25 but I got it for £14.40.

I done a little bit of christmas shopping whilst I was there too, I went into Links of London to get a couple of charms as gifts for people. I was happy to find they had some really fantastic discounts. The charms I got are normally around £30 each but I got one for £15 and one for £20!

If you like your higher end branded shops yet don't quite have the money to pay full price then I would recommend making your way there for some great discounts. Even when it was busy, there was a very relaxed and spacious feel around the whole outlet village. It'll make a great day out looking round the boutiques, buying some christmas gifts or treating yourself!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Weekend in Bicester

This weekend my dad took us all away for the night to a lovely hotel and for a shopping trip in Bicester Village. With all of the stresses that are going on with me at the moment, the endless hospital appointments, the constant pain and the lack of sleep are not helping! I'm not up to a long break away and not being able to fly at the moment is also annoying. So I said that just one night would be perfect, just to clear my head, spend some time with the family,relax, chill and hit the shops whilst hopefully not in too much pain.
We stayed in the Bicester Hotel, Golf and Spa which is in Chesterton, Bicester, Oxfordshire. It's situated in the countryside but with easy access to the M40. There is a local pub a few minutes away from the hotel but the closest shop is in the Bicester town centre. The hotel itself was beautiful, with friendly staff and a lovely room which overlooked the golf course. The beds were so comfy!

In the afternoon we went down to the Spa which had a swimming pool, hydro spa, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. We didn't book any but you can book up to have a range of spa treatments. In the evening we went into the sports bar for a few drinks and then off to the restaurant within the hotel for dinner. Both the service and food were very good.

So on Sunday morning after a yummy breakfast we checked out and made our way to Bicester Village which is only a short drive away. Bicester village is an outlet centre which has over 130 boutiques from top names such as Jimmy Choo, Cath Kidston, Versace and Vivienne Westwood. The best thing about it is that you get the outlet prices and can save up to 60% off of the RRP. From staying at the hotel we were also given a booklet which enabled us to get 10% off in most of the shops within the village which was nice added bonus.

I had never been to Bicester Village before but had been recommended to go there by some friends. When we first arrived I was a little put back as all of the top shop names are out of most peoples price ranges including my own, however after going into the shops I found that because of the outlet prices you can find some fantastic deals and discounts. We did have a really lovely day there and would love to go back again.

If you are planning on going there I would recommend getting there early. We got there about half an hour before most of the shops opened and got parked right near the shops without any trouble. However by about 11am it did become very busy within the village. As we was leaving the car park at around 2pm there was a very long queue to get to the car parks, the queue of cars was about a mile long. So unless you want to be queueing for quite a while just to get parked I'd recommend getting there earlier.

I'll be doing a post about my purchases from the village very soon!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Hairy Dieters

For months I had been hearing great things about this book by The Hairy Bikers, Dave Myers and Si King. The book is called The Hairy Dieters and it's them showing you 'how to love food and lose weight'. It is tied in with their series which was aired on BBC2. I'm ashamed to say that I wasn't even aware that it was on TV, if I had of known it would have definitely been series linked on Sky. 
They have lost nearly six stone between themselves and are now sharing some recipes which are good for you but still tasty and satisfying. The book was released a few months ago but I only managed to get it a few weeks back as it was sold out everywhere! It's such a popular book that it even knocked '50 shades of grey' off the top of the charts. Who would have thought that the hairy duo Dave and Si would knock Christian Grey off the top spot!

I am yet to try out any of the recipes yet but I cannot wait to get in the kitchen to try out some of the yummy looking recipes. There are so many to choose from that I'm struggling to make a decision on which one to try first! A few recipes which have really caught my eye are the Spanish Style Chicken Bake, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Skinny Lemon Cupcakes! They all look so yummy.
I've bought many cookery books over the years and this is definitely the best I've purchased. With most cookery books I like the look of a few of the recipes within. However with The Hairy Dieters book I could say that I like the look of probably about 90% of the recipes, the other 10% of recipes I don't like the look of are simply through personal taste as I can be picky with fish dishes or particular spices. On top of the amazing looking recipes there are some great dieting tips within.
Why not try this book out for yourself? Try some of the of healthier recipes without compromising on flavour!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Righteous Butter

I have mentioned in a few posts now about The Righteous Butter from Soap & Glory but I have never done a post about it. I use many different body butters and lotions which I do really love and continue to use but The Righteous Butter has easily become my favourite body butter of all time for a few simple reasons. Firstly the scent, their Original Pink fragrance which is simply heavenly! Secondly the texture, it's quite a thick butter which absorbs into the skin really well. Last but certainly not least is what it does to your skin, this thick butter nourishes, hydrates and smooths your skin. I often find that I can get dry and rough skin on my elbows, however since I've been regularly using this body butter it has completely taken that away. My elbows and the rest of my skin are now velvety smooth, all thanks to this gorgeous body butter!

It's available to buy from Boots in-store as well as online, the 300ml tub costs £10.50 and is usually available to buy within their 3 for 2 offer. You can also get a 50ml travel sized pot which costs £2.50 and is perfect to pop in your handbag or to take on holiday.

This body butter leaves your skin feeling good, and smelling gorgeous, I could rave on about it for hours! Once I've finished all my travel size tubs which I've got from gift sets I'll be buying the larger tub again. In boots there is even a limited edition 1 litre giant sized tub, it's £25 but for such a huge tub of this heavenly cream it's quite a bargain, and it will last you ages!

If you're looking for a new body butter to try, why not give this one a go? I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Macmillan Fundraiser

It's been a few weeks since I hosted my fundraising event for Macmillan Cancer Support so I thought it would be great to share a little about the evening and to let everyone know how much we raised.

The reason why we decided to arrange a fundraiser was ultimately in memory of my uncle Bob who died 19 years ago from cancer. He died just before my first birthday so I never had the chance to get to know him. With all the stories i've been told about him and the videos i've seen of him I feel proud to call him my uncle yet sad as he was taken way too early by such a horrible disease. My mum told me that throughout his illness he recieved so much support and care from the Macmillan nurses.

Uncle Bob
A few months back after seeing some advertisements from Macmillan about their 'World's biggest coffee morning ' I thought it would be a great idea to hold a coffee morning of my own to raise a bit of money in support of Macmillan so I sent off for the fundraising pack and the planning began.
Even after 19 years, it's never too late and we wanted to do our bit to give thanks for the wonderful work that Macmillan Cancer Support do. Everyone knows someone that has been affected by cancer in one way or another and in hosting a fundraiser it enabled us to get together to celebrate the lives of those we've lost, to remember them as well as raise money so that the support that Macmillan provide can continue.

 My mum and I decided that because we were hosting it at our house that it would be best to make it an invitation only event. We then realised that most of the people we wanted to invite work during the day so it would be difficult to pull off a coffee morning, so for that reason we changed it from coffee morning to a wine evening. We didn't want it too crammed so we sent out invites to about 35 knowing that a few may not be able to make it. We only invited girls as we just wanted a chilled out evening, with some wine, nibbles, chatting, a bit of music and a girly raffle which was full of wines, candles, beauty sets, chocolates, vouchers and champagne which were all kindly bought and donated by my mum. Some friends kindly donated a few bits and my nan knitted a gorgeous baby blanket too.

As well as the raffle we also had a little game on the go which you usually see at school fetes and fairs... "Guess how many sweets are in the jar", everyone paid for a guess and the closest guess without going over won a voucher and a bottle of prosecco.

All of the money we made from the night has been given to Macmillan and we didn't take anything for the drink, food or raffle that we provided, every single penny that we received went straight into the donation box. We were so pleased with the turn out and with how much people were willing to kindly donate, my mum and I are already looking forward to doing it again next year. We are so thankful to everyone who came to the evening to help us raise as much as we could as well as to the people who didn't come yet still gave us a donation.

Altogether I had hoped to raise about £200. I was amazed at how much we actually raised,
on the actual evening we raised an incredible £406 but with two generous donations from my dad and his friends companies we managed to raise an amazing £606! Thats over three times as much as I had hoped to raise. Even though it may only be a little amount compared to what they need, but with the amount of coffee mornings and fundraisers that are held, every penny that is donated helps Macmillan to carry on providing their much needed cancer support to those in need.

So that's it.. until next year!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dirty Works Body Butter

Even though I have lots of unused or half empty bottles of moisturisers and body butters lying around I couldn't stop myself from buying just one more to add to my collection. It's on offer at the moment.. so I had to buy it! The product is Supreme Cream Body Butter by Dirty Works which is available to buy in Sainsbury's. It's a light butter which sinks into the skin well, the only slight negative that it did make my hands feel a little greasy but after a few minutes of allowing the butter to absorb into my skin the greasiness went away. It left my skin feeling smooth and soft with a light sweet scent.

I think I like this body butter so much because it reminds me of The Righteous Butter by Soap & Glory which is my favourite of all time. Both of these body butters have similar scents but I would say the Righteous Butter has more of a powerful scent as well as a thicker butter texture. Within the supreme cream is one of my favourite product ingredients...Shea butter, along with some sweet almond oil it makes for a great product which not only hydrates the skin but leaves it moisturised and feeling soft and smooth.

There is 50% off on a lot of their products at the moment, so get down to Sainsbury's whilst the great offers are on! This body butter usually costs £4.99 but with the 50% off it only cost £2.49. For a 300ml tub of a gorgeous body butter, it's great value for money, even at it's normal price of £4.99 it's a body butter I would buy again.

Why not treat a friend to some gorgeous products from the range for Christmas?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lindt Excellence

Over the weekend I decided to treat myself to a bit of chocolate. I bought 3 different ones, all from the Lindt Excellence range. The first I tried was the Orange Intense - Dark, I have never been a lover of dark chocolate but I love orange flavoured chocolate so I thought I would give this one a go. Personally I found the chocolate to be too bitter for my taste but the orange pieces within were lovely and gave it a lovely flavour.  However my mum who is a lover of dark chocolate has happily eaten the rest of that one. The second one I tried was Milk with A Touch of Sea Salt, for me this was the perfect combination of savoury and sweet which I love. It's a smooth milk chocolate that is speckled with sea salt crystals. I could see how some people wouldn't like it but anyone who loves the mix of savoury and sweet then I think it would be ideal for them. The third one I tried was the white chocolate Strawberry Intense, this was my favourite out of the three. It's a creamy white chocolate that is filled with tasty strawberry pieces, it tastes like a strawberry cheesecake in a chocolate bar, it's heavenly!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Krisprolls Canapés

For the Macmillan charity evening that I hosted I decided to put out a little spread with some tasty little nibbles that everyone could enjoy. Along with the usual picky bits I decided to make some of my own. I expected them to be eaten but I didn't expect them to go down quite as well as they did. I even had to make some more half way through the evening as they went down so well. They are so simple and easy to make, yet they are so tasty.  
I bought some of these wholegrain Krisprolls, I had never tried them before but had always heard good things about them. I decided on a simple topping of cheese, tomato and basil with the option of some pesto. I simply sliced mozzarella, halved cherry tomatoes and added a fresh basil leaf. I put a little pot of pesto on the platter with them, It just added a complete other level to them, a little drizzle was all you needed for it to become a delicious canapé .
The great thing about Krisprolls is that you could have them with anything, for a sweet tooth you could spread your favourite jam on them or if you prefer savoury things you could dunk them in your soup, the possibilities are endless. You can get them from most supermarkets and they cost around £1.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Christmas Fragrance Oils

I love Christmas, I always have and I always will. So as it gets to this time of the year and the shops are starting to bring out their Christmas ranges, it's safe to say that I am getting very excited! The other week I posted about the oil burner and fragrance oils, since then I have been out shopping in Sainsbury's and noticed their new Christmas scented candles, oils and decorative section. I bought two new fragrance oils, the first is Christmas Spice, its full of the recognisable Christmas scents such as cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. The second is Snowflakes, this reminds me of crisp winter mornings, it's has a fresh, soft and heavenly scent. In the range they also have a Christmas Tree one and Frankincense & Myrrh. They cost £2.50 and are perfect to fill your home with a warm, Christmasy scent.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Marmite Cheddar

This cheese is made by Ilchester British Cheeses, they make a range of speciality British cheeses in a variety of different flavours. Whilst in your local supermarket you've probably seen the other cheeses that they produce, Mexicana, Applewood and White Stilton with Apricots and many others are all made by Ilchester Cheeses.

I am a big lover of Marmite, and I have always found that Marmite is the perfect accompaniment to a slice of cheddar. Ever since I was little I have always loved a nice piece of crusty toast with a spread of butter and nice bit of Marmite and topped with a few slices of yummy cheddar cheese. When I discovered this Marmite flavoured cheddar cheese I immediately had to buy it.

Before I even tasted it I had high expectations as I thought nothing would come up to scratch with my much loved cheese and Marmite on toast. Well it's safe to say that this Marmite Cheddar has exceeded my expectations. It cleverly combines two of my favourite tastes, a nice mature cheddar and Marmite. It's tangy and unlike any cheese I've had before. I think that even if you don't like Marmite then you may still like this cheese, don't knock it until you've tried it!

Perfect in a sandwich, on crackers, or even grilled on some bread from some tasty cheese on toast! In the week I even grated some and sprinkled it onto my spaghetti bolognese, that may sound odd but it was gorgeous and it added a complete new taste to an already yummy meal.

Give it a go!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Yummy Roasted Vegetables

This is just a simple recipe idea to make vegetables a little more interesting and tasty. They make a great accompaniment to a meal or could even be enjoyed as a meal on their own. You could use whatever vegetables you like,  I used peppers, onions, mushrooms, courgettes and new potatoes. After chopping all of the vegetables and part boiling the potatoes put them all into a roasting tin. To the vegetables add a drizzle of olive oil, a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic, 2-3 heaped teaspoons of smoked paprika, a sprinkling of dried Italian herbs and some salt & pepper. Give the vegetables a quick toss so that the seasoning is spread about evenly. I cooked it in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for about 30 minutes. They were delicious!


Monday, October 01, 2012

Sky Backstage at The O2

Yesterday I went to see Michael McIntyre at the O2 in London. I booked the tickets a year and a half ago so the day was a long time coming! However just as I thought, it was well worth the wait. I've got a lot of stress and worries at the moment so it was just nice to have a carefree evening, having a laugh. The show was fantastic, non-stop laughs throughout. I actually laughed so much that this morning my jaw was aching and throat was sore! I couldn't take any pictures or videos of the show, but the DVD is released on the 12th of November and i'll be sure to buy that. 

We decided to make our way there early as we was driving and didn't want to catch the traffic, plus this would give us time to have a drink and bite to eat. Before when I've been to the O2 I've always ate in Pizza Express and I love Pizza Express but this time we fancied something different. So after we decided on where to go from the wide range of eateries, we ended up in Armadillo cafe & grill. As we got there a bit earlier we didn't have to queue for a table and was seated in a nice little booth. The service was good and the food was lovely, I had nachos and then a chicken burger which was yummy!
Just before 6pm we left the restaurant and made our way back to the Sky section which is near entrance B.  It's called Sky Backstage and if you are a Sky customer and have arena tickets for that day then you can book tickets to have a VIP experience for free. I booked mine quite a few months before the event and this was quick and easy to do. If you search for Sky Rewards in a search engine then you'll find the website to get the tickets. You can get tickets for yourself and up to 3 guests. We took our pass to the entrance and were welcomed by two bubbly and friendly girls, they radioed some man and within a couple of minutes he had put on our wristbands and was escorting us upstairs.

I was amazed when we walked in as I thought it would have just been a crammed little bar full with people, however this was not the case. We were first shown to the 'paparazzi' section where a photographer was standing ready to take a photo of us, we was given a card with a code on so we could download the picture off the sky rewards website.

We was then told that if we would like to queue then we could have our make up done or head,neck and shoulder massage. My sister and friend decided to wait for the massage, they waited about 30 minutes but then received a lovely massage. Meanwhile my dad and I went through to the bar area. There are 2 bar areas, a really big one and then a slightly smaller one. There is a 3D experience room and also a pool table which looked pretty good. The rooms are lit with colour changing lighting and filled with sofas, chairs and bar stools but it is so spacious. I expected it to become pretty loud with the amount of people talking, but there was a peaceful sense about the room even with music playing. You could have a decent conversation with some nice drinks and even a bite to eat if you would like. The prices weren't too extortionate, it stated on the menu that the prices are either better than or the same as other places within the O2, of course they wasn't dirt cheap but you would be silly to think that they would be at a venue like the O2.

So a few drinks later and after a chilled out couple of hours we left Sky Backstage and went on to have a giggle at Michael Mcintyre. We had a brilliant night, definitely the best experience i've ever had at the O2. If i'm ever going back there for an event in the future then I hope I can get tickets for the Sky Backstage, it was a great pre-show experience with the VIP treatment just for being a Sky customer! So I must say a big thank you to Sky and everyone who works within the Sky Backstage area at the O2.