Thursday, 30 July 2015

NARS bronzer in 'laguna' and "casino": review

I LOVE bronzer and there is no way I would leave the house without it in my handbag - good job too as I got to work today and I forgot to put any on!!! 

Whatever the weather and season, just adding a hint of colour can really make a difference, giving you a healthy glow any celebrity that’s just come back from LA to be jealous of. My latest love ins are the ones from NARS in “laguna” and "casino".  

ok, I admit it, I am a bronzer junkie! 
love the gorgeous matte bronze colour

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Blueberry, orange and cream cheese muffins

For my friends BBQ the other week I decided to use it as an excuse for a spot of baking. Yea I know BBQs are usually all about the meat but it’s nice to have something sweet after the feast (although, I say that, I actually ate two muffins before I even got to the BBQ!)

Mary Berry eat your heart out! 

It’s been ages since I did any sweet baking and I am pleased to say that these muffins turned out better than expected! Especially as I accidentally used orange essence instead of vanilla essence, hence the recipe being “blueberry, orange and cream cheese” and not just blueberry and cream cheese!

love  when the muffin 'cracks' & the goodness oozes out

But the orange works! They complement the sweetness of the blueberries brilliantly but of course if orange ain’t your fav taste, then substitute it back for vanilla essence for a sweet but soft taste.

delicious cream cheese center 

These were the right texture of being dense but not soggy, sweet but not too sweet and a great muffin-texture.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

My handbag essentials when I am always on the road

I do a lot of travel, whether it is for work or just for pleasure. Don’t be jealous though – for work, it’s never abroad and mostly to unappetising places around England. Travel for my pleasure is more exiting though with recent trips to Croatia, Madrid, Okinawa (Japan), Miami and I am just packing for Berlin this week!

me at Gatwick airport for work 

The great thing about travel is you get to explore the world, even if it is just Manchester or little know towns in Surrey. But the downside has to be the constant on-the-go and living out of a suitcase. I hate that realisation when you go to use something, only to realise that you didn’t come to pack it (which is often in haste). I often have that feeling of “I have forgotten something” when I leave the house anyway.

Well for all you on-the-go types or travel fans, today I am sharing with you my must have items when I am on the go. Happy travels (even if it is to Barnsley for a meeting).

I have friends that are obsessed (no really) with this bacteria killing liquid. Whilst I am not as bad as that, I do carry a bottle of the stuff around. Mainly because I am a clumsy mess, not because I am a germ hater. No one should turn up to a meeting covered in sticky mess.

I always have a little make up bag with me

Oil blotters
I don’t know what it is, but there is something about travelling that makes my usually dry-as-a-dessert-skin, a little greasy. Grease is not good. It causes spots. And no one likes spots. I have started carrying around oil blotters for a quick dab when I need.

Dental kit
I am probably a little more obsessed than the average when it comes to my teeth but everyone should practice good oral hygiene! I like to carry a travel bottle of mouth wash with me and some floss. This is perfect for a quick freshen up as I often have to attend events and meetings late in the day and don’t get to come home in between meetings or end up getting home until quite late.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Quinoa and cauliflower "burgers"

With the warmer weather, I am trying to lighten up my dinners. Salads are the obvious summer dish but they aren’t always that filling. These veggie burgers made from quinoa and cauliflower, are light and perfect for warmer evenings but still filling and tasty.

light but filling

fresh herbs add flavour
The flavours in these burgers (burgers in inverted commas though, as these don’t stick together that great, they are mire like patties) comes from all the veggies and herbs in them. Simply bound together  with egg and flour, there are no hidden nasties, fats or additives in these!

Simple fresh ingredients:
150g or 1 cup of quinoa
1 cauliflower
1 clove of garic
1 bunch of spring onion
1 egg, beaten
1 handful of spinach
Handful of parsley
½ red onion
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp of gluten free flour

First off you need to cook the quinoa. Simply place in a saucepan with three cups of water. Bring to the boil for about 10-15 minutes, then drain and leave to cool

Friday, 17 July 2015

No bake, raw, almond butter flapjack bites

I'm a serial grazer - I snack all throughout the day. Like a sheep. 

Whilst snacking keeps you topped up and going until your next meal, it is important to snack right! That means no to sugary biscuits. Instead, say yes to homemade snacks. Like these....

No bake, raw, almond butter flapjack bites :-) 

Monday, 13 July 2015

48 hours in Madrid - eating my way round a city

With The Boy having been on deployment recently, we hadn’t seen each other for about 6 weeks so we decided that for his return home, we would treat ourselves to a quick getaway with a few days in sunny Madrid. 

Once you have factored in the flights and travel (plus the obligatory delay from Ryanair), we only had 48 hours in the capital city, but this was enough to fit our purpose – to chill, eat and drink! And eat some more...

Madrid city centre

Day one
Taking the metro into the city centre, we got off at La Latina and walked up towards Plaza de Mayor, checking out the surrounding areas. My lovely friend Frenchy told me La Latina was one of the places to go for chilling and soaking up atmosphere and she weren't wrong. 

Along the way, we stopped for a much needed frozen yoghurt at llaollao, in cute shaded alley-like street (called Toledo) leading up to the square. This was the first of three in the next 48 hours! 

If you're a sweetie fan like me than go opposite the froyo place for the longest strawberry laces you have ever seen. 

Madrid is filled with quaint spaces 
(froyo on the left)

Plaza de Mayor
After froyo, we walked up to the main square Plaza de Mayor in the city centre to relax, soak up the atmosphere and have my first sangria of the trip! I don’t know if the sangria was really that good or I was just in desperate need of the cool refreshing vino thanks to the delay of the Ryanair flight, but I was really appreciating the Spanish drink. 

La Plaza de Mayor

We nestled ourselves at Liana outside for so long that it soon became time for dinner, which of course had to be tapas. Chorizo, manchego cheese, prawns in garlic and potato croquettes and salad. If you’re eating there, do opt for the tasty little croquettes, but skip the prawns – they were ok but nothing special.

The Roof
We had read that The Roof was the bar to go to in Madrid, and always a fan of rooftop bars, I didn’t need asking twice. It took a bit of detective work getting there as we only knew it was in Plaza de Santa Ana. So heading there we looked around for a sign, but it’s the kind of place that doesn't do sings! Knowing it was 7 stories up, we decided it had to be on top of this ornate white. Bingo. Found. For an easier find, head for the large ornate white building that is a ME hotel. 

It costs $15 for entry but does include your drink (a few more euros for a cocktail) and offers a good view of Mardid in a chilled, sophisticated setting. 

View from The Roof

Enjoying a whisky sour

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sanctuary Spa - time reversal face mask: review

I have been lucky enough to have some time away in the sun with a week away at a festival in Croatia and a few days away in Madrid with the Boy. 

All the holidaying is great but time in the sun (and probably too much sangria) has left my skin looking less than perky!

So my must use face mask when I got back had to be thetime reversal face mask” by Sanctuary Spa. One of my favs!

It claims to be an intensive collagen boosting treatment to help firm, plump and restore the skin. Sounds good and it actually lives up to the claims, so fixed my skin up a treat! 

I often use lotions and potions, reading their grand claims but then wondering if it actually works. But with this, I honestly feel that it does minimising my fine lines on my forehead.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

House of Holland stick on nail art in "neon nibs"

When I went to New York last Halloween, I blogged about these funky little stick on nails called "neon nibs" and before that, when I went to Ibiza, I blogged about these stick on nails called "game changer". Both are from Boots, from the 'The house of Holland' collection. 

neon nibs! 

As you can see, there is a pattern emerging ... holiday equals mental talons! 

This time round for Hideout festival in Croatia was these beauts - glittery, black and sleek! A little on the gothic side and I love them!!! They are even glittery on the reverse!

"Glitterbug" is the perfect name! 

get the gltiter bug  
shiny and sparkly!

Completely impacticle for typing, these are not work friendly for me but they are quite durable and usable so have found these ok to work with for normal chores and every day activities. 

24 nails in various designs 

The sets are completely OTT and fun. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Healthy foods that are surprisingly high in sugar and great alternatives

In recent years, the enemy of diets has moved away from fat and towards sugar. Scientists are now claiming that sugar is what gives us that spare tyre around out midriffs, not fat.

The science bit... it seems fructose is the baddie here, and too much of it, gets metabolised by the liver and in turn gets made in to fat. This can lead to insulin resistance, and bit of a viscous cycle as sugar is highly addictive. Of course as well, sugary foods are often high in calories and next to nothing on nutritional value. 

picture from

 Yes of course we all need a bit of sugar to survive and keep our bodies motoring, but it is the excess that is the issue. And it is hard to keep an eye on it when it is hiding in all sort of "healthy" foods. 

Last year I  completed a nutritional course and one of the things that really surprised me was the sugar that is pretty much lurking quietly everywhere, in what most of us would consider "healthy" foods so we may unknowingly be adding to our sugar intake.

worse than a breakfast bar or smoothie? 

The course explained that average adults shouldn't really exceed a sugar intake of 25g a day, and my fitness pal app tells me not to exceed 35g. This really isn't a lot and in my opinion, if I am going to be eating sugar, I would rather allocate my sugar in take on something deliciously indulgent like a slice of cheesecake (my fav) rather than a food I was considering a healthy alternative!!!

So over time I have been keeping a stricter eye on the lurking of sugar and found some great alternatives that skip the sugar but not the taste.

Here are 5 seemingly healthy foods that actually are high in sugar and some simple swaps.

I am mildly lactose intolerant so don't really drink milk or that many dairy products but I was shocked on the course just how sugary milk was! With a bowl of cereal and several cups of tea throughout the day, this sugar can quickly add up. Switch to soya or my favourite choice, almond milk (and get the light version) and you'll still be able to enjoy your builder's brew and latt├ęs.

Go with the lighter option of almond milk and it will be (for a 500ml serve) just 60 calories, and 0.4g of sugar compared to 100 calories and 10g in semi-skimmed.

Natural yoghurt
I love yoghurt and it makes a great snack or breakfast, and I love to add a dollop to creamy dressing and smoothies. I have always known that sugar lurks in the flavoured, sweet yoghurt (especially low fat ones that are pumped full of sweeteners to add flavour) but was surprised to see that even the natural, flavour free yoghurts are pretty sugary too!!!

If you can't give up your yoghurt, try switching to full fat Greek yoghurt or soya yoghurt.

In 150g of natural soya yoghurt it is just 75 calories and 3.1g of sugar, compared to 150 calories and about 14g of sugar in dairy yoghurt. Yep, even the plain falvourless stuff! 

Instant porridge
Of course, we all know porridge is a great health food, full of fibre and low releasing carbs. But if you are in a hurry you'd be forgiven that an instant on-the-go porridge is a healthy choice. 

Well you might as well eat a big fat slice of chocolate cake!!!

An oat-so-simple instant porridge has a whopping 27g of sugar per tiny pot!!! A slice of chocolate fudge cake has about 35g of sugar. Know what I would rather use my sugar intake on! Your best bet, wake up 10 minutes earlier and make some at home with the classic rolled oats.

added sweetness with agave nectar and cacao nibs NOT sugar