Month: September 2016

Birchbox

I signed up to Birchbox in June of this year to test out new products, keep with the trends, and receive a package each month filled with goodies – because who doesn’t love that? The best part is that everything that arrives is travel size, perfect to use when you want to jet out on a cheap airline with only a small bag/carry on case. That’s my excuse anyway.

While I love the products I receive and am thrilled at opening up the package to  get stuck in and test them, I find that a week or two later I haven’t touched them again, umodel_co_highlightnless I’ve gone travelling as above. On top of this, I am a creature of habit and still go out and by the normal products I love on top of it. I’m basically spending more on beauty products than ever before and my bathroom cabinet and bedroom are starting to look like a mini department store. I need to make the effort to use these products regularly, or pass them on to friends and family. There’s no point in holding on to stuff if I won’t use it. Is it cheeky to gift them in presents if unused? That’s totally something I’d do.

My favourite product in my September box would have to be the ModelCo Highlighting lollipopTrio, never have my cheekbones looked so fierce. That would probably be my most used product received, that, and of course my Merci Handy hand cleansing gel in Lollipop flavour.

If you’re in the mood to try some new products and brands (some I’d never heard of!) definitely get yourself signed up, even if just for a month! If you do decide to sign up, use this link and tell them I sent you – you’ll get a £5 welcome and a pretty bracelet!

Isle of Harris

Over the weekend, my other half and I went to visit his Uncle and Aunt on the Isle of Harris, Scotland. The place is phenomenal. The break from London was well needed, the fresh air incredible and the hospitality likened to the Kiwi’s.

When you see the views, it’s hard to believe you’re still in the UK – although the bitter wind that picked up on the odd occasion soon reminded you that you weren’t on a tropical island in the Caribbean. But the sea sure gave the same turquoise beauty.

While we were there we enjoyed the local seafood which is so fresh it reminded me of the treats from the sea in New Zealand. Unfortunately London based seafood, no matter the price you pay, just doesn’t compare to seafood by the coast. I gorged myself on all seafood at every moment I got; scallops, monkfish, seafood linguine, fresh mussels and prawns. We ate at a bunch of beautiful spots that I would recommend; The Anchorage, The Crown Inn and Skoon Art Café to name a few.

It’s becoming more common for people to have stay-cations (holiday in their own country) and I completely agree with it. Why not see the beautiful places right on your doorstep? Not that the Isle of Harris is on anyone’s door step, the dodgy flight from Glasgow in a tiny aeroplane seating 30 people was not a highlight for me. But get out there, see the country you grew up in.

Since being in the UK I have managed to hit all the corners; Pembrokeshire in west Wales, Brighton in south England, Southend on Sea in east England, and now Stornoway in north Scotland. Really, the next spot I need to visit is Ireland, then I would have completed the four corners of the UK plus a trip to the island.

mussels linguine

Edinburgh

In anticipation of my long weekend in Scotland’s capital for the annual Fringe Festival I asked around for the top 10 must-do’s. I thought I’d write a list of recommended to see/do’s and then revisit the list once I returned to see if I would rate them the same.

  1. Edinburgh Castle. I see this remaining in my list – I do have a thing for castles.
  2. Sample the local tipple. I shamed myself at work when someone suggested I drink whisky in Edinburgh; “do they make it there?”. Oh they laughed, and I learned.
  3. Eat local = haggis, venison and stovies. Enough said.
  4. Visit the seaside! Portobello beach, right in the city.
  5. Laugh, sing and dance with the festival – we planned our trip around Fringe so we could check out all the gigs while taking in the city.
  6. Climb the extinct volcano in the urban park; Arthur’s Seat, the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills.
  7. Soak up the architectural sights in the centre of town.
  8. Hit the Old Town; small streets lined with wool shops, pubs and historical monuments.
  9. Pop by Elephant House Cafe where writers such as JK Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin put pen to paper and let their ideas flow.
  10. Finally, just wander. Stroll the cobbled streets and pass through the historic Royal Mile.

Have you been to Edinburgh, what would you suggest? We’ll see if this list matches up when I return.

Lemons

Lemons are a magical fruit. Not only are they cheap and pack a punch of flavour, but they can clean limescale from your taps and more importantly they provide a whole bunch of health benefits.

I’m not talking about doing a lemon water cleanse/diet, because they scare me. I’m simply adding a cup of hot lemon water to my morning routine – before the tea or coffee. Even Gwynnie swears by it, however she’d have you cut out the coffee which is just crazy talk.

So what are the benefits of drinking lemon water? It aids with digestion, strengthens your immune system, aids weight loss, helps to detoxify and cleanse your insides, and does wonders for your skin and hair, among other things.

A couple of slices per cup does the trick for me. But I do find the fruit here in the UK turns very quickly, so as a tip, I slice up the whole lemon and pop the slices into a freezer container so they’re ready to go in the morning when I add them to my boiling cup of water. They defrost right away and cool down the cup so it’s ready to drink.

Try it, and if you don’t enjoy, simply use the frozen lemon slices in your gin and tonic instead.

Book Review: Shtum

I was blown away by this book. We’ve all heard of autism and think we know the general jist. But reading this book really opened my eyes to the everyday challenges people with autism and their loved ones must manage through.

Parts of this book made me laugh out loud, Lester’s descriptions of shit smeared walls and the complete frustrations you feel for Jonah’s parents make this book heartfelt and endearing. Points in this book are hard to read, the sacrifice and struggle, and a bout of alcoholism doesn’t make a story of plain-sailing, however it does capture your interest and you won’t be able to put it down.

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Next chapter

I’m currently in London “living the dream”. Only, I don’t think I am still living the dream. Sure, when I arrived four years ago I loved every minute, every bustling commute, every new sight and was even fascinated by each rude individual. But now the rosy tint has definitely worn off. This could be age, this could be the fact I’ve had enough of the fast pace and want to move on.

Recently I started a new job and I thought it would propel me back into the excitement I first experienced in London, be the Band-aid to keep me here. Don’t get me wrong, I love London. But I feel like I’m in a rut and I’m very keen to start the next chapter of my life; house buying, baby making… settling down.

I have these conversations with my partner regularly, well really I just throw questions at him: when can we move? How much longer do you want to stay here? He’s British born, but not from London, so while he’s eager to move to NZ (having fallen in love when I took him at Christmas 2015/2016), I feel he’s also more apprehensive than me. He’s also more of a grown up than me, setting us savings balances to meet before we can move there. He’s right, we’ll never earn the same money there as we do here. But I no longer care. I just want to stamp my foot and pout until I get my way. Kids nowadays get away with it, so why can’t I?

This blog will be aimed at the changes that go on with entering ones 30s. Changes in lifestyle, friendships, family, body and ultimately the view gained from hitting another decade. Stick around for more on the dirty thirties.

 
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Apparently large volumes of kale makes your number two’s green.

I did my first Whole30 back in January 2013 and felt fantastic afterwards, the protein and vegetable combo with the odd bit of fruit and nuts worked for me. I’m keen to get back to that amazing feeling, post detox when you may give yourself the odd cheat snack or glass of wine, but generally you feel so good you just don’t want to break it.

I’ve decided to embark on another Whole30 in October. Unfortunately I’m away three weekends out of four in September so it was just going to be too tricky to stick to it. I have even managed to wrangle my other half into giving it a go. I’m not sure how long he’ll carry on, especially without the odd pint, but I know that if I cook him some yummy dishes he will be a happy man.

Product review: Gimme brow

Yesterday I popped into Boots during my lunch break to pick up a new bottle of my favourite face slap (foundation) from the Benefit counter, and was caught by a very savvy saleswoman. She saw me coming a mile off. After showing me all the new products Benefit have, (I absolutely adore their range already) she showed me something that would sort my absolute least favourite part of my face.

My eyebrows.

I find keeping my eyebrows in top shape my absolute beauty pet peeve. Sometimes they play ball and look amazing, and sometimes they’re all over the place and can make me look shocked or a bit loony. I do agree with what they say, that eyebrows can change the shape of your face and give you an instant facelift. So when the saleswoman told me there was a new product out that took all the drama out of eyebrow perfection I was all ears.

gimme brow is as good as she said! I’ve tried it today and I can’t knock it in any way. I love it because it grabs to skin and hair, creating brows where before there were none. Also, because it’s simply filling out the brows and hair you already have it’s practically foolproof! No random pencil fill in thick brows that look scary and it sticks to your natural shape and arch. I’m sold. It’s my new number one in my make up bag and will be applied daily, even if I forget my mascara.

This was not a paid post for Benefit, just sharing the love for other brow-troubled people out there. But if you are reading Benefit team, I am definitely open to free samples. For review purposes of course…

Cookbook inspiration

I’ve always been a lover of cookbooks. I buy them. I store them. I read them. I drool over them. But I never bloody cook anything from them.

I picked up Daniel Green’s The Paleo Diet in January and can now confirm I’ve cooked a total of five recipes from it – with another three in the pipeline to trial. It’s a brilliant cookbook as the recipes aren’t too fiddly and the ingredients required cover a lot of the recipes and are easy to find. Meaning you’re not sent on a wild goose chase for a teaspoon measure of Espelette Pepper. Instead you can pick up everything local, and without breaking the budget.

To date, two favourites of mine and the man’s are meatballs in a rich tomato sauce with basil, and sesame steak with broccoli and basil pesto.

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I have already decided that I’m going to pick up another paleo cookbook to try out further recipes. Potentially Daniel’s second book. It’s becoming a bit of an addiction – searching out paleo recipes. Although, as far as addictions go, it’s certainly not as bad as the two glasses of wine every night of the week habit I’ve been enjoying all year!