Monday, 29 February 2016

Almost Famous - Liverpool

almost famous liverpool review

If you're looking for a burger in Liverpool, you don’t have far to go to find some of the cities best beef patties, and who doesn’t love a good burger? One beef-in-a-bun joint I’ve had my eye on for some time is Almost Famous. I grabbed the baby brother (who had the cheek to go here without me!) and headed on down to Parr Street to see what all the fuss was about.

When I hear a lot of good things about a place, and even have a tweet-off with the place itself (friends went without me, are we noticing a pattern here?), the expectations are high, high, high. Burgers, they’re a classic, an all-American classic, that’s fast become the new gourmet thing to be seen shovelling down your gullet since 2015 (forever known as the year of the burger, FYI). Burgers are not just Big Macs anymore, burgers are a challenge, they’re the blank canvas of the food world, the topless pizza just waiting for you to come along and stick something weird, wonderful and flavoursome on top. 

almost famous liverpool review

Almost Famous is a bit more famous than that. Manchester and Leeds have had theirs for a while now, and finally, they gave in to the pleas of the grumbling stomachs and opened up in Liverpool. It seemed to take me forever and a day to get down here, but oh, was it worth it. Every 100% beef burger comes double as standard and fries are not just fries here. Oh no. Even on the front door, they’re telling you something special has happened to the spuds. 

almost famous liverpool review

We grabbed a table near the back one Sunday afternoon, the place wasn’t too busy - they don’t take reservations so if you go late, don’t take to Twitter if you get turned away. The kitchen roll on every table told me things were going to get messy, and I was alright with that. The place itself looks like a pop-up, with awesome graffiti on the walls and quirky odds and sods, including one very high bar. I skipped the alcohol, being a Sunday and all, and started with a Tropical Dream Soda cocktail; passion fruit, pineapple, lemon and club soda, as I perused the eclectic menu. 

After much umming and ahhing and changing my mind at least 3 times (if you go, this will happen to you - you have been warned!), I eventually decided on the River Phoenix Burger; double stack, cheese, streaky bacon, shoestring onions, Frazzles (yes, those Frazzles), chillies, bbq, bacon bacon mayo and winning ketchup. Frazzles please, freakin’ Frazzles on a burger. I recently had popcorn on a burger, but Frazzles were a whole new experience. Fries have to be ordered separately, so I went for the Winning Fries; skin on and sweet potato fries. My brother, the cannibal that he is, ordered the same burger but opted for the famous Bacon Bacon Fries; Winning fries with bacon bacon mayo and bacon rain. 

almost famous liverpool review river phoenix burger

If you're looking for a complete; I-know-I-shouldn’t-eat-this-but-DAMN-it’s-so-good moment, Almost Famous has got you covered. From the first bite, I was hooked. The burgers are cooked to perfection and the flavour of the sauce, the cheese, the shoestring onions and the crunch of the frazzles, it all just works, in a way that it really shouldn’t, which makes it work all the more. 

almost famous liverpool review bacon bacon fries picture

The sweet potato fries were great, but they were just fries. The bacon bacon fries, however…I was literally fighting my brother for them across the table and kept sneaking a dip in the bacon bacon mayo every time he was too preoccupied with his own burger. Yeah, they were really good.

Good food, good company, good vibes. I was stuffed like a Christmas turkey for hours afterwards but didn’t feel a drop a guilt for every last morsel I’d consumed. That kitchen roll didn’t even come in handy, hey, waste not, want not, lick those fingers clean!

What’s the best burger you’ve had recently?

Until next time,

Friday, 26 February 2016

iMusic Pillow

imusic pillow review

I’m one of these people that need absolute silence when it comes to falling asleep, whereas the Mr, is the complete opposite. Since moving out, one of the things he’s really struggling with is sleeping. For years, he fell asleep to the sound of the television or music, but we don’t have space in our room for a TV, and like I said, I need my silence. Wearing headphones for bed is unbearable, and I have these nightmares where he wraps the wire around his neck (overactive imagination much?) so when I discovered the iMusic Pillow I was really looking for a double prayer answer. 

The iMusic Pillow is just like any other pillow, nice and squishy, well stuffed and fits in any standard pillowcase. The secret lies within. Inside it has a small speaker, about the size of a plum, buried deep within the stuffing. From one side of the case, a tiny zip reveals a lengthy aux-cable that attaches to any device with an aux connection. No software to install, no apps, no further power required. You quite simply, plug and play. 

imusic pillow review

Two concerns I had about the iMusic Pillow; would I be able to hear what he was listening to? And would sleeping on top of a speaker actually be comfortable or turn your brain to dancing flubber?

Can your hear the iMusic Pillow?

Only if you're the one resting on it. The volume is controlled by the volume on the device it’s connected to. Mr can comfortably, and clearly listen to anything, from podcasts to short stories and I don’t have a clue. I hear nothing. Nada. Zip. To the point where the first couple of nights I didn’t think he was bothering to use it at all. There have even been times when he’s put the volume up so we can both hear what he’s listening to. Now, I like my silence but there’s something about drifting off to someone reading a short story that is nothing short of magical, especially if you’re having trouble getting off to sleep. 

Is the iMusic Pillow comfortable?

The speaker floats around the pillow, it’s movable though from reading some reviews I actually think this might be a fault in the one we have. It’s a happy accident if that’s the case. The speaker is easy to move around the pillow, so no matter how you prefer to sleep, you can put the speaker in just the right place to hear it. I’ve actually been using the pillow for the last few nights and am someone who needs the sound directly into my ear (maybe I have the volume too low) and I can barely feel it. I know it’s there but it’s 100% more comfortable than headphones, with no cord around the neck, going to die in your sleep, hazard. 

imusic pillow review

I really did expect the iMusic Pillow to be a gimmick, something that might get used once or twice but would eventually just end up like every other pillow, the cable forgot about, and sleepless nights back on the cards. Not only has it helped the Mr, but much to his annoyance, I’ve even found myself using it, to the point where I think I’m going to have to buy one for myself. It’s been used nightly for almost 3 months now and the pillow is still fluffy, well stuffed and the speaker is crystal clear. I’ve listened to music, podcasts, meditation and short stories and everything sounds great. 

Do you need to listen to something to fall asleep or do you need pin drop silence?

If you fancy drifting off to dulcet tones of waves and whale song, you can check out the iMusic Pillow with the affiliate link below. 

Until next time,

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Nair Argan Oil Shower Power Hair Removal Cream Review

Let’s start by saying this, I hate shaving my legs. I hate hair removal. I hate how messy, painful and/or expensive it can be and how it adds an extra 15 minutes onto my ‘I’m already running late’ shower’. I hate it when you have a bare-your-legs situation and your blade has gone dull, or the wax gets in places and just stays there. I ask myself why do I bother, surely the yeti look will come back into fashion?  Until the day comes when there are no circles of shame in the gossip rags, I must find a sure fire way to keep the hair at bay. 

Hello Nair you ol’buddy, my ol’pal. I remember many moons ago when I first picked up a hair removal cream. It smelt vile, it burnt, and it left really awkward to explain stains on Mum’s best towels. That’s going back at least 10 years (I won’t admit to more than that!) now and when it comes to hair removal creams, times have changed. Fancier ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil and cocoa butter ensure a skin softening finish and a slightly more pleasant smell. The spatulas are less like worn credit cards and are now something that actually works with the contours of your legs and other delicate areas. Special formulas mean it’s even kinder (i.e your skin doesn’t feel like it’s being melted off Heisenberg style) to sensitive and dry skin. 

In theory, the Nair Shower Power Cream sounds like the secret weapon of the war on unwanted body hair. Promising smoother skin for up to 7 days, and the job was done whilst your shower, what could go wrong?

Normally when I use creams like this it’s post-shower, so using it and showering at the same time really intrigued me. The instructions clearly state to apply a thick layer of cream with the provided spatula, wait 1-2 minutes then step in the shower…and avoid excessive exposure to water for at least 3 minutes.

Wait. What?

I don’t know how big your shower is, but as soon as I’m in there, I’m soaked. I admit my yoga is somewhat rusty but I can’t put half of me under the shower and keep my legs even somewhat out of the downpour. In the interest of blogging, I tried, I really did, but the cream just went really patchy and started running off. Attempt number 1 - fail.

Attempt number 2.

I showered sans hair removal cream. I made sure my legs were squeaky clean and super dry before applying the cream, nice and thick and even.

Problem. It states you leave the cream on no longer than 10 minutes but I failed to take into account how long it would take to apply the cream to one leg after the other, so when my right leg started to tingle before the timer went off, things started to get a little uncomfortable. Then I failed to realise how long it would take to take off the cream on my right leg and my left leg started to tingle. Great.

The spatula is curved, almost like a scythe, which makes working on your calves and knees much easier. However, it took going over the same patch rather vigorously for the hair to be removed. Plastic scraping on chemically treated skin is not fun. I managed to knick myself a few times and my legs felt extremely sensitive afterwards. With fresh warm water, I bathed my legs with a flannel which helped to soothe the irritation a little and remove a few stubborn hairs. The instructions state to not rub the skin or use any soaps/products on the treated areas afterwards. 

I ended up bathing my legs twice. I could still smell the cream and it wasn’t all that pleasant anymore. So much for the odour control technology the packaging boasts. I will say this though, my legs were as smooth as a baby’s backside. I have pale skin and dark hair, so when I shave I usually get this strawberry effect, the roots are black so the are pretty visible under the skin. The hair had been dissolved from the root, so no more strawberry fields. I could still feel the very odd prickly hair, but they were few and far between. Though the entire process took close to half an hour, I spent the next several constantly touching my legs. 

Then I decided to put some tights on and go out for the evening. Bad move. The tights rubbed against the skin, and every time I pulled them up it felt like I had filled them with angry stinging bees. Ouch.

As for the regrowth, I didn’t get 7 days, not even close. 2 days later and my legs were noticeably prickly and by the 3rd day, the razor was back out. I’d say at best, it bought me one shave-free day.  Now, this is something that will be different for everyone, my hair grows like one of those Play-Doh spaghetti makers, but I have friends who can literally get away with not shaving for a week and still bare to bare their legs. Lucky sods. 

Given the time it took to actually use the Nair Hair Removal Shower Power Cream vs shaving daily, no time was saved at all, but, this would be ideal to use when I’ve got to have my legs out on show, tight free, all day, i.e something like a wedding or a day at the races. Purely because it get’s rid of the dark roots I find so visibly frustrating and I’m just not a tan-it-yourself kinda girl. 

The war on unwanted body hair goes on. Hair removal creams have never been for me and though I’m happy to give it a go, I’m not surprised it didn’t work out exactly as I’d have hoped. So it’s back to the daily shave.

What’s your preferred method of hair removal? Anything you think I should try?

Until next time,

Monday, 22 February 2016

*Jamie's Italian - Liverpool

Nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of Liverpool One you’ll find Jamies Italian. With a love for all things Italian; the passion, family, lifestyle, and of course, food, Jamie Oliver set out to create a restaurant with an authentic Italian flavour and atmosphere, where good food and good times come top of the menu.

I headed down on a Saturday night with the Mr and our friends, we had a table booked for 7 pm, good job as there was no way we would have managed to snag one just wandering in off the street. The place was packed, with servers running round, cocktails mixing and cutlery clanging and oh, the smell of sauces and spices filtering through the dimly-lit restaurant from the open kitchen at the back. We grabbed some drinks at the bar (did someone say a litre of rose?) and were seated within 15 minutes of arriving - pre-booked table win!

The menu’s not super extensive but I like that. I always say when it comes to food, choose a few things and do them well, instead of bombarding people with anything and everything and only doing a slapdash job on each item. Steaks, pasta, fish, burgers and comforting Italian favourites cooked just how you like. Our server was an absolute star and I feel awful we didn’t catch his name, he really went all out for us. My friend actually has a nut allergy and as soon as we mentioned this he did everything he could to ensure all our dishes would be nut free and allergy friendly. 

For starters, I had had my eye on the Italian Nachos. Nachos that didn’t actually involve nachos, but,  Crispy fried ravioli. The ravioli was stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta and Bella Lodi cheese served with a nice and spicy Sicilian tomato sauce. These went down a hit on our table, they were so unexpected and so good, really crispy on the outside but oozy and cheesy on the in. We also ordered some Free Range Pork Scratchings - I’ve never seen these on a menu before, they’re a pub snack to me so I was really intrigued as to how Jamies would jazz them up. Served with a spicy apple sauce (think flavour, not heat) they were actually really good!

For mains, I went with the Gennaro’s Famous Porchetta; slow-cooked pork belly filled with garlic, chilli and herbs with root vegetables, spiced applesauce and salsa verde. The pork belly was bursting with flavour with a very subtle hint of chilli, the pork itself fell apart and the outer fat was really crunchy. The chunky root veggies and apple sauce were really nice, the only downside was there just wasn’t much of everything. Of all our meals, mine was the smallest and I probably could have done with ordering a side to go along with it. 

Both boys went for Jamie’s Italian Burger; juicy prime British beef with mortadella, balsamic noons, tomato, provolone, pickles and chillies, this burger was huge. The waiter even dropped off some steak knives as most people tend to cut it in half. One thing I will say is that it was greasy, not a big deal for some but there was grease dripping out with every bite they took. Grease aside they both said it tasted great and was full of flavour. It was an extra £3 for fries, one got chilli fries which were pretty disappointing and plain, the other got funky chips which were great! Seasoned with garlic and rosemary, the flavour was really strong. 

My friend went for one of the daily specials, a Lamb Ragu; nut-free assured, shredded lamb in a rich ragu sauce on a bed of pasta. I did have a sneaky taste of the lamb and it was divine, full of flavour and such a huge portion size. 

If you ask me, there’s always room for dessert. I went for the Molten Chocolate Praline Pudding; a warm chocolate sponge with a liquid praline centre with a side of salted caramel ice cream. As soon as my spoon pulled apart the sponge the praline oozed out and mixed with the ice cream, it was the perfect sweet treat. Our friends both went for ice cream, a scoop of each flavour on offer; vanilla, chocolate and salted caramel with a mixture of chocolate and butterscotch sauce. I do love a create-your-own. 

Well, if you're not salivating all over your keyboard right now - what’s wrong with you? I’m getting hungry just writing this post. We had such a fantastic evening at Jamies Italian, from the atmosphere to the service and the really great food. Price wise, it’s not as expensive as other nearby restaurants and most of what was coming out of the kitchen looked damn good. Yes, my meal was a little on the small side, but let’s be honest here, I’m a greedy bugger. 

I’d definitely head back to Jamies Italian, especially in the summer. I can just see myself sitting outside watching the world go by whilst nibbling on an antipasti board and sipping sangria. I might not be able to go to Italy anytime soon but Jamies has brought Italy to my little corner of Liverpool.

What’s your favourite Italian dish?

Until next time,

Jamies Italian kindly provided a part payment for our meal in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are 110% my own :) For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Do you need to be more present in the moment?

being more present in the moment

If there’s one thing I have noticed when it comes to blogging is how easily distracted I get by backlight screens, notifications, email bings and the latest Twitter debate. From eating my tea, catching up with friends or watching a film with the Mr, I’ve started to realise that I’m not all there, I’m not present in the moment and my phone is never out of arms reach. 

It’s really starting to get on my own nerves now. I know if someone else was doing that to me, I wouldn’t like it, and I don’t like that I’m missing all the best bits of my favourite TV shows because I’m aimlessly scrolling through Instagram. I heard a quote the other day, ‘how many miles have you scrolled on your screen?’ and bloody hell did it dawn on me that I actually really don’t want to know.

Ditching the phones, detoxing from social media, it’s not for everyone and it’s not always easy. I know when I had a social media detox a few months ago, it was more forced upon me due to a crappy connection than by choice. You might not be looking to do on a total detox, though I recommend it, but if you’re just looking to be more in the moment sometimes and take a step back from the status updates, likes and hashtags, here’s a few things I’ve been doing lately that have really helped me be more present and to, for a time, put the phone down.

Do not disturb mode

This might be an iPhone specific thing but I’m sure other phones have a similar setting, if not, simply putting your phone into silent mode will do the same thing. Do not disturb mode is brilliant. It basically stops any and all calls, messages and notifications coming through. They will appear on your screen but your phone won’t vibrate or make any noise at all. The only phone calls that will get through are numbers saved as favourites in your phone book. When I put a film on I set my phone to do not disturb then flip it over so I can’t see the screen lighting up. I know if it does make a noise it’s someone important getting in touch. 

Scheduled updates

I usually spend about 15 - 20 minutes in the morning scheduling blog tweets to go out over the next 24 hours so that I don’t have to manually go onto Twitter and do each individual one. Let’s be honest, if I log in with the intention of sending one tweet, I’m going to scroll aimlessly for about 15 minutes every single time. You can do the same for Instagram and Pinterest too. 

Designated time

If you're in the library supposed to be working on your final year project, or you're on your lunch break in work, chances are, if your anything like me, your phone is within reach and every time you hit the end of a sentence or take a bite, your picking it up to have another look through Facebook. Hell, maybe that’s how you’ve found yourself here reading this post (hi by the way!). What could possibly have changed since the last sentence you finished? Unless you're following a few thousand Instagram accounts, chances are there’s no new image to ogle over every 2 minutes. So, designate time. For every 30 minutes of solid work you do, you can have 10 minutes of social media catch up - but only 10 minutes. Then it’s back to the grind. If you're eating into your lunch break with retweets instead of actually fuelling yourself with food, do the same thing. You can have as much social media time as you like after you’ve finished your lunch. You're still getting your fix, just in smaller doses. 

Out of sight - out of mind

Bury your phone in the bottom of your bag when out with friends, or put it on the other side of the room when you’re having a brew with your mum. There’s nothing more annoying to non-social media addicts (yes, that’s what we are, it's OK!), than trying to spend time with someone for their phone to be going off every 5 seconds. My mum will be the first to tell me to put that thing away if we’re having a chin wag but my face is down, looking at a screen instead of her. And I can totally understand her frustration. What are we more likely to remember in years to come? The first time we got 1000+ likes on an Instagram picture or time spent with people we love? I know what memories I’d rather have. 

Switch off

Last week my phone died. Dead as a doornail, the black screen of doom, and there was nothing I could do about it. I’d left my charger at work, and, Apple being Apple, ensures that the only chargers to fit my phone are very Apple specific and I’m too tight to buy a spare one. I physically couldn’t access my phone for 24 hours - see, I’d chosen to leave my charger at work the night before a day off, and I had plans to go to my Mums (where there’s not an Apple product in sight) the next day. At first, I panicked. How would people get hold of me? What was I going to miss out on? How far would the next Twitter debate go? Sure, I could boot up my laptop and keep up to date that way, but it’s not the most portable thing in the world and it takes more effort than just unlocking my phone. 

There was nothing I could do about it until around lunchtime the next day. And honestly, it was the quietest, most freeing evening I’ve had for a while. No updates, no buzzing, no drama, no last minute Instagram check in before going to bed, I even slept better because I hadn’t been staring at a screen before going to bed. Anyone who might have needed me had my landline number (yes, people still use those!) and I was able to watch an entire film without missing a thing for the first time in I don’t know how long. Sure, the switch off was forced upon me, but I needed it, I needed that break and I know who unlikely I am to have ever willingly turned it off myself.

Do you feel like your not all there because of social media? When was the last time you watched, did, or spent time with someone totally phone free and uninterrupted?

Until next time,

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Tea Roulette Subscription Review

tea roulette subscription review

Nothing beats a good cup of tea. There is not a problem I’ve found that cannot be solved, or at least made easier to deal with, with a good strong brew between your hands. I’m always looking for new concoctions to pop in the teapot but sometimes, I really don’t want to have to buy an entire box of pyramids just to try it, I mean, what if I don’t like it? With so many weird and wonderful infusions on offer these days you're bound to find at least one or two that no amount of honey can make taste better. Insert Tea Roulette a monthly tea subscription service that takes the hassle out of having to buy a whole box, and instead provides you with 30 chosen at random teabags for your brewing pleasure.

I’ve been on the hunt for a good tea subscription that won’t break the bank and is packed with enough variety to keep me entertained. I find most tea subscription services send out 1 - 3 sachets of tea, which is great as you get a few brews out of each, but the variety of each box is clearly limited. Tea Roulette sends you 30 individually packeted tea bags, from brands you will recognise to new ones you have yet to discover. That's 30 separate pots of tea, 30 new flavours, infusions, brands and flavours to try. 30. Can you tell I’m excited by this?

tea roulette subscription review

From The English Tea Shop to Yogi Tea, We Are Tea, Zest Tea, Vintage Teas, Ringtons and Solaris Tea are just a sample of the brands I found in my tea pouch - yes, pouch. Your tea comes in a really cute, good quality little pouch and is packaged so it fits through the smallest of letter boxes too. I love popping my hand in the bag, having a rummage and seeing what the next tea-tastic surprise will be. 

Fruit, herbal, green, black, early grey, English breakfast and even chocolate and chilli are just some of the flavours I received in my first Tea Roulette pack, there was even a strawberry cheesecake flavour that I had to fight the Mr over. He won but I did get to taste it and it was like drinking warm Hubba Bubba strawberry gum - trust me, it was delicious!

Tea Roulette comes in at £9.95 a month, including p&p, so that's roughly 33p a brew, which is bargains considering you get to try so many new brands and flavours. I actually love taking these tea-bags into work to liven up my afternoon brew, which stops me from popping to Starbucks for something different

tea roulette subscription review

I did receive a couple of duplicates in my bag but I didn’t mind, it made it easier to share those ones with the Mr, and if it happened to be one I really enjoyed, I got to brew up another. The only downside is that you get no tasting notes or further information apart from what’s on the individual sachet - and some come in clear bags so no brewing information. Tasting notes would be an interesting read but I think the trick they’re missing here is having a point to refer to if you really really loved a tea and would love to purchase a full box. There were so many new brands in my tea pouch, most I’ve never seen on the shelf in Tesco before either. Having a store style section to the tea roulette website would be amazing. 

In all, I am in love with this subscription. So much variety, a great price and a wonderful way to explore the magical world of tea. One pouch has lasted me well over a month and I can’t wait to see what the next pouch brings me., Tea Roulette really has answered my tea loving subscription heart. 

What would be your ideal subscription box?

Until next time,

Monday, 15 February 2016

*#MacaronManicure with Brioche Pasquier

brioche pasquier macarons

This past weekend was one of love, not just for your Valentines but for your gal pays aswell, Galentines Day, something I only found out about thanks to Parks and Recreation. A day to gather around your favourite ladies and the celebrate having them in your life. And what better way to celebrate than with sweet treats, desserts, bubbles and manicures. In the words of Leslie Knope - it’s the best day of the year and thanks to Brioche Pasquier I celebrated my first ever Galentines Day in style.

brioche pasquier macarons

If there’s one thing I know the French are good for, aside from their really good wines, is their even better treats and pastries. I remember the first time I bit into a real French croissant, I swear, nothing has ever come close to it’s buttery, flakey, goodness. Trying to recreate that moment this side of the Channel has been pretty much impossible until Brioche Pasquier quite literally, showed up on my doorstep. A family run business founded in 1936, they’re famed for their brioches  and have recently launched a decadent range of macarons and tarts. Be still my beating sweet tooth.

Macarons, an indulgent French classic instantly raises the bar of any afternoon tea Galentines celebrations. With six new flavours to try; raspberry, coffee, chocolate, lemon, pistachio and vanilla you’ll be sure to find a favourite and paint your nails to match, because who doesn’t love nails that match their dessert?

brioche pasquier macarons

Clipping, filing, shaping, painting, chowing down on sweet treats and catching up over tea and fizz (in separate pots of course) I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon. With the nails out of the way, the crumbs hoovered up and the kettle on again, it was decided that the raspberry, vanilla and chocolate macarons where the favourites. The macrons are flaky and crisp on the outside, fluffy and filled on the in, and oh so very sweet and french. 

brioche pasquier macarons

But, just when you think you’ve had you cake and eaten it too, Brioche Pasquier turns up with a Tarte au Citron - crumbly, buttery pastry encases a very sweet citrus tart, perfectly paired with the last of the afternoon tea, It’s going to sound crazy but I am going to shout from the rooftops how happy I was this tare came pre-cut, it really is all about the little things folks! I’m a bugger for miss-cutting cakes and somehow ending up with the biggest slice…hehe.

brioche pasquier macarons

If you’re looking to treat a loved one, or just yourself, Brioche Pasquier pastries are sure to hit the spot, from traditional brioche, to tartelettes, both chocolate and citrus are almost amongst their exquisite offerings. I can't imagine having a cup of tea without a little cheeky something now and you can be sure, after celebrating my first Galentines day, I’ll be celebrating for many more to come!

How did you celebrate Galentines day this year?

Until next time,

All food and manicure items were kindly sent to me on behalf of Brioche Pasquier for consideration. All thoughts and opinions are 110% my own :) For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Valentines Gift Box Ideas

valentines gift box ideas

I love the idea of gifting (or being gifted, hint hint!) a hamper of goodies for any and all special occasions, and when it comes to Valentines day, there’s nothing sweeter than a box of goodies to make you feel spoilt by your love, or, to share with them. Valentines boxes don’t have to be about partners, hell, Valentines Day doesn’t have to be about that one special person in your life, it can be about anyone special in your life, Valentines Day just gives us an excuse to spoil them, and Valentines boxes are the perfect treat.

Before you put your box together, make a note of all the things your Valentine loves, from foodie gifts to their favourite shows or films, tipple, and some of your favourite memories. It’s crazy how many ideas suddenly spiral out of this list if you’re anything like me you will easily get carried away!

Looking for more inspiration? Here’s a cute and easy Valentines box that is sure to fill anyone's heart with all the warm and fuzzies.

Yankee Candle - True Rose (£16.99)
Roses are a traditional Valentines flower, but this candle is sure to outlast any bouquet you could give your sweetheart. With such a strong, rich aroma, it will fill the room, and set the perfect scene for your Valentines evening. 

Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin (£35)
How could I create a gift box that didn’t include gin? I got a bottle of Warner Edwards dry gin over Christmas and it’s seriously delicious, jam packed with hand-picked botanicals and a smooth finish. I’ve tried the rhubarb flavour too and it’s just, oh me oh my, delicious! It didn’t actually taste like gin, which is dangerous in my books!

Charbonnel et Walker truffles (£5.99)
If you can’t indulge on Valentines day when can you? Delicious, rich, and very fancy pants, these luxury truffles are so tasty. Just make sure you get a box with an even amount in, you’ll be fighting over the last one more than the last rolo! 

Make your own face mask kit (£15.95)
I’m a huge fan of Sweet Cecily and their DIY kits are brilliant! We all love a good pamper, but there’s something really fun about make your own products. Sweet Cecily's have put together a really simple to follow but effective kit that gives you all you need to make your own face masks. Easily enough for both of you to pamper yourselves with too! They’ll even pop a personalised message on the packaging for you too!

USB Mix tape (£15)
Gone are the days when you would sit by the radio, desperately trying to record your favourite songs without including the DJ’s voice overs, now it’s as simple as plug this handy dandy USB into your computer, pop on your favourite tunes that remind you of you and your Valentine, and pop it back in its tape case. I absolutely love this idea, and it brings a more traditional gift into the modern day. It’s so cute how it includes the sleeve you can write all the songs on too. Being a USB, it’s also something you could add to as the years go by!

Joe & Sephs Kilner Jar of Peanut Butter Popcorn (£11.99)
Perfectly popped, handmade right here in the UK, with 100% natural ingredients, Joe & Sephs has taken gourmet popcorn to a whole new level. We got an entire stocking full of their popcorn at Christmas and each and every flavour is unique and so good, I mean who would have thought coffee or whisky, or even camembert would make perfect popcorn flavourings? Oh they do, they really really do!

Teapigs Superfruit tea (£11.36)
Because there’s nothing more relaxing, or indulgent, than a good cup of tea. This fruit tea is delightful and sure to warm even the coldest of hearts. I love Teapigs for their awesome flavour combinations, so if fruits don't take your fancy they are bound to have something to tickle your tastebuds. 

Hello Beau-TEA-ful Mug (£9.99)
If you’re popping some tea into your Valentines box, then why not pop in a personalised mug too? I love this beau-tea-ful mug that allows you to add up to three images of your own. Everyone loves receiving something personalised and it’s doubly great when it’s something you can get some use out of too!

There’s just a few ideas to get the ball rolling when it comes to your own Valentines box. What else will you be putting in your Valentines gift box?

Until next time, 

This post contains some affiliate links :)

Monday, 8 February 2016

*Hopes Relief Intensive Dry Skin Rescue Cream

hopes relief intensive dry skin rescue cream

The problem with my day job is that I am constantly battling with dry, cracked, sore hands. I’m washing my hands all the time, with, let’s be honest, no Molton Brown soap, then rubbing them dry with paper towels. All day, every day. That mixed with freezing cold weather, my hands are crying out for some sweet relief - so welcome, Hopes Relief.

Australia’s number one natural eczema cream turns out to be a cure all for my poor, worked to death hands. Originally designed to treat eczema and psoriasis in infants, babies and adults, Hopes Relief uses natural botanical ingredients to treat and moisturise dry skin. With natural ingredients including; manuka honey, aloe vera and liquorice root, I was open to giving it a try to try and sooth my sore hands. I hate it when my hands are so dry that even just doing the dishes hurts - though it’s a pretty good excuse not to do them.

Free from steroids, hormones, parabens, artificial colours and fragrances, lanolin, mineral oils and more, no wonder it’s so safe to use on little hands as well as big ones. The cream itself is really thick in consistency and is brown in colour - which threw me, it looks like a really dark tinted moisturiser but does dry clear. For a minute, I thought it was going to give me some very tanned digits.

Being fragrance-free, it has a very earthy, natural smell to it with a semi-sweet undertone that kind of reminds me of raw cookie dough - but I’m pretty sure you shouldn't lick this like you would the spoon. Being so thick, I was really surprised by how not greasy it was, and it dried in so quickly too. One of the problems I have with using hand creams in work is that they take so long to dry in properly - and have you ever tried to put on latex gloves when your hands have any kind of residue on? Impossible. And painful when they snap and rip and fly back into your unsuspecting face. True story.

Hopes Relief instantly soothes and calms itchy skin, and that horrible stretch and crack you get when you flex dry hands is soothed and moisturised. I was really surprised at how quickly my hands felt better. It took a few days of use before they started to look smoother but the pain was gone. I found it most effective on the damaged skin around my nails. 

A little goes a long way with this one, which is something I love about it, especially as I’m using it so often. It seems to provide a much longer-lasting protection and they claim it doesn’t wash off in water or soak into clothing. All the goodness penetrates deep into the skin, so as the cells regenerate, it’s bright and beautifully smooth skin coming through. Honestly, I was sceptical about the not washing off in water, so I tested it. I moisturised one hand, not the other, left it about half an hour then went and washed my hands. The moisturised hand still felt soft and much smoother compared with the other hand. 

I can’t comment on its eczema and psoriasis treating abilities but what I can say is it’s a very nourishing moisturiser that has really left much to be desired by some of my old faithful hand creams. I’m so impressed by Hopes Relief that I’m tempted to try their body lotion next. If you fancy giving it a try yourself, or know some really hard working hands in your life that could do with some love, you can find it on Amazon for just *£12 (and it’s on Prime delivery too, so no waiting!)

What’s your go-to treatment for dry, cracked hands?

Until next time,

Hopes Relief was kindly sent to me for consideration. All thoughts and opinions are 110% my own :) For more information, see my disclaimer here.

p.p.s I need to apologise for the lack of pictures - I took the hand cream to work and once something is in a lab coat pocket, it stays there! Fail!