Sunday, 15 November 2015

DIY Beauty | #MiraMessMakers

There's no doubt about it, in my lifetime I've spent an absolute fortune on beauty products.  It's a shameful amount really, particularly when you consider how much of the stuff you buy in Boots and Superdrug, [particularly when it comes to bodycare) doesn't seem to have a lot to it.

You can probably see then why I was intrigued when Mira Showers and Midas Touch Crafts challenged me to whip up some beauty products of my very own as part of their #MiraMessMakers campaign?

A quick Google of DIY beauty made it obvious there were so many different things I could make, but I decided to start simple and stick with some favourites product types, and those that I could make with just a few ingredients...


The ingredients: Coconut oil, vitamin e tablet, vanilla extract or vanilla essential oil, cocoa powder.

The method: Add a couple of generous spoons of coconut oil to a bowl, squeeze in a vitamin c tablet, a couple of drops of vanilla extract and follow with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.  Give everything a vigorous stir to incorporate and decant into whatever storage you fancy.  I bought a little kilner jar especially for the occasion, if I was feeling fancy I might even have decorated it.

The result: Oh em gee, this stuff smells good, and it works pretty nicely too.  I get a bit dry on my upper arms and elbows and the combination of the coconut oil and vitamin E is rich and soothing, great on damp skin just after a shower.  I'll definitely make something like this again on occasion, but might mix up the scented ingredients a bit.


The ingredients: Brown sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and coconut oil

The method: I used a heaped tablespoon of brown sugar and added a large pinch of cocoa powder and a smaller pinch of cinnamon.  Finally I used a heaped teapspoon of coconut oil and stirred my concoction well until everything was mixed.  I put my final product into an old lip scrub container from Lush, appropriate I thought!

The result: Ok, I definitely used entirely too much cocoa powder, resulting in a very dark lip scrub.  The colour hasn't changed the efficacy though, the sugar was just the right amount of scrubby and the coconut oil left my lips feeling lovely and nourished.  The chocolate and cinnamon were lovely flavours but I'd really like to try and recreate my favourite Lush lip scrub (Mint Julips if you're wondering) next time so will probably remove the cinnamon and add some mint essential oil. Yum!


Although I can't say I'll be cooking up new beauty products every week, I will definitely keep making my own lip scrub and might even venture into making some face masks with products from my kitchen.

Have you made your own beauty products before?  I'd love to hear about your favourite recipes!


Friday, 13 November 2015

My fave places in York | #ShopInYork

When Rodgers of York got in touch with me recently to ask if I fancied joining in their #ShopInYork campaign and writing about my favourite shopping haunts, I couldn't help but say yes.  You could call me a little biased, but my home city of York, however small, is perfectly formed when it comes to spending your hard earned cash

My fave places in York | #ShopInYork

The city centre is the obvious main attraction for visitors to the area.  The place is practically dripping in history, and down each of the cobbled streets you'll find a treasure trove of historic buildings and attractions sitting comfortably alongside restaurants, big name brands stores and smaller independent shops.

Of course our shopping in York is not limited to the city centre; only 5 or 10 minutes drive, or a short bus journey away, you'll find Monks Cross and the Vangarde Shopping Park.  There's a huge range here, from restaurants and coffee shops to furniture stores, beauty and fashion; literally something for everyone.

With so much variety, it proved a difficult task choosing some of my favourite places to shop and eat in York, but I gave it a good shot.  They're in no particular order, but if I'm out and about shopping on a weekend you can guarantee I'll hit up at least one of these places...

#ShopInYork | Neal's Yard Remedies, Give The Dog A Bone, John Lewis, Shared Earth

Neal's Yard Remedies (Low Petergate) - This little shop has a great apothecary vibe going on.  You can find the expected skincare, bodycare and makeup, but you can also get some health foods and supplements, the ethos being that it'll get you glowing inside and out.

Give The Dog A Bone (Fossgate) - Oh how I love this place.  Have a geeky passion that you need to represent in your home or wardrobe?  Or want to buy a card with an off-colour joke for that special someone with a great sense of humour?  Give The Dog A Bone will have something for you; their signage puts it perfectly: "Two floors of things you don't need but really really want!"

John Lewis (Vangarde Shopping Park) - A fabulous addition to York and so many great things under one roof.  I visit John Lewis for beauty products (like Nars and Hourglass) that I can't get anywhere else in the city.  Outside of that I love John Lewis for furniture, kitchen supplies and stationery.

Shared Earth (Minster Yard) - This is one of those cool little places that feels like a mini bazaar and sells all sorts of fair trade gifts and homewares from all over the world.  You can find me here when I want to stock up on funky candle holders, incense (yep I burn incense now and then) and dreamcatchers.

#ShopInYork | El Piano, Shambles Kitchen, Turtle Bay, Nando's

El Piano (Grape Lane) - For those in the know, I feel like El Piano is a bit of a York institution, although I only discovered it a few years ago, it's been around since 1997, and all the while has been serving up delicious vegan and gluten free food to locals and visitors alike.  With influences from India, Mexico, Spain and the US, there's always something tasty to eat here, I definitely don't visit often enough.

Shambles Kitchen (The Shambles) - I just hear the name of this little eaterie and my mouth waters.  It's fast food, no doubt about it, but healthy too.  They do wickedly tasty wraps, street food bowls and burritos (for meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans alike).  Fancy something lighter?  Their smoothie and juice menu is pretty epic too.

Turtle Bay (Stonegate) - Probably one of the newest bars and resturants in York, Turtle Bay arrived on the scene with a bang - obviously they serve some great Caribbean food, but my favourite thing about Turtle Bay is the drinks menu; on a night out and with happy hour in full swing, I'm all about the rum cocktails!

Nando's (Vangarde Shopping Park) - Sometimes you just need your food quick and dirty, and that's what Nando's is all sbout.  Admittedly, since I started eating a plant-based diet there are limited options on the menu, but give me a mushroom burger, some macho peas and fries with peri peri salt and I'm one happy camper.

Phew, that's a fair few places in York that I love and believe me when I tell you, there's so much more to discover here.

Visiting the city for the first time?  Catch me on Twitter and I'll happily give you more recommendations.  Until next time...

*This post was written in collaboration with Rodgers of York


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cheap Eats in York #TravelodgeTourist

Last week I was set a rather interesting challenge by Travelodge.  The brief: find lunch and dinner in my home city, for myself and Gaz for £50 or under - oh and no cheating by hitting up the fast food outlets.

Being a bit of a tourist trap, York isn't exactly known for mega cheap food and drink establishments, but I felt that as a proud York native, I could definitely rise to the occasion and find some interesting places to eat within the budget.  After canvassing the opinions of my friends and doing no small amount of research I think I made some pretty good picks too!


#TravelodgeTourist - Mannion & Co York

Mannion & Co is a bit of a hybrid deli, bakery and bistro, it's one of those places that all my friends have been raving about for lunch and brunch in the last year or two, but for some reason I just hadn't made it there.  Seeing the regular queues out of the door though, I couldn't wait to give it a try.
#TravelodgeTourist - Mannion & Co York

Despite the queues, Gaz and I were seated within 10 minutes at the social/sharing table and relaxing in the chilled atmosphere whilst having a leisurely read of the menu.  There were so many tasty looking things to choose from but after much deliberation we decided on china jasmine tea and mushrooms on toast (for me) and mojito mint tea with a smoked salmon sandwich (for him).
#TravelodgeTourist - Mannion & Co York

I loved that the tea was served in these cute cast iron teapots and was pleasantly surprised that the portions were generous and filling.  My mushrooms on toast were delicious, really savoury and buttery, just what I wanted and Gaz said that his smoked salmon was some of the best he's had.  He particularly liked the herby mascarpone that it was served with.
#TravelodgeTourist - Mannion & Co York

Lunch total:
Final verdict: It was a little on the pricey side for lunch, but all in all we left Mannion & Co feeling very satisfied.  They don't let you book a table, but the turnaround is pretty quick - join the queue and the mega friendly staff will have you seated in no time.


#TravelodgeTourist - Khao San Rd Thai Bistro

For those in the know, Khao San Rd Thai Bistro (still within York's city walls but definitely off the beaten tourist track) is a firm favourite.  It specialises in authentic Thai food, it doesn't skimp on the spice and flavour, and you can get a great meal there for not too much money.
#TravelodgeTourist - Khao San Rd Thai Bistro

Having become a bit of a regular in the last year I know the menu like the back of my hand and went for a tried and tested favourite, Pad Thai with tofu vegetables.  As always it was colourful, packed full of veg, a bit of welcome heat and was really tasty.  Of course I had to try a little bit of Gaz's main too, he went for a Pad Kee Mow (a noodle dish with vegetables and a hot, spicy sauce) with crispy belly pork.  I must admit I got a little food envy after tasting his but with the addition of the spicy potatoes as a side dish (seriously, please try these) I was a happy camper.
#TravelodgeTourist - Khao San Rd Thai Bistro

After having a couple of nights out early in the week Gaz and I were only drinking cokes, but Khao San Rd have a good drinks/wine menu if you're feeling that way inclined.
#TravelodgeTourist - Khao San Rd Thai Bistro

Dinner total:
Final verdict: Khao San Rd has a great reputation in York and because of that it gets booked up quick; the ever-accommodating staff will do their best to fit you in where they can though.


I had so much fun with this challenge so I've got to thank Travelodge for that - I didn't think I did too bad in York for under £50 either!  If you would have tried some different places, or even if you've tried Mannion & Co or Khao San Rd I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time...


Post written in collboration with Travelodge

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Work It Out Wednesday #4 | Keeping Myself Motivated

Woo, it's the return of Work It Out Wednesday!  It's been a shamefully long time since my last WIOW post, but honestly there hasn't been a whole lot to update on.

Towards the end of June my energy reached the lowest point it had been in forever, I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and it felt like my epilepsy was just totally kicking my arse.  Obviously not the best state to be working out in.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that after a good few weeks on new meds and taking care of myself a little better my energy is slowly getting back to where it used to be.  Great news for me, because it means I can get back on with the 90 Day SSS Plan.  You might remember I started the plan from The Body Coach a few weeks ago, but only got about 10 days in when my health took a nosedive.

I've been back on it again for just over two weeks now so am half way through cycle one, and although I'm not sure my weight is changing drastically yet, I'm loving the food (there's loads of it) and getting back into the swing of exercising.  My HIIT training has been surprisingly fun, I stuck to the treadmill for the most part the first time around, but am trying to mix it up with different equipment now, just to keep my interest up.

In the spirit of keeping my motivation going I've been keeping a quick daily diary to document how I'm finding the plan, this way I can look back on good days to give me some inspiration and maybe even post the highlights on here when I reach the end of each cycle.

As you can possibly tell I'm raring to go and I'd love to hear how you're getting on with your health and fitness goals.  Until next time...


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Food | Review of Winner Winner, York

Winner Winner in York is bloody awesome!  I know I'm supposed to be all balanced and stuff in my reviews, but sometimes you just can't hold back, and this is definitely one of those occasions.

I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I didn't find this little gem of a restaurant sooner, I mean it has everything I like, great food, quality cocktails and it's location on King's Staith (right on the riverside in York if you're not sure) is ideal!

Winner Winner Restaurant, York
Winner Winner Restaurant, York
At less than a year old, Winner Winner is doing brilliantly in the York restaurant scene, it has many a regular customer amongst my friends, and that number is only growing.  It's easy to see why too, from the all-American menu to the decor (seriously you could totally see Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives rocking up to do some filming) and everything in between, you can tell that the owners Jayne and Michael have loads of restaurant experience and a real passion for what they do.

The menu at this place is a bit of a revelation for York, it's the kind of American soul food that can often come out a bit sad and greasy when it's attempted, but here it's impeccable.  Each of the recipes was designed by Michael, inspired by a road trip he did in America; everything is made from scratch and most importantly its frickin tasty!

Winner Winner Restaurant, York
Winner Winner Restaurant, York

Gaz and I visited Winner Winner for the first time on a really sunny afternoon and despite how busy it was, we were seated and furnished with drinks really quickly; there was an abundance of great looking cocktails to choose from but for some reason we were being tee total, Gaz went for an iced vanilla latte and I had a raspberry iced tea, both drinks were really refreshing in the hot summer sun.

Thirst quenched, we hastily moved onto the food menu, and damn was there a lot to choose from!  There were breakfast dishes, salads, BBQ, seafood, burgers, honestly just every taste seems to be catered for.  Understandably I think, we took a while to choose what we wanted to try, but eventually went for hushpuppies to start (we shared) and for the main the rather intriguingly named Famous Porker (for Gaz) and the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner (for me). 

Winner Winner Restaurant, York
Winner Winner Restaurant, York

You can probably see from the picture that the portion of hushpuppies when it arrived was ginormous, so kind of anticipating the size of the mains I left most of them to Gaz.  The one I did try was delicous though.  Hushpuppies are kind of like deep fried balls of cornbread so they carry flavour well; these ones were a little bit cheesy and spicy and dipped in the 'gringo sauce', a really mild salsa, they were tasty as hell.

Not long after finishing the hushpuppies, the mains arrived!  I was assured by Gaz that the Famous Porker was delicious, it was a double cheeseburger, topped with pulled pork and served with fries.  I did try a little bit of the pulled pork, which was easily some of the best I've had (sorry Red's True BBQ) and his fries were perfect.

Winner Winner Restaurant, York

The Famous Porker couldn't compare to my Winner Winner Chicken Dinner though.  It combined two really fluffy delicious waffles with the most incredible fried chicken; all breast meat, skin off, coated in a really well-seasoned batter.  To top it off it came with a couple of slices of bacon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup.  There's a reason this savoury and sweet combo is a classic in parts of America, it was about as epic as food can get.

I really wish I'd have been able to sample more from Winner Winner on this first visit but I was so stuffed I couldn't if I tried.  Rest assured I'll be back though, probably lots, and in the very near future.

Haven't been to Winner Winner yet?  Check them out in all there awesomeness here, then jump in your car or get a taxi/bus/train, quick!  Don't worry, I'm sure they'll save you a table!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Food | Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce

It's been a hell of a long time since I did any cooking posts on my blog (way back in 2013 was the last time I think).  I'd been thinking for a while that I'd like post more recipes, and an opportune moment to jump back into it came when I heard about Age UK's campaign focusing on cooking healthy and nutritious meals for one.

Now obviously I'm married, but Gaz and I both lead such busy lives that each of us ends up cooking our own meals from time to time.  Age UK's advice got me thinking about the types of food I try to cook when I'm home alone and I want something fast, nutritious and versatile.  Of course it got me thinking about my tomato sauce...  I cook up big batches of it, use it as a base for loads of meals and it's damn tasty.  Read on if you'd like to know how to cook it...

Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce


1. An onion
2. Garlic
3. 1 tin/carton of chopped tomatoes
4. Oregano
5. A chili pepper (optional)
6. Oil (for cooking)
7. Salt and pepper, to taste

Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce


Chop your onions and garlic however you like, it doesn't have to be neat, you're just cooking for yourself here, who've you got to impress?  I always like to throw a chilli in my tomato sauce so I chop that up too.

Soften the onions and garlic for a few minutes in your oil (your chili pepper too if you're using it), until they're just translucent then add in your tinned tomatoes, a good sprinkle of the dried oregano (try 1/4 of a teaspoon to start) and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Leave it to cook for 5 minutes and hey presto in less time than it takes to cook up some pasta to enjoy it with, you've got a basic tomato sauce.  

It's a really easy recipe to double so you can cook up big batches and freeze it, but what's really great about it, is how versatile it is...

Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce
Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce


Here are just a few of the ways I transform this basic recipe to be used for lots different meals.

Arrabiata: Add some extra chopped chilis, a pinch of mixed herbs and some chopped ham to create a really delicious meaty sauce, serve with penne or rigatoni.  A sprinkle of parmesan cheese finishes this one off nicely.
Huevos Rancheros: This one has been a favourite recipe of mine for a long time.  I add some chopped bell peppers and some extra oregano, the warmed up sauce is served on poached eggs on top of toasted tortillas.  Sounds weird I know, but it's really delicious!
Baked white fish: I add some chopped olives, capers and basil to the sauce and bake it in the oven on top of some fish fillets.  It's a beautiful light meal, and goes really nicely with a simple salad and some bread.

There are so many other meals I create using this tomato sauce as a starting point.  What sorts of things do you cook when you're just cooking for one?

To read more about the great work that Age UK do, click here.

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