Tuesday 30 September 2014

Yes To Carrots Nourishing Shampoo - A Review For My Pure*

Last week for the first time since Christmas I braved my local hair salon. I wasn't brave enough for colour but I had a long, long overdue haircut. The cut had done me the world of good and at last (fingers crossed) I feel as though I'm turning the poorly hair corner. As I said in a previous post though I'm doing my best to take care of it and I'm trying to stick to a more natural, SLS free shampoo and conditioner routine. The current communal, bathroom shampoo, although decent isn't SLS free, so I thought for one of this months My Pure reviews I'd try out one that was.

There are lots and lots of shampoos on the My Pure site, and there are quite a few that I haven't tried yet, but I decided to go for one from a brand that I'm already familiar with - Yes To Carrots.

Yes To Carrots Nourishing Shampoo is free from SLS, SLES and a new one on me, ALES, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. It's specially designed for normal to dry hair, and contains both carrot extract, for nourishment and pomegranate, which is a natural anti oxidant.

The product comes packaged in the familiar chunky, Yes To bottle. Personally I found this one a little hard to squeeze at first, but the plastic does seem to be softening a bit with continued use, if it's a bit hard for you though, you can always screw the flip top cap off.

The shampoo itself is clear, but slightly opaque in colour, and is of a medium consistency, and it has an almost silky feel on the skin.

It smells like every other product that I've tried in the Yes To Carrots, and I have to say it's a smell that I love. It's a bit fresh, a bit floral and a bit fruity, I'm useless at describing fragrances but Mummy Lou says it definitely has a bit of parma violet about and do you know what? I think she's right.

A little goes a long way so the huge 500ml bottle will last for ages. As with most sulfate free shampoos, add more water than shampoo to help it foam. There is always a temptation to use more shampoo, but usually adding a little bit of water does the trick.

It was easy to use and rinsed out with no problem. I have to say on a few occasions I used this shampoo without any form of conditioner, purely for blogging reasons, and I have to say I was really impressed. Unusually for me lately my hair felt and looked pretty smooth, and pretty free from tangles. I'm stroking my hair now, after another conditioner free wash and I'm surprised at how hydrated and moisturised it feels.

This shampoo has actually really impressed me. Usually shampoos for dry hair, have a thicker almost creamy texture, but whilst they moisturise, they can often weigh the hair down. When I saw the texture I didn't hold out much hope but I have to say I'm happy. My hair doesn't feel stripped, or dry, and it certainly doesn't feel, heavy or weighed down, and it didn't make my often oily roots worse. Another Yes To thumbs up from me and I will definitely enjoy using the rest of this shampoo up. The Yes To Carrots Nourishing Shampoo normally retails at £8.99 for a 500ml bottle from My Pure. Any questions please leave me a comment x  Thanks for reading x


Monday 29 September 2014

Weight Loss Update - 9 Months In - 27lbs Down

I've had one of those months guys x The month started off with a maintain, fine I can deal with that, but then came the big test - Mummy Lou's birthday! For 4 days solid I ate nothing but bad things, cake cheese, chocolate, ice cream - lots of naughtiness. I was to scared to do an official weigh in but a sneaky look at the hospital scales showed at least a 3lb gain - ouch!

My body though had other ideas and almost as soon as the weight gain registered, my body said no, no, no, that ain't happening! and struck me down with a weeks worth of gastroenteritis! I could barely eat or drink and nothing stayed in my stomach for more than an hour! Sorry if that's a little to much information but there is no way I would wish that on anyone, I haven't felt so ill for a long, long time but when I did manage to step on the scales again, I'd officially lost 2lbs, on a star week but in reality I'd probably lost nearer 6. A great weight loss trick but not something I would recommend :( Losing weight that quickly isn't healthy believe me!

I've spent the last two weeks trying to get my appetite back, and just trying to get my strength back so I haven't really been too careful about counting the calories, hence two maintains but again I can live with that. I'm still 2lbs down for the month so I'm looking at the positives of a pretty bad month in every sense of the word.

So what are my plans for October? Well I'm going to try and get back on the healthy eating bandwagon. It's not going to be easy, the onset of winter and  the cold dark nights always makes me want to hole and eat comfort food, but moderation is key and hopefully I can find some healthy winter warmers to help me through. I've been referred back to physiotherapy starting from this week, so activity could either be increased or decreased depending on how my assessment appointment goes but whatever the outcome I'll make the best of it. I've been slacking a bit of my Slimpod too so in October I'm determined to get listening again and to get Thinking Slimmer.

Thanks again for all your support especially when I was poorly and don't forget you can keep updated with my weight loss journey via my weight tracker page, and on instagram, where I will be starting to update my weekly weight loss again from next week x Thanks for reading x

(Various Thinking Slimmer Slim Pods Have Been Provided For Review / Promotional Purposes)

Sunday 28 September 2014

Getting Sparkly With Candy Rocks Jewellery

I love jewellery and I love blogger events, and this week I had the opportunity to combine the two courtesy of a local North East based company Candy Rocks Jewellery.

So on Thursday night along with several other lovely bloggers, I headed to The Town Wall, a pub not to far away from the Central Station in Newcastle city centre. The event took place in the Secret Cinema Room, an intimate, and cosy below ground room, with a bar and lined with sofas, and tables and chairs. 

Upon arrival we were greeted with sparkly fruity, drinks from one of the event sponsors, Glo Worm, who produce a range of fruity, caffinated drinks, that are ideal for use as mixers, we had the raspberry one which I would thoroughly recommend! 

The main purpose of the event was to showcase Candy Rocks, newest range of jewellery. Unlike a lot of jewellery brands they just focus on necklaces, and in particular statement necklace. Huge, statement pieces are everywhere at the moment and as you've probably already realised I'm a big fan, so this really was a match made in heaven. 

Excuse the ridiculous amount of pictures but I can honestly say I wanted everything, they had everything from huge, heavy sparkly in your face pieces, to slightly more delicate brights, with just a touch of sparkle.

After having a chance to have a look at some of the pieces, and a welcome from Lisa, it was time to kick back and have some fun. Some of the girls from local salon Glitz N Glamour Hair And Beauty, were on hand to show off their hairdressing skills and quite a few ladies got their hair done -  Chloe from New Girl In Toon, had some gorgeous curls and waves put in

and Becca from Polka Dot Notebook Blog, had the most fabulous up do done, it was stunning, and would be a perfect bridal do .

Talk about sods law though I'd only had my hair done on the Thursday morning so it seemed a bit pointless to get it done after I'd already paid for a blow dry, after seeing Becca's though I was really tempted to change my mind.

As well as having sweeties and lollipops on the tables, we were also treated to some vanilla cheesecake shots courtesy of local company Simply Cheesecake, they were so nice and I'm ashamed to say I ate the crumb too, they weren't that big honestly ;)

After the cheesecakes it was quiz time, I don't think we did particularly well on my table but it was a good laugh. We also had the opportunity to name and win a necklace and of course there was the raffle.

There was a small charge for the event but all the proceeds went to a fabulous charity Head Start For Babies, which raises awareness of plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. A raffle ticket was included in the ticket price, but once everyone saw the prizes, we nearly all bought more. The fabulous prizes included items from Tare, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Benefit and more.  I wasn't lucky enough to win anything this time but lots of ladies went away with some lovely goodies x 

10% of all jewellery sales on the night were also donated to the charity so it would have been wrong not to pick a few things up. It was so hard to choose, and I'm still longing for one of my rejects but I'm really happy with the two necklaces that I got. They are both in exactly the same design but in a different colour. These are probably the most delicate pieces that they had, but that doesn't make them any the less statement or eye catching.

I love the gunmetal chain and setting on both of these necklaces, it's really unusual and not something that you see a lot in jewellery. The first necklace is almost orange / red in colour, and is scattered through with sparkly crystals.

The second necklace is almost rainbow / neon in colour, and contains lots of multi coloured acrylic stones, and crystals again set in the gunmetal effect finish. This is much brighter than it's showing here, my camera has really washed this one out. 

All of there jewellery would be great for evening wear, or even for a special occasion, but I also think that they would work with a shirt, t-shirt or something plain. I love how people seem to style necklaces like this, even with a plain white, t-shirt and pair of jeans, you can create a stunning, individual look in minutes.

Like all good events the lovely people at Candy Rocks made sure that we didn't leave empty handed. We each got a lovely goodie bag crammed full of sweeties, beauty samples, and more Glo Worm drinks. The samples were largely from US and high end brands, and I was lucky enough to get some Make Up Forever, NARS, and Peter Thomas Roth goodies to play with. You'll definitely see some of these bits popping up in a new series I have starting soon on the blog Sample Saturday x 

As well as the goodie bags, we could also chose a necklace to take home, there were four different options to choose from and I went for this one.

It was very different to anything else that I bought, and again I love the gunmetal chain and setting, and I love the combination of the purple/ lilac, the yellow and the pale blue, with the almost champagne coloured crystal. Again the colours are a bit more vibrant irl x 

I would like to say a huge thank you to the ladies at Candy Rocks, and everyone else involved for having me. I had a really nice evening, and got to indulge in one my favourite things, no not cheesecake - jewellery! You can find out more about Candy Rocks, and purchase from either their facebook page, or their instagram page and you can also find them on twitter. If you like something though go for it, the pieces are often available in quite limited quantities. Are you a fan of the statement necklace? Leave me a comment and let me know x 

Friday 26 September 2014

Foodie Friday - Gluten Free Mushroom And Basil Lasagne

You should know by now that I'm partial to the epic blog post, you know the ones, long and picture heavy, well I make no apologies that this is one of those posts. Way back when on the 7th September we celebrated Mummy Lou's birthday, sometime we celebrate by having a family event, other times it's just the two of us and we either go out for a meal or I cook something special for the two of us. This year I decided to cook, and for our main meal I made something that I've made many times before - My Mushroom And Basil Lasagne. This recipe landed in my inbox quite a few years ago now in a mail out from Goodness Direct, but it was originally from a sadly now defunct food blog called Polka Dot Mittens. I tried it and it was love at first bite. It's not the hardest recipe but there are quite a few steps to it all of which take a bit of time. It can be made a bit easier and I'll tell you how later, but unfortunately it can't be made any less calorific, yeah that's just the way it rich, luscious and perfect for special occasions x

Gluten Free Mushroom And Basil Lasagne

For The Mushroom Sauce

1lb 10oz Chestnut Mushrooms
1/2 40g Packet Of Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Carton Whipping Cream (About 142ml)
2 Large Onions
4 Cloves Garlic
2oz Butter 
1 Or 2 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
2oz Grated Cheddar 
Salt and Pepper To Taste

For The Basil Sauce

1 Tub Of Fresh Pesto Sauce
1 Jar Of Good Pesto Sauce

For The Cheese Sauce

3oz Gluten Free Plain Flour
3oz Butter 
1 Pint Milk
2oz Cheddar
Salt And Pepper To Taste

For The Topping 

1 Ball Mozzarella 
2oz Cheddar

1 Pack Of Dried Lasagne Sheets (Around 250g)

1. First up your mushroom sauce. Finely chop your onion, and thinly slice your garlic cloves, and put them in a large pan with the butter, and cook until soft.

2. Put your porcini mushrooms into a small bowl and cover with boiling water and leave them to soak for about 20 minutes. Then slice your chestnut mushrooms.

3. After about 10-15 minutes your onions and garlic should be soft, so add your chestnut mushrooms to the pan. Don't panic if they don't all fit in at once, pop as many in as you can and leave it for a few minutes and you should be able to put the rest in. If you've got a lid put it on and cook over a gentle heat until the mushrooms are coloured and softened.

4. Right back to the porcinis, after about 15-20 minutes they should have softened considerably. Now what you need to do is drain them, through either a tea strainer or a sieve Don't throw the liquid away though, it contains great flavour so you going to add it to the mushroom sauce later. There still might be a little bit of grit left in the soaking liquid though so I usually end of straining it back through the sieve a few times.

5. It's pretty obvious when your chestnut mushrooms are done, the colour will have changed, the size will have reduced and there will be a lot more liquid in the pan.

When they're done add you porcini mushrooms

and your parsley and give it a mix

and then add your grated cheddar

6. Now for the liquids, first add the cream and then the porcini soaking liquid

7. It will look pretty liquidy but don't panic, cook it slowly over a gentle heat till it thickens slightly, and be careful not to boil it. It can take up to hour but low and slow is the key. It will also thicken a little bit when it cools. Once it's done set it to one side.

8. Next up prepare your lasagne sheets as per the packet instruction. I'm using Tesco Free From here which I just cooked in small batches for 10-12 minutes in boiling, salted water with a touch of olive oil added. You can use no cook lasagne sheets if you like, but once you've assembled your lasagne leave to stand for an hour before baking.

9. Pre heat your oven to about 180 C and now it's assembly time - I'm using my large ceramic baking dish here but whatever you use normally for lasagne will be fine, something none stick is preferable though.

All you do now is layer it all up, I just got two layers but you can do how ever many you like, first put in a layer of the mushroom sauce, 

Then on top of that swirl a few tablespoons of pesto sauce, you can use as little or as much as you like. Homemade or fresh is way better than the jarred stuff but how much you use is up to you.

Then put a layer of lasagne sheets, and repeat, till all your mixture is used ending with a layer of lasagne sheets.

10. We're on the home strait now and it's cheese sauce time. I've read all sorts of faffy ways to make it but this way works for me. Maybe it because it's gluten free but it's worth a try. Put the milk, flour and butter in a large pan, and apply the heat.

Stir, stir and keep stirring to get rid of the lumps, I'm using a mini whisk here but a wooden spoon or large whisk would do the same thing. Eventually it will start to thicken, and start to coat the whisk or spoon. Once it gets to this stage add your grated cheese and give it a good stir till it melts in, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Make sure it bubbles though to make sure the flour completely cooks out.

11. Pour you cheese sauce over your lasagne, and top with the remaining grated cheddar and the torn up mozzarella.

Then bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes till golden and bubbly.

12. Once it's done leave it to cool slightly before serving. It's very rich so small portions are probably best, and I would always serve this with something to cut through the richness like the rocket leaf salad here.

My dish made 6 substantial portions, it fine eaten straight away but I actually think it's nicer if it's eaten the next day. You can keep it in the fridge when its cool, and heat it up either in the microwave or the oven till it's piping hot.

This is a long drawn out and slightly complicated recipe but you can make it slightly easier. In my opinion it's better to make everything yourself but of course you can buy your own pesto sauce, and even your own bechamel sauce to make it quicker. You can also make the mushroom sauce the day before, just leave it to cool, then refrigerate, and then reheat it either in a pan or in the microwave till it's piping hot before adding it to your lasagne. Oh and the mushroom sauce can also be used with normal pasta x Obviously this recipe is gluten free but it would be easy to adapt it, to use wheat flour and pasta

Yes this is an epic and pretty calorific recipe and it's not for everyday but it's so yummy and so worth making. It has a real richness, and savouriness. The chestnut mushrooms give it a real meaty texture making it ideal for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Although I only make it once or twice a year, it's definitely one of my favourite, luxury recipes for when I just want to potter and spend some time in the kitchen. I really hope that you try this out, it's so worth the effort x Let me know if you do xx