Friday 31 July 2015

Three course Swiss dinner party (onion tart, fondue and chocolate mousse) #SantanderStaycation

Now I have my own place, I'm really enjoying having people round for dinner. I love cooking - pretty sure that's established - so throwing a dinner party is the perfect opportunity to try something new. This is, actually, a big no-no for having company, according to other people, but I like to live on the wild side. Plus, it's rare that I'm going to make an exciting dessert or decadent starter when it's just Matt and I, so having people around is a good excuse! Also, all my friends are nice, so if I mess it up, I know they won't be mean if they end up with beans on toast. Hasn't happened yet!


Tuesday 28 July 2015

Review: Coori gluten or dairy free food box.

Throughout July, I've been reviewing a Coori box. It's basically a big box of edible goodies - my kind of box! The twist is that it's all catered for people with allergies and intolerances, so you can customise your box to be free from gluten, wheat, dairy, lactose, egg or MSG, with vegetarian and vegan options available too.


Sunday 26 July 2015

Recipe: Tweaked Tabbouleh with feta, bulgur wheat and chickpeas

I am constantly guilty of spending too much money on lunch. I like the idea of bringing it in, but when it comes to it... I just don't. Instead I'll cheerily spend my hard earned cash on salads, soups and sandwiches and wonder why I have nothing left in my bank account at the end of the month. It's so much worse on days that I work in London, too. The lunch options near my office are so fantastic that I think nothing of spending £8 on a salad and drink, despite knowing that if I did that every day I'd spend £160 on lunches a month. Ouch.

So I'm trying to turn over a new leaf, starting with this salad. It's actually the perfect lunch salad for me as it involves very little effort.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Nailbox: monthly nail polish subscription service

I dabbled in the beauty box trend a few years ago, back when they were huge. There were lots - and I believe there are still a few around - monthly boxes full of a random selection of beauty products. I loved the idea, but as I'm not a beauty junkie, I found myself giving away most of the contents to friends and family - I can only think of a couple of products I went on to use regularly (and yes, one of them was of course the HD brow palette).

When I was asked if I wanted to give Nailbox a go though, I was a lot more enthusiastic. I may not be a beauty girl - I'm certainly not a beauty blogger - but I've always been a big nail polish fan. In an ideal world I'd definitely have perfectly polished talons every day, but even though I don't, I still take care of my nails and like to paint them whenever I get a chance.

So Nailbox sends you a random assortment of polishes every month, at a cost of £15 a month (£13.50 a month if you commit to 12 months). It's really good value, when you consider that most nail polishes cost about £10 each. Here's what I got:

Essie - Reorrrrange

Nails Inc - Colville Mews

Tanya Burr - Mischief Managed

Seche Vite topcoat

The nail polishes alone are worth around £35, and I also got a cuticle clipper. The Essie shade, Reorrrrange, is my favourite - a bright, wearable orange creme with a nice thick consistency. I don't really suit neon colours, so this is perfect as it's bright without being TOO bright. I haven't tried the other two shades yet, but I've used Seche Vite several times before and it's a great topcoat - and not cheap at £9 a bottle!

I would seriously consider signing up for Nailbox on a monthly basis - I'm really impressed with their offering so far and am looking forward to seeing what they'll be giving away next month.

Saturday 18 July 2015

Hendricks Gin Fling Garden Party, Hertfordshire

Gin keeps getting thrown my way lately, and I'm kind of ok with that. I think it's just super trendy right now, so everyone's just jumping on the gin wagon. Funny, really, when you consider how long gin's been around these parts for - since the Middle Ages, don't you know. I do love the idea of Anne Boleyn enjoying a nice G&T to take her mind off her awful husband, don't you?

Thursday 16 July 2015

Australian and UK penpal goodie box challenge

Back in the day, when us bloggers were just starting out, there seemed to be a lot more collaboration. I still remember being nominated by Ellie to receive a dress from F&F at Tesco when I'd never received any review items before, and it was so exciting. Bloggers are a pretty sociable lot, and - in my experience, at least - not that competitive. The thing is, anyone who reads blogs will rarely just stick to one, so it's always worth spreading the word to your readers about other blogs you love. Spreading the love, if you will.

These days though, there's collaboration amongst bloggers organised by brands. Most of the collectives like the Aussie Angels and Witch Flawless Friends have split up, and the only time I seem to engage with other bloggers is when I'm entering the same competition as them. It's a shame. So I was really enthusiastic about this campaign from Austravel, who wanted to match up bloggers in Australia and the UK, and help them send goodies from their homeland to each other.

I was teamed with Tiffany from Corrupting Miffy who sent me this awesome box of goodies. It includes a couple of packs of Tim Tams (like extra delicious Penguins), a cute teatowel, some gift tags, a list pad, some hand cream and Paw Paw ointment (a cult beauty item that I learned a bit about here). I've already demolished the packet of salted caramel Tim Tams - amazing!

I foolishly didn't photograph the box I sent Tiffany, but inside I put my favourite Rimmel lipstick, a lilac Barry M nailpolish (that I'm not sure will get through customs), some H by Holland nude falsies, a Topshop necklace, Jaffa Cakes, Dairy Milk, Guinness Chocolate and of course some tea.

This was a really fun campaign to take part in, and was supported by the Austravel brand, who aim to explore the differences between the UK and Oz. It makes me nostalgic for the days of pen pals - I used to have so many!


Tuesday 14 July 2015

Recipe: Moroccan lamb and butternut squash tagine (slow cooker)

When we were at Glastonbury this year, we ate really well. The food there is always incredible, but this year it just seemed better than ever. The biggest difference for me was coming home. Usually I feel a bit poisoned - you know how you feel after Christmas, when you've been eating chocolate all day, every day, only stopping for heavy, comforting meals of loveliness, washing it all down with a pint of Bailey's? That kind of feeling. This year, though, I didn't feel like that. I'd had a few more ciders than my fair share, sure, but I hadn't eaten THAT badly. I mean, I only had chips once!

My two highlights were the Buddha Bowl stall - thai curry, grains, salad and halloumi of dreams - and the Soulful Food company. Every time Matt and I walked past the stall we'd make a promise to each other that we'd go before the weekend was out, as it looked so comforting, tasty and hearty. We ended up going on a boiling hot afternoon, when most people would choose to eat anything other than warming stew, but that's just us. And it was worth it, even in the heat. We ordered a couple of options and shared them, but while the pulled pork stew was nice, the chicken and butternut squash tagine was the winner - the ideal combination of sweet and savoury. I was determined to make something similar.


Sunday 12 July 2015

The best food stalls at Glastonbury 2015

It's hard to believe that I've already been home from Glastonbury for two weeks. I spend half the year looking forward to it, after buying my tickets in October, and then it's over in a flash and back to reality. It was an amazing one this year, though. The weather was pretty great - apart from a couple of rather large downpours - and the music was just out of this world. Lionel Richie will be one of my life highlights for a long long time, I think. I also really loved Frank Turner, Belle & Sebastian, Burt Bacharach, Pharrell and of course Florence - she owned that stage.
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