Posts tagged Bewitchery
As my regular readers will know, a few weeks ago I was offered a new job, which I start on 8th September. Such good news was a great excuse for me to go shopping, especially as I don’t really have many work-suitable clothes, so over the last week I’ve been buying quite a few new bits. I haven’t done a haul post in a while, so I thought now would be a good time to do one, featuring purchases from a local carboot sale, as well as the stuff I bought yesterday whilst shopping with my mum, from H&M, La Senza, and Primark. Most of what I bought is for my new job, but I’d actually wear most of it out of work too, and I also have a few non-work items. So without further ado, here is my latest collective haul!
Thrifted Papaya Polka Dot Peplum Top £1 / H&M Black Super Stretch Straight Leg Trousers £7.99 / Primark Black Suedette Flat Shoes £6
Primark Long Black Lace Shirt £10 / Primark Black Skinny Jeans £7 each (I bought two pairs, one of which I plan on customising) / Shoes as before
Primark Polka Dot Cardigan £8
Primark Stripe Long Sleeve Top £4
Thrifted Zara Flying Squirrel T Shirt 50p
La Senza Knickers £1 each
Total Spend: £54.49
I also recently placed an order on DressLink.com, but I am going to do a separate post about those purchases (possibly a YouTube video) as I want to share more details about my experience of the site.
What do you think of my new haul items?
After a very hectic few weeks of trips away and caring for a poorly pet rat (long story but she’s much better, thankfully!), I have finally got round to reviewing the July Degustabox! As usual, the box arrived on time, and features eight brands and a massive nineteen individual items, many of which I’d never tried before.
Degustabox did something slightly different this month and offered one box containing alcohol, and another without. I received the alcohol box, and the combined total value of the products is £22.19; a saving of almost £10.
Portlebay Popcorn (RRP £0.79 each)
Portlebay are a small company from Devon who make ‘great tasting, fun and interesting food’, including these bags of Kracklecorn artisan popcorn. I received three different flavours in the box – Crispy Bacon & Maple Syrup, which unfortunately I can’t eat as it isn’t vegetarian, Chilli & Lime, and a classic sweet and salty flavour. The Chilli & Lime is particularly tasty, as the flavouring is very authentic and perfectly balanced, and is reminiscent of an Indian chutney. The bags are a good size too and provide a very generous portion – perfect for snacking, or as part of a packed lunch.
ZEO Drinks (RRP £1.29 each)
I’ve been seeing ZEO drinks around for a while now, so I was pleased to finally be able to try some. ZEO pride themselves on creating low-calorie, naturally sourced soft drinks that aren’t full of sugar, but are lightly carbonated with a hint of flavour. Again, I received three flavours in the box – Burst, Crush, and Zest. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite live up to what I was expecting. The packaging and branding are very impressive, but the drink inside isn’t so much. The flavour is very subtle, so you get more of a taste of carbonated water than anything else, and it’s also quite dry. However, it does give a cooling and ‘tingling’ sensation as the packaging suggests, which is quite refreshing on a hot day. Not the best, but not awful.
Green & Black’s Lemon Bar (RRP £2.29)
I usually love Green & Black’s chocolate as it’s Fairtrade and amazing quality, but I’m in two minds about this particular bar. The chocolate contains 60% cocoa solids, so is lovely and rich, and is infused with a zesty lemon flavour. Though I like the smooth and luxurious depth of the dark chocolate, I’m just not sure about the lemon. It’s very tangy, which doesn’t seem to balance well with the bitterness of the chocolate. Rather, it makes it taste a bit sour, which isn’t really for me. I can only eat a few squares of this at a time before wrapping it back up, to the point that I still have most of the bar left, which is unusual for me! I personally think lemon flavours go better with sweeter white chocolate, but if you have less of a sweet tooth, then this may be for you.
The Berry Company Peach White Tea (RRP £1.49)
The Berry Company is a family business who produce nutritious and delicious juices and fruit flavoured teas. These new Special Teas are available in four different flavours – Green Tea with Blueberry and Aronia, Red Tea with Hibiscus and Cranberry, Black Tea with Elderflower and Lemon, and White Tea with Peach and Lemon, which is the flavour I received, and are pleasingly healthy. They’re full of antioxidants, vegan, gluten, dairy, lactose and fat-free, and contain no artificial colourings, preservatives or flavourings.
Hornsby’s Blueberry Cider (RRP £1.25 each)
Hornsby’s is one of the leading ciders in the USA, and is apparently best enjoyed straight from a chilled bottle. This is the second time the brand has been featured in Degustabox, but this month’s flavour – Blueberry – is new to me. I’m not much of a cider drinker so I’m saving these for when I fancy it, but I like blueberries so the flavour intrigues me. At 330ml the bottles are a good size, and great value at £1.25 each. Degustabox recommend adding a squeeze of fresh lemon for an added kick, which sounds great for summer.
FRANK Blueberry & Chocolate Bar (RRP £0.85)
This FRANK snack bar was my favourite item in the box this month – I wish there was more than one! I’ve really been getting into raw, healthier snacks lately, and this is honestly one of the nicest healthy bars I’ve tried. FRANK promotes ‘honest snacking’ and their bars are made with 100% natural ingredients, and are vegan, gluten and nut free, and also contain no refined sugar or dairy. This particular bar is Blueberry & Chocolate, and at first it has a slightly bitter taste of dark chocolate, but with a pleasant natural sweetness from the fruit that it contains. It also has a firm texture, offset by the smoothness of the chocolate, which gives the perfect balance of not too moist but not too dry. Overall, the bar is moreish and delicious, and I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for the other flavours, especially the orange one!
Dr. Oetker Violet Crystals (RRP £1.29) & Eton Mess (RRP £1.99)
Yet another offering from Dr. Oetker. That’s four boxes in a row now! Not that I mind, as I do like baking, but if it isn’t your thing then it could get quite annoying. These Violet Crystals and Eton Mess sprinkles are new to the range, and are inspired by the latest baking trends. They look absolutely fab and would give any cake the wow factor, and going on my experience of other Dr. Oetker sprinkles, I’m sure they’ll taste great too. I’ll keep you updated!
Maggi So Baked & So Juicy Sachets (Total RRP £5.54)
I was slightly disappointed when I saw these Maggi sachets in the box, as I assumed they weren’t vegetarian, but after carefully reading the ingredients I can confirm that all but the Chicken & Leek one are! I’ve used two of these so far – the Piri Piri Chicken bake, and the So Juicy Oriental Soy & Garlic Chicken, but rather than using real chicken I used Quorn fillets. The sachets are easy to use – with the bakes you basically just chop everything up and bung it in a baking tray with the spices mixed with water, and the So Juicy ones are cooked in a plastic bag that comes in the sachet. Both sachets worked really well with the Quorn, but with the So Juicy one I had to add water to the bag first, as Quorn doesn’t give off its own juices! The Piri Piri Chicken was incredibly tasty, and worked perfectly with sweet potato, red pepper and red onion, served with rice. A definite repurchase on that one.
Overall, this wasn’t my favourite Degustabox, but it was nice to try some new brands, and I’m especially glad to have discovered FRANK!
*This Degustabox was sent to me by Degustabox for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
Turn on the TV, scroll through social media, or open any magazine or newspaper on any given day, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a negative statement about how someone looks. Bodies and appearances are being shamed left, right and centre, and quite frankly I’m sick of it. Too fat, too thin, too hairy, not enough hair, too much make up, not enough make up, bad fashion sense etc etc. Basically, the media tries to sell us a completely unattainable and contradictory standard of “perfection”, and trying to achieve this impossible look just leads to unhappiness and low self-esteem. So, when Penny of Lillies and Love launched her #bodyUNashamed project, I knew I had to take part.
Penny’s project is simple, and aims to promote positivity and body confidence in all of us, whilst trying to put an end to body shaming and bullying, and it starts with bloggers like myself. Everyone taking part has been paired with another blogger, and must highlight three things about that person that are great, before highlighting three things about themselves that they love. I’ve been paired with Jan Ennis of StayHappyBeaut, and as soon as I saw her Twitter feed I knew it would be easy to find three great things about her.
1. Jan’s bio states that she is “obsessed with the value of a positive mindset”, and encourages us all to “stay happy stay beautiful”. Such infectious positivity is a really wonderful thing to have, and is perfect for this project as it promotes happiness and confidence, which can be difficult to achieve when we’re constantly being bombarded with negativity. Well done Jan for being such a positive person, and for advocating positivity in the rest of us!
2. Jan also has really pretty eyes! They look so striking and kind in her Twitter profile picture, and her eye make up also looks fab.
3. Her hair is gorgeous. The colour, the length, the style, the way it falls – it just suits her so much, and she knows how to dress to make the most of it. I wish I could get mine to look so nice!
A few years ago, I would have struggled to find three things about myself that I love, but over the past few years, particularly since starting this blog, my self-confidence has grown, and I’m now really content with myself. So here are my three things…
1. I really like my eyes. They’re bright blue and a nice shape, and people always tell me they’re very expressive. They’re definitely my favourite thing about my face.
2. I’ve always been the “tall one” – at school I was taller than my friends and I’m one of the tallest people in my family, and it bothered me for years. I always felt like I looked the odd one out and hated all the “wow you’re tall!” comments I’d get, but recently I’ve been embracing my height. So what if I’m 5’10″? If I want to wear heels, I’ll wear heels! Admittedly I still have issues finding trousers and jeans to fit my 36″ inside leg, but at least I have the advantage of being able to see over everyone’s heads at the cinema/concerts/crowds!
3. I’m also quite proud of my current level of fitness. A few years ago I was slightly overweight, which in itself wasn’t a problem, but it was affecting my health. I have mild asthma, but it was made a lot worse by my excess weight, and I got out of breath very quickly. I worked hard to improve my diet and lifestyle, and have since lost weight, which has led to me becoming a lot healthier. My asthma is now pretty much non-existent, and I can do so much more than I used to be able to.
If you want to join in with Penny’s #bodyUNashamed project, then please do! Compliment people whenever you can. Smile at people in the street. Call people out for body shaming others. Make a stand to the media for doing the same. And most importantly, be proud of who you are! Everyone is unique and that’s what makes us beautiful, so recognise your positive attributes and show them to the world!
This year I’ve been trying to add more summer basics to my wardrobe, and after browsing countless online and high street stores, House of Fraser have really come up trumps. Though House of Fraser stock a lot of premium brands, they also sell a wide range of more affordable brands, so you can add staple pieces to your wardrobe on a budget, that can be worn year in year out.
House of Fraser recently challenged me to pick some summer items to style, up to the value of £30. I thought the best way to go for this challenge would be simple and versatile – things that could be dressed up or down and paired with different things to create different looks – so I opted for this plain Jane Norman Maxi Vest Dress, and a cute little Ziba 3D Skull Bracelet.
Jane Norman Maxi Vest Dress / Ziba 3D Skull Bracelet / Primark Sandals / Alexander McQueen Cateye Sunglasses / Juno Black Patent Grab Bag
The dress is made from a light jersey fabric, so is very cool and comfortable, and the vest section is lined so you don’t have to wear a bra on hot summer days. I think the dress looks great as it is, but it also looks amazing with a sparkly cropped jacket and clutch for a glamorous evening look. This is currently discounted from £20 to £12, which is incredibly cheap for such a lovely piece.
I chose the Ziba Skull 3D Bracelet for several reasons. For one, I love skulls and covet anything with a skull on it, but this year I’ve also really started to love fine and delicate pieces of jewellery. I used to always wear big chunky items, but the beauty of bracelets like this is you can layer them together, but if it’s too hot to be wearing a thick wedge of bangles, they look elegant and lovely worn alone. This particular bracelet was £9 when I chose it, down from £12, but it’s now only £6 so is even more affordable. Also, if skulls aren’t your thing, the Ziba range has loads of other designs to choose from. I especially like their cute little owl.
In total, my House of Fraser items have a value of £32, but with the online discount they now come in at £18, which is a pretty good saving. I’ll definitely be going back to House of Fraser in the future to look for more affordable basics. Also, why not check out their current range of maxi dresses and bracelets?
*This Jane Norman Maxi Vest Dress and Ziba 3D Skull Bracelet were sent to me on behalf of House of Fraser, for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
I love a bag of salty crisps and a big bar of chocolate as much as the next person, but when it comes to snacking I’m always on the look out for something a little bit different, and a little bit healthier, that at the same time is slightly more satisfying than a piece of fruit or veg. As such, over the last few months I’ve been trying lots of different snacks, and I now have a few new favourites that I’ll be sharing with you over the coming weeks. All of the snacks are also vegetarian and/or vegan, and ethical – two of my favourite things when it comes to food!
Today’s recommended snack comes as a nice alternative to your average potato crisps. Leighton Brown are a British company, run by three friends, who create gourmet vegetable crisps. They pride themselves on using ethically sourced, natural ingredients, with no additives, and aim to provide high-quality luxury snacks, that are also affordable. Their range currently only features three flavours – Parsnip & Manuka Honey, Beetroot, Horseradish & Dill, and Sweet Potato, Cheese & Jalapeno – but they have more flavours coming soon, and I can’t wait to see the range grow.
Parsnip & Manuka Honey
Leighton Brown’s Parsnip & Manuka Honey crisps are made from British grown parsnips which, when combined with manuka honey, give the crisps a pleasant sweetness. However, the sweetness is balanced with a subtle spice and saltiness, which make these crisps incredibly satisfying and moreish. The crisps also have a lovely crunch (as do the other two flavours), that isn’t always present in vegetable crisps, which gets an extra thumbs up from me.
Beetroot, Horseradish & Dill
As you can see, these Beetroot crisps are made from both purple and orange beetroot, which not only looks great but tastes great too, as the flavour of the beetroot is very powerful. Crisps that don’t have much flavour always disappoint me, but these really get the tastebuds tingling with the warm tang of horseradish and the fresh herbiness of dill. Perfect for anyone with a savoury tooth.
Sweet Potato, Cheese & Jalapeno
These Sweet Potato, Cheese & Jalapeno crisps won a Gold Star in the Great Taste Awards in 2013, and I can see (and taste!) why. I have a soft spot for sweet potato so these were always going to be my favourite, but they’re so much nicer than I even dreamed they could be. The balance of cheese and jalapeno is just right, so they’re not too cheesy or too hot. Rather, the flavours mingle to create sweet and savoury perfection with a hint of heat. I love them!
Leighton Brown vegetable crisps are currently available in 130 delis, bars and coffee shops throughout the UK, so check out their interactive map to find out where to get them near you! You can also find them in Fenwick Newcastle and Selfridges.
*These Leighton Brown crisps were sent to me by Leighton Brown for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
I thought it was about time I wrote a little post about why I haven’t been blogging as regularly lately. As you may or may not know, in January I graduated from university with a Master’s degree, and since then I have spent MONTHS applying for jobs and attending interviews, whilst at the same time also working at my old job. As I’m sure you can imagine, that took up quite a lot of my time, leaving very little room for planning and writing blog posts. However, yesterday, after my eleventh interview of the year, I was finally offered a full-time job that I think I’m going to love. The job will start in September and involves working with and supporting university students, and I’m really looking forward to it. Now that that area of my life is getting some structure again, I hope that means I will be able to add regular blogging back into my routine, so expect to see more from me in the not too distant future! I already have quite a few posts planned, featuring lots of fashion and food, so check back soon for those.
I’ve also just got back from a little trip away with my fiancé. We can’t really afford big foreign holidays at the minute, but we both love nature and walking and suchlike, so we decided to go to Malvern for a while so we could go walking in the hills. We both had a brilliant time and spent hours and hours hiking, which was incredibly tiring but also relaxing! Whilst we were there we stayed in a gorgeous little private house called Uplands, which was cheaper than a B&B or hotel, but a thousand times nicer. We’ll definitely be going back, and I highly recommend it to any couples who like their own space when they’re away!
Here are just a few photos from our trip…
Firstly, I’d like to apologise for not announcing the winner of my Eclectic Eccentricity giveaway sooner. The giveaway closed last Friday, but I’ve had such a hectic week it just slipped my mind! However, the time has finally come for me to announce the lucky winner of a You’re On My Wavelength Einstein Necklace, so without further ado, the winner is entry number 25, which belongs to…
Congratulations Chrissie! Please email your postal address to email@example.com, and I will post your prize out to you as soon as possible.
As usual, thank you so much to everyone who entered, and thank you to Eclectic Eccentricity for providing the prize.
Check back soon for another giveaway!
After seeing loads of Polyvore sets on Tumblr and wishing I could create some myself, earlier this week I took the plunge and signed up. For those who don’t know, Polyvore is a website (and now app) where you can discover and shop fashion, beauty and home items that you love, and put them together in collages to create different looks.
Being able to browse items from all over the internet, with the ability to filter out specific items and colours, is such a great way to explore your own personal style. I’ve been finding Polyvore a great source of inspiration for future purchases and outfit combinations, and even though I can’t really afford a lot of the items I style, it gives me an idea of dupes to look out for on the high street! Also, I’ve mostly been using Polyvore on my phone via their app, and it’s so much fun, and a brilliant way to pass the time when waiting for the bus or travelling.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s one of my recent sets, which has a suitably summery theme, but still makes the most of my favourite clothing colour – black!
One of my favourite things about summer is the storms. The rain that cools the air down, the thunder, the lightning – it’s all so exciting! This weekend has been particularly unpredictable, with amazing storms one minute, and bright, hot sun the next, which though nice, makes it difficult to know what to wear.
New Look Multi Strap Skater Dress / Everything5Pounds Waterfall Jacket / Alexander McQueen Cateye Sunglasses / Primark Tights / New Look Stud Pumps / Topshop Leather Stud Bag (Thrifted) / Accessories Boutique Heavy Spike Bracelet
The key for me has been light layers that can be added/removed accordingly. A dress makes a great base for this kind of look, as it’s cool enough for the sun, but can be made rain and wind proof with a jacket and tights. I went for this New Look Multi Strap Skater Dress that I bought in the last ASOS sale, and added a pair of basic sheer black tights from Primark to avoid flashing my undies in the wind, and a lovely waterfall jacket from Everything5Pounds. I absolutely love this jacket as it’s really comfortable, and is perfect for warm weather as a cover as the fabric is so lightweight.
To accessorise, I wore my Alexander McQueen Cateye Sunglasses, that are an absolute essential when the sun is shining, and I also gave my New Look stud pumps a first outing. Of course my trusty thrifted Topshop leather bag was a necessity too, and I added a heavy spike bracelet from Accessories Boutique to bring the stud theme of the outfit together.
What have you been styling during this stormy summer weekend?
It’s time again for me to review the latest Degustabox! The June box contained fewer products than usual, with eight brands and only nine individual items (ten if you count the extra freebie), but a couple of them were higher value, bringing the combined total to around £20 – similar to previous months.
Estrella Damm Lager (RRP Unknown)
According to the Degustabox leaflet, ‘Estrella Damm is an authentic imported, award-winning premium pale Spanish lager known internationally as the ‘Beer of Barcelona”. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of lager, so I’ve given this can to my fiancé to enjoy instead, as I wouldn’t be able to give a fair review of it anyway. I will have a sip of it however, just to see if by some miracle I actually like this one. I’ll keep you posted! Also, I’ve put this down as RRP unknown as the leaflet says the cans cost £4 each, which seems unusually high, especially as you can get 4 bottles for about a fiver in Asda.
Elizabeth Shaw Milk Chocolate Amaretto Flutes (RRP £2.59)
I loved the dark chocolate cocoa nib version of these that were in the May box, and these are 100 times better! The milk chocolate is incredibly smooth and creamy, and they have an authentic, and really quite strong flavour of amaretto. Amaretto is one of my favourite liqueurs, which tastes like almonds or marzipan, but unusually these Flutes contain no nuts or alcohol whatsoever! These little sticks of luxury would make a fabulous evening treat for yourself, or to share round after a meal. Sort of like a posh After Eight.
BEAR Alphabites Cereal (RRP £2.69)
I always look forward to breakfast, and I like to have a variety of options available each morning as I often fancy something different, so these BEAR Alphabites have made a nice little addition to my cereal cupboard. Unlike a lot of breakfast cereals, these multigrain letters contain ‘no nonsense’, meaning they’re completely free of refined sugar, salt and additives. Instead, they’re sweetened with coconut blossom nectar, which happens to taste nothing like coconut, and contain wholegrain wheat, oats, corn, rice, and wholegrain barley. Because I’m so used to eating sugar-packed cereals, these took a bit of getting used to as they don’t taste like a conventional cereal, but once you get past the ‘different’ kind of sweetness, they’re actually really nice. And healthy too! They even have my rats’ seal of approval.
Veetee Basmati & Wild Rice (RRP £1.49)
Degustabox describe Veetee as ‘a deliciously convenient range of microwaveable rice products’, and though I’m not a big fan of microwaveable rice, this was surprisingly decent. I received the Basmati and Wild Rice, which I served with a Quorn chicken and vegetable korma. The photo above shows half of the rice, which when served with the curry and a couple of poppadoms is more than enough, so one package can easily serve two. The rice itself is nice and fluffy, and the wild rice adds a touch of texture and flavour. Using this kind of rice is especially great when you want a quick meal, as it only takes two minutes to cook in the microwave or wok. I’d love to try the egg fried and wholegrain brown versions too!
Strawberry Lambrini (RRP £3.29)
Lambrini Strawberry is one of several new flavours to be added to the Lambrini summer range, and it’s really quite yummy. My fiancé and I enjoyed this one evening after chilling it in the fridge, and it made for a light, refreshing treat. The strawberry flavour is quite sweet, but still has an authentic fruity taste, and at only 5% alcohol volume it’s pretty easy to quickly finish the bottle! This would be perfect served at a barbecue. Other flavours include cherry, peach, apple and blackcurrant, and rosé, all of which I would like to try.
Be Fast Banana Breakfast Drink (RRP £1.00 each)
Be Fast is a ‘breakfast on the go’ drink, which is very much like a milkshake, but low in fat and packed full of fibre and protein. Now, I really don’t think one of these would keep me full until lunchtime, as I seem to get very hungry in the morning, so I’ve been having half a bottle with my breakfast as a bit of extra ‘filler’. The drink is fairly runny, just a bit thicker than milk, and it has a nice, refreshing banana flavour that isn’t overly sweet. It would’ve been nice to have two different flavours in the box to try – I bet the chocolate one is fab!
Urban Fruit Pineapple Snack Pack (RRP £1.09)
I’m currently on a mission to eat more fruit, so this Urban Fruit Pineapple came at the perfect time for me. The fruit is apparently baked gently to dry it out, and 20g counts as one of your five a day. That’s great, but the bag contains 35g, so you don’t get two full portions. An extra 5g would be nice! I ate half of this bag as a snack whilst at work, and I had the other half on a bowl of overnight oats one morning (read on for my recipe!). The pineapple has a lovely sweetness to it, and a nice texture – soft and chewy but not too tough, and I’ll definitely be repurchasing.
Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Grinder (RRP £4.99)
This Dr Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Grinder is such a simple yet innovative idea, and when I found it in the box I was really excited as I do a lot of baking, and authentic vanilla makes cakes and suchlike taste ten times better! The grinder is a little bit like a pepper mill, but has two grinding options – coarse or fine. The vanilla itself has a very strong flavour, and a little goes a long way, so the contents of the mill should last a good while. I’ve been using this in my overnight oats for breakfast, and overnight the flavour infuses into the milk and it’s delicious. I will 100% be repurchasing this!
Seeing as the June box has a bit of a breakfast theme, here’s my recipe for tropical overnight oats, using the Dr Oetker Madagascan Vanilla, and the Urban Fruit Pineapple. These oats are the perfect combination of healthy, filling, and delicious…
Tropical Overnight Oats
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup semi-skimmed milk
Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla
20g Urban Fruit Pineapple
15g Aldi Tropical Granola
- Before going to bed, combine the oats, milk and vanilla in a bowl, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, top with half a bag of Urban Fruit pineapple, and a sprinkle of tropical granola.
Again, this is another winning box from Degustabox, and everything in it was delicious. Will they ever disappoint? Hopefully not! Bring on the July box…
*This Degustabox was sent to me by Degustabox for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*