Friday, 29 April 2016

Paris with Cote Restaurant

Back in January I had an amazing surprise - I won a competition! Hand on heart I hardly ever win things, I'm not a serial competition enterer but I had such a lucky December when i saw Cote running a competition on their new Instagram channel I thought, why not! I mean who ever wins these things, I forgot all about it so was over the moon when an Instagram message popped up on my phone from Cote restaurant in January to say I'd won a weekend away in Paris. I mean...Paris...the city of romance, amazing food and so much culture you could burst! I was ecstatic and told everyone at work in earshot. Sad but true.

The lovely people at Cote booked our Eurostar so we could enjoy almost 3 full days in Paris and a hotel for two nights so central it was a 30 second walk to the Louvre - dreamy.

Adam took me to Paris for my 30th Birthday but we also went to Disneyland so there were still so many places I wanted to tick off my list this time around. We decided to walk almost everywhere as the weather was so sunny and bright it seemed a shame to miss everything around us stuck on the metro. My lovely friend Melanie from work wrote me a list of 'must do's' since she's half French and I ticked pretty much everything off her list! Below is what we did over 2 and a half days - we could have squeezed in more I'm sure but it was just fantastic exploring and taking our time:

Day 1 - Stroll around the area you're staying and find one of many amazing cafes for lunch. I had Salade de Chevre Chaud which was on my list to eat - a salad with thick slices of duck and goats cheese on toast. Delicious. 

Day 2 - Go to a traditional bakery for breakfast. We actually went to a bakery around the corner from us- Mason Kayser. Visit the Louvre (they open at 9am even on Sunday so get in early to beat the crowds!), head to Saint-Paul and eat amazing Falafel at L'as du Falafel. Yes you may have to queue for an hour but believe me it was well worth the wait! It started raining so we queued but you can takeaway too. Visit the shops (a few gems amongst the well known labels), stroll down to Bastille, stop off for a glass of something red at and  thenoff somewhere fab for dinner. We went for Ramen (I know I know we were in Paris but it was really good!).

Day 3 - Visit Galeries Lafayette for amazing architecture and oh so many labels! Walk up to Monmatre & get photos of the city, see the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, head down to the Moulin Rouge, stop for lunch, walk down to Jardins Du Trocadero and relax by the fountains and up to the Eifel Tower. Phew! 

A HUGE thank you to Cote for offering such a fantastic prize1 Head over to the lovely people at Cote Brasserie on Instagram as they're still running some fab competitions. This month you can win a Theatre Break in Glasgow (a city I loved living in when I did my MA). Good luck if you enter and let me know if I missed anywhere off my Paris must-do list! 

Friday, 22 April 2016

April Favourites - Rimmel & Collection Make Up

I could while away so many hours mooching around the make up department checking out new products, so when I popped into Superdrug recently for some new foundation I couldn't help having a look around the sparkly new offerings!

I'm quite pale so sometimes struggle to find foundations that are the right match. I've got a Rimmel Foundation at the moment but fancied a change for Spring so plumped for their Rimmel Lasting Finish 25hr Foundation with comfort serum £7.99 which is apparently sweat, heat and humidity proof! It's a little darker than my usual colour but it adds a nice hue for Spring Summer. I wore this when I went to Paris last weekend (a post to come on that next week!) and it certainly stood a full day out and about so I'd highly recommend if you're looking for a good medium to high coverage foundation at the moment that still feels light on the skin,

I also picked up a new Rimmel Kate Sculpting Palette £6.99 from their Kate Moss range. Sculpting isn't going away any time soon so this contouring 3 step system is a great 3 in 1! The colours are perfect for so many skin tones however my one gripe is the highlighter isn't as shimmery as I'd like, it's very subtle but that's just my taste. 

From top to bottom: Highlighter, Contour, Blusher

My final purchase was the new Collection Illuminating Primer  £4.99. I've almost run out of my Soap & Glory One Heck Of A Blot primer and fancied a change to something not so matte. This primer comes in two shades for either cool or warm tones, I went for the cool shade which is a shimmery pink and although it looks very shimmery in the tube it goes on very smoothly and leaves a very subtle irredencence to the skin so it's great for popping on before foundation to give a little bit of a glow.

Superdrug have 3 for 2 across all make up at the moment so great to stock up if you need a few items!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Recipe Time with Simply Cook

I love a variety when it comes to food and can't eat the same things week in week out but oh my days it gets hard trying to think up different meal plans! Yes spaghetti bolognese makes it onto my recipe list fairly often as does a good old chilli but I love the new era of food delivery boxes or recipe help. So after trying a few expensive food delivery boxes and not being able to afford to keep them up I heard about Simply Cook so had to give them a try.

After browsing though their lovely list of recipes you pick your favourite 4 and will receive a little box of recipe cards along with base ingredients to make your meal happen. All you need to do is shop the big essentials e.g. chicken, rice, veg. etc and they can even email you the ingredient list so you don't forget. I know, I did think £8.99 for the herbs and spices however you get really condensed pots of product and it's great quality plus the meals so far have all been SO TASTY as well as healthy and no more expensive then my normal shop. 

Here's my favourite meal from last week and how you can give it a go (I've added in a guess of the herbs and spices plus an extra pepper so you can make it however it won't be quite as good as Simply Cook's version!) 

Spicy Cajun Chicken Quinoa 

What you'll need:

2 chicken breasts
70g dried quinoa
70g dried apricots, cut in half
100g ready to use puy lentils
1red onion, sliced
100g frozen peas
Garlic Paste (buy or make from 3 cloves of garlic, pinch of tumeric & a little water)
Cajun spice (buy or make from salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes until evenly blended)
Chicken Stock
 Tzatziki (optional)
Coriander (optional)

Heat the oven to 200C/180C  and toss the chicken breasts in the Cajun Seasoning and place them on a lined baking tray. If you can marinade earlier in the day or overnight it'll be even tastier. When the oven is hot bake the chicken breasts for 20 mins.

Bring 400ml of water to the boil in a saucepan. When boiling, stir in the Chicken Stock. Add the quinoa to the stock. Give it a quick stir then reduce the heat to medium and cover with a lid. Let it simmer for 10 mins. If you want to be really lazy (I definitely was!), try the microwaveable quionoa from Sainsburys - already flavoured and so tasty! 

If you're doing the quinoa the proper way once it's simmered, add the apricots and lentils and cook through for 5 mins more.

Heat 2 tbsps oil in a frying pan over high heat and add the sliced onion and peppers and stir-fry for 1 min. Add the garlic paste and stir-fry for 1 min and then add the frozen peas and stir-fry for 2 mins more.

Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside. When the quinoa is fully cooked add it to the frying pan with the onion, peppers and peas and mix together thoroughly on a medium-high heat for 1 min.

Divide the quinoa between 2 plates and top with the cajun chicken and some yoghurt on the side with coriander sprinkled over if you have some.

If you want to try a box for £1 (if you don't like them you can cancel after your £1 box but I'm sure you'll LOVE it). then click here Remember you can choose to have a new delivery weekly or monthly so if you're like me have a week off meal planning per month. 

Let me know what you think! 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Where have I been?

I'm here to take my own advice! Canvas from Primark Home £3

So yes...hi, it's been a good old while hasn't it! I'm back, rather sheepishly after too much time off due to a) wondering why I was writing this blog in the first black b) not having the time to write anything half decent and c) comparing myself to other incredible blogs and feeling a bit, well, pants.

I work in the social media world 9-5.30 and teach singing at the weekends and this year I've really felt the struggle to juggle my time and give myself space to think creatively to really dedicate the time needed to nurture my little corner of the internet. 

BUT I can't deny it, I love writing, I love documenting fun little activities or amazing food and lets not get started on my love of clothes, make up and a good old bargain. So I'm back, and have vowed to post at least once a week, to really get involved in this community and to just enjoy it. I love reading blogs and still regularly sit on my lunch and read my faves along with a few vlogs. but it's hard not to compare, or wonder how they find the time to post so much content or how I don't have the latest must have camera or lighting. But I should just be me and put silly self doubt and just get on with it!

So there you have it. Tiny violin is back in it's case and I've already got my next couple of posts almost ready to go! So you'll see a new post every Friday morning with the first coming on the 8th April.

Hope you're having a lovely week

Sunday, 14 February 2016

I've got braces

Happy Valentine's Day! A random post for today you might think but hey, I'm working from home and multi-tasking during lunch so what better time to update you.

So yes...I now have braces, C-Fast braces to be precise. I've always had minor issues with my teeth since a teen where I had a retainer. I have a wonky front tooth and lets not even go there with my bottom teeth but thankfully they're pretty well hidden! As a teen I was offered fixed braces top and bottom for 2 years as well as two teeth out. I politely declined at because just weren't cool back then, hardly anyone I knew had them.

WHY DID I SAY NO?! If I could go back I would tell my 14 year old self to get them done, I'd be thankful when I'm older and I wasn't cool anyway so no one would have cared. But hey ho, here I am years later paying to get them sorted. Now I know, they aren't horrendous and don't affect my life but they were getting worse and making me feel quite self conscious so after almost 5 years of umming and ahhhing about getting them done I took the plunge!

They're more obvious in real life but this due to lighting!
So here they are! I originally wanted Invisalign because they're almost invisible and can be taken out to eat and the results are really fast however I was quoted almost double the cost of my C-Fast and these beauties only take up to 6 months! They are clear however they're in no way invisible. I've had them in for a month now and I'm used to them but it took a good week to get past the discomfort and the fact the braces felt huge. Tip for anyone else considering braces - when they tell you the things you can and can't eat...follow it! I ate a curry a week after having them fitted and stained them which still hasn't totally gone. Ha!

I'll be sure to update you but I can already see some movement and am having the wires changed tomorrow so it's all looking positive! I've decided to get them whitened as well once the process is over, another thing I've always wanted but couldn't justify the cost but I thought I may as well since I'm going through with the braces.  

I've loved hearing people's brace stories so if you've had them or are considering them let me know!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Zara feather bag - Product of the Month

Happy weekend! What a week it's been, I've had a lot of work on with a showcase event for lots of lovely journalists and bloggers in my normal 9-5. I don't usually talk about my job too much on here but it was an amazing event and went really well so the late nights were well worth it! 

So onto my item of the month - how gorgeous is this bag from Zara?! My lovely auntie got me a voucher for Christmas and after putting about £300 worth of product in my basket (does anyone else always do that??), I remembered I was on a tight budget and stuck to the price of my voucher. 

This little beauty is £29.99 from Zara and I LOVE IT.  I don't have lots of bags, just a select few and my trusty black going out back (also from Zara) which I've had for a few years, has certainly seen better days.

This bag is faux suede with silver feather detail, silver chain and a sturdy boxy body. It'll go with so many outfits and is a really great size. Hope you like this little suggestion and have a lovely week!