This Bank Holiday weekend we've done some experimenting in the kitchen! J is big into Italian cooking at the moment (it's tough, supporting him with his hobbies...) and next up to try out was gnocchi. I have had one experience of making gnocchi before, which resulted in a saucepan full of watery bits of mashed potato and a frozen pizza saving the day. So it's safe to say I was sceptical but he pulled it off!

Rough process:
  1. Dice, boil and mash some potatoes
  2. Add in plain flour and an egg, mix together in bowl.
  3. Knead (this bit got a tad messy - have plenty of flour at the ready) then wrap in cling film and either pop in the fridge or use straight away.
  4. Take a small-ish piece of the dough (small handful) and roll into a long sausage, then using a knife cut into gnocchi around 2cm wide. Press slightly with a fork.
  5. Get a pan of water on a rolling boil then drop in a batch of your gnocchi (best not to chuck it all in at once).
  6. As soon as the gnocchi starts floating at the surface, you're ready to scoop it out. 
Serve and enjoy straight away - we had ours with a simple, rich tomato, basil and chilli sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan and a token sprig of photogenic basil. 

Not necessarily a 20-minute meal but worth a shot and a tasty change from pasta! Hoping to get back on my blogging game soon (have you seen the new banner header and pages buttons? I'm so proud of my incredibly basic IT skills!). 


Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

I received a sample of the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser in a Birchbox sometime last year and now that I have used it for a while (and progressed to the full-size bottle), I fully understand why everyone's been raving about it.

Applying a cleanser onto a dry face initially felt odd - if we're being honest I'm used to a mid-shower slap-it-on, wash-it-off cleanser but now I love massaging this creamy cleanser into my face each night. The muslin cloth, soaked in hot water was also a novel concept - it gently exfoliates whilst removing make up and leaves your skin feeling silky soft and squeaky clean. You get two muslin cloths with the 100ml bottle of Hot Cloth Cleanser and can pop them in the washing machine every few uses to keep them bacteria-free.

I'm fortunate to have fairly low-maintenance skin although it is sensitive so Liz Earle's 'naturally active ingredients' sit comfortably with me. The cleanser claims to be for all skin types though, and J has even had go (he has quite oily skin) and it's not caused any problems. I love the slightly herbal scent and considering the bottle seems to be lasting a long time,  £15.50 for the starter set (or £14.00 thereafter for the cleanser alone), is a good price. I feel as though I've added a luxury step to my generally mid-range skincare routine.


Birchbox UK November 2014 - Cosy at Home

Hi guys!

Still can't quite get my head around the fact that November is already upon us, but it does mean time for another Birchbox post and this month I am a very happy bunny!

The theme for November is 'Cosy at Home' - the products are designed for a snuggly autumnal beauty night in and with my candles lit, blanket on the sofa and a mug of Earl Grey I am keen. This box contains two, yes two, full sized products, and the little posh chocolate treat is very welcome too. So, onto the products...


English Laundry Signature For Her Scent - the last English Laundry fragrance sample that came surprised me, I thought it would be a little 'old lady' but actually have used it all up whilst travelling. This time, again, English Laundry have delivered. It's a sweet, slightly floral scent and easy to wear in the daytime. £60 for 50ml EDP so for 5ml(ish), around £3.

Beauty Protector Protect and Treat Hair Mask - I don't know if it's intentional or not, but for my last few boxes I have been receiving two of one sample?! This box was no different, with two of these lovely pots of hair mask. I have grown to like the Beauty Protector brand and am looking forward to treating my dry ends to this mask. It smells yum and one pot will be just right per treatment. I'm estimating these two pots are worth around £3.20.

Lord & Berry Mini Bronzer, Sunny - The last Lord & Berry product I received from Birchbox was a kohl pencil - I could tell it was lovely quality but didn't love it just because I don't use eyeliner (no ability whatsoever to apply, and when I do, I look like Marylin Manson...). This sample gives me the perfect excuse to try Lord & Berry out properly on a product that I use everyday, bronzer. It's a nice shade and good consistency so we'll see how I get on. £19 full size means this 2g sample is worth £3.16.

OPI Coca-Cola Red Nail Polish - LOVE THIS. Nailed it. A brilliant colour for the festive season, a brand I trust and to top it all off, this is full size. No more needed! Worth a £11.95 (so basically covers the price of the Birchbox alone).

Dr. Jart + Pore Refine Tight Effect Toner - This was a new one to me, but I was intrigued to see that Dr Jart + is part of Boots. It's a toner specifically for oily skin, which isn't that relevant to me, but I'll give it a good go nonetheless. (J has oily skin and will definitely try this out so we can see how it works on two skin types..). Big fan of the scent. Another full size product, this time worth a whopping £18, I'm happy with that!!

Montezuma's Mini Bar - Who doesn't love a little choclatey treat, and even better that it's British-made, organic and totally delicious. Much prefer this type of 'lifestyle extra' to the bizarre lipstick-shaped pen and flip-flop key ring of previous boxes!

This box is up amongst the best I have had - nice work Birchbox. Even almost a year into subscribing, it still feels a teeny bit like Christmas each time I get to open my box up, and who doesn't love that kind of excitement?!

What did you guys get in your box this month? Were you pleased with the contents? Love to hear from you, as always!


Halloween 2014 - Pumpkin Carving!

So. It's been a while. But let's skip over that part. Internet is underrated anyway...

IT'S ALMOST HALLOWEEN!! In preparation, J and I got our pumpkin carving on and I tried timelapse out for the first time - result below!

We have been loving creating 'seasonal' niceness in our flat now that we are living here together (think mini pumpkins, orange and black candles, pretty lanterns) and I am getting keen for Christmas already!

Life is crazy at the moment so that's all for now, would love to see what you guys are doing for Halloween - outfits, pumpkins, baking, crafts....the lot!


Birchbox UK July 2014 - Sun, Sea & Sand

Hi lovelies!

I am still struggling big time with internet (hopefully to be resolved in the next two weeks, hurrah!) so excuse the horribly infrequent posting lately.

It's time for another Birchbox post, this time the July 2014 Sun, Sea & Sand edition! There's less of a 'theme' to this box than some of the more recent boxes, but that's not a bad thing to be honest - it's more of a focus on the handy little samples that can slip into your hand luggage/beach bag wherever you are spending your summer. And seeing as I'm a lucky duck this summer, enjoying a couple of little holidays, I need all the samples I can get!

Whish Three Wishes Lavender Body Butter - I recognised the style of this brand but not sure where I've seen it. Either way, this body butter smells good (the right side of lavender i.e. not old lady) and leaves my skin soft and feeling moisturised. A perfectly useful little sample but not a product I'll be rushing out to buy. £14.50 for 150ml so this sample worth around £2.12.

Weleda Millet Nourishing Shampoo - from a selfish point of view, this sample is perfect for me - I swim most mornings before work so mini bottles of shampoo are a big hit for getting rid of the chlorine! I have used Weleda before and liked it but not this specific product. It smells good - I get tea tree, mint and general 'herbal' scents, all of which are fine by me but may be a little 'eco' for some! A low-value sample worth around 84p.

Gilchrist & Soames English Spa Sea Kelp Extract Mineral Bath - I have received a Gilchrist and Soames shower product previously via Birchbox and felt neither here nor there about it. This bath foam has a nicer scent and may get tested at somepoint in the next bath I take (I am a shower girl!). This product didn't massively excite me if I'm being honest. Sample of 40ml worth £1.90.

Ultradex Oral Spray - this was a 'lifestyle extra' from Birchbox this month, a fresh breath oral spray which apparently fights plaque and gum problems. I am not a regular user of these sort of products but happy to give it a go. It's minty (but sugar-free) and does make my mouth feel fresh so I'm relatively happy with it. Full size product so worth £3.65.

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream - this was one of the more exciting products in this months' Birchbox. I suffer with dark under-eye circles and generally need a good layer of Benefit Erase Paste before I look alive in the mornings (!) so I'm going to give this a go. Apparently it 'soothes, brightens and lifts' so I'll report back how I get on...! I like the zesty, herbal scent and for an eye cream, the sample size is really generous - regular bottle is 15ml for £20, so 7ml is worth £9.33.

Laqa & Co Sheer Lip Lube Pencil in Menatour - when I first saw the colour of this lip gloss pencil I had major some concerns.  It's bright purple. However, when I put it on, I was pleasantly surprised. It blends into your natural lip colour well (although the shade is definitely still 'bold', it's not PURPLE), and is a nice texture. I think this is the kind of product that Birchbox are good for - I would never pick up something like this normally but am impressed with it! Another generous sample too, worth £7.80.

Overall, this has been a mixed box for me. I'm not thrilled with it, but there are a couple of products that I'm looking forward to trying out and using - the others are just handy sized samples for gym/swim/holidays. I did recently use up some of my precious Birchbox points on some new products so will show you my bargains sometime soon hopefully! (In the meantime, I'm off to NEW YORK!!).

What did you think of this month's Birchbox?


Birchbox UK May 2014 - Harper's Bazaar Collaboration


Have been away with work but now want to tell you all about the FAB May Birchbox, a collaboration with Harper's Bazaar!

This month's box has a 'great outdoors' theme and flicking through the Great Outdoors Beauty Guide that came too got me all excited for the summer fun ahead. The design of the box itself was gorgeous and as a bonus, this box comes with an offer for a discounted subscription for Harper's Bazaar, and I'm definitely tempted to sign up!

Onto the contents - I have to say this month is up there as one of my all-time favourites; good quality, well selected products from premium brands.

Beauty Protector Protect & Shampoo/Protect & Condition - these were welcome items in this month's box. I received a Beauty Protector sample in my first ever Birchbox but sadly the spray didn't work so I didn't really get to try out the brand. This shampoo and conditioner mini set were therefore the perfect opportunity to try Beauty Protector out; the brand definitely seem to be a favourite of Birchbox's so I want to understand the hype! So far, I've used the miniatures once (they're a handy size to put in my gym bag!) and am a fan. Great scents, shampoo feels luxurious and the conditioner made light work of detangling and re-nourishing my chlorine-soaked hair. Each sample looks to be about 35ml and the full-sized versions are £14 each.

Benefit They're Real! Mascara - no prizes for guessing that this one was well-received! I've wanted to try out this cult Benefit mascara for a while and so was really pleased to find it in this month's box. I've used it a couple of times and am so far impressed with the volume and length it gives my lashes. It doesn't look to clump too much either - hurrah! Will keep using this one and see if it converts me...! This 0.1oz sample is worth £6.50 (£19.50 for 0.3oz full size).

Soigné Nail Polish in Persimmon - this was my favourite item this month! A full-sized nail polish that felt so premium to open (Chanel-like box and then protective foam inside) and in a gorgeous summery orange shade too. I gave this polish a go and was really, really impressed with its durability. My nails have a horrible tendency to chip and yet this polish lasted 5 days without a single chip! (I then had to take it off, rather than it not last any longer - who knows how long it could have lasted!). If you're after a long lasting shade for a holiday etc, I would definitely recommend Soigné. Full-sized product so worth £11.

Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil  - I had heard of Aromatherapy Associates but never used or owned anything from them and this oil looks really luxurious. It's a fairly small sample but I get the impression that a little might go a long way. Am yet to try it but it smells good (pink grapefruit, rosemary and juniper berry, apparently..). Harper's Bazaar's Beauty Director Sophie Bloomfield recommends it for travelling to 'beat that post-flight sluggish feeling' so this one might be joining me in Dubai very soon! 3ml sample worth £4.23.

Liz Earle Beauty Co. Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser - this item felt like a little extra treat, straight from a spa somewhere! I was excited to get a Liz Earle facial product as I'm looking for a new daily face wash and had been eyeing up some Liz Earle products so this could be just the ticket! Inside the little parcel you get a 30ml sample of the cleanser, as well as a Liz Earle face cloth and an ultimate cleansing guide which details how to use the Hot Cloth Cleanser (massage into dry skin in circles, rinse cloth in hot water and gently wipe cream off face, splash face with cool water then use toner/moisturiser for those interested!). Really pleased with this item and can't wait to give it a whirl - I'll let you know how I get on. This 30ml sample is worth £3.98.

This month's box was uh-mazing. There's not a product I didn't like and I have got a couple of new brands as well as some I knew but wanted to try out - the guys at Birchbox seem to have got the balance just right this time! Hope you enjoyed it, any questions or comments please leave them below or get in touch on Twitter - I'd love to hear what you thought of the box this month :)!