Tuesday, 30 June 2015

#TheCityGirls giveaway

Hello lovelies,

Just a quick post from me today as the last week has been rather busy.. organising goody bags and such like for our Leeds event on the 11th!

I've been perusing our goody bag items today and realised we have a few extra bits that we'd like to give away to 2 bloggers... we like to share with bloggers who haven't had the chance to come to our events yet! We'd love it if you did a post on the bits included in the bags and we will even pick up some extra goodies on the day from the brands involved to pop in for you too!


Of course our events aren't just about the freebies but we know everyone loves a goody bag.So... if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a goody bag then just use the rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway




Closing date for entries is the 11th July at 4pm- only open to UK bloggers at the moment.

XOXOX

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Panache HQ Blogger Evening

Morning lovelies!
After the success of our first #TheCityGirls event in Sheffield I wanted to keep up the momentum of the meet ups for us local bloggers so recently I organized a meet up at Panache’s head office in Sheffield! 
Panache came to our first event in Sheffield and the lovely Zehra from the marketing team was happy to help organize an evening of learning more about the brand, their design process and everything undie related. I got together a group of local bloggers- some who came to our first CityGirls event and some new faces! It was nice to have a mix; some knew a bit about Panache and owned a set after our last event and the newbies got the opportunity to be measured and feast their eyes on the collections by Panache.
Once all the bloggers had arrived we made our way to the Panache creative meeting room. The ladies had put on a lovely spread of sarnies,cakes,fruit and drinks for us enjoy during the evening- this was very much appricaited as most of us had come directly from work and not had the chance to pick anything up on the way! We then got to meet the lovely ladies who hosted the event; Jenny, Debbie and Alisha. Between them they organise the marketing department, product design,sales organisation and customer analysis- they run in perfect sync to ensure that each season the collections are on point with fashion, suitable for their customer base and most of all, uphold the Panache reputation of the comfy fitting bra's. They all work alongside with the directors of the company, The Power brothers. Panache has been designing and producing underwear for the past 30 years, with offices in Sheffield, NYC and China.
 The team spend a huge amount of time researching trends for up coming seasons using platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.They take into account ideas from catwalk fashion and expectations from their loyal customer base and then feed this inspiration to their design teams in the form of mood boards to help get their creative juices flowing. Whilst all this is going on they have to take into account materials they use and ensure that each piece is inline with their customers expected price expectations.

Panache have a huge loyal customer base as they provide both on trend pieces and day to day bra's and knickers that mean a customer can always expect the highest quality fit and design. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Retropacks-Subscription Box Review

Hello lovelies,

This week I received my first Retropacks delivery and wanted to share with you its contents and my thoughts on the service and prints.
I love using Instagram and post at least one photo most days but thinking about it I haven't ever physically held those photos or been able to look at them away from a screen- this is where Retropacks comes in handy!

Retropacks is a monthly subscription service that allows you to choose your 3 fave photos from your Instagram to be printed and sent directly to you to use for your photowalls,scrapbooks and even gifting to a friend! 

Earlier this year I backed Retropacks on their Kickstarter project- this meant that when they got fully funded I  received a pack of 25 prints- the fun bit began when I registered on the website and had the chance to scroll right back to the beginning of my Instagram feed to select the photos that meant something to me and that I would like to put up around the house to remind me of those moments.

The Packaging 

When it comes to the packaging of subscription boxes I like to know whether its going to cause me added hassle on delivery day- am I'm going to have to visit the post office collection depot every month to pick it up? If yes, I'm less likely to sign up for it. Retropack's have thought of this too and have ensured that their packaging is letterbox friendly.. woooo!
Inside the box are your selected photos, all nicely cushioned to avoid damage.
They also include some promo bits- their contact details and website info. I hear that in the coming months they are going to be including a 'Featured Retropack Member' card per month- meaning that not only does the subscription box mean you get your photos but it also helps you connect with other Instagrammers you might not already be connected to!

The photos

When choosing my snaps I decided to separate them into 3 groups- this is because I have different things planned for each set of photos.

Family.......
These are some of my most loved family moments from my instagram feed- me and the Mr, holidays in France with the parents, Christmas day with my cousin, beach times in Wales, my doggy Ffion, adventures on my Bobbin bike and a photo from when I was a little one with my dad! 

I plan to put these ones up around the house, in the lounge probably as they are moments that both me and the Mr enjoyed at the time and want to remember.  I might order one of those photo wire things with clips so i can display them across the fireplace. 

India..... 
Back in 2013 I went to India on a business trip for 9 weeks- I'd only just started to get into photography and blogging so you probably won't have seen much of my trip online..this is something that I regret but at least I have a few photos to remind me of the time I spent there both on instagram and now physical copies from Retropacks! The Mr wasn't on this trip with me so although he can appreciate the photos they don't mean as much to him as they do to me so I thought why not use these ones for scrapbooking!Throughout the trip I saved some of my tickets,leaflets and some of the lovely letters and cards given to me by my Indian colleagues so I think these could look really great presented in a nice scrapbook with some of my memories jotted down! 

 Other special photos.....
These photos are ones that I've taken and thought "That needs to go in a frame" or "I must add this to our growing photo/art wall"- so now I have copies of them thats what I'm going to do!

This one is from when I visited my parents in Wales- it was a cold afternoon and we decided to take Ffion out for a walk- I forgot to take my wellies so had to borrow my grannys shoes! I like all the colours in this one and think its one that I'd like to put up on the wall in a little frame. 
This one is of a pretty bit of wall art I found near Castle Market in Sheffield a few years back- I don't know whether its still there but i hope so. I love the contrast between the rough and ready graffiti and the dainty girl!

This, again is one I took in Wales on the same rainy day as the spotty dog photo. I like all the different textures throughout the shot, the harshness of the strong water, the overgrown grasses and then the bare trees backed up with the grey sky. 
This one is again of a piece of wall art I spotted in Sheffield near where I used to live. Its on the window of an old disused pub. Each time we used to pop out to the shops the faces on the building would draw in my attention so I decided one day just to take pictures of them all. 

Another thing I should mention is that on the back of each photo is the date you took the photo, the location it was taken (if you added this to Instagram) and the caption you added to the photo along with the hashtags!


The photo's from Retropacks are such good quality- they are so well printed and the colours are just as vivid as they are on my phone screen- I'm really impressed and have already been telling everyone I know to sign up to the service. Its £4.99 per month and at the moment if you sign up you get your first month for free!

You can sign up for the service by visiting the website here (they open up for new customers on the 25th June) and also follow them on Twitter and Instagram!

Lewis, the creator of Retropacks, just so happens to be my very talented little brother too so show him some love and check out his blog for Retropacks here




Do let me know your thoughts on the prints and his website, he's always open to feedback!

XOXOXO

Sunday, 14 June 2015

#IamSIA Degree Fashion Show

I am delighted to be able to share this post after such an amazing evening at the #IamSIA degree fashion show at Sheffield Hallam University. I was invited to go along and thought I'd get together a small group of bloggers from Sheffield to go along and see the amazing pieces the 3rd year students created for their end of year show. 

Throughout this post I'm going to be sharing photos of the pieces that caught my eye on the evening- I have also put together a video of the whole show that I will add to the end of this post!

I was really impressed with the quality of the students Lookbooks- I loved being able to get a feel for how their work developed in the months(years!) running up to the event. I admire their creativity massively!


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Henny and Joes Chai Syrup cheesecakes

Evening lovelies!

A few weeks ago my I was chatting to my mum about her latest baking adventures when we got onto her most recent love; Henny & Joes Chai Syrup.. she's recently used it to make chai latte's and chai ice-cream and I was intrigued to find out more about it and whether it would be something I could incorporate into my much loved cheesecakes I occasionally make.

Henny & Joes is the creation of Ash Bailey from Bath and named after his two sons; Henry and Joseph.. how cute! Over the years Ash worked in a number of different bars and restaurants that all served chai lattes but he found that most of the syrups used in the drinks contained artificial additives. He decided that he wanted to take some time to perfect his own recipe and lead the way in the all- natural chai revolution! Recently the chai infusion has won 'Taste of the West Gold Award 2015'. 

I was lucky enough to be sent a bottle to test out and thought I'd share with you my recipe and a few photos of the finished treats to tempt you into the world of chai!

(Large bottle £14.95)
The chai syrup is made using a blend of aromatic whole spices- these being cardamon, cimmamon,cloves,ginger,allspice, vanilla, star anise,nutmeg, fennel seed and mixed spices topped of with sugar and water making it 100% natural. The smell of the syrup reminds me of my time in India sipping away on chai tea whilst enjoying the sights and sounds of the busy city I worked in. 

I love making no bake cheesecakes as they are so easy to put together- the less hassle the better for me when it comes to making deserts or baking- I have no patience!

So.. what did I use?

250g Mascarpone
250g soft cheese
200g icing sugar
300g ginger snaps
a generous plug of Henny & Joes
75g unsalted butter

1. Place your ginger nut (or plain digestive biscuits) into a sealable freezer bag, push out all of the air and then get bashing with a rolling pin- be careful not to split the bag though.. no-one wants biscuits all over the kitchen!
2. Once you've taken all our anger out on the biscuits then you need to melt the butter over a low heat in a saucepan. Then once melted remove from the heat and add your biscuit crumbs and mix throughly until combined.
3. Press the buttery crumbs into a cheesecake dish or individual cupcake cases like I did and then pop into the fridge to cool whilst you make the topping. 
4. For the topping you need to combine the cream cheese and mascarpone in a large bowl- you can use an electric hand wisk for this bit if you like and blend together until the cheeses are light and fluffy. 
5. Add the icing sugar bit by bit until all is combined with the cheese mix.
6. Add the Henny & Joes syrup to the mixture of creamed cheeses and icing sugar- we added about a shot glass full of it. If you want to add more to the mix just make sure you add a bit more icing sugar to balance it out and avoid it being too runny.
7. Remove your biscuit bases from the fridge and spoon over the topping mixture ensuring that you share it out equally.. we don't want mini cheesecakes without enough lovely chai mix on do we?

8. Once you've covered each of the bases in the topping you can then add some additional treats on top to pretty them up- I went for blueberries.
9. Pop the tray in the fridge for them to cool for about 3 hours.
10. Take them out and enjoy!


Ohhhh these were so delicious- I love the gingery taste from the biscuit base with the creamy chai topping. The blueberries worked really well too with this combination, a nice sharp tangy taste to add to the smooth deep chai flavour. 


Now that I've nailed the cheesecake recipe I want to start adding Henny & Joes Syrup to other  recipes/cocktails/hot drinks and this is where you guys come in! 

I have 3 small bottles to give away and thought it would be nice to see what ideas you come up with on how you'd use the chai to spice things up a bit!




The 3 winners will be notified on Sunday 21st June via Twitter.

XOXOX





Tuesday, 9 June 2015

How to get invited to our blogger events

Hello lovelies,

As you may have seen if you follow #TheCityGirls on twitter (@thecitygirlsuk) we are in the midst of planning another event!

We've had tons of people asking whether they can come and its been my job to have a browse through all the blogs and build our guest list. Although I love planning these events this is the bit I get stressed about. I thought I'd share a questions I go through with you so you get an idea of how the process works-

1.Who are you?
Our inbox is pretty full of emails and for me to sift through them is so satisfying but when bloggers email and don't add any information of their blog or twitter it makes the process a lot harder to find out more about you and your blog! This time round we had 120 bloggers wanting to come to our event and we needed to narrow it down to 37- if I can't see who you are and where you blog its rather hard to see whether this event is the one for you to attend!

2. Are you active?
As you may be aware we provide goody bags at our events- for us to be able to put these together we have to contact companies and a lot of the time they ask for a spreadsheet of who we have invited/who wants to come. This is so they can vet whether our events are hitting the mark on suitability and whether their products are going to be put to good use by bloggers- if you haven't blogged since before xmas its pretty unlikely that a large company would offer you a £30 item as they don't have the belief that you'd then blog about it. This is why we have to take into account activity on your blog- do you post once a week? Great! do you post three times a week? Brilliant! Do you post once every month and sometimes miss a month out? Not so great.

3. Do you fit with the theme of the event?
We, at the moment, are only hosting events to do with beauty and fashion.. its what we know and feel comfortable with but in the near future we are going to be branching out into other areas of the blogging world. So, for this one it would be silly for us to invite someone who blogs JUST about food, JUST about children's parties, JUST about organic natural products, JUST about books or JUST about bricklaying. You get where I'm going with this right? Say you are a food blogger who visits restaurants and then blogs about your meal and the service provided is it likely you'd then want to stick a random post in your blog about an event in which you received a ton of beauty related bits? We need to take this into consideration and think whether you'd be better suited to an event we have planned in the future! We love reading blogs that are so different from ours and we can't wait to start planning events to do with all these other topics (maybe not bricklaying though....) so keep your eyes peeled for updates!

4. Do you link back to all sites from your blog?
By this I mean link back to the sites you purchased something from/ received an item from. If I look through a blog and can't work out where you bought something from then it makes it difficult for me to convince the brands we have involved that they will get the coverage they are involved with the event for. For example, today I received an email from a large chain of stores who provided us with items for our last event, they said "We'd love to be involved in your next event Holly as we got so much coverage from your last event and saw our site traffic increase via the bloggers who wrote about our products"- now thats an amazing email to receive and we need to ensure that this continues after every event we host.

5. Social media following
To us, this doesn't really matter, whether you've got 10,000 followers or 10 as long as your blog is good quality and we can see you are active on social media then why not give you opportunities to expand your blogger network and provide you with blog content from the event and the goody bag?However, we know some brands are all about their numbers so we do have to take it int consideration slightly.. only slightly though as we all have to start somewhere don't we?!

6. Have you loved us before?
If you've been to our first event then at the moment we aren't opening up the invite to you ladies again at this point- we want to share the blogger love with everyone else who hasn't had the chance to experience an afternoon with us all! As much as we'd like to we've had some of the brands asking us "Are you inviting new bloggers or the same ones as before because we'd like to branch out further?"
We are however planning smaller events in Sheffield to keep the #TheCityGirls up and running.. in each city we visit our aim is to bring bloggers together, have a cracking afternoon and then leave you guys to then continue with the networking between yourselves or with us involved.. for me, here in Sheffield, its easy as there aren't tons of bloggers about so I've planned another mini event with Panache next week and I know that Lorna hopes to do similar smaller meet ups in Leeds after the event next month.

8. Have you been to our event/another event and blogged about it?
This one is a bit more difficult for us to figure out if you haven't been to one of our events already but if you have.. have you blogged about it? At the last event we provided goody bags that were worth more than £100 but more importantly worth SO much of mine and Lorna's time- I literally took days off from my full time job to sit at my computer emailing brands and building up relationships with PR companies so we love it when we see in depth coverage/any coverage of the goodies we provided. If you didn't blog about the event or the goody bag its probably unlikely that your name will be top of the list to come again this early on in our blogging event journey as we need to ensure everyone who comes gives us the support we need as newbies to this event thing. If we can see that you've been to a whole host of other events (via twitter or insta) but nothing makes it onto your blog then this will be something that makes us consider whether we'd get the attention we need on your blog too.

9. Finally... For our Leeds event we only have 37 spaces to offer! We'd love to invite everyone but we can't! That's why we have other events planned for other places around the UK. Keep an eye out for other events by following us on Twitter @thecitygirlsuk

So... I know some of these points might not sit well with everyone but I'm at the stage where I spend so much of my time planning our lovely events that it has to result in something tangible afterwards for both us and you as bloggers so please don't hate on me too much!

I hope these points don't rock the boat too much but I'm open to discussions too if you'd like to leave a comment about anything I've mentioned.

Thanks,

Holly

XOXO






The Body Shop event: Sheffield

Hello lovelies!

Have you popped into the Bodyshop recently? I was invited last week to go and check out some of the new products they have on offer along with some lovely blogger treats!
After grabbing some snacks and a beaut Virgin Mojito cocktail (and drinking it very quickly!) the lovely Bodyshop ladies started the chats about the products they'd chosen to feature that evening.  
Firstly they talked us through the new Virgin Mojito range- this smells just like my go-to cocktail... really zesty and fresh. My fave products out of the line are the body sorbet and the body splash- I like the sorbet as it acts as moisturiser and still leaves you smelling fresh and limey its melted into your skin. The Body Splash is a body fragrance with a bit of a difference- rather than a spray it has a little hole in the top so you can just splash it over your skin once you've moisturised. The Bodyshop ladies recommended to layer the products up right from the shower gel to the body splash to keep smelling deliciously Mojito like all day!
Once we'd all been suitably slathered in mojito products we then moved onto skin care demo's- using items from the Vitamin C range, Vitamin E range, Camomile range and the Drops of Youth range
I volunteered to have all my makeup taken off so that the lovely skincare lady could demo the products on me, she used quite a few different products- at my count it was 6 products before my makeup went back on- I don't think this is something I'd do every day but there were 3 items that I'd love to try in the future-

Vitamin C Facial Cleansing Polish- Loved the sweet orangey smell of this cleanser and the facial brush she used with this was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G however.. I can't find it on the website.. when I do.. i'l be buying it for sure!
Drops Of Youth Wonderblur- I'm always on the look out for a good primer but a lot of the primers I've used in the past have been way to chemically smelling for my liking but this one isn't at all. It left my skin feeling soft and it really helped reduce the appearance of pores around my nose. 

Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet- I didn't have this product on my face but tried it on the back of my hand. Loved this sorbet a lot- I can imagine taking this on holiday and popping it in the fridge ready to use when I need a nice cool down. 
Once we'd finished the skincare demo's we were then shown some of the makeup collection, now I was naughty and only got one photo of the bits they used on me but I just wanted to mention the Honey Bronze Highlighting Dome- this could be the answer to all my contouring issues! I struggle getting contouring right so anything to make it a bit easier is great in my eyes- I love the design of this product- Its a little dome of product (similar to the EOS balms) and all you do is apply it straight to your cheeks and then blend- it comes in 3 shades- Golden, Pink and Bronze!
Of course we were all provided with a lovely goody bag at the end of the event-
The bag included-

Sample pots of-
Mojito Sorbet- can't wait to try this!
It wouldn't be possible to go to a Bodyshop event without picking up a few extra treats so heres what I went for-
Vitamin C Energising Face Spritz (£10.00)- I got this as a freebie as I signed up for the Love Your Body reward card- this has quickly become my go-to facial spritz.. its refreshing and smells so delicious! I seem to have a growing collection of spritz's and this one is my fave at the moment!
Pomegranate and Raspberry fragrance oil (£4.00)- I'm pretty obsessed with fragrance oils and the Bodyshop ones always seem to hit the mark for me.. lovely and fruity. 

Camomile Sumptious cleansing butter (£12.00)- I actually bought this 2 weeks ago but I knew I was going to the event at the time so thought I'd save this to blog about all in one go. I, for the past 2 years, have been using the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish but more recently I've noticed that it was making my hands really dry after using it so it began to get me a little worried about what it was doing to my face- although I still Liz Earle and will go back to it at some point in the future I felt that my skin needed a new cleanser, I read on lots of skincare blogs that its always good to change your cleanser every once in a while so opted for this cleansing balm. As I've been using it for more than 2 weeks I can safely say that this has done my skin wonders! A lot of people have recently commented on how clear and healthy my skin looks so it must be working its magic! I like the fact that its in a tin and I can see how much I'm using unlike the pump bottles of cleanser. 

Camomile Waterproof Eye & Lip Make-up Remover (£8.00) love love love this product so much! I have recently run out of my Lancome Bi-Facil remover and has a bit hesitant to spend £21.50 on another bottle so thought I'd give the Bodyshop one a go. This, without doubt, is just as good as the Lancome one- it removes all my mascara and eyeliner in 2 sweeps of a cotton wool pad and doesn't sting my eyes at all. Its suitable for contact lenses wearers too which is always handy!

I really enjoyed this event- I was slightly apprehensive as the event was held on the same night as the Meadowhall Ladies Night so I assumed the store would be overrun by people and we wouldn't get the full experience but I was so wrong- the ladies who talked us through the items really knew their stuff and were truthful about what they'd recommend for my skin type and needs! I'd love to go to another Bodyshop event in the future and learn more about their less known ranges... as I'm getting closer to the big 30 I am finding that the really sweetly scented products I'd have liked a few years ago are too much for me so I'm all for the more naturally scented items.

Can you recommend any items from the Bodyshop?

XOXOX


Monday, 1 June 2015

The Liquorist Leeds- Lead us to temptation!

Evening all!
This weekend just gone Lorna and I were invited to have lunch at a new restaurant in Leeds, The Liquorist.

The outside of the building is so gorgeous, I love the grey lick of paint they've given it and the perfectly preened plants in window boxes- it really looks like a big victorian house you'd expect to see on the seafront in Brighton.
We were excited to see the inside of the restaurant as the pictures on their website are stunning and when we arrived we weren’t disappointed. The restaurant feels really light and airy with beautiful touches of vintage glam to be seen all over- from picture collages and foody quotes to chandelers and rather fancy looking booths.