Catch UpI thought it was about time I did an update, it is the new year after all. I can’t believe the Christmas and New Year celebrations are over for yet another year. I had a slightly hectic December and was working my redundancy notice at my old job on the run up to Christmas which is something I haven’t really touched on this blog but I suppose now you can tell that things have been hectic.

I spent the holidays in Scotland with my parents, dog and boyfriend which was lovely as always. We enjoyed a lot of nice walks, Mum and I spent a bit of time baking our usual festive goodies and spending time together as a family. And now we’re in the first week of January and I have been really lucky to start a new job in a lovely company with a team that have already made me feel really welcome.

So, a new year… a new me? Well, kind of, I suppose. I always like to start the new year off with some goals in mind so I thought I’d share them with you all today. I’m aware I’m probably late on the bandwagon with this as most bloggers did their posts a good week or so ago but we’ll roll with it. I have made some goals which are more personal and others that relate to this blog.

Blogging Goals

When I started a new chapter in July last year and did a bit of a rebrand, I promised myself that I wouldn’t post for the sake of posting and that’s what I want to stick to in 2017. When I moved to Worpdress I spent a good few weeks tidying my old posts up, getting rid of posts that made no sense and removing images from my server and that was tedious at the time so I don’t want to then have to do that again.

I’m not forcing myself to do a posting schedule but I would like to post once a week and sometimes if I can, maybe more. I want to love blogging and make sure it doesn’t become a chore. I’d also like to include YouTube in my goals too – did you know I have a channel? It has been somewhat neglected recently but I want to start using it again for a new series I want to start.

Personal

I need to make sure I look after myself more in 2017 as I find that sometimes I just neglect myself and end up really tired and feeling fed up with the world. I want to make more time to take a bath, give myself a pamper, go for a spa day with a friend and maybe even get a manicure.

I’d like to read more, I have a few books that I didn’t manage to read last year so I’d like to get them read this year and then start more. I treated myself to a sparkly new iPad Pro recently so I fully intend on using the Kindle app on there too.

To keep continuing to reduce my fizzy drink intake as I feel like this has helped me a lot over the past year. This year I hope to be able to do the Race For Life again as I haven’t done it in a couple of years and hope to rope my Mum into doing it with me again (she doesn’t know this yet, although she will once she reads this!).

I want to use my Instagram more and use it to document anything I’m up to daily as well as my food for the day which brings me on to my next and final goal.

I want to make sure I hit my Slimming World target within the first 5 or 6 months of this year and I want to buy different summer clothes for my holiday this year. I feel like I’ve been on this journey for a long, long time and I’m kind of at the point where I’m just frustrated. I know it can be done and I know sometimes I can get a bit complacent so enough’s enough now. Target 2017 here I come!

Slimming World's Curry Club I have to preface this post by saying that I’ve always found it tough to make a good curry – in my experience even though I have a large selection of spices, my curries either turn out far too spicy or extremely bland. The only one I could make well was my Keema Mince so, when I found out that Slimming World had a new book called Curry Club, I was extremely excited. I knew it would have a mixture of everything and that the recipes would be easy and really easy at the same time and I was right.

This book did not disappoint and for the usual £4.95 price I honestly can’t recommend it enough. The Curry Club book features more than 60 wonderful recipes which each have a handy heat guide so you know if you may need to add more or less spice depending on your preference. For me, I always like a medium heat, nothing too spicy or plain. There are four main sections within the book featuring starters, curries and sides and the recipes make me feel hungry just thinking about them.

Slimming World's Curry Club

Spice Bites which feature delicious starters. My favourite picks have to be the carrot and onion bhaji’s, tandoori chicken tikka kebab, turkey samosas and lamb seekh kebabs.

Curries of India – This is the largest curry section in the book and as the name suggests this features the curries from India with many of my firm favourites such as lamb bhuna, lamb and chickpea balti, pork rogan josh and chicken tikka masala. You can swap the meats if you have a different preference but the lamb bhuna is definitely next on my list. Yum!

Curries of Asia – When I think of this, I automatically think of Wagamama’s and how I can make a Slimming World friendly dish at home. My top picks from this smaller curry section in the book are the  massaman lamb curry and chicken katsu curry. The katsu will be my next fakeaway choice!

Spice On The Side – Last but not least are the delicious side dishes one of which I have tried at my local Slimming World taster session – the bombay potatoes which are phenomenal and I could eat them over and over again. Another two picks for me are the fresh mango chutney and easy peasy pilau rice.

This is one of my favourite books to date and that says a lot as my collection is quite large. You can easily make a feast for yourself, family and friends which is totally on plan and would probably feel more indulgent and there’s something in there for everyone. If you can get your hands on this book or know anyone that goes to a Slimming World group, I would highly recommend picking it up.

What is your favourite curry?

This post contains a PR Sample or gifted item but all opinions are my own.

Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics Palette

The new Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics Eyeshadow Palette is essentially my idea of a dream come true when it comes to eyeshadows. I’ve never made it a secret that I adore every eyeshadow palette Urban Decay has released so when I heard that they were making an all matte Naked Palette, I knew I had to have it in my ever-growing collection.

Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics Palette

The Naked Ultimate Basics Eyeshadow Palette features a new selection of twelve matte, neutral eyeshadows perfect for many different day or night-time looks. The packaging is probably my favourite design of the palettes so far as it arrives in the most stunning, square-shaped and travel friendly plastic rose gold compact. It has the most beautiful burst design that displays the Urban Decay logo and is raised to give it some texture. Inside there is a really decent sized, high quality mirror along with a double-ended brush that can be used for application along with the twelve beautiful eyeshadows.

Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics Palette

  • Blow (Light Nude Demi-Matte)
  • Nude (Soft Pink Nude Matte)
  • Commando (Light Taupe Brown Matte)
  • Tempted (Pale Brown Matte)
  • Instinct (Medium Pink Taupe Matte)
  • Lethal (Reddish Brown Matte)
  • Pre-Game (Pale Yellow Matte)
  • Extra Bitter (Burnt Orange Matte)
  • Faith (Medium Warm Brown Matte)
  • Lockout (Rich Neutral Brown Matte)
  • Magnet (Smoky Gray Matte)
  • Blackjack (Warm Black Matte)

Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics Palette

This palette is the only one I have reached for in the last couple of weeks which says it all really as I usually go for a different eyeshadow look daily. Personally, I think that it is wonderful for a day or night look and as it contains a beautiful selection of warm and cooler neutrals, it is perfect for everyone especially if you are a fan of neutrals.

The eyeshadows are quite tense colours and are packed together in a way that they apply without much fallout (always a pet hate of mine!), they are wonderful quality as always and blend like a dream. I just love them! My favourite combination so far are using a mixture of Commando, Tempted and Faith – they create a beautiful eye look especially with my blue eyes.

Like all of Urban Decay’s eyeshadows, this palette doesn’t disappoint and is something I would definitely recommend you add to your Christmas list if you haven’t already – hopefully Santa will be good to you this year. It’s available now for £38.50 and if you ask me, worth every penny.

What are your favourite eyeshadows?

This post contains a PR Sample or gifted item but all opinions are my own.

Luxury Christmas Flowers From OK Bouquet   Luxury Christmas Flowers From OK Bouquet Luxury Christmas Flowers From OK BouquetWith it being nearly Christmas, having a nice bouquet of flowers delivered as a gift is a wonderful present for friends or family. When I was contacted by OK Bouquet to review one of their beautiful bouquets I jumped at the chance. I went on their website I was instantly impressed by all the beautiful luxury flowers and bouquets they had to offer at really reasonable prices.

It was a tough choice but I finally opted for the Frosty Bouquet which is a beautiful selection of seasonal flowers. The bouquet comes with beautiful Red Naomi Roses (some of which have a little diamanté inside), White Lilies, Red Hypericum, Anastasia Green Chrysanthemums and Frosty Oak Leaf.

Having never used OK Bouquet before I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was overwhelmed by the package that was received. After choosing which bouquet I would like I received an email to say they would arrive a couple of days later. Once I had the dispatch email they arrived safely in a huge cardboard box and packaged well, tied together and ready for the customer to arrange into vases.

The bouquet is available in two sizes – large or deluxe and will contain the best seasonal flowers and foliage available at the time. I opted for the deluxe bouquet which costs £45 and I can tell you that the value for money is phenomenal. As you can see from the photos, the flowers that arrived in this deluxe bouquet had to be split  and arranged between two large vases.

I am happy to report that over two weeks later my flowers are still going strong, the majority of the Lilies have come out fully and the roses still look as good as the day I got them.

I have been really impressed by the service and flowers I received from OK Bouquet and would say that they are better value than some of the other companies out there. I will definitely be a returning customer in the future.

Do you like flowers as gifts? What are your favourite flowers?

This post contains a PR Sample or gifted item but all opinions are my own.

Lab 2 Brushes

Lab 2 Brushes

I’ve never been the kind of person to spend a fortune on makeup brushes. The Real Techniques line takes up the majority, if not all my collection so when I heard about the L.A.B.2 Brushes, I was eager to try them out and see if they can give Real Techniques a run for their money.

L.A.B.2 is an innovative brush line which has been created to inspire makeup beginners and beauty junkies alike. L.A.B.2 prides itself in creating innovative, trend-setting beauty products which are extremely durable and made in a unique way to be soft, but still structured to create a flawless finish.

The I’m Turning Pro Brush Kit features four brushes to create an everyday makeup look. Firstly let’s talk about packaging – the brushes are absolutely beautiful with an all-black, matte exterior. Do I need to say more? They look, and feel sleek and professional and after a few weeks of usage, they still seem to look unused which is a big plus for me.

Now, onto the brushes. They are all  hypoallergenic; dermatologist tested and have no animal-derived components and have wonderful velvet-soft bristles.

Foundation Brush – I’ve never been a big fan of this style of foundation brush, it reminds me more of a paint brush and isn’t something I have ever used as a foundation brush. For me, it works wonders as a concealer brush as the tip is just small enough to get under my eyes and blend the concealer really well.
Buffing Brush – I was most excited about this brush because I wanted to see how it compared to my holy grail Real Techniques Buffing and Expert Face Brush. I would say that this brush is my favourite of them all, it is a great buffing brush and blends foundation in seamlessly providing a full-coverage application and softens harsh lines for a lovely airbrushed effect. Definitely one to pick up!
Contour Brush – I’m not a big fan of contouring so I’ve simply used this for blush and highlighter and it is a really good brush, soft and gives subtle definition when applying the product.
Eyeshadow Brush – I find that this brush is really versatile, it can be used for packing on eyeshadow all over the lid as well as blending. The brush is really soft and overall really easy to work with, I am very impressed.

What is your favourite makeup brush brand? You can find the L.A.B.2 brushes available in Superdrug at the moment and if you haven’t tried them, I would recommend picking them up to try.

This post contains a PR Sample or gifted item but all opinions are my own.

The October Round-Up

October, you have been a very strange month indeed. I left September on a high, feeling ready for the Autumn and Winter but during October something quite big happened in my life which meant that everything kind of went a bit crazy but I can’t really talk about yet. I don’t want to dwell on that though, so on to the positives.

One of the reasons that Autumn is my favourite season is because of the pretty colours of the leaves as they fall – lots of shades of orange, red, green and brown. I just love the colours and also love walking through them kicking the leaves as I go.

At the beginning of October I went for a photoshoot with one of my best friends, Charlie. It was a gift given to me by one of my lovely friends for my birthday and I was so excited to go, especially with Charlie as I knew we’d have a laugh and it would be a good excuse to get a bit glammed up. We text back and forth in the days before to discuss hair, clothes and what makeup we might want. I’m going to review the photoshoot soon but overall I was so impressed with the experience and absolutely love the photos we have from it. Originally we had wanted photos of both of us but when we saw some of them we really liked a couple of individual photos and decided to get them as well.

The October Round-Up

Autumn is also my favourite time of year for food as you can have delicious, hearty and filling meals that are totally syn free – casserole, roast dinners, cottage pie and more. I really ought to do a Slimming World (and life) update soon but I will say that it’s still going really well. Overall, my Slimming World journey is slow and steady and to be honest I’m more than happy with that. I’ve seen a lot of men and women who manage to lose 5 stone in a short period of time and have often wondered why I can’t do that. The realisation that we’re all different and some may lose quicker than others has really helped me along my journey. I do the same thing week in, week out and my new mantra is to work hard and it will pay off later. I know my body will eventually catch up with me during the weeks where I maintain or have a small gain, and I’m fine with that. The photoshoot I had showed me how much of a difference I’ve made to my body and I’m proud of myself. I want to get to my target weight, it’s not a million miles away and although I wanted to achieve it this year I think it’s more achievable for me to be hitting target within the first few months of next year. Target is all about what you want to achieve and not what you think you should be. I know what weight I want to be, and what dress size and I’m working towards that.

The October Round-Up

As you can probably tell, I’ve not been as active on my blog as I’d like to be and unfortunately I think it will be like that for a few more weeks now due to some life stuff, but I do plan on at least posting one post a week – quality over quantity and all that.

I’ve been loving TV recently – Flash and Arrow are back *eek* and I finished Night Of which unfortunately was a complete disappointment in the end (to me, anyway!). Secrets and Lies is my TV recommendation from this month, it’s starting the second season on W and it’s one of my favourite genre of shows – crime mystery. I also saw Doctor Strange which was an amazing film, if you like Marvel you need to go and see it, pronto!

I’ve also been really enjoying Country Music and have had Carrie Underwood blasting out of my iPod every morning.

In November I do have some exciting plans which means every weekend is filled – a fireworks party, a trip to Scotland to see my parents and pup, a girls weekend and some Christmas shopping.

Pizz Express Autumn Menu 2016

A couple of weekends ago my friend Kirsty and I went out for a meal to try the new Autumn and Winter menu at Pizza Express in Coventry Belgrade Plaza. We were both really excited to go to Pizza Express and in our past experience we’ve enjoyed eating there as every dish is always so fresh and extremely tasty! Our visit to Belgrade Plaza was no different this time around and the new offerings on the Pizza Express Autumn and Winter menu are a real treat for any Italian lovers out there.

Pizz Express Autumn Menu 2016

For our starter we chose to share Dough Balls Doppio (£7.60) which was a sharing portion of the famous Pizza Express Dough Balls with a trio of dips. The dips were garlic butter which is always a firm favourite, pestorissa and harissa which is a deliciously spiced tomato dip. The dips and Dough Balls were delicious and we could have easily had more.

Pizz Express Autumn Menu 2016Pizz Express Autumn Menu 2016Pizz Express Autumn Menu 2016

For our mains we went for the Basilicata Romana (£13.20) which is a thin based pizza topped with lamb, mint and chilli meatballs, red onion, mozzarella and garlic oil placed on a capia pepper and tomato based finished with rocket, shaved Gran Milano cheese and basil pesto.What a treat indeed! The other main we chose was the Pennette Bolognese (£10.65) which was also absolutely delicious and nothing like your typical bolognese. It had a gorgeous rich beef, porcini mushroom, tomato and garlic bolognese sauce with pennette pasta and then finished with some Gran Milano cheesy goodness and some lovely fresh pasta. The mains certainly didn’t disappoint and left us full but we still had room for some pudding, of course.

img_4397Pizz Express Autumn Menu 2016

The puddings certainly did not disappoint. We went for the Chocolate Brownie (£5.60) which was a sweet but not too sickly brownie made using gluten-free flour, services with vanilla gelato, strawberry, fresh mint and icing sugar. The other show stopper had to be the new Chocolate Fondant (£6.60) which was simply divine and for someone who doesn’t usually go for a chocolate pudding, I would recommend this to anyone. It was a lovely rich and intense warm chocolate cake with a soft melting centre, served with vanilla gelato, fresh mint and icing sugar.

We both couldn’t fault our visit to Pizza Express and their new menus never fail to keep us interested and wanting to go back again soon for some more delicious Italian food.

View the full menu and book your table at Pizza Express on their website here!

Have you tried anything from the new Pizza Express Autumn and Winter Menu yet? Which new dish would you go for?

I was kindly offered a meal at Pizza Express free of charge for the purpose of this review, all opinions are my own

September Round Up

September will always be my favourite month as it’s my birthday and September normally means that I’m going on holiday and spending my birthday in the sun.

I feel that this year is going by at lightning speed, I genuinely can’t believe we’re in October already.

Overall September was one of the best months this year. As it was my 30th birthday my lovely work colleagues decorated my desk and bought me a cake with the most amazing New York themed topper they had custom made, Prosecco and some beautiful earrings.

September Round Up

I then jetted off to New York for a week to celebrate my birthday in style and have a much needed holiday and break with my boyfriend. We had the most wonderful time and New York is fast becoming one of my favourite cities and I will definitely be going back there in the next five years. We spent the week walking over 73 miles, using the subway, sightseeing and visiting some amazing places such as One World Observatory, Top of The Rock, Central Park, The Empire State Building and we also went on a sightseeing cruise which was fantastic as you could see amazing views such as the Manhattan Skyline, Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Honestly, I had the most amazing birthday and visited Central Park Zoo and in the evening we went to the Rainbow Room for dinner and celebratory cocktails and Prosecco where we had a phenomenal view of the Empire State Building and Central Park. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday but little did I know that my celebrations were going to continue weeks afterwards.

September Round Up

A week after I got back a group of my girl friends surprised me with an amazing afternoon tea where one of my best friends did a lot of home baking and one of them had booked for me to do a photo shoot which I did this weekend just gone, it was a lot of fun. I have absolutely wonderful friends, boyfriend and family who all made my birthday simply unforgettable.

What else have I been loving this month?

I tend to have a period over the summer where barely anything I want to watch is on TV. I tend to find that everything starts again in Autumn. For September I’ve been really loving The Night Of which is a crime, mystery miniseries based in New York and kind of reminds me of Broadchurch. I haven’t finished it yet but so far there are plenty of twists and turns to keep me hooked. And of course, September was the start of Strictly Come Dancing which I love, it always makes me want to dance. In October some of my other favourite programmes start up again, I’m so excited!

What have you been up to this September?