Spring/Summer Homeware Wish List

Thursday, May 31, 2018
I love the change in seasons as it means that I get to switch up my makeup, clothing and homeware and while autumn will always be my favourite season, I do love simple and minimal spring homeware too. If I'm not buying books, I've been looking through various homeware sites for their new spring items and I've come across some gorgeous picks that would be perfect for the spring season from Oliver Bonas and Zurleys!

Oliver Bonas Lamp  -  Scandinavian Tallboy Chest  -  Mug  -  Scandinavian Armchair  -  Pom Pom Throw 

I'm not into bright colours for any season so my spring shades include light grey, white/cream, metallic shades and any blush pink or coral tone....can you tell. A few smaller homeware items that I have my eye on include this gorgeous and very unusual lamp from Oliver Bonas which I think will look perfect with my minimal and neutral toned bedroom decor.

Another item from Oliver Bonas that I'm loving is this stripy pom pom throw (even during the warmer months I need throws and blankets everywhere) and this adorable mug. I have quite a mug collection but obviously there is always room for one more...or two more.

Lastly, two items from the homeware site Zurleys are on my current spring and summer homeware wish list. Zurleys is a lovely family run, gorgeous homeware site that has a wide range of stunning, inexpensive homeware and furniture to choose from and naturally I'm loving all of the items within the 'Scandinavian' and 'Copper' styles! The copper clocks are gorgeous!

The first Zurleys item on my list is a minimal chest of drawers which looks gorgeous and is such an unusual but practical size - I could definitely use this item within my home office or bedroom where it would look perfect. The final item in todays wish list post (although it could have been much longer) is a very comfy looking Scandinavian style armchair from Zurleys which would look amazing in our garden summer house, living room or conservatory. I was actually looking for a chair similar to this for a corner in my home office but couldn't find one that I liked at the time, until now.

Zurleys offer free delivery when you spend over £50!

What do you think of the items on my spring/summer wish list? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Images from Oliver Bonas and Zurleys

*Laid Back Travel Advice For People Who Hate Crowds

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Image from Mural Wallpaper via Pinterest
The tickets are booked and the bags are packed. A relaxing holiday away from the rigours of life awaits and you can’t wait. So, the last thing you want to do is spend a fortnight surrounded by throngs of people. Let’s say that it isn’t very relaxing. In fact, it’s downright stressful. People are hard to avoid altogether, and you don’t want to anyway because the atmosphere is essential. But, this post is talking about the crowds that frequent bars, cafes and restaurants, and who annex the beach. Giving these people the swerve is a no-brainer and the tips underneath should help.

Go Out Of Season
But, it won’t be as sunny or as vibrant as in the peak season. Yep, that is true yet there is nothing wrong with this realisation. For one thing, summer is too popular and it increases the cost of a holiday by a significant chunk. Plus, the weather is almost always pretty amazing and there is no need to worry about crowds of tourists. Let’s face facts – Europe, Asia, and Africa aren’t the same as the UK where there is only a week of sun per year! Rather than conform to the norm, you can jet off in September or October instead and have an amazing time all the same.

Choose A Cool Resort
The resort isn’t only about the number of people there; its location is also a factor. You see, being too close to a central hub is bound to kick off a bit of reverb. Take Hawaii as an example. Often renowned as an exotic, spiritual haven, holiday-goers don’t understand how busy Honolulu is until they land. The Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club is entirely different because it’s far enough away to avoid any heavy foot traffic. Still, at the same time, it’s close by so that you can wander into the city if the opportunity arises. A holiday is like real estate: it’s all about location, location, location.

Veer Off The Beaten Track
Some sights are too iconic to miss. Anyone who goes to Rio and doesn’t see Christ the Redeemer isn’t an opportunist. It is unbelievable and you may never get the chance again. Still, never let the big attractions monopolise your time. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that you’ll spend the days stuck behind tour buses. There is always a hidden gem, and Rio has them in spades. Dois Irmãoes is the one that is well worth the one hour trek through a modern-day favela. Don’t worry because it’s very safe.

Download Uber
Uber isn’t an app that screams culture abroad. But, the fact is that the Silicon Valley company has revolutionised the way people travel. Before, buses and inner city trains where the cheapest, most cultural option yet that has changed. Public transport may be less expensive yet it isn’t worth the hassle. For a couple of quid, you can get there quicker without standing in a sweat box. And, the outlay is minimal.

Do you hate crowds? What are the hacks you swear by on holiday?

*This is a collaborative post
*Image from Pinterest

DegustaBox - May 2018: World Cup

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
DegustaBox is arguably my favourite subscription box, not just because it always contains lots of food and snacks but also because there are always products that I haven't tried before as well as newly released products. I'm lucky enough to be a DegustaBox ambassador so I receive the boxes every month and I receive items from other boxes too so yours will be very slightly different. To get your box for only £7.99, use the code: KVAA2

*DegustaBox - May 2018
Most of the time, the boxes have a theme such as easter or summer but the theme for this months box  is based around the World Cup 2018 which is being hosted in Russia so the leaflet has some adorable Russian inspired illustrations! The products are mostly snacks so they'd be great for a World Cup 2018 party and to share with friends. 
*Lucozade Energy Original (£1.10)
I received a bottle of Lucozade in a previous DegustaBox and while they are very nostalgic to me (everyone used to drink them at my high school), they aren't something I'd drink now. However, I know a lot of people that like Lucozade drinks!

*We Made Lemonade (£1.50)
There are quite a few drinks within this months box including a bottle of this delicious raspberry and lemon lemonade drink which I've already finished and it was the perfect summer drink! I don't think I've tried raspberry and lemonade together before but it needs to be combined more often as those flavours are fantastic together.
*KitKat Senses (£3.99)
KitKat is quite a prevalent brand within this months box as there's not only this new KitKat Senses box of goodies but a share pack of white chocolate KitKats too. The day after I received this box, I noticed an advert on TV for this new snack! I have tried the salted caramel and the hazelnut flavours so far and they are both incredibly delicious. The snacks are small half sticks and there are twenty within the box so they are great for sharing. 

*Kitkat Bites - White Chocolate (£1.59)
While I adored the hazelnut and the salted caramel KitKat senses, the white chocolate ones just aren't for me - I've never liked white chocolate. However, this pack is a share and re-close pack so it would be perfect for sharing with friends, snacking on a summer road trip or as a sharing picnic snack. 
*Santa Maria Caribbean Creamy Chicken Curry Seasoning Mix (£1)
This brand has been included in previous boxes and I'm so happy that it is fairly frequent as the products I've tried have all been fantastic and these two are no different. I love these quick and easy seasoning mixes from Santa Maria - this option is ideal with quorn chicken and veggies to make a delicious creamy curry. The mix is suitable for vegetarians which is fantastic and you can use it with the second Santa Maria item in the box. 

*Santa Maria Mini Coconut & Black Pepper Soft Tortillas (£1.50)
The seasoning mix added to veggies or quorn chicken could be easily added to the coconut and black pepper soft tortillas! The tortillas are a great size, they smell strongly of coconut but thankfully they aren't very strong in flavour. They are perfect to make mini wraps with!
*The Good Cider Of San Sebastian - Dry Apple & Strawberry
As I mentioned, there are quite a lot of drinks within this box (if you opted for the non-alcoholic box then you won't receive this item) and there are more drinks than usual. There are two bottles of delicious summery cider within the box, both of which have the most gorgeous packaging! I have both flavours which include 'dry apple' and 'strawberry'. I have only tried the strawberry option so far but it's delicious and perfect for the summery weather we've been having. I never usually drink alcohol but cider and cocktails are the occasional exception. 

*Say Aloe Reduced Sugar (£1.49)
The final drink within the May DegustaBox is a little unusual as it's a aloe vera drink...it contains lots of vitamin C and it doesn't contain any artificial colours or flavours. In the bottle you can see that it has a very unusual texture/consistncy and I have to be honest and say that while I thought it would be a little disgusting, it's actually delicious! The flavour is very sweet (almost artificially sweet tasting) and the texture is similar to juice mixed with pieces of jelly. 
*Brioche Pasquier Pitch - Dark Chocolate Chips (£1.39)
My favourite item from the box has to be these delicious and very moreish chocolate chip filled brioche which I've sadly finished...oops. They are made in France, suitable for vegetarians and each pack contains four chocolate chip brioche as well as a temporary football tattoo. I do love brioche and chocolate chips and these are by no means healthy but they aren't nearly as 'naughty' as I thought they would be. I'll definitely be buying these and I won't be sharing!

*Brioche Pasquier - Chocolate Filled (£1.39)
The final item is another chocolate and brioche combination but sadly it isn't as nice as the chocolate chip version. These are very similar but instead of chocolate chips, they contain a filling of liquid chocolate which I thought I'd love but I'm not sure. I probably won't purchases this variation but the chocolate chip brioche is already on my shopping list. 

I think there are a couple of items missing from my box so if they arrive I'll update this post! In the meantime, don't forget to use the code: KVAA2 to get your box for only £7.99!

Have you received a DegustaBox? 

Miller Harris Lost In The City EDP

Sunday, May 27, 2018
I am a perfume hoarder, I love to collect fragrances and I'm always interested in new releases so I was very excited when this fragrance arrived from the lovely people over at Miller Harris. It's part of their new 'forage' collection which is inspired by urban foraging - such a unique idea for a fragrance collection. There are three fragrances within this range, all of which look and sound gorgeous but I opted for the Lost in the City EDP.

*Miller Harris Lost in the City EDP (£140, 100ml)
Choosing a fragrance based on notes and descriptions online can sometimes but a little hit or miss but I am so glad that I chose this fragrance as it's so beautiful and perfect for spring. I also love the bottle design, it's very simple but lovely and the box the fragrance came in was gorgeous too with an almost recycled plastic base. In terms of the aesthetic, it would make a wonderful gift for someone special...or for yourself.
Top: Bergamot Zest, Angelica Seed, Blackcurrant
Heart: Rhubarb, Rose petals, Geranium
Base: Earl Grey Tea, Crisp Amber, Musk

All of the notes sound quintessentially British and very spring like which is what I am looking for in a fragrance at this time of the year; actually just before I received the email about this fragrance, I was looking for a new spring fragrance as the majority of mine of autumnal and winter appropriate but I don't really have anything very light and fresh for the spring/summer months, until now.

Firstly, the fragrance mist is very fine which seems like an inconsequential detail but some of the fragrances I own drench me in perfume or leave marks on my clothing; however this offering from Miller Harris envelopes me in a fine cloud of heavenly scented perfume. As I said, the notes are very spring themed and they work so well together to make a fragrance which is a spring day in the garden, but in a bottle.
I have tried a few Miller Harris samples back in 2014 which seems like a lifetime away and I've tried the beautiful Tangerine Vert fragrance last year, all of which I adored and lasted all day so I knew this one would be no different. The scent strength and the longevity on my clothing is very impressive and I know that I don't have to worry about re-applying during the day...unless I want to which is always.

If you're like me and on the hunt for a new fragrance for the glorious spring and summer months then look no further than Lost in the City by Miller Harris which is not only an English spring day in a bottle but it looks beautiful and it will last all day, what more could you ask for!

Have you tried any fragrances from Miller Harris? What are your favourite fragrances for spring/summer? 

How To Stay Safe In The Sun ft. Feel Good Contacts

Friday, May 25, 2018
It's starting to feel like summer in the UK but now that I've typed it, it's guaranteed  to rain now so sorry about that. While my favourite season is autumn, I do love certain aspects of the spring and summery months, mainly because all of the flowers are in bloom, I can read in the garden and I can take blog photos at almost anytime! However, there are a few tips that everyone needs to remember to be safe in the sun, yes, even in the UK.

Stay Hydrated
One of my new year goals for the past few years has been to drink more water as admittedly I drink very little but since receiving a few Ion8 bottles I've been able to drink so much more! I've included the bottles in various posts and there'll be another in my upcoming Father's Day gift guide so stay tuned. You should drink around two litres per day but it's very important to do so on sunny days.
SPF is something that I always forget to use, even on holiday but thankfully there are a few products that contain SPF that I don't have to think about and those include most of my foundations, lip balms and skincare, thankfully. I do have a couple of specific SPF lotions and I since the sunny weather we've been having recently I have actually been using them so hopefully my skin will thank me in the future.
Wear Light Clothing
As with SPF this is a piece of advice that I don't tend to follow as my typical wardrobe consists of black jeans, ankle boots and a jumper or stripy tee which isn't the most summer appropriate option so I definitely have to buy a few more summery tees and dresses. Since the sunny weather started, I've been looking through my wardrobe and it seems as though I have a couple hundred jumpers but only about five t-shirts which might be a problem. Light coloured and loose fabrics are ideal for the spring and summer months in order to stay cool.
One summer accessory that I use very often are my sunglasses as since I started learning to drive almost two years ago, I have needed them while driving. I have so many sunglasses but I'm always very happy to receive more as they are something I use constantly in all seasons. I was so excited to receive the *Polaroid Black Tortoise Sunglasses (£40 - sale) from Feel Good Contacts!

The sunglasses have polaroid lenses block glare and allow only useful vertical light to reach your eyes, they also block harmful UV light so you are able to see clearly while protecting your eyes and they offer 100% UV protection to reduce eye fatigue, increase comfort, and allow for glare-free vision. The design I have is perfect as they go with so many casual outfits, I love the tortoise shell design and the lenses aren't huge as most sunglasses are (thankfully as those designs just aren't flattering on me).

The great thing about wearing my daily contacts is that I can wear sunglasses freely. The sunglasses are very comfortable to wear and lightweight so they don't tend to give me a headache. As I mentioned, I have quite a few pairs of sunglasses from cheaper high street options to designer sunglasses and these have to be some of the most comfort and most effective! I cannot recommend these sunglasses enough and I'd recommend looking on the Feel Good Contacts site for more options as well as affordable contact lenses.

Use the discount code: FEELGOODTIME to get 10% off!

Do you have any summer sun protection tips or product recommendations? Will you be checking out the sunglasses range of Feel Good Contacts?

*This is a sponsored post

Blog Tour: Juliet and Romeo by David Hewson

Thursday, May 24, 2018
As most students in England, I've studied some of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, one of which was Romeo and Juliet. While Shakespeare's plays and sonnets were a little too advanced for a teenager, I did like the overall story of Romeo and Juliet so I was interested to read a retelling in the form of a romantic thriller(esque) novel. It's just over 350 pages and it is published by The Dome Press (thanks for the arc!).

*Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson (352 pages - blog tour: 24th May) ★★★
Within this retelling we follow Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague who are part of rival families living in sunkissed Italy during a time of change and disease. Juliet is a headstrong (somewhat) character who wants read and study rather than go through with an arranged marriage with a handsome, accomplished rich man but he isn't for Juliet. Meanwhile Romeo is an aspiring poet and romantic who is in the throws of infatuation but everything changes when a few Montague cousins, including Romeo, gatecrash a Capulet party.

We all know the general story of the star-crossed and ultimately tragic relationship between Romeo and Juliet and this story follows in the same vein although I wish the story didn't follow the general storyline of original as it made the story predictable but I did enjoy this read. The main positives of this read for me have to include the novel format, the historical fiction genre (I've becoming more and more in love with historical fiction recently) and the setting of Italy which made for a perfect summer read, especially as it's such as quick, easy read.

Author Q&A 

Did you study Shakespeare at school? Will you be picking up this retelling?

Current Beauty Favourites: April + May

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
I keep pushing back favourites posts because there are always new products that I want to talk about  that I’m lucky enough to receive so I thought I’d combine my favourite products from the past couple of months that I was very kindly sent from the lovely people over at Elegant Touch, Dr Botanicals, Feather and Down and Natural World.

*Elegant Touch False Nails (£7.95 - £8.95) 
I’m very late with this review and mention (sorry!) as I was kindly sent a range of gorgeous false nails from Elegant Touch for National Nail Day which was on the 5th May. Elegant Touch is such a nostalgic and quintessential teen brand to me as back in the 00’s, everyone used their false nails especially the French manicure style and I was no exception.
I have some of their gorgeous designs including the ‘stiletto french’, ‘fantasy mermaid magic’, Chrome 2.0 Blossom Bae and Velvety Rose designs, the latter two are definitely my favourites. I adore the pinky designs as they definitely fit my style and I like how minimal but beautiful they are - also they’re perfect for spring!

I have to admit that I haven’t always been a fan of false nails as my nails have always been very strong and long so I didn’t need them and my nails are a little unusual in their shape so false nails never fit; however the gorgeous red nails fit very well and the majority of the velvety rose nails fit well too. These will be perfect at times times when my nails do break and I have to cut them quite short.
*Dr Botanicals Dare To Mask Set (£45)
I have reviewed quite a few Dr Botanicals products over the year as I was a Dr Botanicals ambassador but I haven't really tried their masks. I was kindly sent two of the masks within the Dare To Mask gift set which is from the new apothecary collection - I love the design of this new collection as the packaging to me almost looks like it's been inspired by the periodic table.

The Dare To Mask set contains the Cocoa & Coconut Superfood Reviving Hydrating Coconut Superfood Mask (the longest mask name ever?) and the Charcoal Superfood Mattifying Face Mask, which are suitable for vegans and cruelty free. I've only tried the hydrating mask so far and it's a lovely, creamy and rich face mask that is very quick and easy to apply. My skin is typically dry most of the time so this is a perfect top up mask for me and it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin. I'll have to try the mattifying mask soon now that the weather is much warmer!
*Dr Botanicals Kale Superfood Nourishing Day Cream (£14.50, 30ml)
Lastly from Dr Botanicals is a very colourfully packaged moisturiser which is suitable for normal skin types. It contains kale which is high in vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which protect and nourish the skin. The moisturiser also contains cocoa butter which is a lovely moisturising ingredient!

I have the 30ml discovery version which is perfect to trial the product or if you love the moisturiser already then it would make a great travel size especially as the full size is much heavier due to the luxe glass container. I've been using the moisturiser on and off for a while now and it's a lovely rich moisturiser that doesn't irritate my skin and it is great as a base for makeup.
*Natural World Coconut Milk Shampoo (£6, 1000ml)
Is there anything more summery than coconuts? I adore coconut scented products especially perfume and haircare so I knew that I was going to love this range from Natural World, a brand I've been lucky enough to try previously. The range is vegan friendly, cruelty free and free from parabens, dyes, gluten and phthalates. The products are filled with 95% naturally derived ingredients which is fantastic such as rosemary leaf oil, lemongrass leaf oil, ylang ylang flower oil, coconut oil and more.

I have been using the shampoo and conditioner duo constantly and it's perfect for my hair as it's designed for dull and dry hair which sadly describes mine! The bottles are gigantic 1000ml sizes so it will last a very long time which is great as my hair seems to love this range because it leaves my hair smooth and moisturised.
*Natural World Coconut Milk Conditioner (£6, 1000ml)
As with the shampoo, the conditioner is suitable for vegans, cruelty free and free from potentially irritating or harmful ingredients. Both products in this range have a sweet and creamy coconut scent which is ideal for the current spring season as well as summer - every time I use it, it smells like summer in a bottle.

When it comes to haircare, there are a few products that tend to stand out and those usually include hair masks, oils and conditioners and this conditioner is no exception. I can usually just use any shampoo but for me, it's the conditioner that makes the difference and this one leaves my hair smooth, tangle free and more manageable as well as moisturised but not weighed down. I also like the Natural World Weightless Hair Oil but I haven't needed it as much as the shampoo and conditioner recently.
*Leighton Denny Intensive Foot Masque (£15, 150ml)
Leighton Denny is a brand that I haven't tried much of but the polishes and products I have tried were all fantastic so I couldn't wait to try this masque. I didn't know that Leighton Denny made products like this but I've been using it on and off over the past couple of weeks and it is amazing. Summer is coming which means that sandal season is pretty much here so this foot masque is an essential as it leaves the skin so incredibly smooth, soft and moisturised - who doesn't want that! I love the packaging, pump dispenser and I cannot recommend it enough!
*Feather and Down Breathe Well Pillow Mist 
Last but not least have to be my ultimate favourites from the past few weeks and it's the upcoming range from Feather and Down - both of these products will be available to buy from the 28th May so you don't have long to wait! I've tried the original Feather and Down pillow mist which is filled with lavender and other heavenly calming scents but this new range is an exciting extension.

The 'breathe well' range contains peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree as well as the original scents which makes for a calming, relaxing and refreshing scent that is ideal for the hayfever weather we've been having as the mist helps me sleep as well as almost slightly helping my sinuses become less stuffy. I imagine it would be perfect for when you have a stuffy cold!
*Feather and Down Breathe Well Bath Essence 
My final favourite is one I haven't used quite as much as baths aren't something I tend to want during the warmer weather but I have tried this heavenly bath essence a few times and it's impressed me with every use. As with the stunning pillow mist, the bath essence has the same minty but relaxing scent but perhaps a little more minty or stronger. The bath essence forms so many wonderful bubbles, all of which with the gorgeous scent so again it would be ideal if you suffer from hayfever or a cold. Every Feather and Down product I've tried has impressed me and I cannot recommend them enough, especially this new 'breathe well' range which will be released on the 28th May.

Have you tried any of these products or brands? What are your current favourite products? 

Recipe: Vegan BBQ Mac 'n' Cheese

Monday, May 21, 2018
Before I start this delicious recipe, I'll just give you a little background about me. I became a vegetarian at the age of eleven and for the past three years I've been mostly vegan (90% or so of my diet is vegan). For most of the past three years I've been learning various new techniques and experimenting with new ingredients so even though I have a vegan Mac 'n' cheese recipe on my blog, this one is more nutrient rich, high in protein and much lower in fat.

*Magimix 4200XL - Black (£239.99)
Today's post as you can tell from the title is a vegan macaroni cheese recipe but the star of the show is my new Magimix 4200XL BlenderMix Food Processor which I was very kindly sent a few weeks ago. Here are a few statistics about the food processor, it comes with a plethora of accessories and extras such as four slicing blades (grating and slicing), two blades, a dough blade, egg whisk blade, three bowls, the blendermix attachment and much more. I have purchased food processors in the past but none have arrived with so many blades, accessories and extras, in terms of the number of items, you definitely get your moneys worth.
I have been using the food processor almost constantly since I received - I used it the first day it arrived to make pizza dough as I couldn't wait! The food processor looks very expensive, luxe and very high quality as all of the accessories, blades and extras do. The design is very minimal but effective, it's very easy to use and fairly compact considering it's size due to the Russian doll-like bowls which fit inside one another for easy storage.

The main components of my Magimix that have been used the most have to include the main bowl, the mini bowl and their corresponding blades as well as the spatula and slicing disks. The process is sometimes a little messy with contents of the higher bowls being splashed slightly into the lower bowls but thankfully everything is very quick and easy to clean. So far so good, I've been loving my Magimix and for today's recipe, I used it to blend the delicious smokey and creamy vegan macaroni cheese sauce!
Ingredients (serves two, cook time 15-18 minutes) 
- 200g: Macaroni
- 80g: Smoked Tofu
- 100ml: Oat Milk
- 60g: Courgette
- 1 tsp: Garlic Powder/Minced and Garlic Pepper
- 1 tbsp: Smoked Paprika
- Extras: Parsley, Nutritional Yeast, Vegetables

Step One: Start to cube your tofu and pealed courgette (make sure it's pealed or your sauce will be an unattractive green/brown shade) while you wait for the water to boil for the macaroni. You don't need to use macaroni, you can use any pasta and you could also add some frozen vegetables at the end of the pasta cooking time.

Step Two: Add your tofu and courgette to the mini Magimix bowl along with the oat milk (or any other unsweetened plant milk) and garlic, pepper and smoked paprika then blend until smooth and creamy - this will take a few minutes but thankfully the Magimix is fairly quiet.

Step Three: Cook your pasta until it's al dente and drain while you add your smooth pasta sauce to a small pan along with a cornflour dredge (half a teaspoon of cornflour dissolved in a couple of teaspoons of pasta water) to thicken the sauce if needed.

Step Four: Heat the sauce on a medium heat until thickened, this shouldn't take long and you should smell the delicious smoked paprika and garlic at this point. If it's too thick then add some more plant milk. Finally add in your pasta, mix well and add salt, herbs, vegan cheese or smokey vegan bacon, if you want.

The recipe is incredibly simple but it is so delicious and as someone who had those days when comfortable food is needed, this hits the spot but in a healthier way! The smoked tofu has the most incredible flavour (it's perfect when lightly pan fried and added to salads) and combined into a creamy sauce with the garlic, pepper and smoked paprika, it's such a velvety smooth, comforting and low fat, protein rich but indulgent feeling meal.

The Magimix made this recipe very quick and easy to make and I cannot recommend it enough - you can follow the video above for a visual recipe instead. I will have more vegan recipes featuring Magimix coming over the next few weeks - let me know if you liked this post and if you want to see more vegan recipes.

Do you own a Magimix food processor? What do you think of my comforting BBQ Mac 'n' Cheese? What is your favourite comfort food? 


Father's Day Gift Guide 2018: Part Two

Sunday, May 20, 2018
Over the next month I have quite a few birthdays to buy for as well as a wedding and Father's Day so it's going to be a very busy May and June! My friends, my mum and most of my family are very easy to buy for but the two people I find so difficult to choose any gifts for include my grandad and my dad!

Typically my dad usually gets aftershave, food or cookbooks but we have far too many cookbooks and he has a plethora of aftershave so it's time for me to find something a little more unique, in comes Prezzybox, Crabtree and Evelyn and Beyond Living to the rescue for all of those daughters with dads that are difficult to buy for.
*Prezzybox Personalised Multi Tablet and Phone Holder (£45)
Let's start with one of the most unique and special gifts in todays post and it's from the incredibly lovely people at Prezzybox who I've been lucky enough to work with a few times now including my unique gift ideas post, quirky wedding gift guide and personalised jewellery post, all of which you can read out to find out more.

I was very kindly sent this gorgeous and extra special tablet and phone holder which is made of solid oak (so it matches the solid oak tables and counter we have in the dining room and kitchen perfectly) and it can be personalised with any message or name in a choice of two fonts - I chose the script font.
The tablet and phone holder fits two phones, my iPad mini and my dads iPad (the huge first gen iPad) as well as some change, hand cream and more. It looks so pricey, unique and very special with the inscription on the front too. I think it will look perfect on a side table so they can charge and be stored together. It could also be used to hold a book as well as tablets, keys or important smaller objects.

I cannot recommend this special gift enough, it would make the perfect practical gift (we all know how much I love practical gifts) for Father's Day, Mother's Day or birthdays. My dad is so difficult to buy for which is why he always receives the same gifts over and over but I know he'll love this unique gift from Prezzybox.
*Crabtree and Evelyn Gardeners Overnight Hand Therapy (£19, 75g)
Next up is another brand, along with Prezzybox, which I've loved for years and I've been lucky enough to work with a few times. Crabtree and Evelyn have an amazing range of wonderful pampering products as well as food, travel toiletries, home fragrance and mens products. I've tried a few products and gifts, all of which are fantastic quality, well packaged and beautifully designed. Additionally, their products are always effective, luxurious and perfect for pampering and self care days.
The Gardeners Overnight Hand Therapy contains cucumber, rosemary and sage extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids and shea butter all of which sound gorgeous. The hand cream comes in a squeezy plastic tube so it's great for travelling and the hand cream itself has a musky, earthy and subtle scent that I think will be a hit for so many, particularly as it's subtle as I know that not everyone likes strongly scented products. The hand cream has a creamy, rich texture and leaves my hands very smooth and moisturised which is what my eczema prone hands need constantly but thankfully it isn't very greasy or heavy on the skin. I cannot recommend it enough but if you need other gift options check out their site!
*Vinoos - The Real Wine Gum (£7.50, 50g)
Next up is a very unique gift, wine flavoured candy! Yes, you read that correctly and yes, they are as good as you think. The Real Wine Gum are a perfect gift for those who don't drink alcohol or who just love the taste as they are all non-alcoholic and vegan friendly candy (how amazing is that!).

I was kindly sent four samples of their flavours which include: merlot, chardonnay, riesling and rose wine, the latter two were definitely my favourites. They don't have the soft gummy texture that other gummy candies usually have but they are delicious. I particularly love the rose and riesling flavours which were sweet and floral. They'd make a perfect gift, wedding favour or post dinner party snack. They actually taste like wine but without the alcohol and I cannot recommend them enough!
*Roam by 42 Pressed Scented Candle - London (£25, 198g)
The final gift for today's Father's Day gift guide is from one of my favourite scented candle brands and one of my favourite online candle stores - Beyond Living. They stock a wide range of more unusual and unique candle brands such as Roam by 42 which is a American candle brand based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Their candles and matching prints are all based around cities including Chicago, Paris and London, I have the latter and it's gorgeous! The London candle contains notes of lavandin, black pepper, oak moss and labdanum which combine to make a very musky, masculine but fresh scent that would be ideal for the spring months as well as Father's Day. I've tried the Chicago candle (which was heavenly) and it lasted well, burned evenly and looks amazing; this one is no different. If you're looking for a great candle for Father's Day or if you want to check out more unusual candle brands then visit Beyond Living.

What do you think of these gift ideas? Have you tried any of these brands?

The Unglamourous Side Of Blogging

The Unglamourous Side Of Blogging

Friday, May 18, 2018
Image from Career Girl Daily via Pinterest
If you aren't a blogger then you probably only see the 'pretty' side of blogging which admittedly includes rose gold of some kind, beautiful photographs, events, 'freebies' (note: not free) and on point candid photos but that's just one side of blogging, the other is...far less glamorous. Today's post is all about the unglamorous, tedious and behind the blog jobs that no one but other bloggers are aware of.

I'm incredibly lucky to have been sent items from brands and PRs for years now but it didn't start off that way and it takes a long time to gain the skills to review, photograph and promote a product well enough and to create brand relationships. However, there is a downside, mountains of recycling especially during the christmas present buying months! Press releases, product packaging and boxes can all be recycled and I try to recycle as much as possible.

Spam Emails
Checking my emails is something I do multiple times every day as you never know when you'll receive an amazing opportunity but when one amazing email arrives, at least four spam email will appear too. Spam email can range from the annoying ones everyone gets and ridiculous brand 'opportunities' that are in no way equal to the plethora of newsletters that you never subscribed to, so glam.

Pressure, Comparison & Competition 
This next point is a little more personal but I'm sure that a lot of my fellow bloggers will have felt pressure to blog, the sadness of comparing yourself to a blogger with hundreds of thousands of followers or the feeling of competition in the blogging community. I have definitely experienced all three within my six years of blogging and I do have to admit that I have felt it often in the past couple of years compared to when I started blogging back in 2012 as it's no secret that blogging has become more of a mainstream media and with it will come competition of a kind.

Lastly is a point that I think a lot of bloggers are a little terrified by or unsure of and with good reason! If you are a blogger and you receive money for an instagram post, sponsored blog post or something similar, even if it's only £10 then you'll need to declare it for tax purposes. I've been declaring payments as a self employed freelance writer for the past three years now and while the amounts aren't massive (sadly) you do have to let HMRC know if you're in the UK (I'm not sure about other countries).

Every year I have to fill in an online self assessment tax form which is an incredibly daunting task and I dread doing it each time as they seem to go out of their way to word the questions in the most convoluted way possible. Thankfully Talk Tax has a range of articles related to tax issues, queries and advice from guides to cancelling road tax, inheritance tax and how to spot a fake HMRC email to a council tax guide, benefits guides and more. They also have a range of HMRC contact numbers. Since I applied to become self employed and started filling in tax forms, I've found it a little easier but it is still such a stressful process so next time I have to fill in anything related to tax then I'll definitely check out Talk Tax for guidance!

What do you think the unglamorous sides of blogging are? Do you have any advice when it comes to tax/HMRC forms? As a blogger, do you declare payments? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest 

CV Writing Tips

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Image from Money Can Buy Lipstick via Pinterest 
My first experience of writing a CV was during my final year at sixth form college when we had to write a CV (of sorts) if we were applying to university and since then it's been something I've always struggled with, mainly because I don't really like writing about myself! However, since then I've gained more experience and I have a few tips all about CV writing.

Striking Layout or Template 
I'm a very visual person so whether it's a blog post, essay, presentation or CV, it has to look the way I want it to which for me is usually balanced, clear, structured and visually pleasing. While the contents of your CV is the most information aspect, a striking but professional template or layout could definitely make you stand out from other candidates and show off your skills and or personality. I personally use Canva to construct my CV as well as my blog media kit as it's so easy to use and they have lots of free pre-made unique CV templates to choose from.

Clear Information 
While a striking and unique layout is something to consider, it's also very important to display the information very clearly as a potential employer isn't going to want to read through an essay of information especially if there are a plethora of candidates to choose from. I have some of my information in bullet pointed lists as well as in sub sections to make it quicker and easier to read and to separate the information so it isn't just one long paragraph.

Show Your Personality & Don't Be Generic
As well as showing off your skills and how well you'd suit the role you are applying for, another purpose of your CV is to show off...you! The grades you received at school, your previous job history and your marketable skills are all vital but make them want to employ you, not a generic individual with no personality.

Do you have any CV writing tips? Do you have any tips when it comes to job applications or interviews?

*Sponsored post (Digital Marketing Jobs Manchester - TMI Resourcing
*Image from Pinterest

Blog Tour: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
This month has been a very varied month with genres ranging from epic fantasy, history fiction and a childrens read to YA, this book is the latter and it was such an incredibly absorbing, entertaining and magical world that I couldn't get enough of. YA reads similar this are like candy to me, they're so enjoyable and I finish them very quickly - this one is no different!

*Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody (459 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
In Ace of Shades we follow Enne as she travels to the city of sin, New Reynes, to find her adoptive mother but what she uncovers is a plethora of secrets, ties to the deposed royal family, gangs, criminals and a rather obnoxious but charming criminal (because there has to be a love interest within a YA read).

One of my favourite things about this book has to be the grimy, crime filled and mesmerising setting which definitely gave me vibes of 1920's New York! I also loved the magical abilities the characters have called blood talents and spirit talents that are passed on from generation to generation. The book definitely had a couple of similarities to one of my favourite books, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, in terms of the gangs, lords, magical/supernatural abilities and crime.

The mystery of Enne's missing mother was definitely compelling as well as the other mysteries that reveal themselves along the way which made for a very quick, easy and page turning read. My only negatives were as follow: it definitely felt a little too YA at times, the love interest was predictable from the first couple of chapters and I didn't like the use of the word 'muck' instead of swearing which definitely made it feel too YA. Amanda Foody's imagination is incredible and I adored spending time in this world, now I cannot wait for the next two books in the series as this one was amazing! I cannot recommend it enough and I now want to read more from Foody (I hope she writes adult novels at some point in this style because I know I'd adore them).

Have you read Ace Of Shades or will you be picking it up? What are you currently reading? 

*Hidden Travel Gems ft. Destination2

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
The weather in Manchester right now is just gorgeous and makes me long for summer holidays and reminisce about wonderful holidays over the years including the incredible country of Norway and hidden gems within the UK and Europe. Today's post is a few hidden gems or overlooked travel destinations that I cannot recommend enough as well as a few travel wish list locations.

Norway: Olden
Some of these hidden gems are not so hidden but they're cities that I hadn't heard of before visiting however I was blown away. We all know that Norway is a visually stunning country and one village that encapsulates that is Olden. Olden is a beautiful village surrounded by mountains nestled at the end of Nordfjord and waking up to the view of the fjord, Olden and the mountains was breathtaking! If you're looking for a gorgeous location to visit in Norway that isn't the typical Bergen or Oslo then check out Olden or Flam.

Wales: Llandudno
Not so hidden in the UK but Llandudno might not be the first place you'd think to visit in the UK or Wales as it seems to be a little overshadowed by its famous neighbour, Snowdon but Llandudno is well worth a visit. It's a gorgeous seaside town in Wales, it boasts so many attractions such as the Great Orme copper mine and beautiful seafront and pier. I have visited Llandudno countless times as myself, my family and our friends used to go camping in Llandudno every year for around eight years when I was growing up.

Estonia: Tallinn
A few years ago I was lucky enough to go on a cruise around Russia and Scandinavia which included quite a few countries that I hadn't been to before and one of them was Estonia. To be honest, I had absolutely no expectation or pre-concieved notions of Estonia before I visited but I was very pleasantly surprised. Tallinn's old town is incredibly beautiful and filled with history and while it isn't necessarily at the top of everyones bucket list to visit, it is well worth a visit.

Scotland: Isle of Arran
Another UK based hidden gem and we're talking about the rugged, beautiful and wonderful country of Scotland! I've visited a number of cities and towns within Scotland (such as Oban and Fort William) and a couple of islands including Mull and the Isle of Arran. The latter was during a geology field trip with my sixth form college and while I only spend a few days on the Isle of Arran, it's definitely stayed within my memory, not just because of nostalgic college memories but because it was such a bewitching island from it's whisky distillery and wild coastline to Lochranza castle - I didn't see too much more than that so I'd love to go back!

Thailand: Ko Phi Phi Le
Lastly, is a place that I haven't visited but it's considered a hidden gem within Thailand. Ko Phi Phi Le is an island in the Phi Phi archipelago and is part of the Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. This Thai island looks like summer heaven and even though I'm not really a beach person, I'd love to visit! Destination2 specialise in long haul flights and Thailand is one of their popular holiday destinations and it isn't difficult to see why! They have a range of destinations from the Caribbean, Middle East, Cambodia, Thailand and many morello choose from as well as fantastic deals so click here to find out more.

Are any of these destinations on your travel wish list? Do you have any hidden gem recommendations?

*This is a sponsored post

Spring Homeware Design Tips with Laura Ashley

Monday, May 14, 2018
Spring is here and while autumn is my favourite season in all ways, I love adore how fresh, light and hopeful spring is! Spring homeware is currently one of my favourite things to purchase, along with books and new spring makeup. Laura Ashley have an incredible range of spring homeware as well as clothing, gifts and much more.

Light Colours: Fresh & Airy
There are a few homeware trends that I love for this time of the year but the general theme of spring homeware features light colours, fresh and airy fabrics and pastel shades, all of which I'm craving for the spring time. While I do like cosy, warm and darker shades of the autumn and winter months, I do prefer light and airy shades - all the light grey, blush pink and cream shades!

Blackout Blinds/Curtains 
Blackout blinds or thicker, heavy curtains might be counterintuitive for the spring season but stick with me! A study conducted by Oxford University found that light bedrooms (in terms of light levels) can have an affect on the quality of your sleep as well as your waistline! The lighter evenings and early spring mornings can reduce the amount of sleep we get at this time of the year and interrupt natural sleep patterns so investing in thicker curtains or blackout blinds could not only help you get more sleep but it could improve your sleep quality.
Minimal - Less Clutter & Spring Clean
One homeware trend that I am all about is minimalism! I've never been one to hold onto items, whether they're sentimental or not, as it's just not me so the minimalism trend/lifestyle is perfect for me and I also think that it fits with the season too. Spring cleaning and decluttering is something I love to do as I feel like having a clear, clean and organised space makes me think clearly and be much more productive, particularly as I currently work from home.

Candles: Relaxing & Calming Atmosphere
Lastly, candles to me and to most people are something more associated with autumn and winter but they are perfect for spring too by adding in the scent of nature, clean cotton, floral scents or fresh, citrusy scents to your home. Laura Ashley have a range of gorgeous candles, some of which are ideal for spring/summer including the scents: bergamot and lime, citrus blossom and nectarine, rhubarb and vanilla and a hedgerow scented candle!

Myself, along with a range of other wonderful bloggers, have more spring decor, homeware and bedroom design tips on the Laura Ashley blog so check it out for even more ideas!

Do you have any spring bedroom or homeware tips? What are your thoughts on Laura Ashley? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Images from Laura Ashley 

Gift Idea: Home Bargains Flowers

Sunday, May 13, 2018
The weather in the UK recently has been amazing, so sunny and unusually summery for Manchester which is usually dull, rainy and chilly! To help with the spring vibes and incoming summer weather, the lovely people at Home Bargains have kindly sent me a gorgeous colourful and spring like floral bouquet.

*Home Bargains Flowers - Sunny Garden (£22.99)
I was very kindly sent the gorgeous 'sunny garden' bouquet but there are so many to choose from including the equally as gorgeous freesias bouquet, 'sent with love' bouquet and the stunning 'floral elegance' bouquet. As well as bouquets, they also have a great range of plants, hampers and gift sets to choose from.
The 'sunny garden' bouquet contains some of my favourite flowers including avalanche roses, stunning blue iris flowers, hypericum and the most beautiful flowers of them all, freesias - they not only look beautiful but they smell amazing too! I love all of the bright summery colours of the bouquet particularly the gorgeous orange freesias and blue iris flowers. The medium bouquet is a perfect size, it arrived well protected and packaged (it doesn't say Home Bargains on the box) and the flowers were fresh and they've lasted well - especially the avalanche roses and the freesias (sadly the iris flowers were the first to go). Mine also came with a very handy large clear glass vase!
I cannot recommend the service and this bouquet enough as it looks so bright, colourful and summery. The flowers lasted a while, especially the roses and freesias, it came very well packaged and it would make a lovely gift. You can add extras to your flowers such as a vase (£4.99), teddy bear (£3.99), balloon (£2.99) or chocolates and cake! Additionally you can choose a smaller bouquet or larger (£6) along with a gift message.

What do you think of these flowers? Did you know that Home Bargains (yes, that Home Bargains!) sold gorgeous bouquets?

GHD Earth Gold Styler + Wedding Hairstyles

Friday, May 11, 2018
Since I was around 13 years old, I've wanted a pair of ghds as they were such a coveted item in my high school and if you had a pair, it was not only the key to avoiding exbarassing frizzy haired school photos but it also offered a slight boost in popularity. Thankfully teenage Heather didn't have to suffer the curse of the frizzy hair for much longer as I saved up my pocket money and bought a pair of the wide plated ghds (it was nothing but frizz free hair days after that).

That first pair of ghds was used almost every single day and they lasted for at least seven years (I think my sister has them now) and I haven't bought a pair of straighteners that weren't ghds since as nothing compares. I was very kindly sent the gorgeous Ruby Sunset V Styler back in 2017 and adored it but now there's an improved edition!
*GHDghdEarth Gold (£139)
I did squeak a little (...a lot) when the styler arrived, not just because it's a new ghd styler but because it's gorgeous! The new limited edition Earth Gold styler is "inspired by opulent desert escapes, the ghd saharan gold collection is the new gold standard of hair styling". The new 'dual zone technology' features two new generation heat sensors which controls the optimum heat from root to tip for smoother, sleeker looking hair. Additionally, it has a curved barrel for snag free styling, smooth floating plates and various accessories such as a heat resistant bag and heat resistant plate guard, both of which will be perfect for travelling.
I've been using the styler constantly since I received and I don't know how but it's even better than the Ruby V styler from last year, maybe it's due to the new 'duel zone technology'? Whatever the reason, my hair has never been as smooth, tangle free, sleek or shine as it as when I use the new Earth Gold styler! Hopefully you'll be able to see the difference in the short video below as usually my hair can rival Hagrids in terms of frizziness but just one pass with the styler and my hair is smooth, sleek and frizz-free.

The Earth Gold styler heats up very quickly, the heat resistant bag is such a great addition to the styler set and just look at how gorgeous the Earth Gold styler is! Since using my wide ghds back in the my teenage years, these are the ultimate improvement and I cannot recommend the Earth Gold styler enough, especially with the heat resistant bag, guard and their fantastic heat protect spray.
Now onto the hairstyle which was actually a practice run of my bridesmaid hair for my friends wedding next month! The my hair is straightened or wet, it's pretty much hip length so trying to get it into an elegant undo without looking like cousin it would be near impossible so for my bridesmaid hairstyle, I was thinking along the lines of sleek loose curls, a side parting and a front section pinned to the side with gypsophila.

My practice run was very easy thanks to the Earth Gold styler as after brushing it manages to somehow transform my hair from Hagrid to sleek and smooth which is a miracle in itself. I straightened my hair with the styler to get rid of frizz as that wouldn't be a good look for a wedding and then using my curler to loosely curl the midlengths and ends, finally using my ghd styler to neaten up any curls (I can't curl my hair with any straightener as my hair is just too long and too thick, my hair seems to be impervious to that technique). Lastly, I pinned one side back with bobbi pins and added some fresh gypsophila - for the wedding we're using faux gypsophila clips which will be even easier!

Don't forget to check out my short video of the styler in action. I cannot recommend the ghd Earth Gold Styler enough! 

Do you own a GHD styler? What do you think of the new gold collection?