Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Mother's day has just sprung out of no where this year!
I thought I would put together a few items to give you some ideas on what to buy your mum this Mothers Day. I like thinking outside the box and avoiding the typical presents of flowers and chocolates (although I couldn't resist including that tasty looking pack from Hotel Chocolat!)

mothers day

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Monday, 22 February 2016

The Gibson Hotel, Dublin

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I spent New Year in Dublin, mainly to go and see Mary Poppins, however due to a flight delay, that didn't happen, however that's still a touchy subject so lets not go there today! ;-)

When I travel, I am definitely not one of those that likes returning to the same hotel because I enjoyed it - Instead I love to sample as many hotels as possible, because life's too short to stick to what you know! I always think there's bigger and better with everything and I love to see what other places have to offer. Therefore, I decided not to stay at a typical chain hotel, and go for something a little bit more unique.

I'm pretty fussy when it comes to hotels. If the budget can be pushed a little, I damn right make sure I get to sample a little luxury, and this hotel didn't disappoint.

After arriving at The Gibson Hotel at 11.30pm (9hrs later than expected...) and a very long day, I was definitely ready for my bed.
We walked in and was presented with 2-3 huge escalators in front of us, a little pop up camper van in the corner, and a few lifts. We were already told by our taxi driver that the reception is on the third floor. We jumped in the lift and up we went. Check-in was a breeze and was over and done with within 1 minute flat. As we were waiting to be checked in, I couldn't help but look at the interior design of the reception. A huge bench opposite with brightly coloured seat cushions on gave it a slight Moroccan vibe. They had a huge clock that was really funky, and random yet quirky animal statues.
 

Our room was on the 6th floor which I was happy about.. I love a good view! All rooms have a balcony (with table and chairs) which was a luxury, although may I add that these balconies are shared with others on your row. I went outside on several occasions and no one else was on there, but that might have been because of the dreary miserable weather! I can imagine these to get used more in the summer months with people enjoying a glass of wine or two at sunset.

The room was both spacious and spotless. Lots of surface and storage space. It was equipped with a writing area, iron, ironing board, powerful hairdryer, tea & coffee making facilities and a fridge (although the fridge had nothing in it, which I was quite surprised about). They did however offer complimentary? water and magazines for our perusal. The d├ęcor was modern and stylish, staying safe with neutral earth colours. It also included a real plant! (How often does that happen?!). TV channels weren't the best, several of them had a lot of interference for some reason, so the picture wasn't the best. The bed was huge and super comfy, and even had lighting underneath! (The small things...)
The windows had automatic black out blinds which were switch operated, however we didn't feel the need to use this, however the option was nice.
 
 

 

The bathroom was spacious, and the shower was huge, with both a normal and waterfall shower to choose from (or both, if you're greedy like me!). These gave so much power which is something I look for in a shower. I don't do any of this low-pressure malarkey! The shower could have easily fitted 3 people in, although I wasn't sharing for no one! There was a large shelf inside the shower too which was great for storage and made it easy to grab shampoo's etc. There's nothing worse than having to store all your lotions and potions on one of those annoying small corner caddies in the shower! Also, even though the shelf was inside the shower, there was no worry of anything on it getting wet. Plenty of towels were to hand and complimentary 'Rituals' toiletries were provided. Any beauty buffs out there will know that having 'free' Ritual products to hand is rather generous, so these were greatly received!







The cleaning service was great - In every hotel we stay in I always pop the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door in fear that they will knock at 8am. By the time we left our room for the day, I think the cleaner had already been passed our room, but low and behold, they must re-check at the end of their duties for any removals of the DND signs. Coming back to a nice clean hotel room every night was always appreciated! They always replenished the Rituals products too, which were (obviously) greatly appreciated! (We may have took a few sneaky ones home with us too!)

The air con is controlled by both temperature and fan power, and if on full, this can get fairly noisy, but I've experienced a lot louder in my time.

The hotel offered free Wi-Fi too, which I never had a problem connecting to it either no matter where in the hotel I was, which is always refreshing.

We sampled the Hemidemisemi Quaver bar (what a mouthful but super good!). If you get a spare minute, check this out. We arrived at opening time on New Years Eve (12 midday), so they were just opening. Obviously because of this, it was hard to judge on the service due to very few customers, however I will say that the food is lovely. We had a traditional focaccia beef sandwich, and although it was done Gordon Ramsey style (i.e. it never had a 'top' on the sandwich!) it was still really tasty and flavoursome, ingredients definitely weren't scrimped on. The setting was really pretty too - we overlooked the gardens and the running water and twinkly lights made everything look all sparkly and festive, even on a blustery day, so I can only imagine what its like in the summer evenings. The photo below definitely doesn't do this are justice though! Prices were standard too for a hotel of this level.
 


 
 
 


Reception Floor
Distance wise, if you are visiting the 3arena, you couldn't get any more closer - its on your doorstep, literally.
The centre of Dublin is about a 15 minute tram ride away, however again, the tram is on your doorstep - straight outside the hotel doors across the path and you're there. Trams are very frequent, running on average every 10 minutes in the day. They lessen at night I think, but not by a lot. A standard full day adult ticket is approx. 6.50 euros. You can use this in all zones, as many times as you want throughout the day. We used the tram for 3 days and not once did anyone check that we had tickets, however its not worth the risk as I can imagine the fines to be pretty hefty.

I loved spending my time here, and I definitely wouldn't hesitate recommending it to others!
 
Prices start from approximately 160 euros per night (which is approx. £124 p/n). However with a little bit of research you can usually grab a room for around £90 p/n, which for this hotel, I think is a great little treat!
 
 
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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Review - January's Degustabox + discount code!

For those that are new to Degustabox, imagine your monthly beauty boxes, but instead of beauty items, its food products!
 
This months' box I found to be very savoury based, with only one edible food item in there (and it was dark chocolate.. not to most people's liking!)
 


Lets take a closer look...


 
  • Ready to wok slim noodles: £2.49 - A repeat product for Degustabox.. I think the previous packet is still sat in my cupboard, so I think that alone highlights my thoughts on this item.
  • Amoy Taste of Asia Sauce (Thai Green Curry & Malaysian Laska): £1.79. We love a good Tahi Green Curry in our house, so this one got used up pretty quickly. The taste was perfect and added the right amount of spice to our curry. I have yet to try the other flavour but it sounds intriguing!
  • Coldpress Apple Juice: £1.40 - I took this on our roadtrip to Manchester last week. I'm not too sure what to say about this other than it tasted like every other apple juice that I've previously tried.

  • Jordans Country Crisp Cereal (Fruit & Nut): - £2.69. Jordans always reminds me of my uni days - this is when I first discovered this brand. I usually opt for the hazelnut pack, so this fruit & nut was new to me, however it was lovely. It felt like a real treat to have in a morning for breakfast, and I definitely wouldn't hesitate purchasing this again.
  • Tsingtao Chinese Beer: £2 - I'm no beer drinker so I've given this to Mike to drink. It's still tucked in the fridge for a rainy day so no thoughts on this yet!
  • Yushoi Snapea rice sticks: £2. I was so pleased when I saw a pack of these in my box because the week prior to this arriving, I had discovered this snack and I'd already made my way through 2 packs. They're different but so tasty. They have the texture of Chipstick crisps, but they're made using greenpeas, so they're a little healthier. Yum!
  • Conscious Chocolate: £3. These come in 3 flavours, however I got dark chocolate, which I'm no fan of, so I have popped it in my baking cupboard because they tend to come in for sweet bakes!
  • Crobar: £2.25 - With it's 'cricket flour' and 'nuts and seeds' this sounds more like a health bar, so I have popped it on Mike's shelf - He plays football so tends to be my guinea pig when it comes to energy/health bars!

  • Finn Crisp Crispbread: £1.20 - Another repeat product for DB, and one that I struggle to use. Although these are tasty, I find them more hard work when it comes to making a snack/sandwich.
  • Clarks: £2.39 - Carob Fruit Syrup. Another product that I'll probably struggle to use.. it's not often I use syrup in my cooking/baking. I could have used this for pancake day but totally forgot!
 
 If you are interested in giving this subscription box a try, I have a massive £6 discount code for you, which enables you to purchase the box for half price! Use 8IGIDN at the checkout to grab your bargain box!
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Monday, 15 February 2016

Coconut Oil - The Miracle Product

Its not until last year that I truly realised the amount of benefits that coconut oil has.

It all started last summer. I went to a friends house for tea, and she's queen chef, so I always look forward to her meals. This time she was cooking quinoa in coconut oil and I had never experienced neither. By the end I was totally transformed, and the very next day I went to buy my very own jar of coconut oil.

Fast forward a few months, and the lovely people from Groovy Foods got in touch with me, asking if I would review the exact same oil. Of course I agreed. I then researched into other benefits of coconut oil, and honestly... its a miracle product. You can use it in cooking, beauty, cleaning, for health reasons.. its said to have over 100 every day benefits. What other product can say that?


I will be picking a few from each area that I will benefit from..

Beauty

A really obvious and well-known one is a moisturiser. I've had so many coconut moisturisers in the past, but never pure. I absolutely love how this literally melts into the skin once in contact with heat. It absorbs perfectly, and although it leaves a slightly greasy finish, it works wonders for dry skin and smells A-mazing!

Hair Conditioner - I've been told that this is a great treatment for people that suffer with scalp/dandruff problems. I tried it on both my scalp and the ends of my hair a few nights ago, and after a bit of trial and error, I finally got my hair looking super glossy and shiny. I'm still not sure on the scalp treatment yet.. I need to give it a few more goes!

Using the oil as a lip balm works wonders for me! I suffer with sore lips, not dry chapped lips, but just sore, which tends to come on suddenly, but can become fairly uncomfortable. This glides on the lips and appears to stay put for hours. It even gives a slight glossed appearance, which is great!

If you realise you're out of bubble bath, just plop a dollop of this in your bath, and it will add a moisturising effect to the water, which you can definitely feel. As you bathe, this will gently coat your skin, and you will be super soft when you get out!


Food

As previously mentioned, coconut oil can be a great healthy alternative to cooking fats (obviously you have to use it with the right foods, but it can achieve a fab alternative taste too). The ingredients in this oil as opposed to frying oil are slightly different, subsequently getting stored in your body in a different way (i.e. not turning into fat like most other oils would).

If you do a lot of baking, try substituting butter for oil, again, a more natural and healthier alternative.

Thinly coating eggs in coconut oil helps prolong their lifespan! Something to do with their exposure to oxygen is lessened. How cool?!


Health

Coconut oil claims to stop those annoying dry coughs that we seem to struggle to budge. It coats the throat and stops that itchy irritation. 1 spoonful is all you need.

Stretch marks can also be reduced with this miracle product. We all know stretch mark creams can be pretty pricey, so if you have a jar of this tucked away in your cupboard, give it a go!

Improve circulation. As we get older, we start to get aches, pains and our 'hinges' start flagging! Starting with 1/2 tsp per day, coconut oil can give our circulation an energy boost!


Household Chores

Tupperware Stain Preventions. I've thrown away so many Tupperware containers before because they have become stained, mostly with homemade soup! Popping a thin layer of coconut on the inside of the Tupperware and allowing it to soak will apparently help form a barrier. If you are worried about your food getting tinted with the coconut oil, just use a refined oil :-)

Tattoo Moisturiser/healer - Now I myself haven't got any tattoos, but my boyfriend has, and I know a lot of you out there will have too. My boyfriend has spent a fair whack on tattoo creams in the past, but apparently coconut oil will help reduce that annoying itch, and its natural ingredients will help moisturise it at the same time.

All of us at some point in our lives will experience that annoying door that continues to squeak every time its opened and closed. I read a trick once and that was to put butter in the hinges to stop the squeak. This works, but so does coconut oil (and is probably better than putting some yellow gunk on the hinges of your door too!).

Not that we usually have this, but coconut oil helps to break down soap scum. The ingredients in soap and oil interact and it helps break down the mess its made, making your job easier!

There are so many more benefits to this miraculous oil, a fair few around pets and children too (something I haven't got) so its worth taking a look - this could cancel out so many lotions and potions you have lurking in those cupboards! Nothing like a good clear out!

Do you use coconut oil?
 

 


To find out more about coconut oil and Groovy foods, visit their website here.





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Friday, 12 February 2016

Afternoon Tea at Temple Bar Hotel, Dublin

A few weeks ago  (New Years Day to be exact) we were in Dublin, hangover free, so without breaking the tradition we thought we'd have a mooch around to see where was rumbling up some afternoon tea without a booking. Normally I do extensive research on such things but this time round I didn't have anything up my sleeve.

We headed towards Temple Bar area (the bustling area of Dublin City) with our fingers crossed. It wasn't long before we came across Temple Bar Hotel, right in the heart of Temple Bar (how did you guess that?). We headed inside...

Very modern interior, with the colour scheme being purples, pinks  and greys, making it feel warm and cosy. We headed straight to reception which was a mere few steps from the main doors. The friendly and accommodating guy told us to take a seat in the corner and someone will see to us shortly.

Before long, a waitress came over and began setting our table up. At this stage I realised that's where we were having our afternoon tea and immediately disappointment set in. Despite it being cosy to look at,  for me,  it wasn't the place to settle for afternoon tea. Right in the hotel foyer with people checking in and out, doors being opened and closed, and random people that were up and down, sitting within arms length of us, just to kill time. Not really the calm environment I had in mind. Whether this is standard for people that have afternoon tea or it was just because we hadn't booked, or maybe because it was NYE the night prior, and they still hadn't cleaned the actual room up that usually holds afternoon tea.. who knows. Either way, I did feel uncomfortable.


The food was average for afternoon tea - I really liked the wrap that was provided as one of the sandwiches, however everything else was mediocre. The puddings (apart from the mini apple pies) didn't taste homemade, and could have been easily purchased from a supermarket. The scones were solid. All portion sizes were fairly small as well. I've had a lot of afternoon tea's over the past couple of years, and I think this was the first one I walked away from not feeling full (I know that maybe a good thing but I think that highlights the size of the food!).




Such a shame because the service on the other hand was second to none: very friendly, polite, and attentive. I couldn't have asked for a better waitress.

I noticed when we were leaving there was another couple having afternoon tea on the other side of the entrance. Obviously in the same environment but their set up was a little more private, with huge high backed shabby chic chairs that looked fit for a princess. They were situated right next to the twinkling Christmas tree, so even though Christmas had recently passed, the whole setting looked adorable. So much more appealing than ours,  just a few steps away.

Have you ever been for afternoon tea in Dublin? Send me your recommendations!

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Saturday, 6 February 2016

Valentines Day Gift Ideas

V Day 16

 Valentines Day is fast approaching and instead of going for the traditional gifts, such as flowers and chocolates, I've put together a few things that I would truly appreciate this year. Admittedly there are two very high end designer gifts thrown in there (Kate Spade is my new obsession!)... but its nice to dream isn't it?!

The perfume is Flower Bomb by Viktor & Rolf - My boyfriend has the male version of this (Spice Bomb) and it is by far the best aftershave I have ever smelt.. he purchased it back in 2012 on our way to Las Vegas in Duty Free, and it takes me back every time he wears it.. mmm.

I love simple and elegant studs, so I threw in these pretty heart shaped studs from Debenhams for only a few pounds!

I really appreciate a good bubble bath these days, so I couldn't ignore Lush's famous Unicorn bubble bar that they bring out every Valentines Day. I think I got through 3 of these last year. They're so pretty!

I've never seen this yankee candle before, but I have to admit, the packaging drew me in! The scents sound yummy, I'm definitely keeping my eye out for this!

Whether its my age or not, but I'm beginning to appreciate a good lippy. Gone were the days of lipglosses. Yuck. This packaging is rather glamourous too.. who would have thought it's a MaxFactor one? (on sale too!).

I'm a sucker for stationary, so sticking with the Valentines day theme, I pondered across this pretty hand-stitched heart notebook from the gorgeous Paperchase.

The last 2 items are from Kate Spade - The travel wallet is so pretty (and even prettier inside!) - I do a lot of travelling, both in and out of the UK, so I'd definitely get some use out of this, however the price tag is maybe a little too steep!

This watch, so dreamy!

 
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