Friday, 28 April 2017

Overnight Oats Recipe With Alpro Go On Plain*

I've been having overnight oats every week for the past year or so now, and I am always asked for the recipe. They are super easy to make and a great grab-and-go breakfast if you prepare these the night before. These are so versatile. You can change up the fruit, add some flavouring to the yoghurt, add nuts, seeds, chia seeds or even chocolate. The possibilities are endless. Make it your own! 

I recently received some Alpro Go On Plain and thought this would be a great addition to my daily overnight oats. The Go On Plain is the new plant based alternative to strained yoghurt. It has a smooth texture and a mild taste so is perfect for both sweet and savoury recipes. I have used it in my oats for a sweet breakfast but it can also be used to create dips or stirred into curries to give them a creamy texture. The product is very versatile and I will be using it in my cooking as an alternative to fatty dairy products. It also has the added benefit of being gluten free.

To make my overnight oats, I use the following:

40g Plain Dry Porridge Oats
½ a Tub of Alpro Go On Plain
Any Fruit you like – Raspberries and Blueberries for me!

I use a jar to put these in so I can grab it in the morning, take it to work and eat it right away but you can use a bowl or a lunchbox as well, whatever is convenient.

I started off by layering the Alpro Go On Plain with the oats then the fruit. Keep doing this until you have ran out of ingredients. I try and make sure the oats are fully covered so that they can soak up the yoghurt overnight. Sometimes I add a dash of milk to make sure the oats are all covered, I think the Alpro Oat Original would be the perfect addition!

When I have reached the top, I seal the lid and refrigerate overnight. You can literally put anything in these oats and they will taste great. I have tried them with chocolate chips, banana, peanut butter or pineapple.  The combinations are endless. Let me know if you have tried overnight oats, and what your favourite combination of flavours is!

The Alpro Go On Plain gave the overnight oats a really creamy texture the next day and tasted absolutely gorgeous in the morning! Will you be trying out the Alpro Go On Plain?

*I received some items free of charge in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

My Airbnb Experience - New York

I’ve seen Airbnb around for a while now but was never really certain exactly what it was. Airbnb is the worldwide alternative for hotels. When planning our trip to New York, hotels were coming up ridiculously expensive for just a week’s holiday. For 2 of us we were looking at about £800-1000 for the week for a reasonably standard hotel. Even looking further afield outside of Manhattan, the prices were extortionate for what was essentially a bed and a bathroom. Seven of us were going to New York so the prices soon added up and realistically I couldn’t afford the costs! I decided to look into Airbnb to see if there was an option for seven of us to stay together.

I browsed many apartments in New York ranging from £100-£300 a night. I then found a 3 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn which seemed perfect for what we needed and close by to a subway station to get us into the centre and other amenities. The apartment slept 8 people and had a kitchen, 2 bathrooms and an en-suite. Having a kitchen also meant saving money on food as we could have breakfast and prepare meals at home rather than eating out for every meal. Before I chose the apartment I looked at many others and read the reviews until I found one that I thought was suitable. For the week the apartment came to just over £1100, Around £160 each – so affordable for a week’s accommodation and LOADS cheaper than a hotel!

When I booked the apartment it required me to pay the full balance right away which is worth noting, you will need to have the money before you book. We did this on a credit card for that extra protection if something was to go wrong. I added a comment when booking that we were staying for my mums 50th birthday and our host responded almost instantly saying he couldn’t wait to host such a momentous occasion and said if we have any questions then he would be happy to help out. Airbnb holds the money until after you’ve arrived. We were booking 9 months in advance so it’s good to know the host isn’t just going to run off with your money!

A couple of days before we flew, our host popped us a message saying if we had any questions then we could ask, we were also given the wifi password and code for the door as it was a keyless entry which was also brilliant. When we arrived our host was just finishing getting everything ready and was there to greet us and show us around. Although they lived just below, we didn’t see much of them and we were able to enjoy our holiday with absolutely no interruptions but knowing they were close by if needed. A couple of nights we ordered take-aways and used the hosts phone number as our English ones weren’t accepted and the host was so great about this. Communication was excellent and they were always there when we had a question or needed a recommendation for something in the area.

The apartment itself was exactly as the photos, clean and very spacious. It was everything we could have hoped for and served the seven of us very well. I would always look to airbnb for future holidays as the price and convenience was just fantastic. Airbnb have properties all over the world so are great for wherever you plan to travel, including UK breaks!

If you would like to try Airbnb for yourself, I have a code to get you £30 off your next trip, just use my link HERE. You don’t have to use it right away, you can click my link, make an account and your £30 will be stored and ready for you to use at a later date (within a certain time range). There are apartments all over the world and even if you’re looking for a short break in the UK there is bound to be something out there waiting for you. There are even pet friendly places or you can save even more money by renting just a room instead of a whole apartment. The possibilities are endless!

Have you ever used Airbnb – what was your experience?


Friday, 21 April 2017

New York Day 2 - Grand Central Station, Library, Times Square

My second day in New York was just as exciting as the first, and fairly busy too. We had breakfast in the apartment and hopped right back onto the J train from Gates Avenue, Brooklyn. We started off by heading to the public library, the one used in the film 'A Day After Tomorrow' (amongst others no doubt!). We didn’t intentionally plan to visit here but happened to be nearby so thought it was worth stopping in and was something we wanted to see during our trip. We had a quick look around, it was massive - we wouldn't have had time to see the whole thing so we looked for the most exciting rooms and then left. A lot of people were just like us, popping in and taking photos but there were people actually using it as a library so you had to be quiet so you didn’t disturb them.

After going here we continued walking and happened to see Grand Central Station which wasn't far away. I wanted to go here after seeing it in so many films and it was huge - across multiple floors! The marble décor was beautiful, although the area was not well lit so I couldn’t take too many photos without them blurring. Me and Phoebe climbed the stairs and had our photos taken Serena Vanderwoodson style. I hoped I'd see a flash mob or a proposal but sadly saw neither of these things. When I came home from my holiday I found out that you could do an interesting audio tour so if I ever venture back to New York I will have to add that to my to-do list!

We then went for a walk to a museum we had tickets for but turns out I had read the map wrong and took us completely the wrong way so we went to Times Square instead. Oops. On route we visited St Patrick's Cathedral which is directly opposite the Rockefeller Center. It was huge! Phoebe lit a candle whilst we were there and we had a quick walk around but did not want to disturb the songs that were going on. We then finally arrived at Times Square. It was smaller than I thought and quite underwhelming as some of the screens were broken but I knew I wanted to return at night where I imagined it really came to life. We went to the M&M store as it is a must for me, I have been to 4 in the world, I just need to visit the Shanghai branch now and I am done!

After this we then went to Macy's. By this point I really needed the toilet and spent ages climbing multiple floors to find one. I then finally found the mens after following various signs and it turns out the ladies was a fair walk around the corner. It was so complicated! Macy’s is absolutely huge, there was no way I could navigate the store. I did find the giant floor piano however so that was fun. After another long walk back to the closest subway station we all made our way home and got a chinese take-away for tea. It was good, but I prefer my local! It was a full on day, over 10 miles walked in total – my feet were hammered already and we had many days of walking ahead of us yet!

Please watch the daily vlog if you're interested in seeing this day come to life!


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Fresh Ground Coffee feat. The Coffee Mate*

There is no better feeling than settling down with a hot cup of coffee (and possibly a slice of cake too) on a Sunday morning. What makes the experience even better is when the coffee is fresh so when I was approached by The Coffee Mate to try some of their coffee beans and manual grinder I jumped at the chance to improve my coffee experience. 

At The Coffee Mate, they select only high-quality coffee for their clients. They then started to roast some of their own beans in order to create an impeccable cup. I was very kindly sent Coffee Mate's Beans Kivu and a Hand Coffee Grinder

The Kivu Beans retail at £26.00 for a 1kg bag. When I opened these I was greeted by that familiar coffee house scent, it was delicious. This coffee is grown in the valley of Virunga towards the north of the Lake Kivu, hence the name. When roasted and prepared these coffee beans reveal a taste of sweet driued fruits and marzipan with a black chocolate aftertaste. I think this coffee would be perfect for an expresso but equally as tasty with milk as well. The flavours are rich but not too strong and it was an absolute pleasure drinking this coffee. There are no added flavours and you can rest assured that these coffee beans are 100% original and natural.

I would not have been able to prepare my coffee beans without the Hand Coffee Grinder, which costs £42 on The Coffee Mate website. This little gadget was a life saver when it came to preparing my beans. It is so simple to use, I simply popped my beans into the grinder, chose which level I wanted them to be ground to and then I wound the handle until the beans were down to granules. The design is modern and the grinder fits in perfectly with my kitchen and would suit all decors. 

Being able to enjoy fresh coffee from fresh ground beans from the comfort of my own home was somewhat of a luxury experience for me. Guests complimented the delicious flavours of the coffee stating it was like something they've only ever experienced in specialist coffee shops. 

If you’re a coffee lover and would like to try some fresh high-quality coffee then I can really recommend The Coffee Mate, there are so many different brands and flavours to choose from.

*I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

It's Pepper Time - Smoothie Recipes*

I recently got invited to take part in a Pepper Time Smoothie challenge and being a lover of smoothies I thought - why not give it a try? 'It's Pepper Time' is an EU funded initiative which promotes the use of peppers and I want to share with you how great peppers are.

When I first thought about the idea of having peppers in a smoothie, I did think it was a bit strange but when you think about it, why not? Peppers are deliciously sweet and are actually higher in vitamin C than oranges. Peppers are also packed with vitamins E, B1, B2 and A. They also come in a variety of colours and shapes and can be eaten at all times of the day, the pepper possibilities are endless. I  was given two recipe ideas for smoothie and I have made variations of these which you can read all about below. They were surprisingly tasty and something I will be making again and again! How about you give them a go?

Orange Vitamin Hit
2 Stalks of Celery
2 Large Carrots
2 Apples
1 Orange and 1 Yellow Bell Pepper

Pop all of the ingredients into a blender/juicer and mix until smooth.

Orange Pepper Smoothie
1 Orange Bell Pepper
200ml Cloudy Apple Juice
A Small Piece of Ginger

Pop all of the ingredients into a blender/juicer and mix until smooth.

Head over to the 'It's Pepper Time' website for more delicious recipe ideas. Will you be trying to incorporate more peppers into your daily routine?

*Collaborative Post

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Book Review: The White Hare by Michael Fishwick*

I have really been getting into reading this year, in fact my Goodreads account tells me I have now read 7 books, which for me is pretty good considering we are only into March and I read only 12 last year. I recently received a really easy read, The White Hare by Michael Fishwick and it had me gripped from the onset.

Michael Fishwick is a publisher and author of two novels, Smashing People and Sacrifices. He lives in London and Somerset, where this particular book is set. The book starts out my introducing you to Robbie and Mags. I immediately found myself wanting to know more about them and as each chapter went on a little bit more was revealed.

Robbie is 14 years old and is new to the area after moving with his father and new step mother. His mum died of cancer and his father quickly remarried which causes Robbie to be angry and resentful. When he meets Mags he changes and along their adventures they come across a White Hare. The White Hare is introduced as possibly being a reincarnated woman who has been jilted by their true love and again this was something I was really interested in finding out about. Robbie soon discovers there is a mystery in the town and the white hare may have something to do with it.

The storyline was well laid out and very descriptive. I could picture the countryside and the surroundings as I read this and had a vision of the characters in my head. I’ll be honest, it didn’t take me long to read and I had finished within 5 hours but for a short YA fiction this was great. I won’t give anything away about the ending, you’ll have to read that for yourself.

The White Hare was released on 9th March 2017 and the hardback is priced at £10.99.

What books do you enjoy reading?

*I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not influenced in any way.

Monday, 10 April 2017

New York Day 1 - Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & Ground Zero

I am sorry that I have been a bit AWOL recently however I have had a good reason and that is my holiday to New York! Seven of us headed off for seven days packed with fun and sightseeing to celebrate my mum’s 50th birthday. It was amazing but very tiring. I did so much that I thought it would be easier to split each day into a separate blog post so that if you are going to New York and want to do a few things whilst you are there then you can read my posts and see what landmarks are near to each other.

Day one was officially my mum's 50th birthday and we hopped on the local subway early on during the day for our first event which was to go up the Statue of Liberty. The subway was an absolute life saver for us. Tickets cost $32 for a weeks unlimited use and we certainly got our money’s worth. Who wants to sit in traffic in a yellow cab all day?! – not me! Not only is the subway famous, it is clean and warm and we always felt safe. Some of the stations even had NYPD officers manning them. There were times (during rush hour) where we were practically pressed up against the next person but it’s all part of the fun of being in the hustle and bustle of New York City! We headed to the last stop on the J train and walked the rest of the way down to Battery Park. We were very lucky to book our statue of liberty tickets 6 months in advance which meant we could go right up to the crown. This is not something that is offered on a standard ticket and must be booked, otherwise you may only be able to view from the pedestal. After a traumatic (for me) climb up the small spiral staircase of hell as I like to call it, we finally reached the top. It was so worth the climb and the views were absolutely amazing. The one thing I couldn't believe was how small the viewing area was, the head always looks so big but you could barely fit 10 people up there. It was basically a metal shell so was pretty hot and stuffy up there too despite it being about 1 degree outside and very windy. The head was actually moving slightly in the wind which was an odd experience. It was pretty cold however we could cope with it, we got a Statue Cruises boat over from Battery Park to the island and had some amazing views of the skyline on the way. I recommend sitting on the right hand side of the top deck if you want to get the best photos looking back to the skyline.

After we had climbed our way back down we had a look around the museum at the bottom of the statue. We then visited the gift shop and I bought some reasonably priced fridge magnets. We took a few selfies and photos with her lady liberty and we hopped back on the boat which then took us over to Ellis Island. This was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants and I was keen to look for my family name on the plaques. It was really interesting and there was a lot to read up on, you could spend a long time here. You could also get some amazing photos of the skyline here, and there was hardly anyone in sight blocking the views. I imagine in the summer this would be a lot busier.

After Ellis Island we got on another boat which took us back to Manhattan. We popped into a Subway for a quick lunch as it was the nearest place and already we had managed to rack up about 5 miles of walking. We then headed to Ground Zero. It was very peaceful here which was nice to see. It was the day after the London Westminster attacks and they had upped their security in the area. They even had a plaque in place dedicated to London. I didn't film or take many photos here out of respect but it was so bizarre being here, but felt very calm. I imagine it is a complete and utter contrast to the absolute chaos and devastation that happened  during 9/11. We visited the 9/11 museum which was one of the best experiences on the trip and I got to see so much and learn so much about 9/11. I would 100% recommend going to this museum if you are heading to ground zero.

After we visited the museum we went for dinner at Bills Bar and Burger which was just around the corner. We had cocktails, nachos and burgers. We then found a subway station and headed back to our apartment. I hated walking around Brooklyn at night, by the end I was used to it but it certainly took some time. When we arrived back there was a police car and an ambulance outside our apartment which scared me slightly but it was nothing to worry about in the end and there were no further incidents throughout the duration of our trip. 

I also daily vlogged and you can see day one here:

Thank you for reading!

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