Monday, 28 July 2014

Graze Box #3

I started writing reviews of Graze boxes many moons ago (you can see my first two here and here), but I guess life and baby got in the way and they were resigned to the blogger graveyard. I have still been receiving Graze boxes, but I have changed my subscription to fortnightly rather than weelky deliveries, partly in a small attempt to save some of my maternity pay pennies and partly because I am not working 60 hours a week and don't seem to need as many snacks to get me through the day. Also, being on maternity leave and past the first tricky new-born weeks, I feel like I have so much more time to prepare and eat a snack than I ever did when I was at work so I don't really have the same need for Graze boxes. However, they are soooo delicious, I couldn't quite give them up! I love everything about Graze. The snacks are delicious, unusual and nutritious and stop me reaching for unhealthy crisps, biscuits or chocolate bars. I originally though they'd just be a few berries and nuts and that I would be able to create something similar, but I was so wrong. The ingredients are so well thought out and so well put together. I love how the packages fit straight through your post-box. I also love the ease of the website. It is so easy to rate each of the snacks you receive. They send you an email after you have received each box with links to rate each snack. You then rate the snacks as bin, like or love and if you rate them as love they will send you the snacks more frequently. You can also select snacks as send soon. My only criticism is that when I rated a few snacks as love I got them repeatedly before I had tried half of the other snacks on the website and as much as I loved the ones I was receiving I would rather try as many of the snacks as possible and be able to then rate them all.
 
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So here's my most recent Graze box and let me tell you, all of the snacks were amazing! It could quite possibly be my favourite box yet and I have rated each snack as 'love'.
 
Hot Cross Yum
Hot cross yum consists of sponge pieces, cinnamon and honey almonds and orange infused raisins and let me tell you, it is amazing! The components work so well together. The cinnamon and honey almonds were amazing and the raisins were so juicy. These fruit and nut snacks are always surprisingly filling.
 
Pomodoro Rustichella
This consists of mini tomato breadsticks, cheese croutons and tomato, basil and oregano almonds. I loved each of these and it was such a tasty, filling snack.
 
Chai Latte
I am a huge fan of chai lattes so I had high hopes for this one and it did not disappoint. It contained chai seeds, macadamias, yogurt coated sunflower seeds and coconut flakes. Again, the combination of ingrendients worked beautifully together and the yogurt coated sunflower seeds were delicious. If you get a mouthful containing each of the ingredients this really does taste like a Chai latte.
 
Fruit and Seed Flapjack
I can usually take or leave most flapjacks. I find they are often a little greasy, too dense and a bit monotonous, but Graze flap jacks have changed my mind. They aren't at all greasy and the fruit and seeds in this one really stops it from being too heavy or too monotonous. You get three pieces and I find this so much more filling than it looks. In fact, I often half this and get two snacks out of it. Their Jaffa cake flap jack is also delicious and I am looking forward to trying their new Lemon Curd flapjack.
 
If you would like to subscribe to Graze you can do so here. You can get your first, fifth and tenth box free is you use my friend code: G3JFJ4NQP .
 
Have you tried Graze? Which snacks are your favourite? Are there any you think I should tick as 'send soon'?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Little Miss Wears

I adore dressing my baby girl. I used to love buying dresses for myself, but these days when it comes to shopping, it's all about her! She is just about to turn six months (Yikes!! Cue 'clichéd 'where did the time go?' comment) and pretty soon she will outgrow her 3 - 6 month clothes so before she does I thought I would share some of my favourite outfits of hers. As you can see, I love dressing her in very pretty girly clothes and I am making the most of it whilst I can before she is old enough to put her foot down! I have tried to include links where possible, but unfortunately a lot of these items are out of stock and this post took me a little longer than it should have because I ended up having a little browse at some of the new items in stock on each of the websites!

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This little chambray all in one is from Boots Mini Club and is currently in the sale here. I am usually pretty uninspired by Boots Mini Club clothing, but they do occasionally have some real hidden gems. I adore this. It's made of a lovely light weight chambray and is one if the easiest and comfiest things to put my daughter in. I love the lace around the neck and the embroidered polka dots and I really think it brings out her blue eyes. The hat is from Next and I got it in the sale way back in January.
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This beautiful dress is by a brand called Strawberry Faire and I got it from TK Max along with two others in the next size in same style but different prints. I adore the rose print on this dress. The prints really remind me of Liberty print fabric and the dress comes with netting and a matching pair of pink knickers. I can't resist a baby dress with matching knickers. I really hate it when a bright, garish nappy is on show under a pretty dress. I always see cute nappy prints on Instagram and blogs from the US. I wish we had more choice here in the UK and more nappies made of natural products.
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I adore this Jo Malone dress. My friend passed this on to me after her little girl was finished with it and it's no longer in stock. The print is beautiful and I adore the shape of the dress. Again, it comes with matching knickers and this time the knickers are frilly! The hairband is from H&M and is made from a lovely soft and slightly stretchy fabric. You can buy it as part of a three pack here. Whilst looking up that link I came across this dress. Wouldn't it be perfect for Autumn?
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This dress is from Next and it just went in the sale last week. I love it so much and it was only £5 in the sale so I bought it in size 12-18 months so my daughter can wear it gain next year. It's the most perfect light fabric for the hot weather we have been having and, you guessed it, it comes with matching knickers which have an amazing large bow on the bum!
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This is another dress from Next. I love the pretty print. The cardigan is from Monsoon and you can buy similar here.
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This has to be one of my favourite ever photos of my baby girl. She has already perfected a better pout than I ever will! The dress is from Jo Jo Maman Bebe and is available here. Again, it comes with matching frilly knickers. I adore the print and I actually find the wrap style very easy to put on, but I always feel like I need to put a vest on under it because of the nature of the wrap which isn't ideal in this hot, sticky weather.  The hairband is from Next and came in a two pack with a baby pink one. I have had them for a couple of months, but also picked them up in the next size in the sale.
 
 We are going on holiday in a few days and I have been washing all my daughters clothes in the size 6-9 months and I cannot wait to put her in so many cute dresses!
 
Which outfit is your favourite? Where do you shop for baby clothes?

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Stand Bistro Newcastle

I don't usually think of Comedy Clubs as the best place to go for food, but I've walked past The Stand Bistro in Newcastle so many times and I've always wanted to give it a try. Last week I did and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The bistro had a very laid back casual feel inside, but it was a lovely sunny day and I was determined to make the most of the sunshine so we chose to sit in the courtyard. The courtyard is a bit of a hidden gem in the centre of Newcastle. It was so peaceful and a real sun trap at the time of day we visited.

There were so many things I could have chosen from both the lunch time and the bistro menus. I particularly liked the sound of some of the sandwiches which are served with either a small bowl of soup or chips. They do great deals on two and three course meals. I knew I wasn't quite hungry enough for three course, but I really couldn't decide between the starters and the deserts because they both sounded so good! In the end I got the best of both because my husband and I ordered a main each and a starter and pudding to share.

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For starter we shared Tempura prawns which were some of the nicest prawns I have ever had. The batter was lovely and crisp, full of flavour and not all greasy. They were served with a delicious soy sauce and sweet chilli dip. I only wish there had been four prawns instead of three and next time I would definitely try to make room for one of these starters all to myself.

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For mains my husband and I both chose vegetarian dishes. I went for Indian Pakoras which were cauliflower and spinach fritters served with cachumber tomatoes and coconut chutney. They were absolutely delicious. Like the prawns they were beautifully crispy and not at all greasy. The tomatoes with the coconut chutney were amazing. They were such an unusual flavour, I don't think I have ever tried anything quite liked it. The meal also came with a delicious salad. I was worried that pakoras might feel like too much of a starter rather than a main meal, but the meal worked really well as a whole and left me feeling pretty full.

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My husband chose Lentil Bobooti. How amazing is the name of this dish? It was a baked south African style dish with watermelon, brazil nut and beetroot salad. We didn't know quite what to expect, but I was imagining some sort of baked lentil stew. What turned up was much drier and much more unusual. It tasted delicious and the salad ingredients worked so well together. It was so much more filling than it looks.

As someone who eats a mainly vegetarian diet it was so refreshing to try something different and both dishes were so unique. It's amazing how many places offer risotto as the vegetarian option! Don't get me wrong, I love risotto, but not every time I go out and I am yet to find one any better than the risottos I make at home.

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For desert my husband and I shared a raspberry crème brulee. The top was beautifully crisp. I often think that crème brulee is one of those things that shouldn't be messed with, but I loved that the raspberries inside were very fresh and largely intact. Again, it was a hard course to have to share!

Don't let the fact that this place is a Comedy Club downstairs put you off the food. It was really delicious and a really nice place to sit and relax. I will definitely visit again, hopefully on another sunny day. I would love to try the the Sunday roast because it's hard to find a good vegetarian option and theirs sounded delicious. Have you ever visited The Stand? I am also desperate to visit Please to Meet You which is just next door, but I'm not sure how baby friendly it will be.

Next Baby Girl's Sale Haul



Ok, so I went a little bit crazy in the Next sale, but I stocked up on so many clothes for the next few month at bargain prices. I really need to start taking photos to use as thumbnails for my videos because my recent thumbnails have been dire! I hope you like what I bought.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

EOS Lip Balm Review

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Ever since I began my search for more natural products I have been wanting to try an EOS lip balm. I was intrigued by their shape, the amazing reviews I had read and the mouth watering flavours. I love the fact that they are 100% natural and 95% organic and completely petrolatum and paraben free.

I chose the lemon scent mainly because it was they only one I could find that had an SPF15 making it perfect for the amazing weather we have been having lately, but also because anything lemon scented reminds me of a holiday in Sicily where we stayed in a little cottage in the middle of a lemon grove and got tipsy on homemade limoncello.

I really like the packaging and shape of the balm. I thought it might end up feeling like I got the product all over my face, but that hasn't been the case at all. The lemon scent/flavour (I never know which word to use when talking about lip balms! I guess it depends on how much of it I lick off!) is so refreshing. I find it lovely and moisturising, but a lot less greasy that most lip balms making it ideal for layering under lipstick. I got mine from Naturissimo for £5.99 with free postage.

I have sampled a few natural lip balms over the past couple of years and this is my joint favourite with one other product that unfortunately doesn't contain SPF. I was thinking of doing a little round up of natural lip balms so let me know if you would be interested.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A recipe a week: Vegetarian Mushroom Burger

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I never used to be a huge fan of veggie burgers. I think I was sickened off them in my early years as a vegetarian. When I turned vegetarian 17 (gulp) years ago they were one of the few things my mum could think of to feed me and along with mushroom stroganoff and vegetable lasagne they were one of the few vegetarians choices on most menus. Fast forward a few years and I have a new found love for a good veggie burger. I usually prefer a burger made of vegetables or beans as opposed to a meet substitute (although Quorn's Best of British burgers are definitely worth a try and made their regular burgers taste like cardboard) but I have never made my own. Mexican bean burgers were one of the very few processed items left in my trolley and I am all about home-made food so I thought it was about time I made my own.

I found a recipe on the guardian website (in the same article as I found last week's pizza recipe) and set about making a batch to eat and freeze. I found the recipe easy, but a little time consuming, but I didn't particularly mind as the recipe made eight burgers which gave us one meal to eat and three to freeze. The burgers were tasty and very filling with a strong taste of mushroom that I loved. My burgers, however, were quite crumbly and didn't hold together as well as the one in the picture appears to. For that reason I wouldn't like to cook them on a BBQ! I de-frosted some and tried them last night and they tasted just as good as when fresh. I served them as suggested with avocado, spinach and pickled cucumbers which were amazing and a little grated cheese.

I also served the burgers with sweet potato wedges and a sweetcorn salsa. For the salsa I cooked 2 corn on the cobs on a griddle pan, turning them when charred. I then cut off the kernels and added them to a bowl with a couple of chopped tomatoes, some finely sliced spring onions and chili, a bunch of chopped coriander, the juice of one lime and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It makes such as tasty, fresh salsa and the leftovers are delicious in a wrap with a bit of grated cheese.

What's your view on veggie burgers? Please let me know if you've tried any good recipes.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Lindisfarne and Craster

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I love the Northumberland coast. It's so beautiful and so untouched. Last year my husband and I made a real effort to travel around the UK and we visited so many beautiful beaches down south and some amazing traditional seaside towns, but went it comes to amazing coastlines, beautiful scenery and untouched beaches the Northumberland coast will always have my heart. I always used to visit as a child and we spent our 'minimoon' in the area straight after our wedding two years ago (before spending a month in Vietnam a few months after our wedding) and it always brings back so many happy memories.
 
So last week we decided it was really about time we visited some of our favourite places with our daughter. We checked the tide times and crossed the causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Lindisfarne brings back so many childhood memories and I am still fascinated by the causeway. We found a spot for a picnic and then strolled around the island. We then drove back along the coastal route and stopped at Seashouses and Craster. Craster is such a pretty and picturesque village with stunning views of the harbour, the sea and the ruins of Dunstanburgh castle. It's famous for its kippers which are still smoked in the village and my husband picked up a couple. They were delicious but I'm pretty sure my house still smells of them! We stopped for a drink in what has to be my favourite ever beer garden at The Jolly Fisherman. I didn't try the food, but I would love to go back and spend a couple of hours eating and drinking in the beer garden one evening. In fact, my husband and I love Craster so much we have already been looking at hiring a cottage for a couple of nights. It just seems like the most charming place to switch off from everything.