Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Sweet Blackberry Memories Courtesy Of Treacle Moon

Although it isn't really the season for blackberries I love them, in fact I love all berries (bar cherries!) but there really is a special place in my heart devoted to the humble blackberry

I know you can get cultivated ones all year round now but I have so many good memories of going out either with my parents, or with my friends and their parents, with a bowl ,or an old ice cream tub and picking them fresh from the hedgerows every autumn.


It's funny how scents can transport you to a different place and time, and the smell of Treacle Moon Sweet Blackberry Memories Bath And Shower Gel took me right back to those crisp autumn days of my childhood.

I'm a huge fan of those sweet berry scents but this is really quite different. You can smell the fruit but at the same time you can almost smell the tartness and sourness  of the berries combined with a warm, almost spicy cinnamon scent - This product is basically blackberry and apple crumble in a bottle!


I've been using this product in both the bath and the shower but again this product comes into its own when you use it in the shower - the aroma is intensified and you get lots and lots of bubbles from just a small amount of product. Although it does contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate, it is paraben free and it isn't tested on animals.

I absolutely adore the Treacle Moon range and although this isn't the sweet burst of berries that I imagined it would be I still love it from evoking such happy memories from my childhood. Treacle Moon Sweet Blackberry Memories Bath And Shower Gel retails at just £2.99 for a 500ml bottle from Tesco. It does say on the bottle that it's a limited edition so if you want it I'd move fast just in case x Next on my list to try is Honeycomb Secret but I also the Apple Pie, Lemonade Days and Raspberry Kiss, decisions, decisions x 

Monday, 20 April 2015

Refreshed And Raring To Go

Source

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and I certainly hope that's true. It's been over a week since I last posted and I'm going to be honest with you, I needed to take some time out and take a little break.

I think we all need to take some time out every now and then to reassess, relax and refocus and last week was my time. General home renovation chaos, life stresses, and health problems for both me and mine just seemed to get the better of me so I needed to take a step back and have some me time.

Me time means different things to different people, but for me it's all about doing things that I enjoy, or that help me relax and refocus. I had lots of bubble baths, enjoyed a shopping trip and a coffee date with Mummy Lou, spent some time reading for pleasure, and embraced my artistic side with a little bit of craft and a bit of colouring in!

Despite the lack of posts though I didn't neglect my blog completely. Although the weather up north wasn't anywhere near as warm as it was down south, the sun still shone so I took advantage and took lots and lots of photos for the blog.

Photography is probably one of the most time consuming tasks there is when it comes to blogging and despite my time out I probably spent more than 10 hours last week taking photographs and editing them up into blog worthy masterpieces. It's funny though how having a folder full of blog ready photographs makes you feel more confident, more prepared and more positive about your blog.

I'm all prepared now so it t doesn't matter what type of posts you like whether it's beauty, fashion, food, or lifestyle, I can pretty much guarantee that I'll have something for you over the next few weeks and months, oh and if you're a giveaway fan then I might have a little treat for you maybe on or around the 15th May, to help me celebrate my birthday :)

Don't forget to follow my blog if you haven't already to keep track of all my new posts x Oh and if you're a blogger and you fancy advertising on my blog from next month you can - click here or click the link at the top of the page to find out more x Thanks for reading and I'll see you tomorrow with a beauty product review x 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Foodie Friday On A Saturday - Courgette, Basil And Ricotta Tart


I'm always on the hunt for new recipes and I've found some gems in all sorts of places from magazines, to food packaging and of course online. One of my favourite places to find recipes at the moment though is from supermarkets own free magazines. The majority of stores do them and you can find all sorts of recipes usually using  fresh ingredients that are in season.

Just before Christmas I found a recipe in the Tesco magazine that I had try. Eating a predominantly gluten and wheat free diet, I miss a lot of things but probably one of the biggies for me is puff or flaky pastry. vanilla slices, cream horns, savoury tarts and even the much maligned vol au vent, have all been off the menu. Okay I've had the odd little bit of the naughty stuff here and then but up until recently gluten free puff pastry was nigh on impossible to find. I've found the odd recipe on the internet and in recipe books for it but for me they always look so complicated and time consuming that I just couldn't justify the effort.


Salvation came in the form of one the dominant UK gluten free brands, Genius. As well as their popular bread and bakery line recently they've introduced a line of free from frozen foods, including sweet and savoury pies and even pastry. Frustrating as it can be at times, I'm pretty happy with own homemade shortcrust pastry but as soon as I saw it I had to try some of their frozen puff pastry. It isn't quite as puffy or flaky, as wheat pastry but it fulfils that puff pastry need.

First of all I used it to make a batch of yummy cheese straws, but for the second batch I bought I wanted to try something different so I tried a recipe from a Tesco magazine for a Courgette, Basil and Ricotta Tart. It was nice but it was bit bland and lacking in flavour so I decided to pimp it up a bit and enhance those basil flavours with my own version.

Courgette, Basil And Ricotta Tart

1 Block Of Puff Pastry
or 
1 Packet Of Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
1 x 250g Tub Of Ricotta Cheese
75g Grated Cheese
1-2 Tbsp Basil Pesto
1 Beaten Egg
Handful Fresh Basil Leaves - Torn
2-3 Courgettes
2 Tbsp Pine Nuts
Egg Or Milk For Glazing

1. If your puff pastry is frozen defrost as per the packet instructions - my Genius pastry needed to be defrosted overnight in the fridge. Lightly grease a large baking tray. Preheat your over to around 200°C


2. Put your ricotta, your egg, and half of your basil leaves into a large mixing bowl. Then add pesto to taste, and half of your grated cheese. The original recipe used Parmesan or Gran Padano but I just used a coloured mature cheddar here. You can use anything that has a bit of flavour.

Then stir everything together until it all the ingredients are combined - Then set aside.


3. If your using ready rolled pastry lay it straight on to your baking tray, or if like me your using a block of pastry roll it out on a floured board until you get either a large square or a rectangle depending on the size of your packet of pastry. Don't roll it out too thin though.


4. Then you want to score your pastry leaving a 1-2 cm border around the edge. Don't cut through it, you just want to score it so the edge of the tart rises a bit.


5. Spoon your cheese mixture onto your pastry base, 


and spread it out, remembering to leave your border free around the edges. How thick you spread it depends on how big a base you have - I only managed a large square with my pastry so mine is spread quite thickly.


6. Then slice your courgettes. The amount of courgettes that you'll need depends on their size and the size of your base - I used two here. Place the courgette slices on top of the cheese mix, you might need to half a few to cover the top completely.


7. Brush the border of your tart with beaten egg or milk and sprinkle your tart with your remaining cheese, and bake for around 20 minutes.


8. After about 20 minutes your tart should be starting to brown, take it out of the oven, scatter over the pine nuts and return to the oven for around 5 minutes until puffed and golden.


9. Take it out of the oven


 and sprinkle with the remaining torn basil leaves, cut into wedges, and serve either warm, or cold.



This is a lovely summer lunch or supper recipe, that could be served either on it's own or with salad. You could also make different shaped tarts and smaller ones for parties. This recipe using one pack of Genius Puff Pastry made a big enough tart to serve four people comfortably. I found it easiest to cut with either scissors or a pizza cutter, and the leftovers lasted a good 24 hours in the fridge.


The pesto wasn't included in the original recipe but I think it makes a big difference. Despite the number of steps this is a really easy recipe to make and it's something that I will definitely make again but I might switch the courgettes for something like tomatoes or roasted peppers. What do you think about this recipe? Let me know below x 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Have Curls Do Care With The THX Total Hair Experts Deep Barrel Waver*

I don't really like starting blog posts with an apology but in this case it's justified and much needed. This post is so late it bordering on the ridiculous and for that I'm truly sorry. Life and illness well and truly got in the the way when it comes to this one but as the saying goes, better late then never.

I've made no secret of the hair issues that I've had over the last few years. Although I've always been partial to a bit of hair dye , medication and illness have played havoc with my hair. As well as periods of hair loss, my hair texture has completely changed. Looking back through old photo albums my hair was deathly straight and I could do a passable Nana Mouskouri impression (look her up if you don't know who she is ;). Now though it's wavy and unruly at best - hence my obsession with trying new hair products and straightening irons.

Lately though I've been trying to embrace my natural waves and curls a bit more, and I've either been leaving my hair to dry naturally or I've been using products and heat tools to emphasise my curly locks. 


On the days when I'm in a rush, for a quick and easy curl I've been grabbing my tongs or my curling wands but on the days when I want a more dramatic wave or curl I've been reaching for the THX Total Hair Experts Define Style Deep Barrel Waver.


Exclusive to Tesco, this tool creates everything from a deep retro curl, to a gentle beachy wave.



Boxed and with full instructions, this deep barrel waver, has ceramic plates, to help your style to last longer and to help your hair maintain it's natural shine.


It features a 2 metre long swiverl cord, a hanging loop and a lockable handle for ease of storage.


The waver heats up in around 2 minutes and it has variable heat settings ranging from 140 to 210 depending on your hair type and the effect that you want to achieve.

It's pretty simple to use but there is a bit of experimentation involved. I find it easier to work with on straight hair so rather oddly I straighten my hair a bit first and make sure that it's smooth and free of knots.

Then I section my hair out either with bobble or clips, and section by section I clamp my hair in the waver, leaving for a few moments before repeating and moving down the section of hair before moving onto the next section, and so on.

The temperature and how long you leave it for depends very much on your own hair and how deep you want the wave to be. For the look that you can see below on my thick hair, the temperature was set to about 190, and the waver was each segment of hair for about 10 seconds

Before


After 


After - Close Up


As you can see this is quite a full on look, here the waver has been used all over my my entire head to produce a deep curl. but by using it on a lower temperature you could produce softer, more beachy waves. Depending on your hair type the curls and waves will drop and loosen in time but my waves and curls unusually last a couple of days.

I'm going to be honest here and say that I have a few issues doing a full head myself. The waver is quite bulky (it weighs just over 1kg) and since I don't have a lot of arm strength I find it quite hard to section it and do the back myself so Mummy Lou did this for me and it took around half an hour to do achieve this look. When I've used the THX waver myself though I've just tended to use it on the ends to give a bit of a boho twist to my traditional straight style.

Unfortunately for me like the rest of the deep barrel wavers on the market, I find this a little bit too cumbersome and time consuming for everyday use but if you want a versatile tool that produce fabulous curls and waves for a special occasion or a night out then this could be the product for you, especially since it doesn't break the bank. The THX Total Hair Experts Define Style Deep Barrel Waver retails at just £35 and is exclusive to Tesco stores, groceries online and Tesco Direct.  Are you a fan of curly or wavy hair ? or is straight hair more your style? Leave me a comment and let me know x

(*Sample)

Clothing And Accessories Haul Featuring H&M, George and Boohoo

Another week and it's time for another haul. I'm not feeling very comfortable with my size or my weight at the moment, so really clothes shopping should be off the agenda but sometime you either see a bargain or you just get the urge to buy some pretties and that's exactly what's happened here.

I've probably done something a bit silly with some things and I've sized down for when I do lose a bit of weight but I'm really hoping that it will give me a bit of an incentive and the offending pieces won't just sit there in my wardrobe for ever more - fingers crossed anyways x

We'll start of with some supermarket buys from George at Asda. Over the last month or so I've had a couple of business meeting in Asda Cafe of all places. With time to kill I had a mooch around the George sale rails and I picked up a few half price bits including this gorgeous blouse.


It looks absolutely nothing in the picture but it's made of a sheer, pale ivory fabric, it has long slightly puff sleeves with crystal buttons and the most beautiful Peter Pan collar that you ever did see.


The collar is covered in the cutest daisy embellishment, made out of crystal and a PVC like, faux leather. The collar was undoubtedly the selling point for LouLou the daisy lover, and even though this top is too sheer to wear on it's own, I know I'll wear it a lot over both leggings and skinny jeans.


Another top that I got from the Asda sale racks was this boxy, purple floral number.


Made of shiny, scuba style fabric, it has a zip at the back of the neck and I love it. There was also a dress and matching pencil skirt available, but me and pencil skirts don't really mix so I'm picturing this with some high waisted jeans, or even some flares, if I can find a pair that fits and suit me.


As well as the tops I also got this floral patterned tunic dress. Made of a textured fabric, it has a black faux leather trim around the neckline, which adds a designer edge. I think I'm mainly going to be wearing this with black opaques, and maybe the brogues you'll see later on in this post, but I think that this would also look good over leggings for a long line tunic look.


The final I bought from Asda was a non sale item but it was only £12 so I still consider it to be a bit of a bargain buy x


I'm loving the silky, shiny scuba type fabric that seems to be everywhere at the moment and I also have a bit of a thing for elasticated waists. Hey, don't knock them until you've tried them. They fit on both your fat and thin days and they're comfy. There also pretty easy to adjust if you lose weight so I'm all over them at the moment and this one fits the bill perfectly. It's black with a large grey and white floral pattern.


Unfortunately I can't find any of these items online now, but if you have an Asda Home, or an Asda store near you it might be worth having a look at the sale racks, you never know what bargains you might find.


Sticking with the scuba fabric idea and the concept of the elasticated waist I've also recently made a little purchase from boohoo. This is one those sized down items but I loved it so much it will be worth cutting back on the bad things to wear it x The Kadie Porcelain Print Box Pleat Skirt, is made of the same, silky, shiny scuba type fabric but it isn't quite as thick as either of my Asda purchases. It normally £20 but buy at the right time from boohoo (usually weekends) and you can either get some money off or free postage. I love the clean, sharpness of the blue and white and I can't wait to wear this when I've lost a few pounds and have a bit of a tan. I'm not 100% sure what kind of top to wear this with so I'd love to hear your thoughts x


I don't whether I've been thinking about the warmer months but after wearing skirts only sporadically for the last few years all of a sudden I'm obsessed with them. Again all about the elasticated waist, this skirt comes from H&M.


When I first received this skirt I couldn't decided if I loved it or hated it. As well as being stupidly tight, I just wasn't sure about the colour and the fabric, or the £39.99 price tag! Although it's still way tighter than I would have liked (I'll work on that!) it has grown on me. I still think it's overpriced, but the almost tan, terracotta brown shade reminds a lot of some of the 70's inspired bits that are everywhere at the moment. The sort of ribbed, knit, almost nylon also has that retro vibe about it. I'll make it work and it's something that you could wear across several seasons so I'm hoping that it will make a versatile addition to my wardrobe.


That almost retro style rib knit seems to be everywhere at the moment and despite the sweat issues that come from the fabrication I'm a bit of a fan. This high, turtle neck black ribbed jumper also from H&M is a real, wardrobe staple, and a bit of a twist on the basic black sweater. I've been wearing this jumper with statement necklaces for a stylish yet classic look. Unfortunately this was in sale so it isn't online any more and unfortunately neither is this jumper.


This is just a classic, black and white horizontal striped, fine knit sweater, with an exposed zip at the back of the neck. I've been wearing this over skinny jeans, and leggings and accessorising if with chunky, black and white jewellery pieces, and my gorgeous Iced Rainbow necklace, that you may have already seen in this post x


This post seems to feature a lot of reoccurring themes, skirts with an elasticated waist, scuba fabrics, florals and blue and white. I think I get my love for blue and white from Mummy Lou and I couldn't resist yet another jumper.


This open weave jumper is white and features a lovely blousey, blue rose design. Unfortunately this one is long gone from the website too but I think will be a lovely piece for those cooler summer evenings.


My next clothing purchase came courtesy of Dorothy Perkins. I used to be a regular Dorothy Perkins shopper, but lately not so much. I find it quite an expensive store for what it is now, and to be honest all of their clothes are a bit samey :( Once in a while though something will stand out and on this occasion, it was this top.


My pictures just aren't doing this top justice, so I would recommend either checking it out on the Dorothy Perkins website or in person. It's all about the layers, with a wrap over a back and layers of fabric. Again the selling point was the neckline and I love the crystal and bead detailing. It should be £28 but if you look hard enough online you should be able to find a discount code x


My final clothing purchase came from QVC of all places. I know they have a bit of a reputation for old lady, and casual wear but I'm a firm believer that you can find fashion and beauty gems anywhere. One of QVC's most longstanding brands is British fashion jewellery brand Butler & Wilson. As well as a range of distinctive jewellery pieces, they also have their own fashion and accessory range.


I fell in love with this top the first time that I saw it presented. I love hippy and psychedelic swirls and patterns and this multi, coloured rainbow design called to me. The fabric is silky soft and feels gorgeous against the skin. The design has a slightly blurred finish which adds to the trippy feel. It was £30.40 excluding postage which wasn't cheap but I've already worn it once and received a few positive, compliments so it was well worth it for an unusual piece.


As well as some fashion pieces I've also bought a few jewellery and accessory pieces and a pair of shoes.


On those days when the rain and the ice have stayed away I've been ditching my boots for my beautiful Clarks brogues. I've worn them an awful lot and they still look as good as they ever did but I really, really wanted a black pair. Unfortunately I can't justify the outlay at the moment so after a lot of searching I eventually found a decent alternative courtesy of 24 Studio


Okay they aren't real leather but these Dolcis brogues look and feel like the real thing for a fraction of the price. I can't find them on the website anymore but I know they were less than £20 and they have some that look very similar on sale at just £12.99.


It wouldn't be a fashion and accessory haul on this blog if it didn't contain a few jewellery pieces x You've already seen a post on my gorgeous necklace from Iced Rainbow but I also a few pieces from Avon including this beautifully packaged necklace and earring set.


Packaged in a galaxy print, star shaped box you get a silver tone necklace with a tiny star pendant and matching stud earrings. As well as this sweet set, I also got this bracelet x It's a stretch bracelet in a sort of mesh, popcorn style, with a real gemstone, quartzite stone at the centre.


Alas these were sale items so they aren't on the Avon website anymore but it might be worth having a look through a sale brochure if you have a local Avon representative x

My final jewellery purchase came from one of my favourite places to buy jewellery, ebay x


This bracelet set contains a variety of faux gold, and faux pearl beaded bracelets, and one gold tone bangle, several of which have charms such as crystals, coins and stars hanging off them. All of these bracelets can be worn together or separately x They were just £1.09 from this seller x

My last clothing and accessory purchase was a bit of a silly one. I bought a pair of grey, furry bunny ears from Poundland.


An obvious Easter purchase don't you know and I wore them with pride to the hilarity of my family over the weekend x Why not? well all need to do something every now and then that makes us or someone else smile x I don't think Jasper was that impressed, but this picture seemed to make a lot of you smile on Instagram x


I've filmed a little You Tube video to accompany this haul, which I hope you'll watch and enjoy and I'd really love it if you'd subscribe x



If you have any questions or comments on anything that I've bought please leave me a comment, I love reading what you have to say x