Sunday, 31 May 2015

What's on my bedside table?

Hello lovelies!

So tonight's post is going to be on my bedside table essentials- as much as I'd love a Pintrest-esque completely clutter free bedroom it isn't realistic.. there are so many products I love to use once in bed its easier to keep them within reach!





I have really dry and sore hands a lot of the time and they seem to get worse just after I've cleansed and washed my face before bedtime so I keep this near by. The urgency I have to moisturise my hands is weird.. once I've popped some of this on my hands thank me massively. I received this in a Birchbox last year and hadn't really started using it until recently but I quite like it.Its really fresh with a subtle scent and seems to do the job well. I don't tend to have a fave hand cream at the moment though, this one stays at my bedside, the Argan hand and nail cream I received in my #TheCityGirls goody bag stays just by my computer and then the Soap and Glory Hand Food is the one I keep in my handbag. Can you recommend a good hand cream?


This, for me, is an essential- I spend all day at work on a computer then get home and frequently spend hours on one too so I tend to get really dry sore eyes. I do wear contact lenses occasionally but as the years have gone on my eyes have become a lot more sensitive so I tend to stick to my specs when possible. Even when wearing specs I can feel by about 10pm by eyes getting dry so I spritz this over my closed eyes to give a boost of moisture. I was dubious at first as its quite expensive and I did question whether something you spray over your eyes whilst closed would help but I'm on my third bottle now and really notice the difference! This can also be used when wearing contact lenses too.


This little beauty has been a luxury at bedtime for a few weeks- as the sample size was only diddy I decided to alternate this with the Makuka Doctor Illusionist Rapid face mask (I blogged about that here). I have thoroughly enjoyed using the Kiss the Moon oil.. it's loaded with jasmine, chamomile, ylang ylang and sandalwood and is throughly relaxing. If you do try this just make sure you pin your hair back as it plays havoc with my fringe!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Sloppy Joes- Riverford Organic Farms Recipe Box

Evening lovelies!

Have you ever signed up for a food delivery box? I haven't and when offered the opportunity to try one out of course I said yes... I love discovering new ideas when cooking as I find our weekday meals can sometimes get a bit boring. Although we have a collection of cookbooks I find it so frustrating when I find a recipe I like the look of but realise to cook it i'll have to go and buy half of Tescos!

So, tonights post is going to be the first of the three meals in the Riverford Recipe Box.
Riverford have been around for years and are well known for their fruit and veg box deliveries but more recently they have started the recipe boxes- the boxes contain all the ingredients for 3 main meals for 2 people. When I say all the ingredients I literally mean everything- from the seasonings and veg to the organic meat and accompanying salad to serve with the meals.

The box is really cleverly packed into sections- meat, veg and then all the seasonings/spices/tinned bits are separated out into compartments that are numbered to fit with the three recipes.
My box was delivered first thing Thursday morning before heading off to work- its great that they deliver so early- no faffing about with redeliveries and it means you can get all the fresh bits straight in the fridge- although.. if I happened to be out they would leave the box in a safe place and it would be fine until I returned home as they pack it out with ice bags!
The box contains three really easy to follow recipe cards with a picture of the finished dish. We decided that we wanted to try the Sloppy Joe's recipe first- Friday night comfort food!
I love that you get the exact amounts for each dish you make within the box and the veg all seemed really fresh- a lot nicer than in a sweaty packet from the supermarket!
The Sloppy Joe's recipe included a mixture of delicious spices; some brown sugar, vinegar and Worcester sauce- OHH this has made me rethink all the other mince dishes we usually make- we don't usually add this much seasoning but we will do in the future as not only did it make the kitchen smell amazing but the flavours were so rich and tasty!
The box also included all of the bits needed to make a sesame slaw with organic mayo- I'd never thought of adding sesame seeds to a slaw but my word it was amazing.
Feast your eyes on these beauties....



 Me and the Mr decided this would be a great time to start making some Youtube videos so here is how we put the dish together-


We absolutely loved this recipe- its going to be one we try out again very soon. The flavours of the meat were out of this world amazing and the slaw is going to be a regular dish of ours I think- I love the sesame seed flavour with the radishes.

Keep an eye out for our next creation from the box later on this weekend!

Check out Riverford's recipe boxes here

XOXOX




Monday, 25 May 2015

Sheffield Food Festival treats

Afternoon all! 

I hope you are all having a lovely relaxing bank holiday?

On Saturday I popped into Sheffield city centre to have a browse around the Sheffield Food Festival. The festival is into its fifth year and provides local producers and resturanteurs the opportunity to share their products and cooking ideas with people from across the city.

The 2015 festival promised to be tastier than ever before with a full artisan food market and lots of delicious street food traders dotted around the city centre. There was also a festival demo tent in which the professional local chefs were given the opportunity to share their culinary secrets with the public. When i visited the tent Justin from Silversmiths was there with one of his chef's cooking up a rather tasty dish, talking through how to select the right herbs and spices.


I loved spending an hour or so having a peruse around the stalls and seeing what products they had to offer- of course its always a bonus to have a little sample of their tasty treats too!

I am a huge lover of hummus so when I saw that Hummusija had a stall on at the Peace Gardens I had to pop over and try some.



Hummusija try to be as organic as possible- all the vegetables they use to prepare the hummus comes from a local farm and they even pack the hummus in compostable tubs! They swear by soaking their chickpeas for 12 hours and then boiling them before getting down to making the tasty hummus.  



They had three types of hummus on offer- their original hummus, a vibrant beetroot hummus and a coriander and lemon hummus. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Manuka Doctor review!

Evening lovelies,

As you may have seen in my goody bag blog post a few weeks back we were provided with some sample packs from Manuka Doctor. Along with the sample packs Manuka Doctor sent me a full size product to try out and share my thoughts on it with you all!

They sent me a 40ml pot of the ApiRefine Illusionist Rapid Lift Mask from the Apirefine range and it promises a lot. Here are the bits mentioned on the packaging-

-Rapid lift skin plumping mask that brightens and smooths skins appearance
-Visibly enhances radiance
-Leaves skin feeling firmer and appears more toned and youthful
-Helps to reduce the appearance of pores and wrinkles


Manuka Doctor's skin care range combines the potency of Purified Bee Venom with the healing benefits of Manuka Honey (here's a link to a page about the benefits of Manuka Honey). 

Their skin care range is designed to combat an array of issues from blemishes to signs of ageing. All their products are 100% bee friendly and although there are lots of other brands out in the beauty world using bee venom within products, Manuka Doctor is unlike any other- they use a purified form of the bee venom. They remove any unwanted particles after the venom from the hive which means higher purity and potency of their formulation.


Of course my main question was "How does this affect the bees that you collect it from?!"
The way they extract the venom is pretty clever actually- heres a video about how they do it. Manuka Doctor bloody love bees so they ensure the process that they use doesn't affect the well being of the little buzzy things. Bee venom products have been described as 'natures answer to botox' so I was really keen to get on and give it a go! 

RedBrick Mill shopping day!

Afternoon lovelies!

A few weeks back Lorna and I visited Redbrick Mill in Batley. This place is basically heaven for anyone who loves buying bits to spruce up their home.. I fit fully into that category for sure!
They have a great website where you can have a browse at all the brands they stock and also check out any offers and events they might have on before you visit. 


Lorna has published a rather brilliant post about the 3/4 hours we spent at RedBrick Mill here but I wanted to share a few photos of some of my fave items that I spotted as we walked around the many sections of the store! Redbrick don't actually sell through their website but I've managed to find links to sites where you can buy the items if you don't get a chance to visit the store!


The lighting section of Redbrick is by far the best lighting section I’ve seen in any department store in a long time- they have some really stunning statement lighting pieces that I would love to have in my home one day! Redbrick stock a large selection of lighting pieces by Heals and I must say i fell in love with a few bits-


This lightbox is something im seriously thinking of purchasing very soon… I love how the face is interchangeable so you can add different quotes to match your mood. The pack comes with a selection of different faces but also a blank sheet for you to do some DIY on- I’m SUCH a sucker for motivational quotes so I'd choose something along those lines so create an extra sheet. 


Oh i NEED this right now!These Vegaz lights are also made by Heals. If I wanted to spell 'Holly' it would set me back a whopping £1717.. maybe just a 'H' will do eh!


These beaut Plumen bulbs caught my eye.. I'd love to have a couple of these in my attic room eventually.. although I don't have a bloody clue how you fit them!?


Aren't these mugs just super cute?!


The homewares selection at Redbrick is so huge.. I got slightly over excited by everything and didn't snap as many photos as I'd planned!


In the general homeware department I was instantly drawn to the Tom Dixon range-


I love this marble chopping board- i'm so in to marble at the moment so this is going on my kitchen wishlist for sure! If i was to have this in my kitchen I would use it to serve nice breads on and use the gold dish part for balsamic oil in for dipping. 


OH how ascetically pleasing is this pestle and mortar?! Marble and gold..kitchen accessory heaven for me! I'd be making pesto a lot with this!


I also spotted these amazing bookmarks made from etched sheet brass.. the pointing hand is my fave!



The Tom Dixon candle range is dreamy too... copper, gold and silver candles. The larger candles have marble tops on them. OHHH these hit everything I am loving at the moment..candles,marble and copper!

After lusting over the Tom Dixon range at Redbrick, I've been looking through the Tom Dixon website and found some amazing pieces that I'd love to buy.. one day!



Of course I couldn't come away from a homewares place without buying something, so I picked up this cute Heals cushion. It was originally £37 but reduced to £10- bargain! 


Although this one isn't on the Heals website anymore there are some gorgeous ones available here

Have you visited Redbrick Mill before? 
Which brand is your fave for homeware?

XOXOX





Tuesday, 19 May 2015

My Hair Care Routine

Evening lovelies!

I used to hate the dreaded night of the hair wash and blow-dry.. it meant nearly 2 hours of faffing about with drying and styling only to leave me with limp dull looking hair. 

More recently though I've started to not see it as so much of a chore- mainly due to the fact I'm using the right tools after years of just making do. So I thought it only right to share some of my fave products with you all!

So first, the washing-I have never really found a shampoo that I thought "I must put that on next months shopping list".  As you may have seen on recent posts, we hosted a blogger event and Lush came to spend a few hours with us. After having a chat with the ladies they recommended I try one of their shampoo bars, Ultimate Shine. I'd seen these in their stores but never really paid a lot of attention to them as I thought it was a bit of a bizarre way of shampooing your hair but as they kindly gifted me one I thought I'd give it a go.


After the first use I was converted! All you do is wet your hair and rub the bar down your locks a few times then lather it up. I was really surprised to see how little product you need to use to get a good coverage. I love the smell of it too! As with most Lush products my bathroom sells like a sweet shop after using this which is just how I like it. I have noticed that my hair is noticeably shinier but I am having to wash it more than I would when using 'normal' shampoos. Fine by me though as I love the smell! Using Ultimate Shine has made me think about using one of their conditioner bars/conditioners... can you recommend any?

I always like to use a serum in my hair before I go in with my hairdryer so at the moment I am using the Lee Stafford Shine Serum*- this was one of the products I received in my #TheCityGirls goody bag. All you do it pump a pea sized amount into your hands and then run it through your damp hair- the beauty of this product is that if you accidentally put too much on all you need to do is blast with your hairdryer and the product melts away. I've noticed a considerable difference after using this serum- my hair is so much sleeker and less knotty!

Once I've put in the serum I then use my Tangle Teezer*to get rid of any knots- I love this little thing! I keep it in my handbag all the time now for quick fringe fixes throughout the day.


For my birthday in December I was treated to a new hairdryer- for me, the most important thing when drying my hair is that it's quick and easy to manoeuvre. My hairdresser had been talking about how good the GHD range were so I checked them out online. Yes they are bloody expensive but I'd heard so many good things on review sites and other blogs I thought it must be worth the money. I chose the GHD Air model which is £99.

The GHD Air's selling points are that it drys your hair in half the time. Its also got a mega powerful motor and advanced Ionic technology which helps reduce frizz and flyaway leaving your hair all nice and smooth- much like when you've been to a salon.

After trying this for the first time I completely agreed with the second point of leaving my hair soft and silky but the first point of quick drying was one that I had to work on- at first when I started using the hairdryer I would towel dry my hair then go straight in to blowdrying it straight. I actually found that it was taking just as long as my old crappy hairdryer so thought I'd watch a few Youtube videos (yes, I had a lot of time on my hands over xmas!) and realised where I was going wrong. A much quicker way is to roughly dry your hair until its 80% dry then go in with the brush to straighten it! I'm convinced that a lot of you will already know this but a girls gotta learn eh!

I love that this hairdryer has a 3 metres long cord- no more drying my hair in a small vanity mirror as I can reach my full length mirror.. woo.. little things eh!

I use the BodyShop Paddle Bamboo Brush when drying my hair- although I could do with a nice round brush for my fringe this one works really well at giving me a sleek finish.



Once I'm all dried and smelling delicious from the Lush Shampoo bar I then move on to styling- sometimes I go for a sleek straight look so get the straighteners on it but most of the time I just leave it with a slight natural wave- yay for less effort! 

If I want to go for more of a defined curl I have recently been using the Babyliss Pro Porcelain Conical Wand* in the mid length sections of my hair. I love this wand as its not got one of those annoying clamp things so you don't end up with a very unnatural clink in your curls!

 If I'm prepping for a night out I've been using the Fudge Unleaded SkyScraper* hair spray to add fix and then lightly brush it out to make the curls drop slightly and give me a bit of bounce.  This hairspray smells amazing- Apple and Coconut flavour..YUM! I don't use this everyday though as its a pretty strong hold (although its a medium hold spray) but for nights out when I want my hair to stay firmly in place it does the job well. Can you recommend me a good daytime hairspray?

Last but no means least are the Kodo Bobbles*. These little things are AMAZING! I love that I can pop my hair up when going to bed and in the morning wake up with no kinks to deal with. I am for sure going to be binning all my other hairbands as these are SO the way forward! Also another plus point is that they are more substantial than your normal Primark hair bobbles so I haven't lost any to the invisible hairband and hair-grip thief that lives in my house- WHERE DO THEY ALL GO!?

Must dash.. off to wash my hair!


XOXOX

(The Babyliss Wand,Kobo Bobbles, Tangle Teezer and the Fudge hairspray were all gifted to me by JustMyLook.co.uk. The Lee Stafford Serum was gifted to me in #TheCityGirls goody bag- my opinions on the items are 100% my own of course!)


Saturday, 16 May 2015

#TheCityGirls blogger event feedback!

Hello lovelies!

So since our first event we have been overwhelmed by all the attention #TheCityGirls have had... we've had a huge amount of people from across the UK (plus a few from overseas!)emailing,tweeting and instagramming us to say how much they'd like to attend our events- WOW is the only word I have.. little did I know when we started planning our event back in January that we would be in such high demand around the UK and it honestly feels great.

A few days after the first event we decided to send out a survey to the 30 bloggers that attended to ask for some feedback- although not everyone has responded (tut tut!) its been really great to get some insight into what people thought of the event and what we could do to improve our events in the future. All the responses were anonymous.

So... in this post I just wanted to share some of the bits that came out from the survey!

We asked the bloggers to answer a few questions, ranging from how they found the event overall, 
how they found the goodies we provided and also some questions on the future of #TheCityGirls events.

So....here's what we found-

Q1.On a scale of 1-10 how would you rank your enjoyment of the event?

A huge 83% of the ladies rated us a 10!

Q2. Who was your favourite brand featured on the day (the brand who attended in person)

This was a close one.. Lush came out top closely followed by Panache.


Picture from Leanne's blog
All the brands who came on the day were very interactive at the event of course but Lush bought with them some ingredients to make facemasks- who doesn't love making their fave products! 

Q3. In your opinion what was your fave product you received in your goody bag?


Picture from Charlotte's blog
As we expected from the beginning the Johanna Basford colouring book came out tops! I think that the bloggers liked that it was something they'd not received in a goody bag before- something completely different!

Pictures from Rebecca's blog
Heres what some of the bloggers said-

"The colouring book is one of the most beautiful things I've ever owned- I love being able to bring the pages to life by being as creative as I want with them"

"I loved receiving the colouring book- it was great to see an addition to the goody bag that wasn't beauty related"

"The colouring book is AMAZING"

Other items that got mentioned a number of times were-

The Yummy Lunch box from Mookau

Q4. What was your least favourite product?

We were very impressed with the responses to this question- we only had one product mentioned- that was the Blanx Teeth Whitening pen but this was only mentioned by 2 bloggers and their reasons were that the product isn't one they'd use. 

We loved reading-

"I didn't have a least favourite- I've actually used all the products unlike other events where I've ended up throwing some stuff away because it wasn't relevant"


Picture from Kayleigh's blog



Q5.  On the day we featured brands,goody bags and also some extra treats dotted around the room, what would you say your favourite was?

Voss came out on top here- closely followed by Penhaligons perfume samples.

Picture from Simone's blog
In the run up to the event Voss were amazing- they tweeted us daily, they shared our pages and also connected with all our bloggers. They really are an amazing company to work with for events!

Q6. Have you blogged about the event?

73% of people who responded to the questionnaire said they'd already blogged about the event-  its now more than 2 weeks since the event and although we would have a loved a few more posts up we understand that people are busy with exams and life in general so we are pretty happy!
Myself and Lorna, from the minute the event was over, were stressing about this one- we know how important it is to the brands we work with that they get sufficient coverage via #TheCityGirls events- it means they are more likely to work with us in the future and that we can share their products with more bloggers across the UK at our other events. Sharing really is caring in this situation- you share your pictures, thoughts and experiences about a product could mean in the future another group of bloggers get to try that product at our events!

Q7.  In the future, we may start charging for these events- not so we can make some money out of it, but more so to cover the cost of things in the run up to events like food and venue charges. We do not plan to make a profit from our events. This does not affect the goody bag or featured brands. 

Controversial one eh! We want to stress to people who may already be planning on coming to an event of ours in the future that IF we do start selling tickets they aren't going to cost the earth, Lorna and I aren't going to be splashing your hard earned cash on fancy new shoes,expensive makeup and flashy cars- we are going to be investing all the money back into the events we put on. For our first event my mum stumped up £100 to pay for the food we provided on the day (THANKS MUMMA!) so its stuff like this we'd use the money for. As mentioned in the question the goody bags will NEVER be affected by this- the items in the bags are always gifted to us by companies who expect to see coverage (advertising) through our events- we do know that some people come to these types of events for solely the social aspect but would those people want to leave without a goody bag full of free stuff to feature on their blog like the rest of the bloggers who attend? I highly doubt it! We worked out that if each blogger wanted to do individual posts on every item they received in the goody bag their blog would have content for a fair few weeks!

All that being said, a whopping 86% said they would pay to come to our events in the future- this is an amazing bit of feedback that tells us we are doing something right if people would part with their cash to come to something we've organised! The majority of people who responded said they'd pay between £10-14 to come along!

Some of the things i've learnt since our first event-

1. Dont panic
Everything will come together as our friends and family are there to support us throughout the whole experience- on the day of our event I was horribly snappy and short with my mum (SORRY MUMMA!) because I was nervous/worried/apprehensive about everything!

2. Don't buy balloons and transport them by taxi
We spent a whopping £30 on 4 lots of balloon table arrangements. After a rather crazy ride in a cab we ended up losing a few single balloons and the rest ending up in a tangle.

3. Take more photos
This is one i'm personally going to have to work on over the next few events- although we had a few lovely volunteers on hand to take photos for us its never the same as how you'd snap your own pictures of a moment/event. 

4. Vary the goody bags
Big one we are going to be taking forward to our next event- we loved reading all the posts from all our bloggers but we realised for people who didn't come to the event it may be slightly repetative if they follow all the bloggers and see all the same items in their posts!

5. ALWAYS blog about other events we are invited to in the future
Me and Lorna have both added this one to our book of blogger etiquette now- not that we didn't have it before but we didn't realise how important it is to provide that coverage to brands that organise these types of things. Yeah its some full time peoples jobs to plan events but it doesn't mean they have worked any less hard on it. You would not believe the amount of hours we spend planning these events! We think we now know what PR companies are looking for when they offer out opportunities to bloggers- good pictures, relevant content,good social media activity/linkage and most importantly well written posts. 


Finally... I'd like to thank all the ladies who have blogged about the event already! We love reading your take on the day and it really makes me feel proud that we managed to make so many people happy!

Here are the links to their blogs-

Lorna










Kirsty

Lucy

Leanne


Rinica

Rebecca

Kayleigh

 Jo

Vikki

Amelie


Sophie



XOXOX