Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Mother's Ruin - A Gin Based Gift Guide for Mother's Day

Mothers and gin. Gin and mothers. The two are historically (if not entirely factually) linked, so it onlu made sense that my Mother's Day gift guide fell around the theme of the so-called 'Mother's Ruin'.

(For the recod, gin never ruined my mother - but she is rather partial to the odd one, so I stand by my suggestions!)

1) The giant Gin and Elderflower lollies from Hollies Lollies are made with real gin and are bound to appeal to any sweet-toothed mama's this coming Sunday. I love how big and bright these are, and the hand-tied ribbon detail is adorable!

2) Another one for sweet lovers, these gorgeous artisan Gin & Tonic truffles from The London Chocolate Co would make a wonderul Mother's Day gift!

3) For those mums, like mine, that aren't actaully too bothered about eating sweets, there's still a number of ways to incorporate a favourite spirit into some unique gifts. The Gin and Tonic lip balm from Sweet Cecily's looks like a great way to do this!

4) The gin coin purse from Tatty Devine is so cute - I want it and I don't even drink gin! Lots of details but not so many people might think you have an actual bottle of gin in your bag!

5) The best present to get someone who really loves gin, is gin! A subscription to the Craft Gin Club, a delivery of a full sized bottle of surprise gin complete with mixers and treats would be an amazing gift and there are different subscription options to suit different budgets!

What are you getting your mum for Mother's Day? 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Valentines Treats From Bettys

My dearest beloved is deserting my this Valentines Day as he's working away, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to treat someone I really love - myself!

And there's no better way to treat someone that with something special from the Valentines Range at Bettys!

I've mentioned before my love for the Yorkshire based company, and enjoy their baked goods whenever I get chance, but this is the first time I've tried their chocolates. But it's definitely the time of year for nice chocolates - and these are VERY nice chocolates!

The 'With Love' selection box is not only truly beautiful, in that lovely classic Bettys way, but contains a really unique set of flavours you wont find in your standard supermarket box. Traditionally used but often forgotten flavours (like the Rose and Violet found in their delicious fondants) make a welcome appearance. 

The chocolates themselves are beautiful to look at too - smooth chocolate casings with the sweetest of decorations ... they look almost too good to eat. Almost!

I'm actually quite glad I have Valentines Day to myself - I wouldn't want to have to share these!

You can always count on Bettys to provide something really special for any occasion - even if you have no one to impress but yourself!

* I was sent these delicious items free of charge, pleasure derived from them is all my own

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Money Saving Tips

I've mentioned a couple of times now that I'm hoping to take myself on a couple of nice trips this year, and there's only one way thats going to happen - I need to save some money!

I don't think of myself as a particularly extravagent spender, but there's a couple of ways in which I can cut down on my outgoings and put the money towards something better instead - here are a couple of great ways of curbing your spending.

1) Pack your own lunches. This is going to be a big one for me this year - I can't tell you the number of times I've said I was going to take my own lunch into work, then got up too late to make sandwiches and end up going to the cafe/butty shop instead! Packed lunches could save me up to a couple of quid a day and that will sure add up quick!

2) Change your suppliers. Whether this be for your bank account, mobile phone, or household gas and electricty, there's often money to be saved be either changing suppliers or making sure you are on the best deal with your current supplier. One of my big jobs this month is to make sure I get my tv package changed becasue I'm definitely paying for things I don't need!

3) Use comparison sites. This links in to the point above, but if you are going to be looking round for a good deal comparison sites can be a great way to do it. Not only do they do the hard work for you, but they often carry their own incentives too - we definitely saved last year by using 2-for-1 'meerkcat movies' cinema tickets by using Compare The Market to swich our house insurance!

4) Switch to e-cigarettes. Not only are they less anti-social than regular cigarettes, but e-cigarettes are cheaper too. A few of the guys in the office use them and I'm always surprised by the variety of new things they bring in, including electronic shisha and an unexpected range of flavours!

5) Sell your stuff. I'm sure most of us have piles of things at home that we don't need, want or use. I know I do. One way of making some extra cash (and de-cluttering at the same time) is to sell some of these unwanted items. There's a number of ways of doing this - ebay, car boot sale, facebook groups. One mans junk is another mans treasure, they say!

On that note, I'm going to go have a hunt through my bedroom and see if there's anything I can bear to part with - I want to get the ball rolling on those savings!

If you have any other great tips on keeping spending to a minimum, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, 16 January 2017

2017 Travel Wishes

I'd mentioned in my New Years Resolutions post that I hoped to travel more in 2017, so I thought I'd make a list of places I'd like to visit to serve as inspiration for when I actually get to book a trip!

Sadly, I never actaully made it to any of the places on my 2016 Travel Wishlist, so all of those placces are still on the list!

I think I might make it a bit easier for myself though, and include a few places a bit closer to home - a bit easier to get to - to increase my chances of getting them ticked off!


photo - portmeirion-village.com
This gorgeous little Welsh village doesn't even look like a real place - or at east, not a real place you'd expect to find in Wales! Portmeirion was created by Clough Williams-Ellis, who wanted to show it was possible to develop a site without detracting from its natural beauty. I love the colourful buildings and the coastal location! Portmeirion is open to day visitors but there a couple of lovely sounding places to stay over for a longer visit too!


photo - edinburgh.org

Would you believe I've never been to Scotland? At all? Sad isn't it? One of my work colleagues was in Edinburgh just before Chrsitmas and had lots of lovely things to say about the city. Edinburgh's Harry Potter connections just give me one extra reason to want to visit, but I'd love to look round the castle too!


photo - visitcornwall.com
 If I dont get to leave the UK this year, Cornwall looks like my best bet for some sunshine! It looks like such a lovely places, with so many pretty beaches and towns along the coast. I've heard St Ives in particular is picture-perfect, and I aways wanted to go to Newquay. Mainly I want to go so I can eat all the clotted cream!

Compared to some people's travel plans, my list isn't overly ambitious - but all of these places could hold their own with the worlds most popular and exciting destinations!

Where are your favourite places to visit in the UK?

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

2017 Resolutions

Already a few days into 2017 - how did that happen?

If feels like only yesterday I turned off my computer for a week and a half off from the digital world over Christmas to spend some much needed quiet time with my family.

Back to it today - but with a whole new year of possibilities to make it pretty exciting!

Here are a few things I'm aiming for this year:

1 - Lose some weight. I know this is a total cliche, and I almost feel bad putting down something so mundane, but it's something I'd like to do. I was actaully not doing too badly with it last year, definitely a few pounds down, but then Christmas happened! Hopefully I'll have a nice summer holiday booked soon, and I wont be able to hide in baggy jumpers on the beach!

2 - Travel more. This ties in to what I've said above, bu I had such high hopes of going on some fabulous holidays in 2016 and it just didnt pan out the way I'd hoped. As well as at least one big 'proper' holiday, I'd like to try and explore the UK a bit more too, a couple of weekend breaks to new places would be wonderful!

3 - Write more. I've been the most inconsistant blogger, and it's something I really enjoy so I'm looking forward to buckling down in 2017 and producing more regular content!

4 - Be better with money. I'm not a huge spender - I always look for a bargain and I dont have particularly expensive tastes, but I somehow seem to fritter away my wages on nothing. No big changes to my spending habits are needed, but plenty of little ones are!

I know there's nothing particularly exciting there but I figured I need to take care of the basics first! In 2018, when I'm slim and rich (ahem) I can concentrate on some more fun resolutions!

What are you hoping to achieve in 2017?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas is More Magical with Bettys

I have friends in London who tell me how exciting it is when the big stores like Harrods and Hamleys set up their Christmas shop window displays. In Yorkshire, we may not have Harrods, and we many not have Hamleys, but we do have Bettys!

I don't think anything in London could get me more in the festive mood than a window filled with Bettys beautifully decorated Christmas cakes, chocolate polar bears and Lebkuchen reindeers!

Bettys have always been great for delicious themed stocking fillers and people-pleasing desserts, but this year they're offering extra helping hands when it comes to Christmas inspiration! They've put together a whole site full of tips and guides to make your Christmas more magical!

Thankfully, I'm visiting family for Christmas dinner, so I'm not responsible for dressing the table, but if you have guests over the festive period you might find the guide to setting a picture-perfect festive table invaluable. I won't be doing any of the cooking either, but the recipe for Spiced Tear and Share Chealsea Buns means I might be everyone's favourite guest! Bettys have really thought of everything for Christmas preparation - even providing a festive playlist of their favourite seasonal songs to listen to while cooking, decorating, or just waiting to be fed!

You can find all the Bettys guides here on their special Christmas site, and there's gifts for everyone on their website. There's still time for Christmas delivery!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

World Of Snacks

 I love reading about the exciting subscription boxes that many bloggers love to get, but today I'm extra excited to introduce a brand new one containing my favourite sort of surprise treat - yummy snacks! 

The World of Snacks boxes are a brand new months box in which you receive a number of both sweet and savoury snack items. The twist with this one is that each month the selected snacks come from a different location around the world. These are not things you can pick up just anywhere!

I was lucky enough to receive the first box, and pleased to discover that the first month was Japan! I've long been fascinated with Japanese snacks as I've heard plenty about the weird and wonderful items they produce! Here's what I got in this first month box:

Pocky Sticks - the box came with two different packets of Pocky sticks (biscuit sticks with a flavoured coating), original chocolate and strawberry flavours.These are very popular in Japan, and with good reason - they're lovely! My favourites were the strawberry ones!

DIY Gummy Candy (Make Your Own Sushi Shop) - I've heard a lot about Japanese DIY candy kids, and was really happy to receive this pack! The pack comes with a number of 'rice' sushi bases and different nigiri sushi toppings. Put them together for a sweet gummy sushi replica - delicious!

Giant Caplico - I was very interested to see that looked very much like an ice cream cone in my non-frozen box! This has a proper ice cream wafer, but instead of being filled with meltable ice cream, its filled with bubbly chocolate (like an aero!) in chocolate and strawberry flavours! Really unique and really tasty!

Hello Panda - These are the only product in the box I've tried before and I was very happy to get to try them again! They're little biscuit balls with a strawberry filling, and very cute!

Soda Soft Centred  Chewing Gum - There's a little surprise with these - they bubble gum balls all look the same but one of the three is secretly a super-sour sweet. Unfortunately, the first one I tried was the super sour one - it brought tears to my eyes! The other two were lovely though, and this would be a fun snack to share with friends to see who draws the short straw!

Little Bobdog Cola Candy Sticks - These reminded me of the candy sticks my brother and I used to pretend to 'smoke' when we were kids, so the cola flavour is really unexpected and fun!

Black Thunder Chocolate Bar - This is a really yummy crunchy cookie bar with japanese style rice puffs, covered in chocolate. I love breakfast cereal so it's cookie-meets-cocoa-pops vibe works out great for me!

Panda Chocolate Wafer - This little guy was so cute, I almost didn't want to eat him! This one is a panda shaped wafer filled with airy milk and white chocolate.

Matcha Green Tea Kit Kat - Japan is known for its wide selection of exciting Kit Kat flavours, and Matcha is one of the most popular of these. These mini Kit Kats are covered with white chocolate coloured and flavoured with real green tea. It might not sound like the most appealing flavour but it's really interesting, a very pleasant surprise!

Peko and Hello Kitty Lollipops - Hello Kitty is one of the most well recognised of Japans icon and she adorns these unusual lollipops. They're matcha green tea and milky flavoured and its a really unique flavour, creamy and sweet and distinctly japanese! The little sweets are the same flavour but chewier! I wish this was a more common flavour here in the UK!

There were also a couple of savoury things to try in the box too. I was mainly looking forward to the sweet items, so was a little nervous about trying these! The first is Plum Seasoned Wakame Seaweed - little strips of seaweed that have been boiled and seasoned with plum vinegar. I'll admit, I didn't find the smell of this very appealing but thought I'd give it a go anyway! It was definitely not my favourite item in the box, and probably the only thing I wouldn't want to eat again but it wasn't as bad as I might have expected!

The last item was Spicy Burdock. A piece of Burdock, pickled in soy sauce, salt and vinegar, and seasoned with spicy ichimi togarashi chilli pepper and bonito fish flakes. I didn't actually thy this one as I really can't stand anything fishy but I found a volunteer to try it for me who said it was really nice!

The World of Snacks box costs £13.99 including delivery, which I think is remarkable value for so many unique items! Also, there's no contract so you can cancel any time, though if this first box is anything to go by you'd want to keep getting them!

I can't tell you whats going to be in the next box, or even which country the items will come from - you'll have to subscribe to find out! You can do so and find out more about the company on their website www.worldofsnacks.co.uk. I can't wait to see what the next one contains!