Monday, 29 June 2015

*Release your #BrighterSide with Zeo

zeo brighterside drinks

Nothing screams summer more than a brightly coloured soft drink, in a stylish glass bottle dripping with condensation as you sip in the sun. When Zeo got in touch about they’re rebranding for Summer 2015 and their #Brighterside campaign, I jumped at the chance to get my summer on by trying out a few of their new, low calorie, lightly carbonated soft drinks. With the sun shining, good vibes flowing and sing-a-long summer tunes playing in the background, all I needed was a drink in my hand and some oversized sunnies on my head. Perfect.

I know what your thinking, fizzy drinks don’t exactly have the best name on the block, with high calorie counts, boat loads of sugar and the power to clean a toilet better than bleach (I’ve witnessed this mortifying magic!). I rarely reach for anything that isn’t a brew or a cool H2o, occasionally pushing the boat out for a fruit juice or an iced tea. Fizzy drinks have just never been my thing. This is where Zeo come in, riding the carbonated rainbow of more tingly than fizzy drinks. 

With an average of 30calories per bottle and only 2.2g of sugar, that's less than the ever famed coconut water - a whopping 5g of sugar and Coke Life at 6.8g! My teeth hurt just thinking about those numbers! 

Zeo kindly sent me a few of their summer refreshers to try out for myself and report back to you lot. Ain’t you a bunch of lucky duckies!

zeo brighterside drinks

Mixed Berry

The first I chilled and tried was their Mixed Berry.  I always reach for the Summer Fruits when the sun starts shining and this certainly didn't let me down on the taste test. I reminded me of a less fizzy version of summer fruits Rekorderlig minus the alcohol content too. It’s really tart and crispy! With a That being said, it was probably my least favourite as it got a little sickly after a while.

zeo brighterside drinks

Peach & Grapefruit

Next up, Peach & Grapefruit, I love both individually and nothing screams a summery cocktail more than these two flavours. Combined, they didn’t disappoint! It tasted much more grapefruit than peach, so a little bitter kick but I actually really like grapefruit juice for this reason so it’s a winner for me! Sweet and citrusy, what’s not to love?

zeo brighterside drinks

Zesty Lime

Last, but certainly not least was my favourite from the taste test; Zesty Lime. Could anything be more summery than a soft drink that tastes like a mojito? You can all have your Body Shop mojito body butter, but I’ll take Zeo’s sharp and tangy Zesty Lime over it any day! It was so limey, I loved it, the most refreshing by far and with the sun shining down on you, nothing else will thirst your quench quite as well!

There are 6 flavours in Zeo’s new summer range, along with the above, there is also; cloudy lemonade, blood orange & citrus and spiced cola. I really want to get my hands on a bottle of spiced cola, that sounds so interesting! Cola with a twist of cinnamon and vanilla, how could I not love this? 

Made with 98% spring water and a blend of natural botanical fruit extracts, you can sip them in the sunshine guilt free. Any BBQ I go to this summer, I’ll be bringing a crate or two Zeo’s soft drinks along, that’s for sure! Available in 250ml cans, 275ml glass bottles or the party sized 750ml. 

Have you tried Zeo soft drinks? What’s your favourite summer thirst quencher? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

*These drinks were kindly sent to me for review but all opinions are 100% my own. See my disclaimer policy here.

Monday, 22 June 2015

We need more teeth - Jurassic World

jurassic world movie review we need more teeth

Jurassic park came out in 1993 - I was 6 years old! OK, now that makes me feel old!

I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first saw Jurassic Park, all I know is that from the minute John Williams now infamous score kicked in, I had goosebumps - and it still gives me goosebumps to this day. Do do dooo doo do, do do dooo doo do….*shivers*

Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? 

I even enjoyed the sequels. *shame*

So of course, I had to go check out Jurassic World if for nothing else than to hear that music in Dolby digital surround sound. Based 22 years after the initial Dino-disaster that was Jurassic Park, the park is bigger, the dinosaurs are getting a whole lot bigger and the crowds are getting bored - you've got to wonder what the hell is wrong with people! Hello! They're dinosaurs! Jurassic World - the theme park, has only made a 2.1% profit in the last 12 months, the investors want something big, something scary, something that will give the parents nightmares. Insert scientists who think's it'll be  OK to throw a little bit of everything into a pteri dish and cook up Indominous Rex

Here we are, all worried about the inevitable zombie apocalypse but have we ever worried about the day when genetically modified dinosaurs come along to reclaim the planet? I know I’m going to start practising my kitten heeled running, dinosaur taming skills. I might even start carrying around a flare or two, they seem to come in handy in these situations.

Here’s a few thoughts I had when watching Jurassic World;

  1. PRODUCT PLACEMENT could you be any more obvious? 
  2. Hammond <3
  3. I want to go to Jurassic World and roam the plains in a gyroscopic ball-buggy.
  4. “You just went and made up a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea”
  5. NO WAY is this film a 12a - should have been at least a 15! 
  6. I see you, Dr. Ian Malcolm!
  7. If humans ever do discover how to un-extinct the dinosaurs, they’ll probably put them in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
  8. Several nods to the original Jurassic Park, much appreciated!
  9. JAWS!
  10. Cirque-Du Soleil Pteranodons!

I really did enjoy the film. It was 2 hours were my brain could completely switch off and go adventuring on Isla Nebula. The first hour was a little slow, I had to wonder, where the heck are all the dinosaurs? The music, the expected sweeping pan shots of the plains, filled with Aladar and his buddies, get me every time. The second half was bone-crunching, grown men squealing, blood splatteringly good-fun. What more can you ask for on a Saturday afternoon?

Any other Jurassic fans out there? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Lush - Angels on Bare Skin exfoliating facial cleanser

lush angels on bare skin for oily skin

You may remember by love/hate but mostly love relationship with the Ultrabland cleanser from Lush a while back. Well, as the sunshine started to tentatively peek from behind the clouds, my skin started to do what oily skin does in summer - slip and slide comes to mind! This is when I usually start to up my exfoliation game in order to keep the oil under control. After an obligatory chat with a sales assistant in Lush, she recommended I give their Angels on Bare skin exfoliating cleanser a try.

Angels on Bare skin is based off an ancient mediaeval recipe, perfect for the Game of Thrones obsession I’m currently going though. Made with 100% natural ingredients;  kaolin, almonds, rose water, lavender and chamomile blue, it’s designed to combat sensitive, oily skin,  brightening as it goes and soothing any and all inflammations and redness. 

I was assured by the sales assistant that I could use this every day as it was so gentle, but everyone's skin is different so you might want to play it by ear a little. I started off using this as my go-to evening cleanser. The cleanser itself is in solid form, with the consistency of week old, congealed and crusted porridge. Thankfully it doesn’t smell like old crusty porridge. 

lush angels on bare skin for oily skin

After removing your makeup and rinsing your face with lukewarm water, take around a 50p sized lump of cleanser and massage it into you palm with your fingers until a white milk forms and the solid cleanser melts to a more malleable, butter-like consistency. The white milk is almond milk which tones and brightens the skin. One you have your paste, start to apply it to your face in circular motions.

lush angels on bare skin for oily skin

You can really feel the little exfoliation granules, but because of the cleansers consistency, no matter how much I work it in my hands before applying it to my face, I still find bits of it pinging off all over the bathroom. After working it into the skin for a minute or two, you can leave it on like a face mask for 5 - 10 minutes, allowing the almond milk to soak in and soften your skin. I do this maybe once a week? It really does leave my skin feeling extra soft. Most nights, I remove it with my trusty Washi hot cloth. 

My pores look clearer and my skin, overall looks brighter and feels much softer.

Now, the downside.

Cleansing like this every day in the beginning did keep my oily skin at bay, but after about a fortnight of us, my skin started to feel really tight and dry after cleansing and I noticed my skin was getting oilier during the day. Like I said, play it by ear, some people's skin will happily take the daily exfoliation, others, not so happily. Instead of using it every night, I use Angels on Bare Skin around 3 times a week which seems to be working in my favour. 

One upside, they say Angels on Bare skin is not only for face, but for body too, so with Summer just around the corner, this actually makes a great body scrub - you just won’t get as much bang for your buck!

What’s your go-to exfoliator? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Circo - Liverpool

Circo Liverpool review

Circo is a stunningly unique, show stopping spectacular extravaganza of a place, with a unique circus theme that you won’t find elsewhere in the city. Set in the heart of Liverpool’s Albert Dock, they grab your attention from the moment you walk in with a vivid decor and inspirational dishes on the menu. Their restaurant, 1770 is named so in honour of the wondrous, Philip Astley; the father of the modern circus. 1770, the year circus was born.

The night we dined in Circo, a Friday, hadn’t got off to the best start. We had tickets to see Maroon  5 in the Echo Arena, so wanted to dine nearby, but at the last minute, the concert was cancelled. We were both pretty disgruntled and upset but we still wanted to make the most of the night so we kept our Circo booking and stepped into their world of mysticism and whimsy. 

Circo Liverpool review

Though we had booked a table for two, we managed to persuade my friends sister to join us and the staff were more than happy to move us to a bigger table and wait a little longer for her to arrive too, before taking our orders. The restaurant wasn’t busy. Remember that.

Once all three of us were settled and catching up, we ordered food and drinks. Though I was tempted by a few things on the menu, one item kept coming out of the kitchen that looked pretty delicious; the pizzas. We started with some cheese-topped garlic bread which was ok, nothing too special and was pretty small compared to ones I’ve had elsewhere for sharing. For my main, I ordered a parma ham, mozzarella, roasted tomato and fresh basil pizza with a side of sweet potato wedges.

Circo Liverpool review

Then the waiting game began. When you’re talking and catching up then time doesn’t matter, but when you start to feel that familiar twinge of hunger and realise your wine going down a little too quickly, you start to wonder where your food might be. 

Circo Liverpool review

Eventually, the food came. My pizza was nice enough, but the parma ham seemed saltier than usual. I have to admit, I was pretty underwhelmed by it, I’ve had better that didn’t cost me £12.50. The crispy wedges were really nice, but quite a few of them were quite soggy. 

Circo Liverpool review

It took some time, again, but we managed to have the plates cleared and dessert ordered. Considering it still wasn’t busy, we could never seem to find a waiter or waitress, it was starting to feel like a game of Where’s Wally. 

Dessert isn’t on the menu, this confused us as there was no specials board or anything but eventually someone told us that dessert changes daily and out of that night's options, we all went for the chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream

Circo Liverpool review

Again, we waited. I don’t mind waiting, I’m English, I can wait, but we couldn’t even put in another drinks order as there was just no-one about to order from. By this point, we had been in Circo for almost 2 hours. 

When dessert came I was initially really impressed, the slice of cake I had all to myself was huge! We’d ordered one each but two people could have easily shared one slice. The cake was put down so quickly that the waiter raced off before we could even ask for a drink, and the cake though tasty enough, was quite dry, even with the ice cream. 

Then the real waiting game began. It took almost an hour to not only get the bill, but the card machine to pay too. Thirsty, fed up and with our bums going numb from sitting down for so long, it wasn’t the magical, whimsical experience I’d been expecting.

Circo do have entertainment but you have to book a dinner show slot, and the shows only run on certain nights. Maybe with a little entertainment we might not have minded sitting around for so long. 

Not the worst meal I’ve ever had but not the mind-blowingly best either. Would I go back? Maybe to the bar for a drink but I doubt I’ll be going back for a meal anytime soon.

What’s the longest you’ve waited in a restaurant for something before complaining or giving up?

Until next time,

Monday, 8 June 2015

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries - PinCookery

I find myself getting lost for hours on Pinterest, especially in the food and drink category. I'm forever pinning recipes and mouthwatering delicacies that I say I will one day attempt. 

In a series I’m calling PinCookery I’m going to start attempting some of these sweet snacks and delights that I’m forever salivating over!

PinCookery #1 - Oven baked sweet potato fries

I’m a sucker for sweet potato fries - if they’re on a menu you can guarantee I’ll be ordering them. Some of the best I’ve had recently where at Frederiks! I looked into buying some cook at home frozen sweet potato fries but at £2.50 a bag containing 2 servings…it was a no go! 

So, I took to Pinterest and did a quick search for ‘sweet potato fries baked’ and after a quick scroll and a few info-graphics, I came up with this;

You will need:

  • 1 sweet potato (One good sized potato will serve 2 people)
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • paprika

Peel the sweet potato then cut into quarters. Cut each quarter into 3-4 slices, then each slice into 3-4 fries. Put your fries into a mixing bowl and add the extra virgin olive oil, along with a generous amount of sea salt, black pepper and paprika (to taste). Toss vigorously until all your fries are evenly coated. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lay them out in rows.

With the oven pre-heated to 200°C put your fries on the top shelf and set a 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take your fries out and turn them over, then put them back in until crisp and golden, around 10 - 15 minutes.

Pinterest worthy?
I slightly over-cooked my sweet potato fries so they were a little extra crispy on the edges and one or two had been incinerated but on the whole, they all cooked really well. Crispy on the outside but soft inside. The paprika gave them a really great kick too! They take a lot longer than regular frozen fries but they taste a lot better - and are a healthier option too!

They must have been good - Mr has never liked sweet potato but he devoured half of these, he’d have had them all if I hadn’t have run off with my share! 

PinCookery #1 - success!

Have you ever tried cooking a Pinterest recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,  

Friday, 5 June 2015

Money saving tips for Summer

money saving tips for summer

With summer fast approaching we’re already thinking about holidays, day trips, alfresco dining, festivals, theme parks, beer gardens and all the new summery clothes we’ll need to see us through the season - unfortunately this all comes at a price.

Knowing I need to save a few pretty pennies for summer myself, here’s a few quick things I’ve done lately that have already started to fill the summer piggy bank.

Cancel subscription boxes

It pains me, as a blogger to do this, even more so to suggest it, but it’s the little luxuries that go first to make the bigger luxuries affordable. From beauty subscriptions to cute knick knacks and snacks, just have a look at how much all of your subscription boxes are costing you each month? I love samples but I always find myself drowning in them! Cancel your subscriptions and put the cost to fewer, more luxuriant full-sized products over dozens of small samples.

Save the odds

Go have a look at your current bank balance. Let’s say it says you have £103.74, take the odds, the £3.74, and transfer that into a savings account. I like to round everything to the nearest £5, so if I had £107.74, I’d transfer £2.74 into my savings account. It doesn’t sound like a lot but just check your balance once a week and in a couple of months you’ll see a nice little boost to your savings.

money saving tips for summer

Set a date

Pick a date, either on or around the time you get paid each month and automatically transfer a set amount into your savings account. It’s a killer at first and you will really notice that money not being there, but after a couple of months you actually get used to not having that money. Its amazing how quickly this can build up too!

Use up your stash

I started this back in January and 6 months on I’m finally making a dent in my beauty and skincare stash, so much so I’m on the verge of being able to buy new things. We’ve all got these stashes, built up over time thanks to magazine freebies, subscription boxes, Christmas gift sets and goodie bags, not to mention blogging related PR samples. Use them or lose them. I found 5 eye creams in my stash back in January - I’m now down to two. One I got rid of, another I’ve used up. I won’t be buying any until the last is used up. 

Want a new foundation? Either use us the one you have or get rid of it. Moisturiser? Face wash? I found I was reluctant to get rid of anything I’d paid good money for it there wasn’t actually anything wrong with it. If it was something I’d had a bad reaction to then find, out it went, either to a new home or in the bin. 

When it comes time to replacing something you’ve used, you’ll have saved up so much extra ££ you could possibly afford to splash out on something a little more luxuriant!

One in - one out

I used to buy clothes without trying them or, or having an occasion for them. I would buy them because they were on sale, too cheap to leave behind. If I got home and something didn’t fit, it never went back to the store. I just told myself I’d make it work someday and into the back of the wardrobe to Narnia it went. I don’t even want to know how much money I’ve wasted over the years!

So I’m trying something new. For every new dress I buy, or pair of jeans, or set of underwear, I have to part with something in my wardrobe. Not only does this make me more selective about what I buy, but I’m building a wardrobe filled with pieces that I love. Nothing is bought on a whim and everything is tried on before I leave the store. I’m looking for pieces that will last, so I’m investing a little more in the hope I won’t have to replace it anytime soon so, in theory, it should save me money in the long run. 

Hold out

Can you hold out just that little bit longer before clicking buy? Can you hand back a week or so and see if there’s a sudden flash sale? A discount code? A special offer? If you don’t need it ASAP, then hold on just a little longer. Check back daily and once the deal seems almost too good to be true, bag that bargain and pocket the difference!

What changes have you made in order to save for summer? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Italian Club - Liverpool

This past Monday when the 3 Queens came sailing into Liverpool, the Mr and I took his family down to battle the crowds and get a view of the girls as they came up the Mersey. Crowds, crowds, prams, pets, crazies and everything in-between, including possibly the only, and worst viewing spot we could get, we all ended up a little fed up of having our toes ran over, we were freezing cold and getting hungrier by the minute.

I took some awful hold-my-phone-up-as-high-as-I-can shots of the ships before leading Mr and his family to the other side of the city centre, as far away from the crowds as I could. We headed over to Bold Street and got ourselves a table in The Italian Club.

As soon as you step off the high street you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just stepped into an Italian families back kitchen. The decor is authentic Italian but still, very homely - ok, maybe we all don’t have kick ass sky-high ceilings in our houses, from which we hang elaborate chandeliers, but it’s Italian none the less. Fabulous art on the walls, a vintage map of Italy and huge, gold, ornate mirrors. Not to mention the floor to ceiling take-home today offerings of traditional Italian fare.

The Italian Club pride themselves on a unique operating style, making up fresh, simple but flavoursome dishes daily. From pastas to paninis with a twist, wood-fired pizzas and cold antipasti. Not to mention the mouthwatering offerings of cakes and tarts. 

When in Italy (or at least pretending to be) I went with a Cicciona pizza; tomato, mozzarella, salame, parma ham, spicy salame and italian sausage. 12” of one of the nicest pizzas I’ve dined out in a long time. There was no skimping on toppings or flavour with every slice. I love a really thin base and this one was perfect, thin and crispy without being overdone or burnt. 

Seen as though it had been a long morning, we all decided to grab dessert too and, when I saw two of my favourite things in the world combined into one dessert, I knew exactly what I was getting…their Nutella pizza. Yes, I know, I’d already demolished a pizza just moments before, but come on, it’s Nutella on a pizza?! How could I not?

The Nutella pizza took so long to come out that everyone else had finished their desserts and coffees, so I almost cancelled my order - I thought they’d forgotten about me, but when I asked the waiter he said the pizza is made fresh every time it’s ordered so there’s a little delay. As if on cue, another waiter comes out carrying…well, just see for yourself!

I’m so glad everyone else had already finished and had a little room left to help me with this beauty! Yes, beauty, just look at it! It was still warm from the oven, the nutella melting and gooey, the dough so soft and fresh. Let me tell you, it was well worth the wait! Though Mr and his family helped, I admit I scoffed most of it to myself and left nothing more than a blob of cream behind on the plate!

Overall, another delicious meal at one of my favourite Italians in the city! I really want to head back and give one of their pastas a try next! Also, getting a nice little 10% off the bill thanks to my Independent Liverpool card is always a bonus!

Do you have a passion for pizza? Ever eaten in The Italian Club? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, 

Monday, 1 June 2015

May Favourites 2015

Does anyone else love it when the 1st of the month falls on a Monday? It just feels like the right way to start a month, it’s got to be a good sign that’s for sure!

But before we go headfirst into June (How is it June already?) let’s have a little look at what’s been giving me all the good vibes this past month!

Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water (£4.49)

Late on the band wagon as usual, I picked this up when it was all the hype a few months back and have only now started using it! I’ve found it’s perfect for taking along to the gym with me to give my sweaty face a once over after a gruelling work out! 

Sanctuary Cocooning Body Butter (£9.50)

Ah, so sad when you come to the end of a set of products. I received a wonderful little Sanctuary body butter trio at Christmas and this is the last, but certainly not the least loved from the set. I’ve been using it daily and my skin feels silky smooth. It’s the perfect post bath body butter as it contains several essential oils to help you unwind all the more! Bliss!

Valentina Eau de Parfum (£59)

I can’t stop reaching for this perfume! It’s Spring in a bottle. With a strong Italian floral bouquet, paired with white alba truffles, orange blossom and jasmine it turns heads for all the right reasons leaving a trail of attitude and sophistication everywhere I go. The bottle is also just too damn cute on my dresser!

Ghiradelli Squares

I picked these up on my last trip to Florida and am still working my way through the two gigantic bags I brought home! I’ve been throwing a couple into my work bag everyday and having them as a late afternoon pick me up to see me through the final few hours in work! I’m extremely partial to the dark chocolate and raspberry, and the peppermint bark ones. 

Enchanted Forest - Johanna Basford (£9.95)

I’ve been trying to make a point of getting some downtime in my day lately, usually of an evening, just 20 minutes or so, no screens, no television, no distractions. I am in love with the intricate and fantastical drawings in this colouring book and it’s amazing how quickly I am absorbed in the task of colouring these beautiful pictures in. I can’t drawer or paint, so this is the next best thing for me and I’m loving it. It’s going to take me a long time to compete just the front cover alone!

Marks and Spencer Gold G&Tea (£12)

Another month, another gin! A gift from Mr’s family, this fancy-pants gin is absolutely divine. A sparkling blend of M & S gold tea, with botanical gin, lemongrass, elderflower, and edible gold leaf, it brings high-class cocktails straight into your home. Don’t mind if I do, thank you very much!

You’ve been loving… April Favourites 2015

By far, the most popular post this month on the blog has been my April favourites post! I can’t say I blame you either! From lip loving balms to bath salts, chocolate gin and more. If you haven’t already, go check it out and see for yourself!

I’ve not been loving…Lush Angels on Bare Skin (£6.75)

Yes, this was in my favourites last month but it’s amazing how your opinion about a product can change. After seeing great results initially, over the last 4 weeks my skin has started to go really dry, especially on my forehead and nose. It’s got to the point where it’s becoming noticeable now, especially when I apply my trusty mineral powder foundation. Daily exfoliation is just too much for my skin, even with gentle exfoliators such as this!

What have you been loving this past month? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,