Monday, 30 November 2015

Alternatives to chocolate advent calendars #2

Remember when the countdown to Christmas was an excuse to have a piece of chocolate for breakfast each day? Nowadays advent calendars aren't exclusively chocolate based. A couple of years ago I wrote this piece here about how advent calendars were starting to be filled with non chocolate alternatives like skincare products, nail polishes and even candles. Now everything imaginable can be found inside an advent calendar. This year I found a tea advent calendar - whatever will they think of next?! Here are - in my opinion - the best advent calendars out there right now:


Yankee Candle
The ever popular Yankee Candle advent calendar is back! But this year offers not one, not two, but three calendars to choose from. Their Christmas advent calendar (centre) is currently out of stock, but their House in the Snow calendar returns for another year. Although the three vary in price, the candle selection in each is fairly similar. Repeats from last year include Snowflake Cookie and Christmas Eve. This year sees some new ones I haven't tried before which include: Berry Trifle, Cosy by the Fire and Bundle Up


Jo Malone
If you're willing to dig deep, this would be a lovely way to try all the different colognes. If money were no object, this is definitely one I'd love to own.


Diptyque
Opening a door to find a Diptyque candle every other day? Another advent calendar I dream of owning.

Charlotte Tilbury  - £150.00

Charlotte Tilbury
Presented beautifully as Charlotte Tilbury's Book of Make-up Magic. Not actually an advent calendar in the traditional sense on account of only having 12 doors... but when you think about the quality of product you are getting, suddenly just 12 doors is fine by me!

Body Shop advent calendar - price unmnonw, products reponredltgy worth £93.50

Body Shop
Aptly named 24 Happy Days, as Body Shop is one of my favourite brands, this would be a very happy 24 days indeed! Their calendar contains a mixture of minis and some generously sized products too, as the doors are all different shapes and sizes. Of these it contains a product from their Fiji Green Tea collection (which fyi I have been dying to try!) and products from their Oils of Life range. I believe this one is only available in-stores though.


Harrods tea selection
Besides traditional chocolate advent calendars, this is one of the more affordable advent calendars I've seen on sale this year. Comes complete with 25 tea bags, offering a selection of organic black and green teas. A tea-rrific idea!


Biscuiteers
Who needs chocolate when you can have biscuits?! The beautiful home-made touches with this one means that no two advent calendars are the same. For those who question the durability of the biscuits, these reportedly have a decent shelf life so if you wanted to keep some of the biscuits for later in December / the New Year - no problem!


Advent calendars... with alcohol
24 days of gin, vodka or whisky - the choice is yours! Gin lovers will especially love the Ginvent calendar which includes one base gin and 23 botanicals to add to it. Reportedly some of the flavours include lavender, saffron and nutmeg. Whether it's gin, whisky or vodka that you choose, you'll certainly have a very merry Christmas either way!

Thanks to all of the above, Christmas is sorted. Winter skincare taken care of, biscuits to dip into your tea, candles for those cosy nights in, and alcohol to get you through the masses of Christmas shopping you've left to the last minute... (please tell I'm not the only one?!)

Not got your advent calendar yet? Fear not, you've still got today to hunt one down!

Which advent calendar is on your wish list this year?

Friday, 27 November 2015

When only a cheeky Nandos will do

You know the story. You fancy chicken but no other chicken quite cuts it. You need a cheeky Nandos.

Having said that, in recent years I've been converted to the genius that is their halloumi and portabello mushroom burger. Marinated in your choice of sauce (mild / medium / hot / extra hot) and topped with chilli jam, it is burger perfection. At first I was ridiculed - how can you go to Nandos and not have chicken?! - but once people take that first bite of the halloumi and portabello mushroom burger, they understand. I have even managed to convert the most carnivorous of meat eaters.

The other day I found a massive bottle of Nandos sauce in the house and decided to cook my interpretation of this wondrous Nandos burger. And it was good.


YOU WILL NEED....

x1 portbello mushroom per person
halloumi (as much as you like)
x1 soft roll per person
Lettuce and other burger fillings (optional)
Nandos sauce (heat of your choice)

METHOD

  1. marinate the halloumi in the Nandos sauce for a few hours (or overnight if you prefer). I didn't marinate the mushroom, but you can if you'd like some extra spice!
  2. grill the mushrooms. Once ready, place to one to side and keep warm. Depending on the size of the mushrooms you've picked, these can take longer to cook than the cheese
  3. grill the halloumi until slightly charred (tastes better this way!)
  4. assemble the burger how you wish - and serve!


I served mine with curly fries and ratatouille (ratatouille another one of my favourites at Nandos!). Do let me know if you give it a try! You can Tweet me @Lucy_Angele using the hashtag #cookwithlucy or by leaving me a comment below.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

CURIOUS CRAFTS #1 - using leftover fabric to make a tote bag

A new feature I'm looking to bring to this blog is one that is more orientated around DIY and crafts, as I'm actually really creative and love adding personal touches to things. In recent years I've become really interested in upcycling. I love the idea of taking an old piece of furniture or scraps of material that would otherwise be wasted, and transforming it into something usable, giving it a new lease of life.

Over the last few months Hilarys have been running lots of upcycling workshops across the country. From upcycling shutters to jewellery boxes, you may already have seen some of their crafty creations on Twitter. I was supposed to attend their London craft event, but unfortunately a sickness bug meant I was out of action for a little while :( Although the lovely people at Hilarys did send a goody bag across to me anyway which was a wonderful surprise!

Their brochure is really useful as I haven't revealed this on this blog until now... but I'm buying a house! After months of looking and disappointments aplenty, it all finally came together. Obviously it's all still very touch and go. I'm still waiting on the lawyers, and there's a crazy amount of paperwork to get through. But it doesn't stop me from scouring Pinterest for interiors inspiration. The Hilarys brochure has been giving me plenty of ideas for blinds, curtains, and potential colour schemes. And I absolutely adore their upcycled tote bag. In one of my favourite patterns (damask??), it's already had a lot of use and I get so many compliments when out and about with it. I love the idea of a spare piece of fabric being given a new lease of life. It's really inspired me to have a dig around my room for spare fabrics and start some crafty projects of my own.

Thank you so much to Hilarys for thinking of me and helping me to feel involved even though I was unable to make the event. You guys rock!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

How to have a spa night for £50 or less

Lately my mind has been - for lack of a better word - busy. I find myself having to work later and later meaning that I don't get much of a social life, let alone any chance to relax. When Ocean Finance offered me a chance to relax in line with their company ethos of making people's lives as easy and as stress-free as possible, it sounded ideal. I contemplated going to a spa but realised that I barely have any time to relax after work as it is - so having a night in would be treat enough. I lit candles in the bathroom to create a relaxing atmosphere, poured out a glass of wine, put on a nourishing face mask and ran a bath, introducing both my new Lush bath bombs into the water gradually. Their pumpkin bath bar left the water all sparkly whereas the Dragon's Egg was more volcanic and erupted mesmerising swirls of orange into my bath.


I used Body Shop's passion fruit shower gel, foaming it into massive suds onto a bath puff that I picked up for just £1 in Primark. It was so nice laying there, taking my time, not worrying about what I had to do next (I'm notoriously bad for never being able to switch off). I finished my glass of wine and lay there until the Dragon's Egg finished spinning around like a spinning top, and all the bubbles had started melting away. Afterwards I moisturised my skin using Body Shop's passion fruit body butter. I luckily managed to get the shower gel and body butter in an in-store offer for only £9.50.


I also swear by Body Shop's Peppermint foot care range which I used lots at uni to help sooth my legs when I'd been on the go all day. Taking a trip down memory lane, I picked up a bottle of their Peppermint Reviving Leg Gel which is quite honestly a miracle in a bottle. One of the things that makes me feel the most relaxed - and this may sound weird - is having clean and moisturised feet. I picked out a pair of festive socks from Primark - because it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas! - with the softest, cosiest fleece lining.


I went downstairs with M. and the rest of the bottle of wine (Malbec, a personal favourite!) and watched a film with pizza and a bar of Galaxy. There is something so soothing about Galaxy chocolate. If you just hold it in your mouth and let it melt, there's nothing quite like it. I'd ordered Jurassic World using Amazon Prime's next day delivery. Not exactly a typical chick flick for a relaxing night in.... but I find watching any sort of film relaxing!


Thank you so much to Ocean Finance for giving me an excuse to treat myself for once! The beauty of having a night in as opposed to a spa day, means that I have plenty of products left to enjoy multiple bath nights with - and lots of burn time left in those candles!


SHOP THE POST

Lush Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar (no longer online) - £3.65
Body Shop passion fruit shower gel & body butter (not currently online) - £9.50
Body Shop Reviving Leg Gel - £7
Primark star candle tea lights - £1 each
Primark pineapple & ginger candle - £2
Primark bath puff - £1
Primark face mask - 90p
Primark festive socks - £2.50
Galaxy - £1 from Tesco
Jurassic World - £9.99 from Amazon

Grand total = £50.04



What's your idea of a relaxing night in?

*although Ocean Finance very kindly provided me with a cheque for my relaxing night in, as ever, all words and opinions are my own!