23 May 2016

Nicola Graimes' Top 100 Low-carb Recipes

The Top 100 Low-carb Recipes by Nicola Graimes*, £5.99

I was recently given the opportunity to review this little recipe book, written by Nicola Graimes. The book focuses on low-carb options; perfect for those on a diet or people who are just keen to reduce their intake of carbs! With recipes to suit all diets, there is something for everyone. I really like the handy size of the cookbook, as well as the colourful photographs.

As a vegetarian, I was a little limited as to which recipes I could make, and I did find that most recipes called for one or more ingredients that I wouldn't usually have stocked in my fridge or cupboard - this cookbook would be perfect for people who plan their meals in advance, ensuring you have all the ingredients required to hand.

I'd definitely say that the majority of the recipes seem really healthy and there is a focus on unrefined, slow-release carbohydrates, which is really good. I managed to find some time recently to try out a couple of the recipes. I think I'll pass it on to my meat-eating husband, so he can try some of the other recipes! A great feature in the book is that each recipe states the grams of carbohydrates per serving.
Roasted vegetables with pesto dressing
This was really simple to make and gave a new twist to our roasted vegetables. We really enjoyed this recipe! We are big pesto fans, so this is an ingredient we always have stocked in the fridge.
Soufflé Berry Omelette
This recipe can be found in the Breakfasts & Brunches section, but I would also class it as a dessert-style recipe, which is what we served it as. Luckily I had some frozen berries waiting to be used in the freezer, so I didn't need to buy anything specially to make this recipe. Unfortunately, we both thought it was awful. Even with a sprinkle of sugar on top, there was no sweetness to it and it just didn't work. Granted, I'm not good with cooking omelettes, pancakes e.t.c., so it didn't look up to much, but it just didn't work for us - the omelette base was too savoury.

If you are following a low-carb diet and want to cook quick, healthy dishes with lots of flavour and fresh ingredients, definitely check out this cookbook.

*items kindly sent for review purposes; all thoughts and opinions are, and always will be, my own.

21 May 2016

My Week In Pictures

Monday:
On Monday, we decided to take a little trip to Highcliffe Beach, near Christchurch! We arrived early afternoon; it was a gorgeous, sunny and hot day and we sat on the beach eating and drinking some snacks we had brought along. Then we treated ourselves to a whippy ice-cream with a flake! The beach was fairly quiet and really lovely - I'd love to revisit.
We drove into Christchurch and had a look round the shops and walked around the quay. There were some lovely buildings and aesthetically-pleasing shop and restaurant fronts. We got ourselves some chips from one of the local chip shops on the way back to the car. We were detoured on the drive back home, but saw some nice scenery. We relaxed and watched an episode of 11.22.63 in the evening.

Tuesday:
My friend, Tracy, and I took a little trip to The Udder Farm Shop in East Stour, Dorset in the morning. Neither of us had visited before and it was lovely to browse the local brands available in the shop. The country-style interior was lovely and there was a great selection of local produce, eco-friendly products and free from groceries.
I picked up a little selection of sweet treats. We popped into the café and I had an iced coffee and a huge slab of homemade caramel shortbread, while Tracy enjoyed a cappucino and a slice of carrot cake. The views from the café of open fields and the surrounding countryside was just lovely. We had a little stroll around the area, but didn't find any walking routes.
When I got home, I spent some time catching up with housework and laundry, then caught up on Coronation Street, while trying my new tea, which was delicious! Our friend came round in the evening to watch Game of Thrones with us. I had BBQ pasta with red onion, grated raw carrot and vegan cheese for dinner. I had a lovely, hot bubble bath afterwards. We later watched Modern Family and Family Guy.

Wednesday:
On Wednesday morning I received an unexpected, but promising phone call, which saw my friend and I make an impromptu visit to Shaftesbury in the afternoon, where we located a certain place of business and then had a quick look round the shops. I did some housework when I got home and caught up on Eastenders. I enjoyed a skinny latte and a few rose cremes. We had vegetarian sausages, green beans and mustard and garlic mash for dinner and watched a few episodes of Gotham. I placed a couple of online orders for some new beauty items.

Thursday:
I had a quick property inspection in the morning, then I played some Rise of the Tomb Raider for a while. After lunch, I watched Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners and caught up on blogging. Then I decided to tackle cleaning the shower screen in the bathroom. It took hours and was so tedious, but it looks a lot better! For dinner, I had an aromatic sweet potato Thai bake (Dean had Hunter's chicken) with cauliflower rice and roasted vegetables with a pesto dressing. It was lovely! We watched more Gotham in the evening.

Friday:
I spent the morning getting ready and making myself look smart and presentable - I had my first job interview in over six years at 11:30am (hence the promising phone call on Wednesday)! I was really nervous, but the interviewers (there were two of them) were lovely and it seemed like a place I'd have fun working at. The job role is an administrator within a property lettings agency with career progression a promising possibility. It sounds great for me and I have everything crossed in the hopes of landing a second interview! If anything, it's good practice for any future interviews. I was really happy with myself afterwards, as I felt I'd done and said everything I could to make it a successful interview. Hopefully I won't have to wait too long to hear back from them.
When I got home, I did some housework and laundry, before sitting down to write up some blog posts. I also received a parcel containing a couple of new beauty purchases. My friend, Tracy, came over after she'd finished work at 2pm for a catch up. We went for a walk down to the old flour mill, too - it was surprisingly warm! When I got home, I caught up on some blog reading and then did some actual reading - of the book variety. I really didn't have anything planned for dinner, so when Dean suggested a Chinese take-away, how was I to resist?! It was so damn good. We watched Attack On Titan and then I went to bed for a couple of hours before heading off to work for midnight.

How was your week?

18 May 2016

The Weekly Wish List

1. MOSSA Youth Defense Cleansing Creme Mousse, £10/200ml
This cleanser sounds really lovely and I've never tried a mousse formula before!
2. Sirjes Craft Shop Cork Make-up Bag, £16.99
I'm beginning to think more about eco-friendly fashion choices and have been looking at cork products. I love this colourful make-up bag!
3. Transomnia Retro Illuminated Love Sign, £25.95
I've been after an LED light for our home for ages and I really love this one. It would look great on the windowsill in our bedroom.
4. Handmade Naturals Tanning Cream, £12/100ml
I love this brand and am quite intrigued by this product. I'm a fake tan newbie, but this sounds promising!
5. Fairsquared Vanilla Shower Gel, £8.95/250ml
I can imagine this smells amazing! Another lovely brand.
6. Clipper Organic White Tea with Vanilla, £5.70/26 teabags
I've never tried white tea and this one with added vanilla sounds very pleasant.

What's at the top of your wish list this week?

16 May 2016

My Weekend In Pictures

Friday:
I got up at 3pm, after working the previous night. I tried Clipper's raspberry leaf tea and had a snack. I read my current book for a while, then had a shower. We had Montery Jack BBQ bean burgers for dinner, which were really good! In the evening, we went to see Bad Neighbors 2 at the cinema with some friends. We got back pretty late, so off to bed it was!

Saturday:
I got up quite early and spent ages window shopping online. After showering and moping around for a while, I cleaned the carpet, baked vegan banana bread granola and vegan chocolate muffins. We had the in-laws round for dinner and Dean made curry. We watched The Good Dinosaur.

Sunday:
I enjoyed my banana bread granola with soya yoghurt and fresh strawberries for breakfast. I pretty much spent most of the day cleaning and tidying and setting up snacks for the early evening start of a games night with friends. I made Nutella-centred cookies that turned out huge and delicious! We played Harry Potter  trivial pursuit, Cards Against Humanity and Werewolf, then we watched Guardians of the Galaxy. I was super tired by the end of it and glad to climb into bed!

How was your weekend?

12 May 2016

Botanicals Rose & Camellia Cleansing Melt

Botanicals Rose & Camellia Cleansing Melt*, £19.95/55g

I've recently been trying out this lovely balm cleanser, handmade in rural England, from natural and Soil Association certified organic beauty brand, Botanicals. Housed in a recyclable glass jar, with pretty pink labelling and nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, rose flower oil, lavender flower oil and green tea extract, this is a real pleasure to use. The key ingredient throughout the rose & camellia range is green tea extract; it's full of antioxidants, vitamins and polyphenols, which provide anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing benefits, as well as protecting your skin from harsh environmental factors.
The balm has a semi-solid formula which melts upon contact with skin and the scent is subtle and pleasant. This cleansing melt feels really luxurious when applying to my skin and it really does melt away all of my make-up and grime from the day. I use a damp, hot cloth to remove the balm, which helps to open and clear pores. I've really missed having a balm cleanser in my skincare routine recently and can't see myself being without one again!

Ingredients:
Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter*, glycerine***, cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil,* decyl glucoside, cocos nucifero (coconut) oil*, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil*, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract*, tocopherol, zea mays seed flour*, parfum*; rosa centifolia (rose) flower oil* pelargonium graveolens (rose geranium) flower oil*, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower oil*, cymbopogon martinii flower oil*, cananga odorata flower oil*, geraniol**, citronellol**, benzyl benzoate**, linalool**, limonene**, citral**, farnesol**. (*Certified organic. **Natural constituents of essential oils. ***Organic origin.)

Have you tried anything from Botanicals?

*items kindly sent for review purposes; all thoughts and opinions are, and always will be, my own.

10 May 2016

The Weekly Wish List

1. H&M Conscious Short-sleeved Blouse, £14.99
I love the bottle green shade of this part-recycled blouse.
2. Pieces Star Print Scarf, £14
I have a star print scarf-shaped hole in my wardrobe!
3. Anthropologie Aegean Bowl, £14
Isn't this so pretty?!
4. Alice Scott Square Happiness Cake Tin, £12.95
This cake tin is really fun and I love the pink/white chevron design!
5. Biopark Cosmetics Walnut Butter, £5.69/100g
This is great value for money and I imagine it smells lovely!

What's at the top of your wish list this week?

08 May 2016

My Week In Pictures

Sunday:
On Sunday, I started the day of with a healthy breakfast (unfortunately it looked much better than it tasted!) of vegan yoghurt with frozen berries and cacao nibs, an orange, a skinny latte and a herbal tea. We didn't do much during the day, but had the in-laws over for dinner. I made spaghetti bolognese with garlic bread and toffee brownies for afters! We watched comedy, Vacation.

Monday:
I lazed around till midday, applied avocado oil to my scalp and ends of hair, then showered. I filmed two videos for my YouTube channel. I had late lunch and watched Eastenders. I phoned my friend in the evening to catch up and then we watched Me and Earl and the Dying Girl afterwards.

Tuesday:
Tuesday we went to Poole shopping - it was hot enough for no jacket! I wore my new Missguided leopard print dress. I used the two Shakeaway vouchers I'd won and chose an organic soya shake with peanut Butterfingers. I bought a new top from Next, which came with an awesome cacti print scarf! We had lunch at Subway and then drove to the retail parks to pop into TK Maxx and a few others. Dean had work from 4pm till 9pm, so I caught up on laundry, watched Welsh crime drama, Hinterland, and Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. I had pesto pasta with feta cheese for dinner.

Wednesday:
I made vegan vanilla granola for breakfast and watched Eastenders. I spent the day de-cluttering the bedroom, including my dressing table. I had a late lunch and watched more Hinterland, then spent hours ironing, while watching Erin Brockovich. We had vegetarians sausages and mash for dinner and watched Gotham in the evening.

Thursday:
On Thursday, I wore my new top and scarf! I deep-cleaned the bathroom and finished off the rest of the housework. I had a fried egg sandwich for lunch, cooked by Dean. Me and my friend went for an hour's walk along the trailway, after she'd finished work at 2:30pm. It was very warm and sunny! After the walk, I popped into Co-op for some refreshments for the evening, as we were having a few friends round for a Trailwalker discussion - there was pizza and chocolate involved! We watched Game of Thrones and then I left them to it to talk walking plans and retired to the bedroom to read.

Friday:
On Friday, I made a lavender DIY laundry detergent powder - I put it to the test and it's great! I also used bicarbonate of soda and peppermint essential oil to deodorise our mattress and every now and again, I get a whiff of peppermint, which is lovely! We enjoyed a lovely Chinese takeaway over at Dean's parents' and watched some Impractical Jokers and The Simpsons. I was back to work later that night.

What did you get up to during the week? I hope you've been enjoying the sunny weather!