Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Chai Kai Tea

chai kai tea review

I’m a woman on a mission lately when it comes to the perfect brew. Part of that mission is not only to sup as many tea-tastic delights as I can, but to discover as many wonderful brands as possible. One brand that’s come to my kettle-whistling attention is Chai Kai, exceptional teas blended by hand

I’ve been making a point of late to take more time out, especially of an evening and weekend to switch off the Netflix, YouTube, and Whatsapp, curl up with my current favourite read and pop the kettle on. Caffeine free is a must when it comes to chilling out, and nothing soothes my soul more than a peppermint tea. Chai Kai were kind enough to send me one of their speciality loose leaf teas, peppermint and cardamom to really level up my me-time-tea-time. 

chai kai tea review

Blend No 7 mixes cooling, soothing peppermint leaves with a pinch of cardamom seeds for an aromatic delicacy. It’s such a smooth, mellow taste that for a peppermint tea, really surprises me. Sometimes my steeping times can be a little, off. Over-brewing peppermint tea is, hands down, one of the worst things you can do to your brew next to putting the milk in your Earl Grey before the water! The back of the pack does come with a handy little temp and time guide, and I’ve found steeping a heaped teaspoon of the leaves in my diffuser tea-pot for 3-5 minutes is perfect. The peppermint is so mild yet still full of flavour without being bitter and burnt tasting. The cardamom takes a little to pick up on, but it is there. I actually love that it’s just a warming hint, perfectly balancing the peppermint. If anything, you can smell the cardamom more than you can taste it and no joke, I wish I had a candle that smelt this good!

chai kai tea review

Just smelling this brewing in the tea pot starts to relax me. If it’s been a manic day at work or an overly indulgent weekend, this settles both my nerves and my stomach! 

I’ve banged on in the past about how important making time for you is. For me, it’s becoming less of an indulgence and more of a habit. Having the right brew in hand, curled up with my books, a couple of biccies on the side, how could I not want to do this more often? You know you’re itching to go and put the kettle on now too, aren’t you?

One thing I love about finding these smaller business is the heart and soul that go into them. One thing that really stands out about Chai Kai teas is their partnership with Make Lunch, a UK based charity that works with churches and communities across the country providing food for children during the school holidays. A stagger 50,000 meals have been cooked up and dished out since 2011, it's hard to believe so many families struggle to feel their little ones when they don't have access to free school lunches. A donation is made to the charity everytime you make a purchase from Chai Kai!

chai kai tea review

Chai Kai has got some fantastic, hand blended, Asian inspired loose leaf teas, including some blends which I’ve never seen before! I would love to pop Bombay Breakfast, Coconut Rose, and Tumeric Root Chai into my tea-pot! Though maybe not all at once!

What makes your me time moments special? 

chai kai tea review

Until next time, 


Monday, 22 May 2017

The Brunch Club - Liverpool

the brunch club liverpool review

I love Sunday brunch. Getting out early enough that town is still pretty much deserted, rocking up to somewhere new, catching up on the week just gone or looking forward to the week ahead. Sundays are slow days and brunch is the perfect weekend treat. I love avoiding the hustle and bustle of town, lazing over a brew and watching the world go by - I also never have any food in the house on a Sunday morning, so there’s an excuse to eat out if ever I needed one! This past weekend we ourselves walking into The Brunch Club, in search of some indulgent, breakfast-y delights. 

Situated on Duke Street, The Brunch Club probably has the biggest windows I’ve seen in town! So much natural light coming in, and once you’re through the door, an epically laid back atmosphere. Home comfort decor mixed with reclaimed church benches and old wooden doors, soft pillows, high tables and couches you could get lost in for days. I feel like everyday would be a Sunday here.

the brunch club liverpool review

The menu has your usual standard fare, full english, a veggie version too, eggs every way you can imagine, bircher, pancakes and more. There really is something to fill every belly coming in. After being seated, you order and pay at the bar - I love this option, especially when dining in bigger groups as it avoids that awkward moment of having to split the bill. 

the brunch club liverpool review

The Mr went for a traditional full english, made with the freshest locally sourced ingredients, and opted for poached eggs (because they never taste as good when we try to DIY them!). His plate was full, including two rounds of buttered granary bread. The black pudding was easily some of the best I’ve tasted around town for a long time and the whole plate gave some of our usual favourite spots to eat in Liverpool a real run for their money. 

the brunch club liverpool review

Keeping it sweet on a Sunday, I went for the packs. Triple stack with blueberries, streaky bacon and maple syrup with a light icing sugar dusting. Thick, fluffy, a touch of crisp on the edges - perfection. The pancakes were so buttery in taste they didn’t need much syrup at all. With an assam tea on the side, it was the perfect combination. Suffice to say, there wasn’t a crumb left on either plate!

Convinced we are, in fact, on the Truman Show, the place was practically deserted when we turned up, just before 10am, and within minutes every table was suddenly full with a queue waiting at the door. Surrounded by serviced apartments, it seems to be a favourite spot for visitors to the city, clearly curing a many morning after the night befores! So I’d highly recommend you get out of bed and get there early if you don’t fancy waiting around. 

Good atmosphere, good food, good times. The Brunch Club will certainly be seeing me again!

What does your perfect Sunday morning look like?

Until next time, 


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Currently Watching #8

netflix binge ideas

Even though I’ve been making a conscious effort to pick up a book over having a Netflix binge, I still seem to be working my way through some of my favourite shows and starting a few new ones! So let’s have a mooch at what’s been happening on my box!

Versailles Season 2 - I loved the first season of this when it aired on BBC last year and couldn’t wait for it to come back for a second round. Following Louis XIV, the Sun King, the builder of Versailles and the father of court rules, rituals and decorum, season 2 is set to be scandalous and intriguing from start to finish. Watching this show just makes me want to buy all the pretty dresses and take a trip out to France to see the actual Versailles! 

Reign - I have a thing for period dramas set around court life and royalty. I figure I must have been one of Henrys unfortunate wives in a past life or something! Reign follows a young Mary, Queen of Scots and her inevitable rise to power. The costumes in this show are jaw-droppingly phenomenal. It has a very Sophia Copella/Marie Antoinette feel about it, a period piece set to modern day music and everyone speaking English (considering the whole thing is currently set in France). I actually like this approach as it shows just how young, this young queen is. I’m only on season 1, I think theres around 4 seasons available so I’ve got a long way to go to catching up!

RuPaul Season 9 - I have never, ever, ever seen a single episode of Drag Race until now. With everyone I know talking about it, I figured I’d give it a go and see what all the fuss was about - so I started with the latest season, and I’m hooked. The drama, the transformations, the fan-drag-ulous quips and humour. This is my guilty pleasure tv show!

Once Season 6 - With just one  more episode to go for the sixth season, oh my heart, I can’t take it. I have been a huge fan of this show since season 1 and really can’t wait for it to come back for a 7th season next year. I know we’re about to lose some favourite and beloved cast members that have been with us on this journey since the start and my heart just breaks. Though the show won’ be the same without Snow and Charming, I still can’t wait to see where they take it next. The musical episode (how has it took 6 seasons to finally get one?) was easily one of the best episodes the show has done in it’s history! I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack!

Night Shift - If Scrubs and Greys Anatomy had a baby, Night Shift would be it. Never, in all my tv watching days, have I seen a show start, tell and complete so many story lines in a single episode. Just watch the pilot! They must open up about 10 cans of worms and wrap up each one in a neat little bow in 50 minutes. It’s funny, emotional, with quick but believable character development and some cracking story lines. You really have to pay attention to whats going on in the background too as it’s usually always random and hilarious. The Mr says I must like it as I never pick up my phone when watching it! And that really is saying something!

Masterchef Season 10 - I know the show has finished and the winner has been crowned but I’m still only about half way through the season right now! I’ve never watched a season of Masterchef the whole way through but I am loving it! It makes me want to get into our tiny kitchen and get my cook on - I mean it won’t be anything fancier than a spag bol with homemade garlic bread but hey, I’ll attempt a pretty plate and garnish! I’m still not sure who I want to win at this point, but I do wish a few of the contestants would come round and cook for me!

Amazing Hotels - Beyond the Lobby  - Just incase you were running short of unbelievable hotels to stay in on your bucket list, this show has got a few I’m sure you’ll want to add! From Ice Hotels to dining with giraffes, an eco friendly escape in the rainforest and an infinity pool you really have to see to believe - can I just win the lottery now please and spend a week in each? Totally wanderlust wish list worthy!

What have you been watching lately?

Until next time, 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Skincare loves and loathes: Spring 2017

skincare loves and loathes

Sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it. Instead of doing a bunch of long winded individual reviews, I thought I’d do a quick round up of the skincare I’ve been loving and loathing lately. I’m not trying to be a negative nelly, everyones skin is different! What hasn’t worked for me might turn out to be your holy grail, but I do love getting two sides to the same story. So let’s jump in!

Skincare Loves

skincare loves and loathes

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser - I use this every morning and have done since early Feb and I just love it. Made with shea butter, it foams up into a beautifully soft and rich lather than removes dirt, grime and dead skin with little to no effort. This was recommended to me after a facial and I’m so glad I gave it a try, my skin feels so silky smooth afterwards. I usually steer clear of rich buttery cleansers because of my oily skin but this works so well with it and doesn’t dry my skin out or cause it to go into hyper-oil drive!

skincare loves and loathes

Clarins Camomile Toner - Another post facial recommendation back in Feb, I’ve been using this twice a day since and have fallen back in love with using toners. I was told to use a damp cotton pad inlace of a dry one when toning and the difference that has made is just ridiculous! It catches any left over dirt, rebalances the pH of my skin and leaves it feels so clean and fresh. My skin doesn’t feel tight or dry at all and it smells just downright lovely too.

skincare loves and loathes

Derma V10 Eye Cream - I got bored with eye cream for some time, but after a telling off from Hayley, I reached for the nearest one and started using it again. I’ve got to admit, my eyes do look brighter since I’ve been using this and it really helps to wake them up in the morning! It’s non greasy and dries quickly leaving no residue behind. It’s a small, quick step in my routine that will (hopefully) keep those crows feet at bay!

Skincare Loathes

skincare loves and loathes

Alphah Liquid Gold - OH the burning! I had such high hopes for this glycolic acid after hearing so many wonderful things but just no. I expected there to be some sort of tingling bordering on burning sensation, as is the nature of willingly putting acid on your face but, oh my. This was less tingling and more molten magma melting off my skin - and that’s not a good look for anyone. I used it exactly as directed, but my skin just burnt from the second it touched it. I’ve not had such a violent reaction to a product in years. My whole face went pink and the burning slowly dulled to a light tingling that last around an hour. I used it for about two weeks, seeing if my skin would adapt to it before I realised there really was no sound reason to keep suffering!

skincare loves and loathes

Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment - For starters, this stinks. It smells like pure, cheap, chemicals. It has a very sticky consistency that dries a little too quickly making it hard to massage in. It left my skin feeling very tacky for a good while too before I could apply any other products. And after all that, it did nothing. My skin didn’t look or feel any different, but it smelt pretty rank. 

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation - Sheer trans-for-nothing. Again, it just smelt like chemicals and the cream consistency was very light and watery. It dried quickly and left no residue but, much like the night treatment, did nothing for my skin. This was such a huge disappointment as the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum had been such a flipping amazing product to use!

You win some, you loose some. There’s so much skincare out there now that there’s bound to be things you either don’t like or just don’t agree with you. Unless something is causing me irritation (I’m looking at you Alphah!) then I’ll begrudgingly use it up, waste not want not eh? But suffice to say I won’t be purchasing any of these loathes again!

What skincare products have you been loving and loathing this month?

Until next time, 

Monday, 8 May 2017

*Pho - Liverpool - Bold Street

pho liverpool review

I love a good take-away, I mean come on, can you really beat stuffing your face in your pjs on the couch? There are some meals though, that are worth putting actual pants on for, and heading up Bold Street to check out Pho is one of them!

I love Bold Street more than any other street in Liverpool. Nowhere else can you taste your way around the world, from Indian classics, Lebanese shwarma, Japanese delicacies, good ol’ fish and chips and now, authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Pho has finally come to Liverpool and its PHO-king (come on, I had to use that one!) amazing.

pho liverpool review

I headed down for a little weekend date with the Mr to check out what they had to offer, it had been a manic week at work and we deserved a treat. I’ve taken to treating myself with meals or experiences over things of late, I’m feeling surrounded by stuff and it’s really starting to bother me - hello mid-life crisis? But more on that another post!

pho liverpool review

While we oogled the menu we munched on seriously good prawn crackers with sweet chili dipping sauce. These where so light, airy and not greasy, much better than the ones I usually grab from the takeaway! I sipped at my phojito which was super refreshing after finally making a decision on the menu - they have so much to offer it wasn’t easy to decide!

pho liverpool review

Starters, for me, are the best part of every meal, so we picked two, blog justified indulgence for the win! Cha Gio was my choice, extra crispy spring rolls filled with pork and veggies, served with a peanut sauce, lettuce and mint. They were so crispy and well cooked and, at our servers suggestion, I wrapped each one in a little mint and lettuce which really changed up the taste! The peanut sauce was just, OH, I really wanted to take the left over sauce home, it was just that good!

pho liverpool review

The Mr picked Canh Ga - seasoned, crispy skinned chicken wings with sriracha sauce. These starters must be designed to share as both were huge, we must have had about 10 chicken wings on the plate! They were so well cooked and with a couple of quick twists, the bones came right out! We devoured everything. The srirachi made me feel a little like we were on First we Feast

pho liverpool review

Onto the mains, and I just had to try a house special. Pho, if you don’t know, is the traditional dish of Vietnam. A rice noodle soup served with fresh herbs on the side. The herbs and sauces are a key element to the whole dish, as they allow you totally customise your soup. I went for the Pho Bo Nam Tung, slow cooked beef brisket, enoki, button mushrooms and a creamy egg yolk in a rich, 12 hour simmered broth. I chucked in tons of herbs, a little lime and a tiny bit of chilli to really help bring out the flavours. It was delicious. It was like a hug with every mouthful, seriously comforting and tasty. 

pho liverpool review

Mr went for a simple Pho Chin, tender beef brisket in a rich beef broth. He went all out with the herbs and chilli which really kicked up it up a notch. 

pho liverpool review

Now, in the interest of blogging and really putting myself out there to give you guys a full run down of my Pho experience - I had to order a dessert. It would have been rude not to try just one. I couldn't resist the Banh La Dua, a pandan pancake with rosted coconut and a side of honey and ginger ice cream. Mr, not being a dessert man, went for a traditional Ca Phe, a rich vietnamese coffee. The pancake was unreal. It was somewhere between a pancake and a crepe and the toasted coconut just set everything off perfectly. The ice cream had chunks of crystallised ginger in too which was just delicious. To say I had to fight for a bite would be an understatement! The Mr went all out on this one, for a non-dessert guy he was temporarily converted over to the sweet side!

pho liverpool review

If you're looking for a laid back atmosphere, friendly, funny and helpful staff, and just downright good comfort food, look no further than Pho! There is so much on the menu that I want to go back and try, especially the rice dishes and some more steaming Pho bowls! After a long, hard week, it really chilled us out and gave our tastebuds a right treat!

pho liverpool review

What’s your go-to comfort food?

Until next time, 

Meal kindly provided by Pho. All thoughts and opinions are 110% my own. For more information, see my disclaimer policy here.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Invasion of the Comment Pods

instagram comment pods

Comment pods, Instagram pods, Bloglovin links and likes pods, you name it, there’s a pod for it. What is a pod? In short, a group of bloggers get together and, for example, comment on each others blog posts, or like and leave comments on each others latest Instagram shots. If you’re playing a numbers game and looking to drive engagement to your blog, a pod seems like a too good to be true solution, right?

I thought so. 

A long while back, I joined several pods, all centred around blog comments and Instagram likes and comments. Now, pods will differ depending on whose in them and who runs them. Some are pretty laid back, some are like regimented school teachers, handing out citations and reprimands if your break the rules. The rules are usually simple enough to follow - you catch up on all previous left links and/or posts in the group before posting a link to your own latest one. Some people post a lot and some, not so much. Usually there’s rules around this too, i.e you can only share 5 Instagram shots in the pod on a given day etc. 

It all sounded great. Comments on my blog almost tripled overnight, and the notifications from Instagram were just flying through. My traffic saw an increase, my numbers were on the UP! I’d set up a pod folder on Safari so I had all my fellow podders lined up and easy to access. I checked them every morning. I commentated on every new post, I liked every new shot, then I would leave a link to my own, feeling like I’d done my good deed and was about to sit back and reap all the benefits. 

But then I missed a post, it got lost in the pod activity, but not to worry, someone gave me a nudge and pointed me in the direction of my missing comment. I duly commented and received one back. Problem solved. 

Then I didn't open up Instagram for a day, I was off real life-ing. I popped up a picture that night, sent it to the pod, then started working my way through all the posts I needed to catch up on.


That’s a big no-no. Even as I was catching up on the days pod-tivities, I was called out for having sent my link through too soon


instagram comment pods

I was starting to feel on pins. Double and triple checking my pods links and posts to make sure I hadn’t missed anything before I left my own. I was barely checking out any of my favourite non-pod blogs because catching up on theirs was taking up all my time. 

I had to leave a comment. I had to get their comment in return. I couldn’t be that person in the pod. 

Before work, break time, lunch time, as the tea was cooking, after having tea and right before bed. I had to check. I couldn’t miss a post. I couldn’t be that person!

Honestly, I wasn’t even taking in what people were posting. I was skim reading, I was double tapping with an ‘oh how awesome is that’ or a ‘you nailed this shot girlie’, meaningless comments with a couple of emojis thrown on the end to pad it out. 

My comments meant nothing to me.

My comments meant nothing to them. 

The number it generated meant everything.

I felt like I was in a real life Nosedive (Black Mirror)

The pod-people where not coming to my blog and reading my posts because they wanted to. They were coming to my blog because they had to. 

Comment for comment.

Like for like.

Remember those days? How annoying those kinds of comments were on your blog and Twitter feed? 

It dawned on me that these pods I was a part of were no different to those kinds of comments.

I started to dread opening up Instagram. I couldn’t stand opening up the chats, the thought they might see I’ve been in and not acted on the waiting links and posts. The fact I had become that person. 

It all become so meaningless

I was being called out more and more, why hadn't I commented on their last two posts? Why wasn't I following the rules? Indirect messeges about remembering the rules, but don't forget to have fun.

FUN? This was about as far from fun as blogging has ever been for me. 

I left the pods. I took a much needed break from blogging. I wrote this post. 

Pods simply do not work for me. If they work for you, great! If you want to comment on this post, great! Leave a comment, let's have a chat, hell you can share this post if you want to. No pressure. It'd be nice like, but it's not the end of the world.

Do you have any experience of pods? How are they working for you? 

Until next time, 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Reading Round-Up #2

reading recommendations

I don't know if it's the idea of doing these round-up posts or the fact I have spent more time pouring over real pages instead of digital ones, but here's another mini-roundup of the books I've finished recently! 

More Ketchup than Salsa - Joe Cawley
I popped this on my Kindle well over a year ago for a pool side read that I just never got around to! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to pack your life into a suitcase and jet off on a permanent jolly holiday? It's not all sun, sea and sex, but cockraoches, mob bosses and power cuts! Joe paints a pretty vivid and hillaroius picture of his life attempting to leave the fish markets behind in favour of running a pub in the sun. I actually really found myself getting into this one, it was light, funny, witty, a great little escape between more serious novels!

Abaddons Gate - James S A Corey
I am absolutly loving The Expanse show so far, never has a sci-fi show captured me so much - but my love affair with our dear Captain Holden started with the books, and this, the fourth in the season was just as great as the rest! I'm trying to take a break inbetween each one to prolong the joy of the series and it's working! Abaddons Gate follows our Roccinante crew as they journey to the outskirts of the solar system under the influence of a friendly faced mirage only Holden can see in search of a gateway to the other side...of? Well, give it a read and find out!

The Romanovs - Simon Sebag Montefiore
Everything I knew about The Romanovs I learnt from Disney's Anastasia which, as great as it was, might have took a liberty or two with the facts. The Mr bought me this for Valentines day and from page one, I couldn't put it down. Scandal, death, murders, marriage, sex, the collecting of dwarfs and amputees, multiple lovers, and more drama than even Jeremy Kyle would know what to do with. I love the history and tales of royal dynastys but these guys where certainly something else. From start to finish, 300 years of Romanov ruling was a jaw dropping, eye opening history lesson with a heartbreaking end. 

The Museum of You - Carys Bray
I studied for my MA with Carys and damn, this woman is amazing. She is an amazing writer whose style reminds me of Cecilia Ahern. The Museum of You follows the summer of Clover, her single, bus driving dad, and her need to discover who her mother was, what she got from her, and how, by putting all the pieces together, she can unknowling heal a broken heart. It explores our attatchments to objects and the importance we place on there ability to tell the story of our lives.

Cibola Burn - James S A Corey
Another break, another Expanse series novel! I think this one has possibly been my favourite in the series so far! The solar system is ready to be further explored but are we ready for what we might find? Of course we're not. If the giant mechanical aliens aren't enough of a problem, there's the whole humans not trusting humans becoming a bit of an issue too! Is an Earth like planet really Earth like enough to keep us alive, or will the settlers on Ilus destroy each other before even the death slugs and blinding rain become a problem?