Monday, 30 November 2020

My Yummy & Comforting Sausage Rolls Recipe

 I actually made these sausage rolls way back in April during the first lockdown when baking became a real saviour for me (well it still is to be honest). Who'd have thought 7 months later we'd be in a second lockdown and going through the same thing? I've been filling my time exactly the same as before, baking - this time for Bear's Brownies & More too, reading and blogging and I thought it was about time I now share the recipe for these delicious sausage rolls. Don't get me wrong, nothing beats a ready made one sometimes does it? but if you want something you can actually whip up in very little time at home with minimal ingredients then this recipe is for you. These are so tasty when just out of the oven but can also be chilled and eaten over a few days if you'd prefer. As you can see they're absolutely huge so it may take a little while to get through them all!
Sausage rolls on chopping board Ingredients:
1 onion, finely diced
6 pork sausages, skin removed (I used Tesco finest pork sausage)
1 tbsp English mustard
2 rashers of bacon, finely chopped
1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Method:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (180 fan) and line a large baking tray with baking paper
2. Heat a little oil or frylight in a frying pan over a medium heat then add your diced onion
3. Leave your onion to soften. When soft, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool
4. Add the sausage meat, mustard and diced bacon to the onion and mix together
5. Unroll your puff pastry and cut in half lengthways to make 2 long strips
6. Halve the sausage mix and lay each half along one side of the pastry strips in a thin sausage shape
7. Tightly roll the meat in the pastry, joining together underneath. Press lightly with a fork to seal the join
8. Beat 1 egg then brush the pastry, this will give it a golden colour as it bakes
9. Cut each strip into 4 rolls (you could cut into 8 for small sausage rolls)
10. Space out the sausage rolls on your prepared baking tray then bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and crispCloseup of sausage roll in front of chopping board with sausage rolls onThese grew far more than I expected them to in the oven and they are pretty filling but sometimes that's just what you need isn't it? Something hearty and warming, especially on a chilly day! These make a fab lunch or if you choose to make smaller sausage rolls, they'd be fab to keep in the fridge for snacking!

Let me know if you make these! I can't wait to make them again soon.

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Friday, 27 November 2020

My 2020 Food & Drink Christmas Gift Guide*

 AD - This post contains gifted items. Gifted items will be marked *

It's time for my final gift guide of 2020! So far this week I've shared my ideas for both the men and women in your lives and today I'm talking about the presents everyone loves, especially at Christmas time, food and drink. I don't know about anyone else but I am always happy to unwrap something foodie related and each year there just seems to be more and more available. I've rounded up some of the best food and drink gifts out there this Christmas so I hope it gives you some ideas!collage - pink background, ohelo travel cup, cranes cider, guylian chocolate

Cranes Cider Gift Set*
I'm not really a beer drinker so for me Cider is something I pick up quite often anyway so I feel like I can safely say Cranes offer some of the best flavoured ciders out there. Cranes Ciders are crafted in Cambridge by co-founders (and twin brothers) Ben and Dan Ritsema. They've created a range of ciders that contain only natural ingredients which means they contain 30% fewer calories and over 40% less sugar than most cider brands. There has been absolutely no compromise on flavour though! The great thing is they're all suitable for vegans too and they're gluten-free. This Christmas, Cranes have a Cider gift set which includes their full range of fruit ciders - Blueberries & Apples, Cranberries & Limes, Raspberries & Pomegranates and also a branded pint glass for £16.99. Each flavour is incredibly refreshing and the perfect drink to open on a Saturday night! This is available from Amazon and the official Cranes website so grab it while you can!Cranes Cider gift set stood upCranes Cider bottle held up

Two Brooks Alcoholic Sparkling Water*
Another drink option this Christmas is Two Brooks, a new brand of alcoholic sparkling water. Two Brooks are a family-owned British start-up by brother and sister Fabio and Francesca Bruni. They've created a refreshing take on some classic drinks and there are currently 3 flavours available to choose from. Passion Star is similar to the popular Porn Star Martini with a bright, fresh flavour. Mango Hi-Ball has the full bodied flavour of fresh mango with a smooth yet crisp finish. Finally, the Lime Cooler balances subtle citrus with zesty lime, rounded off with mint which reminds me very much of a mojito! Two Brooks are gluten-free, 100% natural, only 80 calories and vegan too so a great choice this Christmas for everyone to enjoy! If you're tempted, each flavour is available on the official Two Brooks website.Two Brooks drinks laid down on orange backgroundTwo Brooks passion star drink held up

Ohelo Travel Cup*
I've been really enjoying getting out for some long Autumnal walks with Bear recently and I'm sure that will continue into Winter but as it's SO cold out at the minute, travel cups are very much needed! Ohelo, a family run business, launched towards the end of 2019 and they design and make high quality reusable water bottles and travel cups that are tougher, safer and prettier than most out in the shops already. Ohelo have a huge range of travel cups and bottles but the one I wanted to mention is the Pink Blossom Reusable Coffee Cup. How pretty is it?! Not only does it look beautiful but it's also has a 100% leakproof sip lid and it keeps liquids either cold for 12 hours or hot for 6 hours, never lukewarm which is very important! What I love about Ohelo is that 5% of their profits go to sustainable charities and their packaging is 100% plastic free and already recycled so aswell as supporting a new brand, you're also doing some good elsewhere too! The Pink Blossom Tumbler comes in 3 other colours and is £30 and you can also find lots of other cups and bottles to choose from on their website.Ohelo Pink Blossom Travel Cup on wooden chopping board, on orange scarf as backgroundOhelo Pink Blossom Travel Cup stood up with packaging in background

Guylian Dark Raspberry Bars*
For the chocolate lovers (who isn't one?) Guylian have not long since released a new Dark Raspberry bar which makes a perfect stocking filler this Christmas! We all know and love Guylian for their Praline Sea Shells but they actually have far more to enjoy too. The Dark 72% Raspberry Bars actually contain 4 smaller individually wrapped bars in each packet which is great for enjoying just a little at a time. With easy resealable packaging, they're sure to stay fresh ready to enjoy whenever you fancy. Guylian chocolate bars are made using 100% sustainable cocoa out of respect for nature and the cocoa farmers which only makes them even more of a winner in my eyes. Guylian can be found in all supermarkets so be sure to add some to your trolley in your next shop!Guylian chocolate bar on wooden chopping board on orange backgroundCloseup of Guylian chocolate on wooden chopping board

Cocktail/Coffee Stirrers
The next thing I wanted to mention I actually spotted whilst browsing Etsy recently and it's these amazing cocktail stirrers! These candy sticks have been flavoured with an authentic taste of various alcoholic drinks which instantly enhance the flavour of your cocktail once added. They're currently £5.49 and each stick can last upto 3 cocktails and there are 7 flavours to choose from - Pink Gin, Raspberry Prosecco, Passionfruit Martini, Parma Violet Gin, Blood Orange Gin, Cotton Candy Gin and finally, Elderflower Gin. If you're after some non-alcoholic gifts this Christmas though, they also have coffee stirrers too. These are only £4.99 and available in 4 flavours - Amaretto, Caramel, Hazelnut and Vanilla. I just think all of these make such a unique stocking filler! I want some for myself. Cocktail stirrers on paper background

The Naked Marshmallow Co Gourmet Marshmallow Toasting Set £19
If you know someone with a super sweet tooth, The Naked Marshmallow Co are who you need to be checking out. They have a range of different marshmallow toasting kits which include various flavours of gourmet marshmallow, a non-toxic gel burner (can be used multiple times), bamboo skewers and a printed guide of how to toast the perfect marshmallow. This could be such a fun idea for the weekend or something to enjoy over the festive period, especially if it's going to be a quiet one. I can see myself getting a few things like this in for over Christmas as a little date night at home. There are a range of different marshmallow kits to choose from but the classic includes two flavours of gourmet marshmallow and you can choose from Vanilla Bean, Candy Floss, Strawberry Cream, Choc Orange and Salted Caramel. How amazing do they all sound? This particular kit is £19 and available from The Naked Marshmallow Co website and NotOnTheHighStreet.The Naked Marshmallow Co toasting kit

Bear's Brownies & More Homemade Brownies
And last but not least, I had to mention Bear's Brownies & More didn't I? I launched my own brownie business in October and I'm so happy with how well it's gone and so proud that I finally took that step and at least tried and it seems to have payed off. At Bear's Brownies & More, we have a range of delicious brownies that would all make wonderful gifts this Christmas. We have 6 flavours to choose from including our festive range - Chocolate Orange, After Eight, Malteser Reindeer, Salted Caramel, Bourbon Biscuit and Biscoff. Available in boxes of 4 or 8 (or you could add 4 of two flavours and make your own 8 box) via my Esty shop, these are just what you need if you know someone who loves a brownie or two. Each batch of brownies lasts around a week so they're the perfect treat to order in the run up to Christmas. Ooh, almost forgot to mention that we have 10% off until Monday too! There's never been a better time to order.Maltester Reindeer brownie held up in front of box of brownies

So there we have it, my final gift guide of 2020! I really hope these have given you some inspiration for Christmas shopping this year or even just given you an idea of something you could treat yourself to, it's been a rough year, you deserve it!

Have you started (or completed) your Christmas shopping?

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Tuesday, 24 November 2020

My 2020 Men's Christmas Gift Guide*

AD - This post contains gifted items. Gifted items will be marked *

 Following on from yesterdays post which was my Women's Christmas gift guide, today I'm sharing my suggestions for the men in our lives. I find men so difficult to buy for so I always turn to gift guides at this time of year so I really hope this helps if you've been stuck for ideas!collage with pink background. Lynx car fresheners, hair wax, personalised history book

The Natural Barber Co Hairstyling Products*
Men love beauty and grooming as much as us ladies sometimes I think and The Natural Barber Co are a fab brand to turn to for hair products this Christmas. Using natural ingredients, these hair pastes are not only great for your man's hair but also for the environment! They're free from petrolatum, mineral oils, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance and other nasty chemicals which makes them a winner in my eyes. There are two pastes available, Zeus Pomade and Hades Matte Paste. The Zeus Pomade is ideal for a shiny finish, use for slick backs and hair control. The Hades Matte Paste is a lightweight matte paste so perfect for adding texture and thickness. Both of these are available at The Natural Barber Co for £16.95 each.The Natural Barber Co hair waxThe Natural Barber Co hair wax

Lynx Car Fresheners*
For the men who love Lynx, instead of a standard gift set this year why not branch out and treat him to some of the new Lynx Car Fresheners? Available at Halfords, these car fresheners promise to slowly infuse the Lynx aroma, promising at least 30 days of freshness. Each fragrance has been harnessed into a sleek diffuser so not only smells amazing but looks smart in the car too. There are 5 scents available to choose from including Lynx Africa, Lynx Gold, Lynx Black, Ice Chill and Dark Temptation and all are only £3.99. A great little stocking filler!Lynx Car Fresheners on orange background next to bunch of hollyCloseup of Lynx car freshener

Digby Dog Glasses Stand
This is maybe just one for the dog lovers but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to include it in this gift guide! This is the Digby Dog Glasses Stand from Next which would be perfect on a bedside table. I often find things just get left lying around on bedsides tables so anything that can help with the clutter like this is brilliant. It's only £12 and they have a whole range of similar items too.


Personalised Washbag
For anyone you know who travels a lot, how nice is this personalised washbag? I found it on Etsy so you'd be helping support a small business! It's often not until packing for a trip that you realise you've not got things like this and there's no harm in being prepared for those 2021 holidays (fingers crossed). This is available in either black or brown and you can choose the initial colour too. I think it looks really sleek and high end but luckily the price is just under £15.Brown washbag with gold foil initials

Historic Newspapers Football History Book*
Next up is something I jumped at the chance to review as I knew it would be something George would love. Historic Newspapers are the world's largest archive of over 3 million old newspapers dating back over 100 years and you can choose from either Personalised Football History Books or Personalised War History Books so these could be a heartwarming gift for so many people. I chose one of the football history books and it had to be Sheffield Wednesday for George. He absolutely LOVES it. Each book is bound by hand and contains rare newspaper coverage of the team so there are things in there he's never read before and some that he can remember from just years ago so it's really special. All of the history books can be personalised so I added a gift message inside and the cover is also gold embossed which looks beautiful. You can also choose to get the book in A4 or A3 and you have a choice between brown leather or luxury blue leather. These do range in price, from £39.99 to £59.99, so aren't the cheapest present but I really do think they're worth it. I know this will be something George goes back to again and again.Historical Newspapers football history book front coverChristmas gift message inside personalised football bookcollage - newspaper photos inside football history book and front cover

10 Things I Love About You Wallet Insert
I've bought a few things like this wallet insert before because who doesn't want to carry around a nice reminder of how much you love them? The 10 Things I Love About You insert is from Find Me A Gift who have some really unique gifts all year round. You can personalise 10 times with all the different things you love about your significant other from things like how thoughtful they are to their hugs, how they make you laugh or just whatever you fancy! Such a cute gift.10 things I love about your wallet insert

Spa Hamper Package For Him
As I mentioned in my last gift guide, letterbox gifts may be the way forward this year with the likelihood that many of us will be apart from loved ones this Christmas. With gifts like this, the recipient doesn't even need to be in at the time so you can be reassured that it will get to them regardless and with this particular gift, you'd be supporting another small business so that's an added bonus! I love the idea of this Spa Hamper Package For Him. It's almost Winter, the nights are cold and something like this could be the perfect thing for an evening of self care. It's £14.99 and includes a Detox Sheet Mask, a Charcoal Foot Pack, Charcoal nose strips, Nivea Men Creme, Epsom Bath Salts, 3 Yorkie Chocolate Bars, 2 sachets of English Breakfast Tea and a little tealight. Such a lovely idea.Spa hamper package for him on white background. Includes face mask, Yorkie chocolate bars, tealight, foot mask, bath salts

And that wraps up my Men's Christmas gift guide for the year! As I said at the start of this post, men can be really tricky to buy for so I hope this has left you with some fresh ideas ready for Christmas shopping!

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Why Platonic Relationships Are Just As Important As Romantic Ones

 AD - This is a collaborative post

Healthy romantic relationships come with a hefty package of benefits: unconditional love, reduced stress, social fulfillment - you name it. Unfortunately, due to Hollywood-esque expectations, we often forget to focus on maintaining healthy platonic relationships. A platonic relationship is a loving yet romantic relationship between friends. Similar to its romantic counterpart, platonic relationships come with a multitude of health and social advantages. Here are four reasons why you should prioritize platonic relationships as much as romantic ones:

Image source

1. Platonic relationships improve emotional development
Humans are social beings, meaning that friendship is necessary for people to achieve any kind of emotional development. Social interactions encourage people to develop skills such as active listening, problem-solving, and even empathy. Whilst most of these are learned from a young age, maintaining a social schedule will heighten all of those skills.


2. Platonic relationships provide unconditional support
We are all capable of managing the ebbs and flows of life, but going through them in the company of others is significantly less stressful. Having a strong group of friends can help you overcome difficult times and celebrate personal achievements. Romantic partners are capable of providing the same support, but it's essential to cultivate a support system outside of your relationship.


3. Platonic relationships give us perspective
Guess what? We're not perfect. Sometimes we act on emotional impulses and make mistakes. Fortunately, a reliable group of friends can help us parse out out ideas and make the appropriate choices. At the end of the day, you know what's best for you but having the opinion of your closest friends can open your eyes to factors you're blinded to. 


4. Platonic relationships promote longevity
Healthy platonic relationships lead to social support, which surprisingly leads to a longer life-span. There are a lot of health disadvantages that come with social isolation including stress, depression and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Investing in our platonic relationships is a form of self-care. It teaches us to be independent in the company of our loved ones. So what are you waiting for? Invite your friends over!

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Monday, 23 November 2020

My 2020 Women's Christmas Gift Guide*

AD - This post contains gifted items. Gifted items will be marked *

Already it's time for my Christmas gift guides! Like always, this year I'll be sharing 3 different gift guides throughout the week, one for the ladies in your life, one for the men and then a food & drink gift guide. This year has been tough for everyone so I've put together a variety of different things that I think anyone would be thrilled to receive this Christmas and I just hope it gives you some inspiration if you're about to start your Christmas shopping or have been stuck for ideas! Let's get started with my 2020 Women's Christmas gift guide.collage with pink background including apple honey butter candle, Treatbox christmas movie gift set and Feather & Down massage gift set on orange background

Ramer Sponges*
For anyone putting hampers together, I highly recommend including Ramer Sponges! These are perfect for any beauty and skincare lovers you know and having used them myself for months, I can safely say they are perfect for giving you soft, luxurious feeling skin, something we all want, especially in the Winter months! Ramer Sponges are basically made from a magic material which hardens after each use when they dry which helps prevent growth of bacteria but they instantly soften when soaked in warm water so can keep on being re-used. These are made from super soft material which is non-scratchy so they lather up like a treat with whichever shower gel/bubble bath etc you may use. The Cranberry and Holly sponges are part of their Christmas range and are priced at £2.99 so a really affordable little stocking filler! You can find these & a range of other skincare products at Ramer Sponges.

Ramer Sponges on orange background with holly next to it
Closeup of pink Ramer sponge

Feather & Down Massage to Sleep Set*
I'm a big fan of Feather & Down, in fact you might have seen me blog about them a few times in the past and I personally think they are a fab brand to turn to at Christmas time. Whether you want to treat a new mum, help out someone struggling with their sleep or just want to give something a little different this year, Feather & Down have got you covered. Their Massage to Sleep set includes their pillow spray, a massage soap bar and a bottle of their bath essence so everything you could need for a peaceful night and each product contains a special blend of lavender and chamomile essential oils, the perfect scent to make you feel sleepy (or so I find anyway!). You can buy this for £10 from Creightons aswell as a huge range of other gorgeous sleep products. Also available at Boots and the official Feather & Down website.
Feather & Down Massage to Sleep gift set on orange background

Feather & Down Massage to Sleep gift set on orange background - bath essence, pillow spray, massage bar

Christmas Candles
You can't beat a candle. I fill our home with them at Christmas time as I'm sure a lot of people do and I am always happy to unwrap one at Christmas time. I personally love to check out Homesense and TK Maxx when Christmas shopping as they stock the most gorgeous candles at this time of year. From August onwards really the homeware just seems to step up a notch. The reasons I love the candles they stock so much is because they're so unique, you very rarely find the same one twice and that bodes well for getting someone a gift they've not had before!
DW Home Apple Honey Butter candle held up in front of bookshelf

Treatbox Christmas Movie Gift Set
Treatbox are the brand to go to for personal, thoughtful gifts that are sure to leave a smile on anyone's face. They have a monthly subscription box full of a variety of things from prints and pins to hot chocolate, food and lots more. They also have beautiful mugs, keepsakes and even ready to go Christmas boxes! I think their Christmas Movie Gift Set in particular is perfect. It's £29.95 and contains a Christmas mug, chocolate popcorn, a chocolate brownie mug kit, festive socks, salted caramel hot chocolate and a wax melt. Something like this is ideal if you're apart from loved ones or are stuck for ideas and want to get something a little different this year!Treatbox Christmas Movie Gift Set. Basket with wax melt, popcorn, socks, brownie and mug

Body Bliss Bath Treats*
Next up for the beauty lovers is this gorgeous Bath Treats set from Body Bliss. I personally spend a LOT of time in the bath during Winter so if you know someone who loves a pamper night or deserves some lovely self care bits this Christmas then this is ideal. In this particular set you get 4 mini bath and shower gels in indulgent fragrances like Mango & Papaya, Raspberry & Pomegranate, Coconut Water and finally Vanilla & Macadamia. These all smell absolutely incredible! The great thing about Body Bliss is that their products are vegan friendly, cruelty free, bottles are made from 50% recycled materials and they use sustainably sourced fruit extracts. It's only £6 too which I think is a bargain! You can buy this set and a load of other beautiful Body Bliss products at Creightons.Creightons Body Bliss Bath Treats set on orange backgroundCreightons Body Bliss Bath Treats set on orange background

Custom Pet Jigsaws
For the pet lovers, how cool is this custom pet jigsaw? I would absolutely love one of Bear! I found this whilst browsing Esty for small businesses to buy from this Christmas and I just had to include it. Custompopco are specialists at pet portraits so they'll take any picture of your choice and create something beautiful like this! You can choose the amount of puzzle pieces you'd like, they're presented in a lovely cloth bag and they'll also include a glossy print of your photo which is a lovely added touch.Pet jigsaw on yellow background

Book & a Hot Drink Letterbox Gift
My final suggestion in this gift guide is this lovely book and a hot drink letterbox gift set from Bookishly. Letterbox gifts could be the way to go this year because really we can't predict what will happen at Christmas, who we can see, how 'normal' it will be etc so a present that can be delivered through the letterbox is definitely something to consider. For any book lovers you know, Bookishly have this wonderful gift where you can choose a classic book such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Romeo and Juliet with a beautiful dust cover and you can also choose from either tea, coffee or hot chocolate to be included too. There's nothing better than snuggling up in Winter with a hot drink and a good book!Book and hot chocolate sachet in wicker basket

So that wraps up my Women's Christmas gift guide for 2020! I hope this has given you some inspiration. I know I definitely want some of these things for myself!

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

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Thursday, 19 November 2020

My Christmas Wishlist 2020

 Christmas is officially on the way! Whilst I can't say I feel quite as much festivity and joy as I usually would at this time of year (understandable with lockdown 2.0 I think) I'm trying to make the most of the last two months of the year and I'm remaining positive that December will be better than November. It's gotta be right? To try and get into the festive spirit I put the tree up extra early this year, I've got the majority of the wrapping done and I also have a few Christmas gift guides coming your way in the next few weeks! Before that though I wanted to share my own Christmas wishlist. I do this every year and to be honest there's never usually loads I want or need, I do genuinely love buying for other people far more than I do receiving presents myself but here's what is on my list. It's mainly books to be fair!Collage with pink background, the text My Christmas Wishlist 2020. Mowgli Street Food recipe book cover, The Thursday Murder Club book cover, Dog Mama pin, Lush Snow Fairy gift set

Mowgli Street Food by Nisha Katona
George and I visited Mowgli when we went to Oxford in September and it is genuinely one of the best meals out we've ever had. All of the food was just on another level and the interior and service was just perfect. I can't wait until we're out of lockdown and we can go to a restaurant again, I don't think I'll ever take anything like that for granted again. Since our visit to Mowgli, I discovered Nisha Katona (the founder of Mowgli) actually has a Mowgli Street Food recipe book so that's at the top of my Christmas list this year! I'd love to be able to re-create some of the delicious dishes we had aswell as so many more at home.

How To Be More Paddington by Michael Bond & Peggy Fortnum
I just adore Paddington. We should all be more Paddington. This is a brand new book exploring Paddington's view on life with words about friendship, love, laughter and lots more and it just sounds lovely. I love a book like this that I can go back to again and again or just pick up as and when I need it.

Pawsome Boutique Dog Mama Pin
To be honest I don't really currently have anywhere to put all of my pins but that doesn't stop me wanting more. I spotted this a while ago on Pawsome Boutiques when Bear needed a new harness (that he now never wants to wear) and it turns out they have loads of different products. Not only do they cater for pets, they also have some gorgeous gifts for dog parents like prints, pins, jumpers and lots more. I just think this is adorable.

Love Actually Mug
I DO NOT NEED ANYMORE MUGS. but. I WANT THEM. Love Actually is probably my fave ever Christmas film so as soon as I saw this I knew it had to go on my wishlist. I never see anything Love Actually themed and a mug I can bring out every Christmas like this would be perfect. Anyone else still obsessed with Love Actually after all these years?
Mowgli recipe book cover, Paddington cover, Love Actually mug Dog Mama pin,

Lush Xmas Bath Bombs
Bath bombs are always an amazing gift in my opinion. I basically live in the bath during Autumn and Winter and whilst I don't use a bath bomb every time, that would be an expensive habit, I do love having a little basket full of a few to choose from every so often. I not long ago ordered myself a few Lush bits but I'm sure I'll have worked my way through them by Christmas. I'd also love a bottle of their Snow Fairy Shower Gel. It's just the best scent. 

No7 Wizard of Oz Emerald City Gem Cosmetics Sponge
I've not used a beauty sponge for a long time and tend to just use my Real Techniques brushes now but I do really notice the benefit of one when I do use them. I find they're just always so much better at applying foundation and hiding any blemishes so being the big Wicked fan I am, this one from the Emerald City range at Boots looks like the next one I need to try. I need a good sort out of my makeup again so this would be a nice little addition.

Ted Baker Body Sprays
I always lust over the Ted Baker gift sets each year at Boots. Their body sprays always smell absolutely gorgeous and they're such a bargain. I think they make fab stocking fillers.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
There seems to have been loads of praise for this over the last month or so and I'm desperate to read it! This is the first book by presenter Richard Osman and it's about four friends in a retirement village who meet up each week to investigate unsolved murders. A brutal killing takes place on their doorstep and they find themselves in the middle of their first live case. It just sounds so different to any other book out there and I'm so intrigued!

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris
I can't believe I've not picked this up myself yet. I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris at the very start of 2019 and it ended up being one of my favourites that year so I'm desperate to read the sequel which is about Cilka Klein. Cilka featured in The Tattooist of Auschwitz and I always wanted to know more about her and her journey so this is definitely a must read at some point.
Collage - Lush Snow Fairy set, Boots Emerald City sponge, Ted Baker Spray, The Thursday Murder Club cover, Cilka's Journey cover
That's about all I can think I'd really love this year, aside from chocolate of course cos is it really Christmas without loads of chocolate? (especially Toblerone).

What's on your Christmas wishlist this year? 

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Monday, 16 November 2020

All About Us by Tom Ellen Book Review*

I received a copy to review but all opinions are my own*
It's not often you find a romance written by a man, or at least I don't seem to find them all that often, so I was really intrigued by All About Us by Tom Ellen. I've really been after some festive romances to read recently after quite a few thrillers in a row so this came along at the exact right time!
All About Us by Tom Ellen book cover
'If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life? Ben usually loves the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it's missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben's always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can't help but wonder: what if he'd done things differently all those years ago? He never imagined he might get to find out...but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter's night, he's astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind. Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time round, will he finally have the courage to follow his heart?'

My Review

Like you don't often find romances written by men, you often don't find the main character is male and the only narrative, but that's something I really do enjoy so that's the first thing I loved about All About Us. I often find in books like this I'm desperate to hear both points of view and it's only in a few books like One Day In December that we get given that so I was really happy that straight away this was already different to most.

Whilst I know not everyone is as big a fan of romantic fiction as I am, it also has the magical fairytale element to it aswell which adds a totally different spin. We first meet Ben in a bit of a crisis. His marriage to Daphne is on the rocks, he's not long ago lost his mum and he's in need of a career change but he doesn't know what that should be. He's lost and wondering how different life would have been if he'd gone down a different path 15 years ago. On this very night, a charming man sells him a watch. The next morning he wakes up and the date is 5th December 2005. The day he first kissed Daphne, saying goodbye to Alice. Could this be his chance to change everything? Or will he realise he'd made the right choice all along?

I loved the time travel aspect of this and I love how each day he got to go back too showed us so much of Ben and why he's become the person he is today and the moments where it all started to go wrong. Whilst I really enjoyed finding out more about Ben and Daphne's relationship, I particularly loved the day he got to travel back and see his mum again and spend one last day with her. He really took it all in second time round and had conversations with her he'd never had before. It was really poignant and I definitely found myself getting a little emotional.

The book is quite fast paced so I personally found it so easy to keep saying 'just one more chapter' and because of that I finished it in a day! I found it such an easy read and for a debut novel aswell, I think it's just brilliant. I loved the majority of the characters and really could relate at times to Ben and Daphne and I understood that feeling of what if? What if I'd just done one thing differently, where would I be now? What if one particular event didn't happen? It showed though that whilst we might all have moments like that, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. However it also showed that it's never too late to start again. Want a career change? Go for it! Want to re-connect with lost friends? Do it! You only get one life.

All About Us made me feel every possible emotion and by the end I was just so happy I'd read it. It's a beautiful romance and I loved the ending but I enjoyed so many of the interactions throughout the book - the friendships and the mother/son relationship. Whilst the time travel aspect wouldn't be something I'd usually look for in a book, it worked absolutely perfectly in this. I think it would make an excellent film actually!

If you're looking for a book to start getting you in the festive spirit, All About Us is the one for you. Full of powerful memories yet hilarious moments, it's got something for everyone.

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Thursday, 12 November 2020

5 More Disney+ Picks To Add To Your Watchlist

Back in April, not long after Disney+ first launched, I shared 10 of my recommendations - the films and TV shows I thought everyone needed to add to their watchlist. Though I can't quite say I turn to it as much as I do Netflix, it's still a brilliant platform and there is such a plethora of things to choose from, you are absolutely spoilt for choice. As we've been using and enjoying Disney+ for over 6 months now, I thought it was about time I shared a few more of my recommendations. Let me know if you've watched any of these too!collage - Sister Act, Frozen 2, The Sound of Music, Onward, Hamilton

The Sound of Music
This film fills my heart with joy. I adore it. I remember watching it a lot when I was younger, though at the time I don't recall loving it quite as much as I do now. I've watched this countless times since we got Disney+ and it's like 3 hours long but to me it just flies by. This was released in 1965 so it's very old now really but it's not lost any of its charm. If you somehow don't know anything about The Sound of Music, it's based on the real life story of the Von Trapp Family singers in the era preceding World War II. Starring Julie Andrews, Maria becomes a governess for a widowed naval captain's seven children and with that she brings a new lease of life into the home aswell a lot of music. It's just a beautiful film.


Frozen 2
I couldn't do another Disney+ picks post and not include Frozen 2. As we couldn't go away like we planned for our anniversary this Summer, we planned a few different things we could do at home and that involved many a movie night. One of the films we watched that week was Frozen 2 and I just don't know how anyone couldn't love it. I think I even prefer it to the first one. In the second film, Elsa travels to the enchanted forests and dark seas beyond Arendelle after hearing a mysterious voice call out to her but it ends up being an unexpected journey of self-discovery. I think the music is amazing (Show Yourself is the stand out song in my opinion) and I love Olaf more than I thought was possible. Did you prefer Frozen 1 or 2?


Onward
I was a bit late to the party with this one but what an emotional film! Starring Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical journey to spend one more day with their late father but of course none of it goes quite to plan does it? It's such a heartwarming story and exactly what you'd expect from a Disney movie. The ending made me want to sob. A great one to watch with the family.


Hamilton 
Where to even start with Hamilton? George and I were lucky enough to see the show in London on our wedding anniversary in December 2018, a day I will never forget, so we had to watch this as soon as it came onto Disney+. If you're a fan of musicals, you need to watch it! It's the original Broadway production of the award-winning musical which tells the story of Alexander Hamilton. If you haven't heard of Hamilton before or watched it yet, it's quite fast paced and I'd recommend reading up a bit about it before maybe so you don't get lost (when I first listened to the soundtrack I was like what is going on?) but it's just insane. We are huge fans of the soundtrack in this house and having this to watch on Disney+ throughout lockdown filled that musical theatre void that has been there since the West End had to close.


Sister Act
Let's end on another one for the musical fans, Sister Act! I'd only seen parts of this in the past so this Summer I watched both the first Sister Act and the sequel and I LOVED them. Whoopi Goldberg plays Deloris, a singer who is persuaded to go into witness protection as a nun at a convent after she witnesses a murder at work. Completely different to her usual life, she has a bit of trouble adjusting. It's all about sisterhood, friendship and of course music which makes for a really fun watch. I had no idea films like this would be on Disney+, the musical section is definitely my favourite which I'm sure comes as no surprise.

So that's 5 more of my Disney+ picks. I doubt these will become as regular as my Netflix recommendations but every so often it's nice to share things like this, especially with us being kind of limited with what we can do at the moment!

Have you subscribed to Disney+? What are you loving on there?

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Tuesday, 10 November 2020

The Best Marriage Apps To Build A Healthy Relationship*

 AD - This is a collaborative post

We are currently living in a modern-day age of enlightenment. It seems like everyday there's a new app out there. Over time, we've grown to love our smartphones for facilitating our everyday lives. Venmo allows us to send money, MyFitnessPal helps us stay healthy, and Instagram keeps us upto date with the latest memes. But, what if we were to tell you that there are some apps to help strengthen your marriage. Here are some of the best apps to help you build and maintain a healthy marriage:

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1. Raft
If you and your spouse are having a hard time remembering each other's schedules, you need to download Raft ASAP. Raft is a scheduling app that works as a social media platform. You can upload any upcoming medical appointments, birthdays, or work meetings, and it will notify your partner about them. This app is great because it creates harmony within your marriage. When you and your spouse are aware of each other's happenings, you are building trust and making space for each other.


2. Headspace
One of the biggest aspects of marriage is your mental health. When we are struggling emotionally, it affects our relationship. Headspace is a great app to help you reduce stress and improve your sleeping habits through mindful activities and guided meditation. Headspace is a single-user app, but that shouldn't keep you from exploring these assignments with your partner.


3. Mint
If you're looking to work through any financial issues with your spouse, we recommend Mint. With Mint, you and your spouse can track ALL of your finances. We know it sounds scary, but you should be aware of each other's spending habits to cut certain expenses out if needed. If one of you forgot to end a free trial or accidentally signed up for another Amazon Prime account, Mint is there to warn you. Money is a tricky subject to bring up to your spouse, but not doing it at all will strain your marriage.


4. Relish
Relish is an app that is specifically designed for couples. Through their coaching services, personalised lesson plans, and interactive tasks, Relish will help you and your spouse achieve all your marital goals. The app also gives you access to all kinds of content, including articles and quizzes. Relish is a great investment for your relationship, even if you and your spouse aren't going through a rough patch. Their main goal is to help you improve your communication and strengthen your connection with your partner.

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