Wednesday, 30 December 2015

What I got for Christmas 2015

I love watching Christmas hauls and seeing what everyone got so I thought I would put it into blog post form. It's sad that you have to put a disclaimer on these "I'm not bragging" blah blah, you know the drill. I just want to share some of the things I got, maybe they'll inspire your wishlists or give you some ideas on what to buy other people on their birthdays this coming year.

I haven't included every single thing that I got as this post would be very long with all the little bits and pieces I received. I appreciated every single one of my gifts but for the purpose of this post, I have mainly included things that are a little bit different from the norm. I haven't mentioned who got me what either as I don't want to put people against each other.

One of my main presents this year was my Roberts Radio in duck egg blue. I have wanted one of these DAB radios since forever and I love the vintage look these ones have. I asked for duck egg blue as it's a nice neutral pastel colour which I know will work well with the decor I plan to have in my future home.

Hopefully I will be moving out in 2016 so this slow cooker is a godsend. I have recently been using my mums slow cooker to make pulled pork and I can't believe how easy it is! I am so excited to try some recipes out in this. I also received other house bits including plates and knives. All things that will come in handy when I move out.

Speaking of recipes I was lucky enough to receive some new recipe books. I love trying new things and all of these books are packed with great looking recipes and some healthy alternatives which I can't wait to try come January when my diet begins. Also how cute is this cat money box? I think it will look lovely on the shelf.

 All these recipes I plan to make would be incomplete without an apron wouldn't they?! Well I was lucky enough to receive 2! And one is personalised with my blog font - how awesome! My friends and family know I love baking - I can sense the theme here with these gifts!

Alcohol - say no more. I haven't tried this Echo Falls flavour yet but I received a lovely cocktail recipe to try and include this in. Also prosecco - how posh!

If I get bored of the booze then I can go onto some tea. I got a lovely glass teapot and mug alongside a pug tea infuser. I was told this was a joke gift but it's actually really handy as I have some loose tea I can use in this. I have wanted one of these boxes for ages and this one is so pretty. It looks great with my teabags in too! Speaking of tea I received the Body Shop green tea bath salts and infuser which I can't wait to try out when I next have a bath.

And then there's the beauty bits... Plenty to keep me going in the new year. I love trying new products so it's always great receiving things like this - also how cute is the penguin!

I received so many lovely gifts, some of which I haven't been able to include but I would like to thank every single person who bought me a gift. I also received some vouchers so will do a haul post on what I spend those on. I also have vouchers for an experience day so will blog about that when I choose what I will be doing!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Please link me your Christmas hauls! Happy new year!


Sunday, 27 December 2015

#BloggersSecretSanta - What I received!

Back in November I put my name down for a Bloggers Secret Santa which was suggested by Daisy after the #SuffolkBloggerMeet. Hannah very kindly took over the organisation and paired everyone up with their respective blogger partner.

The rules were simple, spend no more than £15, keep it a secret and package the item so it arrives in time for Christmas to be opened on the 25th December. We were given our blog partners links and Instagram accounts so we could have a little stalk on there before we bought anything.

As this is a secret Santa, I won't be disclosing who I bought for, but I did have a lot of fun choosing items and looking through their blog for ideas.

I couldn't wait to open my mystery package on Christmas morning and I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed my box so much I rushed to take photos of it so I could upload as soon as possible! I was so excited to receive my gift and when it came all wrapped in a nice festive silver bag I put it straight under my tree for Christmas Day.

I opened the first present to find a familiar shape waiting for me under the paper and my suspicions were right, it was a Yankee Candle! I absolutely love Yankee Candles and to be treated to a whole jar of scent was amazing, my blogger did good! The scent I received was Cranberry Ice which smells good enough to eat. I don't have this scent so I was really excited to receive this jar. Such a lovely festive scent and as a lover of Christmas I know I am going to love this.

The second present was a pair of soaps from The Body Shop in Glazed Apple and Frosted Plum. Both of these scents remind me of Christmas and they smell gorgeous. I love The Body Shop too and I have never tried their soap range so I was really pleased to open these and I can't wait to use them.

The third package contained something VERY exciting indeed in the form of these adorable chocolates! I am not ashamed to say that I opened these straight away and tried one and they are delicious. With a mixture of white, milk and dark chocolates these are super yummy and cater for all tastes. My favourite part is the super cute reindeer and penguin designs on the front of the chocolate - they are almost too good to eat!

Even though it's supposed to be a secret, I did find my blogger as she put her name on the sender details part of the envelope so I would like to give a massive thank you to Jessica from Beauty Through The Specs for choosing such perfect gifts for me - I am very grateful!

Were you lucky enough to receive a Blogger's Secret Santa gift? Send me your links in the comments below, I'd love to read all about them.


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Perfect Festive Cocktails With Echo Falls Fruit Fusion*

I love cocktails especially around Christmas and New Year when I feel that I can really let my hair down. I have never thought about using wine in cocktails before so when Echo Falls contacted me about trying some of their cocktail recipes featuring the Fruit Fusion range I couldn’t wait to try them out. These recipes were provided to me from Echo Fall’s and I am going to show you how to create them yourself. They are super easy and absolutely delicious. I even converted someone who doesn’t like wine into drinking them and they said they were really tasty.

Echo Falls is currently the third largest wine brand in the UK and my personal favourite. The Echo Falls Fruit Fusion range was introduced a year ago and consists of Cocoa & Orange, Orange & Cranberry, Winter Spice, Strawberry & Lime and Passion Fruit & Peach. I received the Strawberry & Lime and the Passion Fruit & Peach bottles which are both absolutely delicious. I am not a drinker of strong wines and these flavours are so nice and not strong at all. They slide down almost too easily.. The Strawberry & Lime Echo Falls Fruit Fusion is available at Tesco for £5.99. The taste is sweet and you can pick up the strawberry flavours but it also has a nice citrus kick from the lime – it’s the perfect combination. The Passion Fruit & Peach Echo Falls Fruit Fusion is also available from Tesco for £5.99. This was my favourite and the combination of the passion fruit and the peach is absolutely delicious. When these wines are combined with other ingredients to make the below cocktails, it’s a taste sensation. Read on for the recipes..

Partridge in a Passion Fruit Tree 
50ml Passion Fruit & Peach Echo Falls Fruit Fusion
15ml pineapple juice
15ml lemon juice
15ml vanilla syrup
Garnish with half passion fruit

Pour 50ml Passion Fruit & Peach Echo Falls Fruit Fusion into a shaker, add 15ml pineapple juice, 15ml lemon juice, 15ml vanilla syrup and shake well. Strain and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with half a fresh passion fruit.

These recipes are just a guide. I chose to serve mine in a wine glass instead of a martini glass so feel free to adapt them to suit what you have at home.

Mistletoe Mojito
70ml Strawberry & Lime Echo Falls Fruit Fusion
10 mint leaves
5ml lime
5ml sugar
Crushed Ice
Garnish with a sprig of mint and some black pepper

Pour 70ml Strawberry & Lime Echo Falls Fruit Fusion into a julep tin or hi-ball glass, add 5ml lime juice and 5ml sugar syrup. Stir and top with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a sprinkle of black pepper.

These drinks are perfect for the festive season and over the New Year. I definitely recommend trying these Echo Falls Fruit Fusion wines out. They are available in most leading supermarkets so pop them on your shopping list – you won’t regret it!
*I was provided with these Echo Falls Wine’s free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.


Monday, 21 December 2015

A Festive Trip to York

Way back in June for my birthday, my boyfriend surprised me with a Father Christmas Pandora charm. I thought it was random until he handed me an A4 piece of paper saying we were off to York for a few night's for the Christmas market. I was so excited! I have always wanted to visit York, and especially as Christmas is my favourite time of year I knew that this was going to be a very special trip and well worth the wait.

We set off on a Thursday, the day before my payday - typically! We stayed in a Premier Inn about a mile or two from the center. It was cheaper to stay a bit further out and our hotel had free parking so I was happy to walk 20 minutes into town every day to explore and the staff at the hotel said it wasn't worth trying to drive as it was so expensive to park.

On the first day we set off in the afternoon as we couldn't check into the hotel until 3pm. Traffic was crazy due to an accident and we arrived later than planned. We got ourselves settled in and had a picnic in the room. I fell asleep at about half 7 in the evening but felt refreshed the next day.

Day 2 was payday so we finally had money but it was also Black Friday! I had a goal that I wanted all of my Christmas shopping done by December so we had to be brave and head to the shops. I didn't actually buy much but we wandered around for hours. We walked about 6 miles. For lunch we went to Betty's Cafe and Tea Rooms. There was only a small queue which took 10 minutes to pass. I had the Afternoon Tea for one which was lovely. It came with 4 different sandwiches, a scone and 3 little desserts on top with a pot of tea. James had a fish dish. We both agreed it was nice but nowhere near as good as our afternoon tea at The Assembly House in Norwich. After lunch we walked around some more. The Christmas markets are up at the moment and I bought myself a vintage art print - I just need to get myself a frame. I then bought a couple of Christmas presents.

Betty's Afternoon Tea - York

For dinner we headed to The Indian Lounge. We originally wanted to go to a different Indian but as we hadn't booked we couldn't get in until 10pm! The Indian Lounge was busy and staff were very attentive. We had poppadoms whilst we decided what to have for our main and they were delicious. I had a chicken rogan josh with a garlic naan and James had a lamb korma with a stuffed naan. We were both stuffed afterwards!

Indian Lounge York

Day 3 was Saturday and a pretty busy day for us. We woke up and headed to town for our pre-booked visit to the York Chocolate Story which cost £18 for the two of us online (one adult, one student). I loved every minute of the tour - it was so interesting. It was a wet and windy day today and we were both freezing. Everywhere was queuing out of the door for lunch so we went to BHS cafe and had lasagne. It wasn't the best but did the job. We then did some more shopping and walked around again. We came back to the hotel for a rest and to warm up then headed back out in the evening for a ghost walk which was just a bit of fun. For dinner we went to Cote Brassier. I'd never heard of this restaurant but turns out we have one in Norwich hah. We received complimentary drinks as our table was slightly delayed which was nice and had a really delicious meal.

Day 4 we decided to go to the York Dungeons. I booked the tickets online beforehand and we ended up saving quite a bit of money which was handy. I really liked the dungeons and thankfully didn't get picked on. We had a Wagamamas for lunch and then did our final walk back to the hotel. My feet were throbbing by this point, my energy was non existent! For dinner we had a roast at The Dormouse which was opposite our hotel. James made some holiday friends. We then got an early night (well I did!)

Day 5 was our last day in York and I was sad to say goodbye. We popped to the York Designer Outlet before heading home and got some bargains.

I had a really lovely time in York, it was the perfect present and perfect time of year to go there and I am very thankful to James for taking me on such a lovely belated birthday trip. York is a beautiful city and I would love to go back someday and perhaps stay somewhere more central. There was still things we could have done but the weather restricted us a little bit.

I vlogged my trip which you can see over on my Youtube channel if you would like to see more!


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Banana Loaf and Gingerbread Recipes – Feat. Indigo Herbs*

Having previously worked with Indigo Herbs, I couldn’t wait to collaborate with them again in creating a couple of recipes that are gluten and dairy free and made using 100% organic ingredients available at Indigo Herbs. I wanted to make something that will satisfy my sweet tooth but not leave me feeling guilty.

Indigo Herbs make excellent and good quality herbs and superfoods that are available at really affordable prices. I love their products and couldn’t wait to experiment with a recipe using the baking bundle they sent me. The baking bundle has been inspired by the BBC Television programme ‘The Great British Bake Off’. This show has encouraged people to enjoy baking and they featured an alternative ingredients week where the contestants created delicious gluten free and dairy free recipes. All of the products I received are premium quality, organic, dairy free and gluten free.

The first recipe I will be sharing with you is for gluten and dairy free chocolate banana loaf. I came up with this recipe after looking through many cookbooks and online recipes and adapted it to suit the ingredients that I had. If you’re after a recipe for a delicious, not so guilty chocolate banana loaf that is gluten and dairy free, then you’ve come to the right place!

125g Organic Coconut Flour 
80g Organic Coconut Sugar
2 tbsp Organic Cacao Powder
1 heaped tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp Mixed Spice
3 Bananas, mashed
1 heaped tbsp Organic Banana Powder
75g Organic Pure Raw Virgin Coconut Oil (3 tablespoons)
1 tbsp Organic White Tahini
50g Dried Fruit or Nuts (optional)
Chia Seeds (1 tbsp chia, 2.5 tbsp water)

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease your loaf pan or baking tray. I greased mine with a little bit of the Organic Coconut Oil on a clean tissue.

Mash the peeled banana with a fork. When this is mashed, mix in your Coconut Oil, Chia Seeds, White Tahini and Coconut Sugar. You may find it easier to melt the Coconut Oil beforehand, you can do this by placing in in the microwave in a heat proof bowl for 30 seconds. The Coconut Sugar has a low glycemic index so won’t spike your blood sugar levels like regular sugar does. It is made from coconuts which are one of the more nutritious foods on the planet. You can substitute any sugar in a recipe for Coconut Sugar in equal quantities. It has a brown sugar taste and works really well with this banana loaf recipe. Coconut Oil is one of the very few oils that can be heated at a high temperature without converting into trans-fats. It is easily turned into and used as energy unlike most fats coming from other types of oil and is a healthy alternative to butter in your regular banana loaf recipe. The White Tahini which is made from sesame seeds will give this a nutty flavour which tastes great. Mix well until combined.
Dairy Free Banana Loaf

Next add the Coconut Flour, baking powder, Banana Powder, Raw Cacao and mixed spice, and combine with your wet ingredients. Coconut Flour is gluten free and high in fibre and is a great alternative to plain flour. Cacao is gluten and dairy free and is a raw version of cocoa powder and much better for you as it hasn't been processed.

Add any additional ingredients such as your fruit or nuts if you choose to include those and mix until combined. 

Bake in your greased loaf tin for around 20 minutes, After 20 minutes, cover the top of the tin in foil and bake for a further 40 minutes until golden. Allow to cool before slicing, and enjoy your guilt free treat! It tastes delicious topped with nut butter.

I am so pleased this recipe turned out great. It was sweet and packed full of flavour and great organic ingredients meaning I didn’t feel bad about eating it.

The second recipe is for gluten and dairy free gingerbread men. Of course you can use whatever shaped cookie cutter you like and these will still taste super delicious.

125g Organic Coconut Flour  (350g plain flour)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g dairy free vegan spread
175g Organic Coconut Sugar (brown sugar)
Chia Seeds (1 tbsp seeds mixed with 2 tbsps water) - 1 egg
1 tbsp Organic Pure Raw Virgin Coconut Oil (4 tbsp golden syrup)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease 2 baking trays.

Sift together the Coconut Flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and mix until combined. Add your vegan spread and mix until you get the consistency of breadcrumbs then add the Coconut Sugar . Melt your Coconut Oil and add that with the soaked chia seeds. Mix everything together until your mixture clumps together into dough.

Knead until smooth then roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is around 0.5cm thick. Use your cutters to make whatever shapes you desire and place onto the greased baking trays and then into the oven for around 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown. When cooled, feel free to decorate! Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea.

You can find most of the ingredients that I used in the recipes over on the Indigo Herbs website which I have linked throughout this post.

Will you be trying these recipes?

*I received these ingredients free of charge from Indigo Herbs in exchange for creating a recipe and giving an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

Friday, 18 December 2015

December 2015 Glossybox

I was really looking forward to this month’s box, especially as it’s the rose gold edit and I love rose gold. The box is beautiful and Christmassy and in collaboration with Really Ree - a blogger I have only recently had the pleasure in discovering! This month we got 6 items which impressed me and was a nice little Christmas bonus.

December Glossybox Review

Etre Belle – Golden Skin Caviar eye Roll on – Full Size £30.66
This product aims to sooth and hydrate the delicate skin around the eyes. It is quite an expensive product, not one I would go out and buy myself. I really like the feeling that this produces, it really does make my eyes feel fresh and I am loving putting this on in the morning just to wake my eyes up. The roll on contains a cooling gel which is so nice and great for the party season to widen tired eyes! Lovely product but a little bit too expensive for me to repurchase.

etre belle roll on

So Susan – Statement Skin Highlighter Pencil – Full Size £15
I own a few So Susan products now and one thing I love is the exciting fun packaging. This pencil is a lovely colour and perfect for adding a bit of highlight around your cheekbones and along the bridge of your nose. I love that this product glides on smoothly and doesn’t drag on the skin. It is easy to bled out with your finger or a beauty blender to achieve a natural glow. I don’t own any other product like this so it was a welcome addition to this month’s box.

So Susan highlighter

Cheeky – Chat Me Up Nail Paint – Crush On You – Full Size £7
I love the name of this nail varnish, it’s fun and flirty. The colour I received is called Crush On You and is a baby pink colour. This isn’t a colour I own and is probably a little bit too light for me but I love the formula. You only need to apply 2 coats to get a nice even coverage and the finish is glossy and smooth. I think I’ll save this one for the summer, it would look great with a nice tan.

Cheeky Nail Paint

Philosophy – Purity Made Simple 3 in 1 Cleanser – Full Size £18
I do love trying new cleansers but nothing beats my Liz Earle. I haven’t tried this cleanser before so I was interested to see how it worked. Massage the product into damp skin and it removes all signs of any makeup that may have been on the skin. This deep cleans! Even after wiping my makeup off with a face wipe this continued to get rid of excess grime that I couldn’t even see. I really like this, I will consider buying the full sized product when I ran out.

Philosophy Purity Cleanser

Essence – Liquid Lipstick – Show off – Full Size £2.50
For £2.50 I didn’t have high hopes for this product. I do own some items from the essence range and I often find that you do get what you pay for. The packaging was lost on me, it’s a gloss but the bottle is made to look like it’s a lipstick. I didn’t even notice this, my boyfriend actually noticed when I was taking the photos for it. The applicator is good for applying this precisely but for me this product simply didn’t deliver how I wanted it to. I found the formula quite sticky and could see myself getting my hair stuck in it if I went outside. It’s a lovely colour that can be worn by everyone and I think some people would really benefit from this but it’s not one I’ll be using religiously.

Essence Liquid Lipstick

Starskin – Bio-Celluloise Second Skin Mask – Full Size £8.50
This was our bonus item for this month and I couldn’t wait to relax and try this out. I was a bit cautious as my skin has been reacting to products lately but this was fine. The serum was really lovely and left my skin feeling so hydrated afterwards. I want to try out all of the different masks now! It’s a shame I don’t live near a Selfridges to pick some up.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Santa's Sausage Rolls Recipe

Sausage rolls are the easiest thing to make and taste so good, especially straight from the oven. You literally only need ready rolled pastry and sausage meat and you can make a great tasting sausage roll. At Christmas I feel like you need to add a little bit more to them to have that festive taste that gets us all excited for Christmas. I pretty much made this recipe up after experimenting with different flavours and it turned out great. These went down so well, I promise you there will be no leftovers. Oh and this recipe costs less than £5 – result!

Sausage Roll Recipe

You will need:
375g ready-rolled puff pastry
500g sausage meat or sausages
25g dried cranberries
1 Apple - Grated
1 egg – to seal and glaze
Sage and onion stuffing mix

Sausage Roll Recipe

Method (Makes Approx 20):

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Dust your work surface with flour and roll out your pastry. Divide this in half so that you have 2 long rectangles.

Place your sausage meat or sausages (without skins) into a bowl and mix in the dried cranberries, grated apple and a tablespoon of the sage and onion stuffing mix. Half the mixture and spread each half onto your pre-sliced pastry rectangles so that it forms a sausage shape down the middle.

Sausage Roll Recipe

Brush one side of your pastry rectangle with some beaten egg, then roll into a cylinder making sure the seam closes. Cut both cylinders into equal sized squares - I got about 10 from each cylinder, and brush with beaten egg yolk. Slit the tops of the sausage rolls to allow them to cook through. I have no idea if that’s true, but they look good.

Sausage Roll Recipe

Sausage Roll Recipe

Place onto a baking tray and pop in the oven for around 20 minutes or until golden.

Sausage Roll Recipe

Try and wait for them to cool before you eat them (I tried, it’s not possible).

The cranberries really give these sausage rolls a festive taste but are hardly noticeable to those who don’t like them. The sage and onion adds that lovely stuffing flavour and the apple makes you think you’re eating something healthy – and tastes really great too.

Sausage Roll Recipe

What are your favourite sausage roll additions?

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