Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Birchbox June 2014 review

Evening all!

As usual I was mega excited to receive my Birchbox delivery... this month's theme was the Global Striker World Cup.

Heres what I got in the box-



1.OPI nail Laquer- 'Next stop the Bikini Zone' (mini size)
3. Birchbox Brazilian flipflop keyring

I wasn't so happy about.....

I'll be honest (as I always am on my blog!) I wasn't impressed at all when I opened the box up. Here are my reasons as to why-

1. The OPI nail varnish is teeny tiny, its completely not a shade I'd ever wear and when applying it it made my nails feel so dry!

2. The flipflop... okay now I know there are tons of ladies out there who love football and would enjoy the football related theme but I'm not one of them.. sorry Birchbox but football is taking over my TV, my Mr and every other conversation around me on a daily basis.. I didn't want it taking over my monthly beauty box too! I'm not one for gimmicky key rings really either so this one is now sitting in my desk draw.

3. Coola sunscreen- Okay I haven't actually used this yet but I'm saving the miniscule amount for a roasting hot day..  my foundations all have SPF in anyway so I'm not sure when I'm going to try this out. Come on Birchbox- this is a poor sample size for sure!  

I was impressed by......

Silk and Honey hair mask-a good sample size and it smells fresh. I've used it once and my hair seems to have a lovely shine to it.  

Laura Mercier soufflĂ© body creme- OHHHH my goodness this is amazing- I'd heard about it on blogs/youtube but didn't realise how delicious a body cream could be. I have, in one week, used over half of this sample tube already. I take it to work with me every day and apply it 2/3 times (maybe more!) Yesterday people in my office started commenting "Someone smells really nice" and the compliments continued throughout the day- 7 people to be exact! 

The Yves Rocher lipstick is a really cute colour,great glossy like shine and yummy cherry taste. I like the fact its quite sheer to start but is build-able for a more noticeable pop of colour. I recommend this! 


Verdict

Overall I was slightly disappointed by the box this month- the products seemed to vary a lot between subscribers- some boxes got 6 items, some got 5. Some,like mine, got left overs from last month and others got great new products like the Beauty Blender

I found it hard to place the products with the theme of the box too.

This box has however introduced me to some new great brands, I'm going to invest in some Laura Mercier and some Yves Rocher in the future! 

If you'd like to subscribe to Birchbox please click here- we both get money off!

Did you get a good selection this month?
What other boxes would you recommend I try?

xoxoxxo










Friday, 20 June 2014

Cook with me: Thai Red Curry and Raitha

Evening all!

I've recently realised that a lot of the time I can't keep up with all the new makeup and beauty products; mainly because I've got a bathroom full of products so thought I'd give you all an insight into my other passion.. cooking!

This months Flavourly box included a Kents Kitchen meal kit. I cooked it up this evening for me and the Mr so thought I'd do a bit of a review on it with some step by step photos.

I hope you enjoy!




The kit contains 3 little tubs-
Garlic infused oil
Thai curry seasoning
Thai red curry paste




To add to the kit i prepped-

1 red pepper
1 small red onion (doesn't say to add this but I love onion!)
2 chicken breasts chopped
50g cherry tomatoes



I then cooked the chicken in pot 1; the garlic infused oil-for 3 minutes before adding the onions and pepper. I also at this point put some rice on to cook in the pan behind. 


I then let this all cook for 5 minutes and treated myself to a Bulmers whilst I waited!


Once the chicken browned a little and the veg started to cook I then added pot 2- the Thai red curry paste. This contains vegetable oil,salt,coriander, paprika, chilli, lime powered and tomato. 


Mixed it all in and let the chicken cook for a further 5 minutes



Pot 3 is the garnishing pot- this contains desiccated coconut, crushed chillies and coriander leaves. 

Once the chicken looked suitably browned I then added the garnish pot- wow this little pot contains a lot of flavour! It smells so coconutty!









Once the seasoning was all mixed in and smelling suitably delicious I then moved onto add the final ingredients:




Cherry tomatoes and a 400ml tin of coconut milk. Shop around in Tescos for this- I originally picked up a can which was £2.05 but then spotted a can for 69p in the international food section!




Once added (and not looking that appetising at this point!) I then left it for about 10 minutes to simmer.

Whilst the Thai curry was cooking away I got this little beauty out from the cupboard. 


This is a fresh herbs and spice Raitha mix I picked up at the BBC Good Food last weekend at the NEC in Birmingham from one of the traders- Mr Huda. I love Raitha so this really caught my attention- I've made it myself before but never had all the spices we needed for it to taste spot on.  

This handy little pot contains 14 servings of the stuff! Its ingredients are-

Water, garlic, corriander, tamarind, mint and chilli with some natural colouring. 


You only need a teaspoon of the stuff!


Then add 175ml of natural yogurt- I used Tesco's low fat natural yogurt. 


Once you've added the yogurt add 2 teaspoons of sugar and give it a good mix..........




Once you've made your Raitha the Thai curry should be just about ready to serve. The coconut milk will have thickened and the cherry tomatoes will have started to breakdown to add to the nice sauce. 


Get your rice prepped and you are ready to serve!


Of course with any curry you have to have the accompaniments- poppadoms for me and naan bread for the Mr (plus a can of beer!) along with the Raitha. 



And thats it.. you are ready to dig in!





Yum!


Delicious!

I really enjoyed using the Kent's Kitchen kit, the flavours tasted so fresh and it smelt delish during the cooking stages too! The instructions were really easy to follow and I love the fact they include an infused oil, this really flavoured the chicken from the beginning and when tucking in you could taste it for sure. 

I much prefer this type of convenience cooking to the jars of unflavoured stuff you can pick up these days, none of the flavour in the jars seems to stick to the meat at all so this was a nice change.

I would be interested to try the other dinner kits Kents Kitchen do; I've got my eye on the Firecracker sweet and sour kit now! Check out their huge range here 



The Raitha was out of this world... 100% recommend this product. It was really tangy and minty and went beautifully with the curry and poppadoms. 

Mr Huda's do tons of other pastes, the next one i'd like to try is the onion Bajee paste.

Check out their product range here 

What is your friday evening meal treat? 

Twitter-
@mrhudaspastes
@KentsKitchenUK

follow me on twitter too-
 @teaandblush

XOXOXOX













Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Optrex Actimist 2 in 1 Eye Spray review

Hello all!

Not the usual type of product to feature on my blog but I wanted to tell you all about a product I've found in the last week.

I suffer from really dry eyes and this combined with contact lenses and hours of sitting at a computer most days leaves my poor peepers feeling sore and dry.  Over the years I've had SO many issues with dry eyes; to the point where I've actually given up with lenses for months on end.

However, I don't feel myself when I have my glasses on and my current specs aren't in the best shape now (covered in scratches.... I need to invest in some new ones soon!) so I try to wear my lenses most days at the moment.

Last week I had the bi monthly panic... "AHHH I have an eye infection.. lets rush to Boots to get checked out!"

Of course...everything was fine and just a little dryness. I think my optician is getting used to this occurrence now and she begged me to get some drops and religiously use them.Now, like most people out there, I really can't stand using drops and I'm sure most of the actual drop doesn't even make it into my eye!

So when I saw this product I was instantly interested!

Optrex Actimist 2 in 1 Dry and Irritated Eye Spray £15.99
Optrex Actimist 2 in 1 is a spray that instantly refreshes and helps repair the natural moisture layer! Its a 10ml bottle that you can use up to 4 times per day. 

What caught my attention most was the fact it can be used whilst you have lenses in and it's also fine to use with waterproof makeup- I haven't experienced any smudging at all with gel liner!

Once sprayed from about 10cm's away  you should leave your eyes closed for 15-20 seconds.I notice the difference straight away, my lenses dont't feel sticky and I feel refreshed and ready to continue with my computer work. 

I love that........
The product is for use on eyes when closed

As well as hydrating my eyes it works on the skin around my eyes too!

The bottle is a handy size to slip into my handbag.


I'm not so happy that.....

The price tag is pretty steep but I've noticed that the product goes a long way


All in all a great product! This is also backed up by the reviews on the Boots website 


There are a few other sprays in the range for different symptoms, for example, itchy eyes! Check them out on the website.

Hope this has helped anyone out there with the same issue!

XOXOXOX




Thursday, 5 June 2014

Flavourly box May 2014

Evening all!

You've probably guessed from my last few posts that I'm loving the idea of subscription boxes and having random treats every month.. but what you may not know (if you don't know me personally!) is that I LOVE cooking and of course the eating part of it too!

So when I stumbled across the idea of having gourmet food items delivered to me monthly I signed up straight away! 

Heres how the box comes packaged... its a lot bigger than the Birchbox package which is always a great sign!





The box looks stuffed with lovely bits as soon as you open up the paper!

Here is a run down of all the treats inside this months box, although I haven't tried all of them yet!



Perry court farm apple crisps:sweet (20g bag)

This was the first thing i munched on out of the box- mainly because it was easy to pack in my bag for lunch at work. They are dried apple crisps and rather beautiful I must say.  
They had a nice chew to them and a punch of sweetness which satisfied my sweet craving in the afternoon!

I love that....
They count as part of your 5-a-day
Only 76 calories per bag
100% homegrown in the UK and completely natural
A box of 24 packs is £12.. only 50p per bag!

Im not so happy....
that there weren't more in the bag!

I'd buy these again if I saw them in a shop nearby.

You can visit Perry court's website shop here-



Zaramama Rich Ruby Gourmet Popcorn (90g bag)

Flavourly... I LOVE YOU! 

My fav thing to snack on at the moment is popcorn, give me popcorn over crisps any day! I've tried Zaramama popcorn before so I already know this brand. I haven't yet tried this yet as I've already got a bag of pre popped corn in the house. I've had a nosey on their website and Rich Ruby Red is said to have a distinct nutty flavour!
Zaramamas popping corn is available in 12 colourful varieties- each type has its own taste and texture-each with its own popping and expansion rate- wow!


I'm a savoury popcorn fan so I'm pleased they do a cheese seasoning and a chilli and lime one!
.

I love that...
Zaramama's do more than just kernels! They do popping oil, air poppers and seasoning selection packs. 

I'm not so happy that...
I didn't get any of the seasoning with the kernels.

Visit their website and shop here-



Taste Gourmet Spice Company- Mulled spice (3x5g)

I'll be honest- my first thoughts when I saw this product in the box was "Ohh... is this the leftovers from xmas?" . The pyramid style teabags smell amazingly christmassy. I'm just conditioned to think of the festive period so maybe these will be saved for later in the year!
Although the more I look and smell them I'm starting to think they will be yummy in apple juice!

I've checked out Taste's website just now though and I honestly think my seasoning dreams have come true! They have a huge range of different rubs, spices,infused oils and flavoured salts.
I'd love to try-

Rosemary and garlic infused oil- how yum would this be drizzled over a pizza?!

Firepit BBQ rub (this would be AMAZING on the pulled pork joint me and the Mr cook on a weekly basis!)

Harissa blend- I love the deep flavour and kick Harissa brings to all sorts of dishes. We even put Harissa in our gravy for sunday dinner!

I love that....
Taste Gourmet Spice Company are at the BBC Good Food Show next week- i'm going too!

The website has such good descriptions of their products and gives ideas for cooking.
Their tag line is "Give food attitude!"

I'm not so happy that....
I got something that doesn't seem very fitting to this time of year.


Taste Gourmet Spice Company's website is tiptop- they have a whole section dedicated to recipe ideas. I love when companies do this- it shows they care about the end product their customer may be cooking and want to inspire us to be creative with their products. 

Visit their website and have a browse at-




Willie's Cacao Venezuelan 00 white chocolate - 50g single square 

Im not a fan of white chocolate at all so this didn't hit the spot for me. I tried it though and the texture didn't wow me. The packaging boasts light and milky but I didn't get this from the choc.. sorry Willie! All is not bad though, I've checked out their website and there are some other chocs I'd love to try-

Milk chocolate with sea salt- I love the mix of savoury and sweet so this would be top of my want list. 
Dark chocolate with hazelnuts and raisins- can't beat a bit of chew in your choc!
Apple brandy caramels-  sound yummy!

I love that....
the packaging makes it feel luxurious

Im not so happy that....
it was white chocolate, one of my dislikes :(

Their website is also fantastic and has some beautiful recipes to try out-




Inspiral Chocolatety Superfood bites- 60g bag (£1.39)

Raw optimum nutrition snacks, organic 100% natural, gluten and GM free!
These are an odd snack for newbies but I enjoyed them! The texture is grainy and crunchy mixed with chocolatety yum. They are snack bites designed to slow release energy and fuel you throughout the day. 
Inspiral have an eco cafe/organic bar/music venue in camden too!

I love that....
the packaging is 100% biodegradable 
vegan, gluten-free,lactose-free, GMO free and MSG free!
great interesting texture
keeps you full! 
Its not just a snack- Inspiral is a whole concept of clean living- see their website!

I'm not so happy that....
the portion in the bag is so huge i couldn't manage them all!

Visit Inspiral at-



Kents Kitchen Thai Red Meal Kit

Another hit Flavourly! I am yet to use this kit but we've used a Kents Kitchen before and loved the concept and flavours. I like that the kits come with infused cooking oils!

This kit has-
Garlic infused oil
Garnishing pot
Thai curry paste pot 

On the back of the packet it gives cooking instructions and the small list of ingredients you need to add. This one is designed to go with chicken.

Heres a list of all the different flavour combos they do-


I fancy trying the Fire cracker sweet and sour and the Rogan josh.. wonder if it will be anything like the curries I had in India?!

I love that...
Kents Kitchen does all sorts of cooking bits on their website- I would love to try the miso style prawn and garlic noodles!

I'm not so happy that....
The packaging looks great but once you've emptied out the pots they go straight in the bin. Maybe if the little pots had reusable lids instead of clear film they could be re-used to store spices?

I'll be doing a cooking blog post on this soon- keep an eye out for the end result. 

Visit the Kents Kitchen website and see for yourself the yummy bits they do! You can also buy them from Ocado-



Jaz & Jul's Artisan Hot Chocolate-  Cinammon Rose 60g

I enjoy hot chocolate but very rarely have it. I think this is because on the odd occasion I have one from the big coffee chains and I just find them so sickly sweet. So when I saw this in Flavourly I was happy! I am yet to try it but my goodness it smells amazing. A mixture of chocolate, turkish delight and mint. 
The thing that threw me though was the name! I can't smell any cinnamon! I'll let you know via my instagram (@hollylucyhp) how it turns out when i try it. 

I love that....
The company is the making of two ladies dreams! Have a read on their site and find out their story.
The packaging is cute and the choc is handmade in London!

I'm not too happy that....
the name doesn't reflect the scent but this might change once I've tried it. 

Check out Jaz & Jul's at-



Oloves Basil and Garlic Olives (2 x 30g)

You are either a lover or hater of olives... thankfully I'm a massive massive lover!
Whilst writing this post I've polished off a pack of these. They are nice and oily, great flavour and generally just a bloody great olive!

Oloves website is ace- gives you loads of detail about the nutritional value of olives!

Each pack is 50 calories and a handy size for lunch boxes.

I love that....
The olives are full of flavour- you can tell they are good quality!
Great portion size for one person. 

There isn't anything I dislike about these yummy snacks!

Check out their site-



Stoats- Fig and Date Porridge Oat bar

Sorry Stoats I haven't tried this bar yet! Fig and date though.. sounds interesting and just from having a squeeze of the bar I can tell its one of those that will fill me up for the whole morning. Great with a cuppa I bet!

Check out their website-

Braw gluten free snack bars

Fruity pressed gluten free snack bars in Cocoa + orange and Blackcurrant.

I've tried the Cocoa and orange one this evening on my way home and I enjoyed it. The texture is something i've not had before, kind of cakey but feels more healthy! The smell of the orange is intense and lovely. 
1 of your 5 a day too. 

Check out Braw's website-


Beyond Dark- Moments of Pleasure with hints of raspberry (35g)

Mmmmm i've just tried one of these drops, they are really silky dark chocolate!
 They are the type of choc's I'd imagine are lovely straight from the fridge with a bit of a bite to them.  Only in small doses though.. I couldn't eat a whole packet in one go! Beyond Dark contains up to 3 times for antioxidants than other dark chocolate and pack a really lovely raspberry hit of flavour in the background.

You can buy these drops from their website in packs of 12. Check it out for the 2 other flavours-



Sweeteas- Mint humbug tea- 30g

I like the simple packaging of the tea! I've not tried this yet but when looking at the ingredients it found its 100% pure peppermint leaves- I've had peppermint tea before and enjoy it occasionally!
The thing i've learnt from this box is that you should brew the bag for 3-6 minutes.. I don't think I've previously had the patience to wait that long so maybe I'll try it next time. 

Peppermint tea is meant to be good for digestion,stress relief, refreshing your mouth!

Sweeteas don't have a website at the moment but I'll update this when its up and running!

Overall thoughts

I have really enjoyed branching out and getting something through the post that both me and the Mr can enjoy. It adds a bit of variety to our snacking and gives us ideas of things to add to our meal planner for the week. Some of the bits didn't impress me as much as others but its nice to try different brands. After looking at all the websites of all the companies I'm impressed to see all of the products are made here in the UK and each have a story behind them.

Im off to the BBC Good Food show next weekend in Birmingham so Im looking forward to seeing the Taste Gourmet Spice Company there as well as hopefully finding the other companies in amongst the stalls.

I've had an email from Flavourly today telling me that the price of the box is going up soon to £20 per month (including postage). Yes this might seem steep but its something we both enjoy and Flavourly have promised to up the box game and make it a deluxe gourmet box from now on!

If you'd like to subscribe please use the link below, both you and I get £5 free credit added to our accounts!


I hope you've enjoyed this post and sorry its a bit lengthly but that shows the amount of stuff you get crammed into the box!

Bye-bye for now

xoxox