Tuesday 24 November 2015

Top 5 Tips on How to get the most out of your day

In todays world, everything is so fast paced. We rush from one place to the next, running errands, going to work, travelling, sorting out children, having a social life, doing housework, catching up on social media, as well as all the other bits in between such as exercising, eating, sleeping...the list goes on, and before we know it, another day has gone in the blink of an eye and it starts all over again.

We all know that we should take time out for ourselves, for our health and wellbeing if nothing else, however sometimes, for whatever reason, its just not viable..
I once read a quote that said 'Beyoncé has just as many hours in her day as we do'. Insert any famous successful person in there but the outcome will be the same. Every human being on this planet has 24 hours in their day.

Although I don't have children, I still feel like I have a lot to 'keep up with' once my working day is over. Social media is the bane of my life! And I'm not talking sitting at the end of a computer talking for hours to a friend. I'm talking sitting there for hours searching for ways to improve my life, ways to improve my blog, to promote it, doing my hobbies, and so on...

As time has progressed, I've learnt little techniques to ensure I pack as much as I can into my day, so I'm ending it feeling pretty satisfied. Some of these tips will be so obvious but sometimes we just need a little reminder.

source: google images
1. Multi Task. Us women are meant to be pros in this, so make use of it! Gone were the days when I used to sit at my dressing table blow-drying my hair. Now I'm stood up, hair dryer in one hand, and tidying my dressing room up with the other. I use my washing the pots time as a time to catch up on my favourite vloggers on Youtube. Whilst I'm waiting in a queue, I will promote my blog via twitter, or enter a few competitions. Multi tasking gives me a strange buzz - almost like I'm sticking 2 fingers up at 'time' (if it was ever a person!) and showing him that I'm taking advantage.
2. Become an early riser. I don't have any problem in getting up at 8am on a Saturday, in fact I love it because I feel like I'm squeezing an extra hour out of a Saturday morning that wouldn't usually be there (I do sometimes like to get out of bed at 9am). Obviously try not to neglect your sleep though, on average our bodies need 7-8hrs sleep a day. If you are one of those that likes a lay-in till lunchtime on a weekend, but moan that there isn't enough hours in the day, maybe try thinking about reducing your lay-in by an hour or so...
3. Catch up through lunch hour at work. I only have a 30 minute lunch break, but I use this time wisely. I like to take time out from the office where there are no distractions, and just catch up on emails, social media etc, whilst I'm eating.
4. Reduce time doing other tasks. This is all about prioritising. If there's a film on the TV, but you've already seen it and have it on DVD, don't waste your time watching it. Do something productive! (like housework!)
5. Split tasks between your other half. If you live with a partner and you both work full time, make sure the tasks are split fairly equally instead of you doing 90% of the house chores. Its only fair, and that way you'll have more 'me' time.

Have you got any tips on squeezing as much out of life as possible? Let me hear them!

Friday 20 November 2015

Review: October's Degustabox

Its that time again to review my monthly food subscription box!

This month was varied in products, and although it was lacking something sweet, it was perfect for those savoury kinda people!

Geeta's Korma Curry paste and Chutney - £3.10
Firstly, can we appreciate how pretty the chutney's packaging is? I loved the colours and the almost holographic design it had going on. Anyway... onto the food!
I will admit - I haven't tried this one out yet, but I don't have any hesitations whatsoever - I've tried Geeta's before and they've been just fine. We love a good curry in this house, but I've been trying to healthy eat a little the last few weeks, so haven't had chance to sample this yet, but I definitely will very soon!

Lorina - £1.49
I was a little sceptical about this flavour.. coconut and lime anyone? But the flavours just seemed to compliment each other perfectly. You could taste equal amounts of each flavour so nothing was too overpowering. I wouldn't hesitate in buying this again. So refreshing.

The Snack Organisation - Rice Crackers - £1
I absolutely loved these - I (embarrassingly) wolfed the first 2 layers within 1 sitting. They remind me a little of something from Bombay mix if anyone has ever tried that? They're so moreish-ly addictive!

Cirio Passata/chopped tomatoes - £2.25
A frequent product that tends to appear in DB but in different forms, so this was a love hate thing. We use tomatoes (of all kinds) in our house on a frequent basis for all kinds of dishes, however I was very pleased with this passata in a bottle. Squeeze the bottle and bingo. It seemed to easy and convenient, and the style of packaging (as opposed to passata in the cardboard 'tubs') is definitely something I'd opt for from now on.

The Snack Organisation - Dried Fruit - £1
I will admit, this is still sat in my cupboard. Why? 1 because I've learnt that I'm not a lover of freeze dried fruit, and 2 because they were apricots, which is something I dislike. Either way, for any dry-fruit lovers, I can imagine these to be a perfect healthy and convenient snack to pop in your handbag!

Liberation Foods (Oven baked salted cashews & peanuts) - £2
Who doesn't love a good bag of nuts? Even better if they have cashews in them! I was going to save these for Christmas, but couldn't resist trying them! I shared them with my partner and they went down well. Very flavoursome with the perfect crunch. Yum!

9Bar Carob Hit - £2.49
This pack of original super seeds bars are nice. With 5 in a pack, they claim to give you energy because of all the seeds and fibre etc that is in them. I find these really filling but a little difficult on the jaw at times. I'm not really into seeded energy bars so I don't think its something I'd go out and buy again.

Kabuto noodles - £1.99
My partner had these because I've tasted them before and thought they were pretty bland. It just so happens that my partner thought this too. I'm not a fan of thin noodles, and I found that flavour to be lacking. They remind me of diet noodles because of how flavour-less they are. Sorry Kabuto!

Chip Strips (x 2 ) - £2
These are different to say the least. They are huge long wafer strips that have a crisp/poppadum type texture, and I couldn't quite work out if I liked them or not! They were definitely packed with flavour, but the size of them I think would be more suitable for dipping?

Nudie coconut chips (x 2) - £1.29
When I saw these I thought they'd be another take on the dried food products, however I tried the sweet Thai chilli ones first and oh my god.. I was hooked. So nice, with a hot kick at the end, but not too hot so I could finish the packet in one. I was sad when these were finished. I moved onto the original ones, they were still extra tasty but I preferred the flavoured ones. I am definitely buying more of these!

President Unsalted Butter - £2
I don't physically have this product to show you because it was in the form of a voucher, so next time we're food shopping, I need to pick this up because we're almost out of butter! I'm hoping for good things though as I'm pretty fussy on my butter (bit of a Lurpak lover!).

If you like the sound of the Degustabox, why not try it yourself? I have a whopping £6 discount code for you to use at checkout, which will mean your box could cost a mere £6.99! Use the code BLDEG15 at checkout and watch the magic happen!

If you want to find more information out about Degustabox, please visit them on the links below:

Degustabox Homepage
Degustabox Facebook
Degustabox Twitter

Let me know if you decide to give it a go!

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Review: Slim Fast 7 Day Starter Kit

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure in sampling Slim Fast's 7 day starter kit*. This is a box full with meal replacement shakes and bars, as well as sweet and savoury snacks to keep you going throughout the day. All you need to do is plan 7 600kcal meals and you've got it sorted for the week!

A bit of background history into my diet...

Ever since leaving university at 23, my weight has slowly crept up, and very rarely gone down. I've been on so many diets over the years, weightwatchers, slimming world (both of these I've tried twice!), the Atkins diet, fat counting diets, forever living... the list goes on. All of these have never lasted longer than a few months and before long, I slip back into my old eating habits. I'm the woman that has zero willpower when it comes to food, especially sweet and sugary foods! Every year I set the same NY resolution 'Lose 2 stone' 'Lose 3 stone', but do I ever meet that target? Hell no. I love my food and that's all there is to it. Every time I had a 'big' occasion to attend, that would be my drive; 'I'm going to lose 2 stone by the time I go to Florida' 'I want to have lost 1 stone by the time I'm bridesmaid'. Do I ever get there? No. Since returning from Florida 2 months ago, my weight yet again, has slowly started creeping up, so I of course jumped at the chance of trialling some Slim Fast products out, to hopefully get me back on track once and for all.

The package arrived and was sat in my kitchen for almost a week. I knew I had a Halloween night out coming up, and didn't want to spoil the plan so waited till that was over by the time I started. I didn't really give much thought to it up until the night before I was about to start this 7 day plan. Then something magical happened and I had this huge wave of determination about losing weight. The thing is, this wave stuck, and didn't pass like the rest do, and that's exactly what I've been waiting for. Generally, I'm a pretty determined person in most areas of life, but when it comes to food, it's very low, however this time I knew I felt different. I had a long talk to myself and weighed up all the advantages in my head of losing weight, and really imagined what I'd feel like if I lost weight. Usually, if I lose 10lbs, its a huge confidence boost for me, I hold my head just that little bit higher, and speak to people with ease. I then trebled that in my head and told myself 'Imagine losing 1.. 2.. 3 stone'. I tried hard to focus on the impact that would have on my confidence in all areas of my life, and lets just say, it was a pretty good outcome. And that outcome has given me the determination to flick that switch in my brain and try, like, really try. I don't want to feel unattractive anymore, I don't want to avoid the pretty clothes in the shops, simply because it wont suit my body shape, and I don't want to walk past people in the street and think they're 'looking at me because I'm fat' (paranoia right there!).

So I started the Slim Fast 7 day plan on 2nd November. Never tried any Slim Fast product before so I had no idea what to expect. To make life easier, I followed their 7 day meal plan (which came with the kit). However I created my own low calorie meals (I actually cheated and purchased a mixture of Weight Watchers and Slimming World meals, simply because they're all under 600kcal). I then bulked them out with vegetables.

How does it work?

You choose 3 snacks per day (usually fruit/veg, SF savoury snack and SF chocolate bar)
You choose 2 meal replacements (SF shake and SF bar)
You choose 1 low calorie meal (600kcals)

A typical day could consist of:

Breakfast - SF Strawberry shake
Mid Morning - Banana
Lunch - SF Chocolate meal bar
Mid Afternoon - SF savoury snack
Tea - 600 kcal meal
Evening - SF chocolate bar

Top L - SF Choc Bar. Top R - SF Shake. Bottom L - Chocolate Meal Bar. Bottom R - Summer Berry Meal Bar


I'll admit, the first day, I was definitely ready for my tea by the time I arrived home from work. I also remember feeling hungry before I went to bed, but I slept this off. However after this, it was all uphill. I even had to force the mid afternoon and late night snack down at times, because I simply wasn't hungry. In terms of filling you up, I found the meal replacement bars impressive. Imagine a cereal bar, but a little bigger and thicker. When I had my first one, I remember thinking 'this isn't going to be enough for my lunch' but it really was! It took me almost 5 minutes to eat a full bar because they are so substantial and filling! The shakes weren't that far behind in terms of curbing your appetite either. Taste wise, I preferred the chocolate meal bars as opposed to the summer berry ones. The summer berry had a more noticeable aftertaste to them, but it was manageable. The shakes were really tasty, and not like typical bland diet shakes. They were flavoursome, creamy and helped with that sugar craving. The chocolate bars were really good too! I preferred the caramel one, a really chewy chocolatey treat that reminded me a little of a Curly Wurly in consistency! The savoury snacks were a little blander, I preferred the sour cream pretzels over the cheese bites, but they still acted as a good little filler in between meals. Another great thing was that it satisfied my sweet tooth, which for me is a must in any diet. There was at least 1 chocolate related product that I ate every day which I think helped me not crave for other chocolate.

What I also loved about this 7 day kit was how convenient it was. For the most part, I work 9-5, so having a diet that includes hours of prepping for every meal of the day can be a real turn-off for me. However with the Slim Fast products, I loved how I could just grab a shake out of the fridge, pop a meal bar in my bag along with some fruit, and away I go. Its perfect for travel as well, its not messy and no knives and forks are needed. This diet gave me structure, which I loved. I didn't have to go through the hassle of meal planning (apart from choosing which SW meal I was eating that night!) Such convenience... what a winner!

After all that, I know what you're waiting for - to see how much I lost! I managed to lose 3 lbs which I'm very happy with (have you seen what 3 lbs looks like in fat?! Google it!). I believe I could have lost more if I exercised however that's another area of motivation I'm currently working on!

By the end of the 7 days I was sad that it was over, and in a vow to continue this positive mind-set I went and purchased 10 more shakes from the shop! Unfortunately I couldn't find the meal replacement bars but I'm still on the hunt! Another week has passed and I've still been healthy eating - I now have no chocolate/cake/crisps in the house, I barely get any cravings or any thoughts that I want to eat naughty foods, and if I do, I've almost learnt to override them. When I feel hungry I just make myself a drink (a cup of tea tends to fill me up!) - this keeps me going till the next meal. I've made low calorie meals from scratch this week and I've been enjoying experiencing new foods again. I've introduced a 'treat day' into my week, which is on a weekend. This could be either a meal out (where I don't watch the calories) or one of my favourite chocolate bars. That way I look forward to it a lot more.

Selection of shakes that I purchased..
I'm so happy that I trialled this 7 day starter kit. Slim Fast is a brand I've been aware of for many years but I've always ignored it till now. This is proof that you should always give things a chance!

Here's to a slimmer and healthier future!

Friday 13 November 2015

Afternoon Tea at 'When The Clock Strikes 3' - Matlock

A few weeks back we spent a few days in Derbyshire. Whilst we were here we visited Matlock. As per tradition, we had to indulge in some afternoon tea... (new place 'n all that...). After doing my research, this certain little place was hitting the top of everyone's list in terms of reviews, so I immediately knew it was the place to visit.

After parking in Matlock's train station car park, 'When The Clock Strikes 3' is literally across the road to the left as you walk out. So easy to find.

We walked in and it was just approaching lunch time so it was still fairly quiet. We seated ourselves amongst cute shabby chic pastel interior and huge sparkling chandeliers. A lady came out and took our orders and explained that we could choose from one of many homemade cakes that were on display. We went for a pretty original (but definitely yummy!) bakewell cake. We were also given the option of sandwich fillings. We were allowed to choose one each - I opted for egg mayonnaise and Mike went for ham.

The sandwiches were SO fresh and the fillings were amazing - everything tasted really good quality. We then moved onto the scones, which were lovely and warm - they just melted in the mouth. Yum! Obviously these were accompanied by the traditional jam and clotted cream.

Everything was homemade and done to perfection, including the service - nothing was too over the top (i.e. checking on you all the time, which I hate!).

Sometimes, in regards to afternoon tea, these little business' come tops over a lot of 5* hotel locations where I've had afternoon tea before, and this was definitely one of those.

Try this quaint little teashop out if you ever visit Matlock, you won't be disappointed!

Friday 6 November 2015

Weekend Break in Derbyshire

A few weekends ago we took time out and drove to Derbyshire for 2 days.
We stayed in a place called Belper, in a hotel with gorgeous countryside surroundings. We didn't arrive till late afternoon so we just had a slow chilled evening, taking in the hotel surroundings.There was a cute little old-fashioned village pub nearby that had real roaring fires and little nooks that you could sit in.. it reminded me so much of the Lake District. The people were so friendly too, nothing like our area! In the evening we had THE most gorgeous meal in the hotels' conservatory - it really was 5* food and I couldn't fault it.

On our first full day we went to Alton Towers - We had cheap tickets so thought we may as well make use of them. The park was SO quiet, queue times were pretty much non-existent so we rode every ride possible. Must remember to go on a weekday in school term in future!

After a busy day and a sat nav dilemma, we resorted back to the hotel and ordered room service (for the very first time ever may I add!).

The next day we headed to Matlock - I'd visited here when I was a lot younger, but couldn't remember much about it.
Our first stop was afternoon tea in a very cute vintage teashop. Everything was homemade and tasted absolutely gorgeous (better than some 5* hotels I've been to before!), but more on that later...

We then headed to the Heights of Abraham. The cable cars offered some impressive views but is not for the faint-hearted who fears heights! It took us into the hills almost, we grabbed a hot drink and the restaurant and sat outside on the balcony, enjoying some stunning scenery. We wondered round a pretty fossil shop and marvelled at the huge pretty colours. As part of our ticket, a tour of the caves were included, however due to leaving this till last, and a parking ticket that was quickly running out, we unfortunately didn't have time for this.. next time.. next time!

It was a nice refreshing break, and made a change to the city breaks we usually opt for. There's something about getting a bit closer to nature and browsing old villages that I quite like. I love the quirky character and the unique finds.

Have you been anywhere recently?

Tuesday 3 November 2015

October's Best Bits

Looking over October on my Instagram, I felt like I had quite a busy social life (for once!) - the majority of it revolved around food, of course. So I thought I'd share with you some October delights...

From left, clockwise - I met with an old friend and had a catch up over tapas. I had a 'luxury hot chocolate' in a little teashop that I used to regularly visit whilst at work last winter (it became lethal both on the bank balance and waist line!). I indulged in a pistachio and pear cheesecake in a hotel in Derbyshire. I had the best afternoon tea in Matlock (more on that to come). I experienced a new tapas restaurant that has recently opened up with a friend, then I indulged in some lemon meringue with another friend! Not all on the same night, of course! Phew! What a lot of food! Dining out is definitely up there with one of my favourite pastimes!

Now minus the food!
Left to Right
Row 1 - I enjoyed a rare work night out with friends on Halloween - A little trip to Lush got me experimenting with new products which I can't wait to try! - My Freaky Doll's face close up!
Row 2 - It's become a ritual to treat myself to a Lush bath each Sunday. Now the nights are getting colder, I'm wanting more and more baths, and I love relaxing in them with a few candles lit and a book - 1 of 2 Thank You cards that 'my' students kindly got me as a thank you for being their supervisor during their placement. Its nice to know you're appreciated sometimes - Trying out the cable cars in Matlock! Don't.Look.Down!
Row 3 - Enjoying a hot chocolate with some pretty impressive views in Matlock - Scarefest at Alton Towers! - Our hotel's cute restaurant conservatory. They cooked the most spectacular food in here. I swear Gordon Ramsey was behind those closed doors!

Did you have a busy October?
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