Thursday, 8 September 2016

Nutri-Fill It review and giveaway

In an attempt to up my fruit and milk intake over the past few months I've been trying to get more smoothies into my day to day routine. However, I find that I always seem to make way too much, leave the left overs in the fridge for too long and then end up binning it! Anyone else do this??

 I was recently contacted by Eat Well UK and offered the opportunity to review their new Nutri-Fill it smoothie pouches; the pouches are a really simple container for you to decant you smoothies into for fruity goodness whilst on the go. 
Once you've used your smoothie maker to create your smoothie all you do is fill the pouches from the bottom, zip it back up and either refrigerate, freeze or pop straight into your lunch bag.
For my first batch of smoothies I used some of the fruit I had left over from my baby shower- bananas, strawberries and blueberries. 
I then blended it all up with some milk and coconut water in my Breville Active Blender

Once blended I decanted it into the pouches, popped one in the fridge for later on and one in the freezer for another day!

I'm not normally into fad equipment when it comes to food preparation and storage but I can totally see the advantages of having these pouches; it's going to save me time, effort and washing up but still means I get to feel like I've had some fruity goodness with my brekkie.

The pouches are reusable (up to 100 times) so are a lot more eco friendly than buying cartons of smoothies every other day from the supermarket. Having these pouches also means when I over estimate the amount of fruit I need in my smoothie maker I'll never need throw it away again; I'll just put the remainder of the smoothie in a pouch and pop it in the freezer for another day. 

I've been given a bundle of pouches to giveaway to 5 lucky readers- each set contains 6 pouches so nearly you can have nearly a week's worth of smoothies ready and waiting for you in the fridge!

All you need to do is complete the below form with your details-


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Giveaway rules-
Winners will be announced via Twitter at 10am on 15th September and asked to DM me address details- these must be provided by 9am on 19th Sept.

UK entries only.


What's your fave smoothie mix?
XOXOX

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Why I started blogging

This morning whilst trying to avoid getting out of bed I scrolled through Twitter and came across Jasmine's tweet about a blog post she published recently on why she started blogging. It got me thinking about my blogging journey and I wanted to share a few thoughts with you all on this rainy Saturday afternoon. 

Why did I start?

I started my blog back in April 2013; not long after I moved into a studio flat by myself. Living alone for the first time was a scary jump into the unknown but one I needed so much. It's partly made me who I am today if I really think about it (check out this very old post I wrote on lone living) and having a blog to focus on kept me company in the evenings. 

Issues with friends, boys and generally just not being very successful at the whole grown-up life thing made me seek out a hobby that I could be in control of, one that wouldn't cost me too much money and most importantly for me, something I could look back on with a feeling of achievement.

 I started off slowly over the first few years and it's only in the past year or so that I've really started to get into a flow of when to publish posts, interacting more on social media and getting my photos up to a better standard- they aren't perfect but I'm getting there slowly. 

How do I feel about blogging now?

Right now, I'm enjoying blogging massively; it's opened so many doors for me over the past year or so as well as being a lovely way to keep my friends and family filled in on how I've been getting on throughout my pregnancy.  

  I call all the shots when it comes to Tea and Blush and this gives me a feeling of satisfaction and purpose.. I couldn't imagine how I'd be spending my spare time if I didn't have my blog to be honest. I imagine I'd be a very bored person.  I've never been particularly skilled at stuff like baking, crafting, drawing and cooking so for me, my thing to do to relax and destress is blogging. 

By day I work as a communications consultant and I'm 99% sure that having a blog played a huge part in me getting the job at the beginning of 2016. Parts of my job intertwines with the experience I've gained via Tea and Blush- stuff like events planning, writing articles and website design- how amazing is that?

Where do I see it going in the future?

Do I want to be a full time blogger? No, I don't think so... I enjoy having it as a hobby; something I  can dip in and out of as and when I have the time.  To put the pressure on my blog to bring in enough money to pay the bills would take away the fun for me. 

As I'm about to embark on the next stage of my life (I'm having a baby if you didn't know already!) I do expect my blog to change- it wouldn't be honest and part of me if it didn't so expect there to be a few more family posts on here, maybe some insights into how we are doing at the whole parenting thing and of course some baby clothing hauls.  I'm not going completely into mummy blogging though...

If you're a blogger -why did you start?
If you aren't a blogger- is it something you'd like to get into?

XOXOXO

Friday, 2 September 2016

Inky Gorilla Posters and Prints (Print Giveaway included!)

Looking for prints to pretty up your home? Well, look no further, Inky Gorilla has something for everyone; from Scandi nursery prints, gamer inspired creations, feel good quotes to witty greetings cards. 
We've added two Inky Gorilla prints to the babes nursery and ohhhh I love them. We went for the Scandi inspired mountain scene picture shown in the photo above; along one of the mountain ranges it says "Home is wherever I'm with you." How cute!!
We were also gifted this cloud and rainbow print to add into the nursery; we seem to have unintentionally adopted a cloud theme for her nursery and I adore how it's all turned out. Again, I promise the nursery tour is coming soon. 

You may be aware if you follow me on Twitter that the owner of Inky Gorilla is actually my brother, Lewis- how handy ehhhh?  I'm totally envious of his ability to create these lovely pieces but of course very thankful that I get to add them to our home decor whenever he has the time to make us a custom order. 
Here are some of my favourite prints he's currently got for sale on his Etsy shop- check out the full range here.

Lewis has also just branched out to do custom designed blog headers, the details of which can be found here. Lewis designed my blog header for me by the way :)

Fancy getting your hands on a pre-designed print from the Etsy store or custom blog header of your choice? All you need to do is follow both @Inkygorilla and @teaandblush on Twitter AND retweet the competition tweet put out on my twitter page. 

Competition is open until 8pm on 9th September and will be announced at 9pm the same evening.

Good luck!

XOXOX

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Top 10 tips




1.Corporate discounts

Check whether the company you work for has any corporate discounts already set up- I work for a large insurance company and thankfully we have a rather fantastic cash back/ discount site on which I can search out retailers and get the best deals on the high street.

For example, we knew which pram we wanted to buy and it was just a case of finding which store we could get the biggest discount on through my work website- we ended up getting 12% off at Boots.com.

If you don't work for a large company like I do you might still be surprised at the local discounts your employer has negotiated- it really is always worth asking.

2.Spend time shopping around

I love finding a good bargain and if that takes me 3 hours on a Wednesday evening thats fine with me.   Rather than falling into the trap of allowing shops to make decisions for you about the things you need/want, take your time and consider your purchases as you might be able to find the item cheaper elsewhere or a more suitable option by another brand.

For example, we could have easily been drawn into buying the matching changing bag to go with our pram but we decided not to as in reality the matching one is so tiny that it wouldn't have been practical.

When it comes to the daily needs (stuff to change baby's butt) there's a brilliant website called Bum Deal which helps you seek out the cheapest way to buy nappies, wipes and car seats- for example, we're  going to be using Naty nappies to begin with and Bum Deal has just told me that at the moment I could buy 2 packs of newborn size from Ocado for £6 whereas at Boots I'd pay £8.58 for 2 packs at the moment.

Also, although I'm going to try and use cotton wool and water for the first few weeks/months I've kept an eye on baby wipe deals; Bum Deal came up with a Waterwipes deal which looks pretty good; 720 wipes for £19.99 from Ocado compared to 540 for £19.99 from Boots.

3.Sales and postage

Keep a look out for mid season sales and bank holiday sales too. I've been rather organised and bought the babe some clothes for next summer in the end of summer sales this year!

The price of postage for items can sometimes outweigh the savings you find online- make sure you take full advantage of click and collect services, services that deliver to your local shop and also amazon lockers.

The site I've found the most clothing bargains on has to be La Redoute.. I picked up 7 items of clothing for her for under £20 with free delivery as I got it sent to an Amazon locker at the local Co-op!

4.Loyalty cards

As much as I hate getting emails from every shop I've ever been in to it really does pay off to sign up for them if they have a specific baby club. By far I've found Boots to be the most rewarding card out of them all.

I'm sure most of you will have a Boots Advantage card, right? Well did you know that Boots also have the parenting club you can sign up for? You can collect extra points every time you buy something baby related; 10 per £1 spent to be precise. So, if you've got big ticket items to buy then you can get a rather nice amount of points added to your advantage card; this just takes a little thinking outside the box- most Boots stores in towns don't have their baby range on show so we don't automatically think of them as a competitive baby retailer but they have a ton of products online; from nursery furniture, slings, pushchairs, stair gates, clothing.. the list goes on!

Here's two examples of big savings we've made at Boots-

We ended up choosing a pram for £700, minus the 12% from my work discount scheme takes it to £616,which then equates to £61 of advantage card points, which equals between 10-15 packs of Naty nappies.

When you inform Boots you are expecting a baby you'll be sent a welcome pack with a magazine; the magazine has around 3 pages of vouchers in and for us was pretty handy- we used a £40 off when you spend £200 or more on cribs and bedding voucher towards buying our SnuzPod co-sleeper crib.

This meant rather than paying £233 for the crib and bedding set we paid £193. At the moment when you buy the Snuzpod from Boots you also get a mattress protector for free too which saves you another £15! Plus then your 10 points for every £ through the parenting club to be added to your account to use for nappies later down the line.

Also, remember to download the Boots app too as you get personalised offers each week you can add to your advantage card- one's we've used so far are 50p off Sudocream, 100 extra points when you buy Boots baby products, free nursing pads when you spend £10 on baby products and something crazy like £10 off a breast pump.

Other loyalty cards/schemes  I've found useful are-

Mothercare-  They hold parenting events every so often which you can sign up for- these evenings normally offer 10% off everything and also give you a chance to try out some products before investing, like pushchairs, nursery sets and carriers.

Babies R Us-  Similar to the other schemes but this card offers you wider promotions on holidays and days out. I've not used this card a lot as the store isn't within walking distance but a good one for those who drive!

M&S Sparks card- I adore the M&S range of baby clothes so picking up a Sparks card was a no-brainer. I think it tailors the offers specifically to you depending on your shopping habits; I find that if I buy baby clothes one week the following week I'll have a 20% off option to add to my Sparks card. So, if I see a few items I like in the baby section I buy them individually in the hope the voucher gets added!

Waterstones card- we knew from pretty early on that we wanted to start building a library of books for baby so we make sure that each time we buy a book we collect points. Points equals ££ of course! But..saying that, sometimes Waterstones aren't the cheapest and its better to purchase from Tesco or Amazon. Just take your time and shop around!


5. Amazon wish lists + Subscribe and Save

An Amazon wish list is a must if you are planning on having a baby shower in my opinion. I've not been shy in asking people for specific items we need for when the baby arrives rather than us getting a ton of newborn clothing that the babe probably won't get any wear from.  We are all Amazon wish list users in my family for all occasions so of course we did one for our shower- we were very lucky and received most of the items off the list; it saved us a ton of money and actually means we will use every gift we were given.

Amazon also offer the Subscribe and Save option on baby related products- like nappies, wipes, creams, cotton wool, nappy bags and even pregnancy vitamins.  For most products you save 5% if you subscribe and if you set up 5 or more subscriptions at the same time the savings increase to 15%.

6.Free dental treatment


Did you know whilst you are pregnant and for a whole year afterwards you get free dental care? I've already been to the dentist more times in the past 9 months than I have been in the past 9 years! Because of the extra work our bodies are going through when growing a baby it means your teeth can become troublesome; thankfully mine haven't been too bad, just swollen gums so all I've needed are a few appointments for a scale and polish. You can find out more about getting free dental care here.

7.Free classes

Find out if there is a local children centre in your area. There's one here in Sheffield which offers free baby massage courses, coffee mornings and also sessions like sensory play. As much as I'd love to pay to go to a baby massage course run by my yoga teacher I need to keep tight on my budget so having a free option is pretty great! The average cost of a baby massage course here in Sheffield is around £50 for 5 weeks so I'm saving a fair bit of dosh going for the children's centre option.  Check out this page to find your local children's centre.

8.Maternity clothes

Right from finding out I was pregnant I couldn't wait to find some lovely maternity outfits; I imagined stocking up a whole new wardrobe full of items from the Topshop Maternity range but in reality, I've been going out socialising less and just wanting to be in comfy lounging clothes so it would have seemed a waste to spend hundreds of pounds on new outfits.

The one item I think is essential for any mum to be is a good pair of maternity jeans; I went for the Joni over the bump maternity jeans and these have been a staple for me. I started wearing them at around 4 months and they still are suitable to wear now, 3 days before my due date, as they have a lovely soft over the bump band which has expanded with my tummy.

I've found New Look  really great for nursing wear too- ooh that reminds me, if you plan on breastfeeding then try to make sure your maternity clothes are going to be suitable for this too- I've stocked up on maternity shirts as I've found them comfy, roomy and easy to wear with a bump as well as being easy access with a nursing vest top on underneath once the babe is here.

9.Remember you won't be house bound forever

It's so easy to go crazy on stocking up with everything before the baby arrives; the one thing I let loose on was cotton wool- I ordered 15 bags of the stuff a few weeks back.. I live about 6 minutes walk from a Boots store for goodness sake. I didn't need to buy this!!

I have it in my head that everything will go swimmingly with breastfeeding so I haven't gone out and spent any money on bottles, sterilisers and all the paraphenalia "just in case" as again, if things don't go as planned I've got people around me who will be able to nip to the 24 hour Tesco and pick up the necessary kit!


10.Get your freebies and sign up for cash back sites

If your employer doesn't have a corporate discount scheme set up then don't worry; you can still cash in on cash back on your big ticket items. Check out this helpful page explaining how cash back sites work (and things to be careful of) by MoneySavingExpert.

Alongside this, make sure you get your hands on all your freebies whilst pregnant, even if they're only samples it all comes in handy. You should receive a Bounty information pack after your first scan which contains some vouchers you take along to your local Boots store and exchange for a stash of money off vouchers, some sample size nappy creams and some pregnancy vitamins. You'll also be given a Bounty pack in hospital and a 'Growing family' pack once your babe is 4 months old. Find out more about the Bounty packs here.

Another pack I signed up for was Emma's Diary; this is also one you can collect from Boots and is packed full of samples like washing detergent, baby bathing samples, money off vouchers, wipe samples and a handy buying guide for big ticket baby items.


As you can probably tell, I've really enjoyed writing this post as I love the idea of helping other expectant parents save a few £'s. In total, by using the above tips I guesstimate I've saved around around £1135.. thats an amazing amount which we can add to our savings knowing we aren't going without any of the items we want/need!

Have you got any top savings tips when shopping for baby? 

XOXOX

Monday, 29 August 2016

The Body Shop #HighStreetDaresToMask blogger event

Last weekend I had the pleasure of helping to pull together an event at The Body Shop High Street store in Meadowhall, Sheffield. With my experience of events and links to local bloggers we were able to pull off a really interactive event which I thoroughly enjoyed! 

The focus of the event was primarily around the new luxury face mask range The Body Shop launched earlier this week but we also got to have a play with some of the other products and we were even treated to a mini pamper session.

Expert face masks

The Body Shop's new range of luxurious face masks are a rather delicious addition to their huge product range, each mask smelling completely different and retailing at high street prices. 

The Bodyshop ladies really went to town on their masking station at the event; they set up a beauty bed for bloggers to relax on whilst they each had a face mask applied. 

Bloggers could choose which of the five face masks they wanted to try out; each with a different set of ingredients and effect on the skin:

Amazonian Acai- An energising mask to help brighten up dull and dry skin. This mask contains Acai berry, Guarana seed extract to exfoliate and Fair Trade organic babbassu oil. 

Ethiopian Honey- A nourishing facial mask for dry skin or skin showing the signs of ageing. This mask contains Fair Trade everything- honey, marula oil and organic olive oil. 
British Rose- A plumping facial mask for normal to dry skin. This mask contains real rose petals, rose-hip oil and Fair Trade organic aloe vera. 

Himalayan Charcoal- A purifying detox mask for oily and blemished skin. This mask contains bamboo charcoal, Fair Trade organic tea tree oil and green tea leaves to help exfoliate the skin. 

Chinese Ginseng & Rice-  A clarifying mask to help brighten dull skin and repair unevenness. This mask contains Ginseng, sesame seed oil and rice extracts to exfoliate the skin.

All of the masks are 100% vegetarian, luxuriously thick on application and cost £15 each for a 75ml pot. Along with the mask pots The Body Shop ladies also showcased the new mask application brush; this is something I would recommend as it adds that feeling of luxury when applying the masks and means you don't waste product by spreading it all over your hands too.  Each of the masks can be used around 2-3 times a week.. although I'd probably save it for sunday pamper nights.
The lovely Carolanne from A literary Cocktail getting her face masks applied.. she's got the Chinese Ginseng on her cheeks, Amazonian Acai on her chin and then Himalayan Charcoal on her nose. 

During the event I didn't get a chance to have a face mask applied but we were each given some sample pots of the masks to take home and try out- so far I've tried out the Chinese Ginseng mask and the British rose; my fave so far is the ginseng mask; it left my skin feeling throughly soft and fresh. 


Foot spa treatments

The Body Shop ladies set up a foot spa station for the event too- I'm sure if you've read my pregnancy updates (most recent ones are here, here and here) you'll be aware that my feet are, at times, the size of elephants due to pregnancy swelling so the foot spa section was a pregnancy dream come true for me!! 


The products used on my feet alongside the foot spa were-

A shower gel (cant remember which one!)

Although the swelling on my feet didn't go down it was some what a luxury to have my feet feeling pampered and soft.. I haven't been able to reach them for a long time! 

Makeup masterclasses

At the beginning of the event I asked each of the bloggers which eye look they wanted to learn how to create; cut crease, smokey or natural. During the evening The Body Shop babes ran tutorials on how to create these looks using the new Down To Earth shadows. 

Bev from Bevebeee blog and Becki from Prime and Dine both having a master class on the smokey eye look using the Down To Earth Shadow Glow Palette. 
I tried my hand at the cut crease look using the Smoky Gold Palette  and the new double ended eyeshadow brush.
I was quite happy with the finished effect- I never really had the knowledge when it comes to shadow looks so it was great to get some expert tips from The Body Shop ladies. I found the new eyeshadow brush really easy to use and something that I plan on buying next time I visit the store. 

 Although I didn't purchase the palette this time, the skills I picked up from the master class have meant that I've used some products I already have gathering dust in my makeup collection... once I've finished them I'm going to treat myself to an item from the Down To Earth range. 

For helping out to plan the event and getting the bloggers together The Body Shop ladies kindly gifted me a very generous hamper of lovely products to try out.


I'm yet to try out all of the products yet but I am already loving the Japanese Camellia cream- I've been slathering this on after having a shower and..ohhh it smells divine- also this came strongly recommended by Leanne from LEM Blog.

Have you tried out any of the Expert Face Masks yet? 
Remember to take a selfie of you face masked up and use the #Daretomask

XOXOX

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Pregnancy update: 39 weeks



Baby status: 

We saw the midwife again this week; she measured my tummy and we were coming up a little small so she referred us for a growth scan.. all good though; baby is a good size,still a girl, in position still and we even got to see a really clear ultrasound picture of her face!

Craving: 
Breakfast biscuits and cake- GBBO did not help this craving one bit!!

Eating: 
Lots of chocolate again this week- I had a craving for Toblerone actually and that had to be quickly given in to!

Buying:
Some last minute bits for when baby is here; a Widgey pillow from Babybundle and I also got to pick out some treats from Mamas and Papas to review on the blog once they arrive. We went for 2 pieces of clothing and then 2 practical items.. keep an eye out for this post soon.

Preparing: 
The house; I've finally gone into full nesting mode these past few days. I've washed nearly every piece of bedding in the house, cleaned the floors and got rid of clutter from around the dining room and lounge. The Mr has been very helpful too; doing the jobs that my mind is telling me to do but my body isn't allowing me to.

Sleeping: 
 
A bit better than last week but still waking up to use the bathroom every few hours. 

Emotionally feeling: 
Pretty good generally but the waiting game is getting to me a little bit now- its like going to bed on xmas eve as a kid and waking up wayyyy to early and not being allowed to see the presents.

Laughing at:

My friends checking in on a daily basis to see whether baby has arrived- its very sweet of them.. if i go overdue though i might turn my phone off..haha!

Grateful for:

My organised self- I spent a good few hours this week spreadsheeting our finances and I now feel a lot clearer about how we are going to afford me being off for 12 months. It's completely do-able i've just got to be careful not to overspend on stuff like going out for too many coffees,impulse buying baby stuff, and wasting food. I hope that once I've got into the swing of motherhood and the Mr is back at work I can be a bit more organised with our dinners; we need to get back into doing a weekly meal planner. 

Dreaming of:

The first moments of meeting her very soon- the relief, overwhelming emotions and the excitement for the journey ahead. 

Loving:

Having a bit of time to spend on my blog before she arrives- I've still got a fair few posts to finish off and schedule but I'm feeling optimistic that I will be able to continue to maintain my blog even during the early weeks. Not going to stress myself out about it though..

Looking forward to:

The first week of her being with us my mum and dad are going to be staying at ours to help out. I'm looking forward to having them around to help out and keep me motivated even if i'm exhausted. 

Exercising:

I've managed to do a bit more walking this week; my feet haven't been quite as puffy and I've just given in and now wear flip-flops with every outfit.  I've also been thinking about how I'd like to get active again after having her.. I think i'm going to begin with just lots of walks around the park. 

Savouring:

Feeling her move around in my tummy; its such a lovely feeling and I'm so used to it now I think it will be rather odd not to feel that anymore... but of course it will be even more amazing to look at her little face. 

Hope you've enjoyed my little update- we've decided that we are going to announce her birth via Instagram so if you don't follow me already then you should- @hollylucyhp


XOXOX

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Treat Kitchen Sheffield Store Opening

Earlier this month I was very pleased to see an email from The Treat Kitchen drop into my inbox; as you probably know from my pregnancy updates I can't seem to get enough sweet things in my gob at the moment so this opportunity for review was right up my street!

To get my sweet tooth tingling The Treat Kitchen sent me a few samples to try out and tempt you with..
In my treat package I found some Little Diddy Pear DropsCoconut Mushrooms and some Radioactive Blue Raspberry Sours (all £2.50 per pack on the site and in-store)

The Treat Kitchen already have stores in Derby, Nottingham and Leicester and are going to be opening a new store here in Sheffield next week on the 3rd September. 

Between their website and stores they stock over 300 different varieties of sweeties, chocolates and handmade cream and butter fudges- dreamy right?! Take a closer look at the treats I got to sample....

The coconut mushroom- a must have for any retro sweet lover.  These mushroom shaped chocolate flavoured candies are melt in the mouth yummy with a generous covering of coconut flakes coating the outside. 

Next up I tried out the Little Diddy Pear Drops- again, another sweet shop classic. 
These are so more-ishly sweet and crunchy. Try these out if you order anything from The Treat Kitchen, you will not be disappointed. 

Finally, were the radioactive blue raspberry sours- just looking at these fluorescent blue beasts makes my mouth do strange things... 
I realised quickly after putting one of these in my gob that they are seriously hardcore. WAY too much sourness for my liking and I think I made it all of about 5 seconds before oh so elegantly spitting it out in my cuppa. However, my sour sweet loving Mr found these very tasty indeed.. although it still made my mouth hurt to watch him eat them. 

The Treat Kitchen new store is going to be in the Meadowhall shopping centre here in Sheffield.  To mark the occasion they are holding a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Mayor of Sheffield at 11am on 3rd September and, to make it a proper sweetie launch they are giving away 75,000 treats during the day (store opening from 9am)- yes you read right, 75k!!

Check out the huge selection of sweets over on the website and if you are in Sheffield why not pop along for the opening day!

What's your fave sweet? Are you a fan of sours?

XOXOX