Posts tagged Leicester Blogger

NOTD: Barry M Glitterati ‘Fashion Icon’

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When it comes to nail products, Barry M are one of my favourite brands, so when they announced a flurry of new shades for Autumn/Winter 2014, I was incredibly excited!  As well as adding new colours to their Gelly, Silk, Classic and Aquarium ranges, and releasing some gorgeous Christmas glitters, Barry M have also launched the new Glitterati collection.  Glitterati features six ‘blinging’ glitter paints, and they really caught my eye when I first saw them on Instagram.

So far I’ve only picked up three shades from the new selection – Rockstar and Fashion Icon from Glitterati, and the new Aquarium Glitter, Atlantis.  I’ll be posting about each shade individually over the coming weeks, plus any more that I end up buying, but today’s NOTD is Fashion Icon.

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Blue and purple are two of my favourite and most worn colours, so I was immediately drawn to this beautiful shade.  Fashion Icon has a purple base with a blue duochrome effect, and is packed full of micro glitter, some of which is holographic.  I find this shade so mesmerizing as it looks different every time I look at it.  It goes from electric blue to grape purple to bright violet in one movement, whilst all the time remaining strikingly sparkly.

All of my swatches show three thin coats, with no base coat or top coat, which I think looks great, but I bet it’d look just as gorgeous layered over a deep purple shade.

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I’ve also found Fashion Icon to be impressively hard-wearing.  Despite spending the whole day cleaning, unpacking boxes and generally being busy, my nails look just as good as they did when I first painted them.

I can really see this wonderful shade becoming one of my all time favourite glitters, and I can’t wait to swatch Rockstar to see if it’s as stunning as this one.

Barry M’s Glitterati nail paints cost £3.99 each, and are available in store and online from Superdrug and Boots, and online from Barry M.

Naomi x

Highcross Autumn Fashion Fix

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Autumn is my favourite time of year for so many reasons… the weather, the colours of the trees, Halloween, Bonfire Night, the cosy nights in, the homely cooking, and of course the fashion!  So, when I found out that Leicester’s biggest shopping centre, Highcross, was putting on an Autumn Fashion Fix catwalk show, I booked my tickets straight away!

My mum and I headed into town this morning for the 11:30am show, and we were lucky enough to get front row seats.  Everyone who’d booked seats also got a little goody bag which was nice.

The show itself was really enjoyable.  There were six models in total, four female and two male, and the show was split into six scenes – The Cosmo Edit, Faux Fur, Tapestry Folk, Shades of Red, New Pastels, and Metallics.  Every single scene featured some really gorgeous pieces, but the Metallics section was my favourite, as it mixed colours and textures that I love.  Think leather biker jackets and chunky heels, mixed with gunmetal sequins.

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Reiss Semi Sheer Embroidered Top £110 / Reiss Wide Leg Culotte Trousers £129 / Red Herring Ivory Faux Fur Coat £79 / Reiss Rose Gold Strappy Stiletto £139

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River Island Fluffy Knit Jumper £30 / River Island Reptile Faux Leather Miniskirt £28 / River Island Plastic Origami Necklace £12 / Miss Selfridge Faux Fur Gilet £55 / Jasper Conran Ivory Maribou Cossack £40 / River Island Taupe Suede Ankle Boot £50

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Karen Millen Floral Tapestry Dress £199 / Karen Millen White Pleated Front Cotton Shirt £110 / Karen Millen Black and Floral Print Scarf £99 / Karen Millen Lace Black Shoeboot £155

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Monsoon Embellished Chiffon Top £69 / Monsoon Blush Satin 50s Skirt £69 / Betty Jackson Oversized Double Breasted Coat £159 / River Island Gold Open Toe Stiletto £50 / Aldo Pill Box Bag £35

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Warehouse Leather A-Line Mini Dress £48 / Warehouse Leather Slim Trouser £38 / Ted Baker Silver Sequin Jacket £299 / Aldo Teardrop Chain Necklace £20 / Simply Be Metallic Reptile Clutch £25 / Office Holographic Open Toe Heels £50

I also filmed an Instagram video of the Shades of Red scene…

It was nice to see affordable, high street pieces on a catwalk, and a lot of this year’s trends and colours are right up my street.  The soundtrack to the show was great too!

What do you think of this season’s fashion trends?

Naomi x

China Glaze Autumn 2014

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Hi everyone,

Well, after two busy weeks of starting a new full time job and planning for a house move, I’m finally back to blogging! Today’s post features two China Glaze shades that were kindly gifted to me by nailpolish.co.uk for review.

Both shades are from the new China Glaze 2014 Autumn collections, and retail for £4.95 each. There are two autumn collections this year – All Aboard Fall and Apocalypse of Colour, and I picked a shade from each.

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‘Choo-Choo Choose You’ is from the All Aboard Fall 2014 collection, which includes twelve stunning, on trend autumnal shades. At first glance the varnish looks to be a blue-grey shade with a hint of gold shimmer, but as soon as you move into natural light it explodes with purple, orange and green.

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The varnish is a colour changing metallic, which with some brands makes for a streaky finish, but this one goes on perfectly without any imperfections. The formula is slightly runny, but applies nicely and two coats gives an opaque look. The only downside is it takes a little longer to dry than I’d like, but it’s worth the wait.

You can view the rest of the All Aboard Fall collection here.

‘Rest In Pieces’ is from the Apocalypse of Colour collection, which features five Halloween themed shades, all of which have brilliant names! Halloween is my favourite time of year so I was very excited about this range, and it doesn’t disappoint. ‘Rest In Pieces’ is a gorgeous metallic orange, black and gold holographic glitter that reminds me of pumpkins, autumnal leaves and fireworks. Some of my absolute favourite things!

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The glitter comprises of various different types of glitter, large flecks, small flecks, micro and straw, which gives fantastic depth and texture. For maximum impact, the varnish is best applied in a dabbing motion rather than brushing, as dabbing leaves more glitter behind. This one dries a lot quicker than the other shade, and makes an amazing top coat. Perfect for adding a little something extra to any autumn mani! I love it.

You can view the rest of the Apocalypse of Colour collection here.

nailpolish.co.uk is a one stop shop for nail varnish, and they stock a HUGE range of brands, including OPI, Essie and Barry M, and over 350 colours! They also offer free first class delivery on every order. Check them out here.

What do you think of these new China Glaze shades?

Naomi x

*These two China Glaze nail varnishes were sent to me by nailpolish.co.uk for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

What I Wore: Comfy Sunday

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Today my fiancé and I decided to go out for lunch, to one of my favourite bars (the Orange tree in Leicester – they serve a cracking veggie roast!)  Afterwards, we went for a leisurely wander around town, did a spot of shopping and checked out the new Richard III monuments near the cathedral.  A lovely casual day called for a casual outfit, so I threw on this gorgeous draped hoodie with a basic tee, and my favourite pair of jeans.  I love anything acid wash and polka dots, and these jeans combine the two, and are made of light, stretchy denim so are incredibly comfortable.  They’re a real wardrobe staple and have seen me through Spring and Summer, but will also be great for Autumn, worn with a pair of chunky boots.

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DressLink.com Draped Hoodie / H&M Polka Dot Acid Wash Jeans / Primark Basic T Shirt / Primark Metal Waist Belt / Primark Canvas Shoes / Thrifted Topshop Leather Stud Bag

I ordered this oversized draped hoodie from DressLink.com a few weeks ago.  It was originally intended to be for my mum, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite fit her right, so she let me have it.  Believe it or not, this is an XXXL, but Asian sizes are a LOT smaller than our Western sizes, so it fits me, a size 10/12, like a baggy hoodie.  There’s no way it’s a UK size 20 like the website suggests!

Tops like this are absolutely perfect for this time of year.  It was sunny today, so too warm for a coat, but there was a hint of Autumnal coolness in the air, so it kept me nice and cosy, and the hood is great for when you want an extra bit of warmth.  I also really love the length and draped style of the hoodie as it gives it a slightly witchy edge, and though it looks good baggy, I adore the more tailored shape of it when worn with a waist belt over the top.

What pieces will be seeing you through the Summer to Autumn transition?

Naomi x

Urban Outfitters Leicester Press Preview

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Earlier today I was lucky enough to attend the invitation-only press preview of the new Urban Outfitters store in Leicester, ahead of their official launch tonight.  The store is located at the heart of the city in the Highcross shopping centre (right on the edge so it’s easy to find!), and spans two large floors, with womenswear downstairs, and menswear, home and gifts and fitting rooms upstairs.

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As soon as I entered the store I could tell that it had a great vibe.  The Urban Outfitters team have worked hard to transform what was once a fairly dark and claustrophobic space, into a far more open and vibrant one, which has the subtle industrial look that you expect from Urban Outfitters, with its bare floors and reclaimed metal and wooden interior.  Vintage and alternative curios are also spread throughout the store giving it a fun and quirky edge, and hand painted contemporary art and wording adorn the walls.  I even got to see some of it being done!

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The store boasts a really eclectic mix of brands and styles, including own label collections such as Pins & Needles and Worland, but also well-known brands such as Converse and Levi’s, and up and coming labels like Cheap Monday and Native Rose.  I spotted a great mix of edgy basics and classic designs, as well as bolder, more creative pieces (including a very spacey looking silver mini skirt!), that at the same time keep an urban, on-trend theme.

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The accessories, gifts and homeware don’t come as an afterthought either.  Everything is displayed so beautifully, and items of jewellery, hair accessories and nail varnishes are dotted around the shop so you can really get a feel of how to style different items throughout the store.  Everything just seems to fuse together so perfectly, making for an easy and pleasant shopping experience.

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I really enjoyed browsing the new store before it opened, and it was nice to meet some of the Urban Outfitters team too.  I even got to choose a gift to take away with me, so I went for a beautiful black burnout floral cardigan that will be great for layering during the coming autumn and winter months.  I’m sure you’ll be seeing it in an outfit post or two very soon!

Naomi x

Alternative Snacking: Creighton’s Chocolaterie

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Today’s Alternative Snacking post is one for those with a sweet tooth, as it features Creighton’s Chocolaterie – an independent chocolaterie in Leighton Buzzard, owned by a mother and daughter team, who craft and sell their own beautiful chocolates and truffles.

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Creighton’s has made it into my Alternative Snacking series as everything they sell is handmade, and though they use traditional methods and fine Belgian chocolate to create their artisan products, they pride themselves on making unique and unusual items that you won’t find anywhere else.  Their packaging is also really well thought out and pretty, which is always a nice bonus.

I was lucky enough to receive three different bars and a selection of truffles from their collection to try, and will here share my thoughts on each.

Taster Selection Box

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Creighton’s sell a wide variety of fresh handmade truffles and chocolates, which can be purchased in various sized selection boxes from their website.  I received a Quartet Taster Selection Box which contained these four chocolates; a Lemon Heart, Raspberry truffle, Champagne Heart, and Mocha Coffee truffle.  Every single truffle was deliciously creamy with a very rich centre and fantastic flavour, but the Lemon Heart deserves a special mention.  It has a smooth, white chocolate shell, packed full of fresh lemon ganache, and it is absolutely gorgeous.  I savoured every little nibble and I’m not lying when I say it was one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten.  I could eat a box full!

Rose & Almond Bar

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This bar was created in collaboration with fashion accessories brand Betty & Walter, and comes wrapped in a really lovely floral sleeve, designed by illustrator Lisa Levis.  I chose this bar as I’m a fan of rose flavoured foods, but they’re hard to come by, and the combination of the rose and almonds sounded delicious.  And it is.  The chocolate is a very good quality milk chocolate which has a pleasing velvety texture, and the balance of rose oil is perfect.  Too much and it can taste like perfume, but this bar gets it right as it is fairly subtle, but with just enough of a kick.  The crunchy nibs of almond add an extra depth of flavour, but also texture, which ultimately make this bar a winner with me.  Yum.

Peanut Nutter Bar

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This Peanut Nutter bar is Creighton’s ‘grown-up’ equivalent of a peanut butter chocolate bar, and is one of their best-sellers.  The bar consists of the same velvety milk chocolate as the Rose & Almond bar, but a little bit thicker, and is studded with crushed, roasted peanuts and sea salt.  What I like about this bar is that the flavours combine perfectly, so you get a hit of saltiness, the creamy sweetness of the chocolate, and a taste of peanut all at once, which makes for a deliciously moreish bar.  I could easily eat a whole one of these in one sitting!

Freshly Ground Bar

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This beautifully rich Freshly Ground bar consists of high quality dark chocolate, which is mixed with freshly ground coffee beans from a local coffee roasters.  I’m not always a fan of coffee chocolate as it can taste quite synthetic, but the fact that this bar contains real coffee beans makes the flavour wonderfully authentic, and adds a slight crunch.  The depth of flavour in this bar is incredible, and my mum, whose favourite chocolate is coffee chocolate, absolutely adores this bar.  In fact, this bar is so good it won a gold star in the Great Taste Awards 2014, and it is well deserved.

Overall, Creighton’s range of chocolate is exceptionally high quality and delicious, and is far more exciting than what you’d find in the supermarket.  They sell some really unusual flavours, including Liquorice Whip and Fizzy Cola, and their selection of handmade gifts, which features an edible chocolate box and chocolate tea set, is stunning.  Check out their full range here.

Naomi x

PS. Have you seen my first Alternative Snacking post, featuring Leighton Brown crisps?  If not, click here!

*These chocolates were sent to me by Creighton’s Chocolaterie for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

Degustabox July 2014

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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!

If you fancy giving Degustabox a go yourself, you can get a £3 discount by entering code R9CPO at the checkout.  You can also follow Degustabox on Twitter and Facebook for more exclusive offers.

Naomi x

PS. You can check out the rest of my Degustabox reviews here.

*This Degustabox was sent to me by Degustabox for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

 

Alternative Snacking: Leighton Brown

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Naomi x

*These Leighton Brown crisps were sent to me by Leighton Brown for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

Designer Accessories, High Street Clothes

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Though some people see it as an absolute cardinal sin to team high street with designer, I’m the opposite, and I think that mixing the two can be the perfect way to create high-end looks, without completely bankrupting yourself.  In my experience, buying timeless designer accessories that will transition from season to season, every year, can actually save you money, whilst adding a touch of luxury to a variety of high street outfits.

‘But why not buy designer clothing and high street accessories?’, I hear you ask.  Well, you could, but fashions and personal tastes change, and that dress you love this year might not be your thing next year, and it might not even fit you then!  But you never grow out of basic sunglasses, jewellery, bags and shoes.

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The key to choosing the right pieces is to save up, do your research on what is best for you, and spend savvily.  Not all of us, myself included, can afford to buy designer with every pay cheque, hence having to mix with high street, but if you put a little bit aside when you can and keep an eye out for a good deal, you can bag yourself a timeless piece that will last for years.  This summer I’ve been relying on two designer pieces in particular, both by Alexander McQueen.  I bought these zipped biker heels in the McQ online winter sale after eyeing them up for months, and they were reduced from over £500 to £159.  They’re made from very high quality leather, are surprisingly comfortable, and look great with anything from smart work outfits and going out dresses, to casual jeans and a jumper or tee.

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My other go-to designer accessory this summer is a pair of stunning vintage-style cateye sunglasses.  I know a lot of people wouldn’t choose to splurge on a pair of sunnies, but think of it this way…  If you spend £15 on a pair of sunglasses, chances are that by the end of the summer they’ll be broken.  It happens to me almost every year because, quite frankly, cheap often means badly made.  But if you save up and shell out on a more expensive pair, made from higher quality materials, they’ll more than likely last a lot, lot longer, and eventually you’ll have saved money by not buying a new pair every year!

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I adore these sunglasses, and have been wearing them almost every day for the past couple of months.  They’re very sturdy and come in a solid protective case so can’t be broken or damaged easily, and the lenses provide far better protection for your eyes than cheaper shades.  The classic cateye shape has been popular for decades, but the glossy eye frames against the matte brow, and gradient lenses, give them a modern, Gothic edge that really suits my personal style.  Alexander McQueen sunglasses don’t come cheap, and I’ve seen these on a lot of websites for around £220, but you can get them from Red Hot Sunglasses for £180, with free delivery.

Be sure to check back soon for a series of What I Wore posts featuring these designer accessories and high street clothing!

Naomi x

*These Alexander McQueen Cateye Sunglasses were sent to me by Red Hot Sunglasses for review and styling purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

Degustabox May 2014

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I’m a little bit late with it this month, but here is my review of the May Degustabox, which unlike this post arrived on time towards the end of last month! The May box was a lot more savoury than April’s, but it contained some really lovely stuff, most of which I’d never tried before.

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May’s Degustabox contains ten brands, and thirteen individual items, with a total value of £21.46. However, the box costs just £12.99, so you’re making a pretty big saving whilst getting to try some new, exciting foods! Here are my thoughts on each item…

Cawston Press Cloudy Apple Drink (RRP £1.00)

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Cawston Press featured in April’s Degustabox with their Rhubarb and Apple drink, which was absolutely gorgeous, so I was happy to find another offering from them in the May box.  Like the Rhubarb drink, this Cloudy Apple version contains no preservatives, additives or artificial sweeteners, and is made from fruit juice combined with sparkling water.  The drink isn’t overly sweet, rather, it has a slightly sour tang, but it’s nice.  I don’t like it as much as the rhubarb flavour, but I’d still have it again as it’s lovely and refreshing when chilled.

Taylors of Harrogate Blackberry & Elderflower Tea (RRP £2.99)

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I really enjoy trying new teas and infusions, so this was another addition to the box that I was happy to see.  Taylors of Harrogate have a range of teas created in partnership with experts at Kew Gardens in London, and this Blackberry & Elderflower blend is one of them.  The box contains twenty individually wrapped tea bags, so they’re ideal for popping in your bag when travelling, or going to work.  The flavour mix is really pleasant, offering a kick of blackberry with a subtle aftertaste of elderflower.  Perfect for summer when you fancy something light, rather than a big mug of breakfast tea with milk.

Raw Energy Chewing Gum (RRP £0.99 per box)

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Raw is a sugar-free gum, which contains taurine and vitamin B, to give you a boost of energy on the go.  I absolutely hate energy drinks, especially those containing taurine as it makes me feel funny, so when I saw that these were basically a condensed version of an energy drink I was quite worried.  However, I decided to give them a go anyway.  They smell like Red Bull (yuck), but they taste slightly fruity (although that energy drink flavour is there too…), but to be honest they’re not that bad.  They keep their chewy consistency for a long time, and they didn’t make me feel any different despite the taurine.  That, for me, is a bonus, but if you actually want an energy boost from them you may struggle to get it.

Hornsby’s Crisp Apple Cider and Strawberry & Lime Cider (RRP £5.00 for 4)

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I haven’t yet tried these ciders, but I’m looking forward to enjoying them one evening with a nice meal.  Hornsby’s is one of the leading ciders in the USA, and according to the bottle is an ‘American Classic’, best enjoyed straight from a chilled bottle.  The Degustabox contained two flavours – Crisp Apple, and Strawberry & Lime, which I imagine will be my favourite.  If I like these I’ll definitely repurchase them, as at £5.00 for 4 bottles they’re really affordable.

Kettle Sweet Chilli Sweet Potato Chips (RRP £2.49)

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Kettle crisps are fab, and root vegetable crisps are fab, so combine the two and they’re a winner from the start.  Kettle’s Sweet Chilli Sweet Potato Chips contain 50% less fat than their usual potato crisps, and are free of MSG, and artificial flavourings and colours.  Sweet chilli happens to be my favourite crisp flavour, and combined with the sweetness of the sweet potato it works really well.  The chips are thin and crispy, and very moreish, and are a great alternative to potato crisps if you fancy something healthier and different.

Finn Crisp Original Sourdough Rye Crispbread (RRP £1.29)

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I wasn’t exceptionally excited by these when I first discovered them in the box, but they’re surprisingly tasty.  Finn Crisp are a Nordic brand who use only natural ingredients to create healthy snacks.  Their sourdough rye crispbreads contain wholegrain, are low in fat, are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and are only 22 calories each, so they’re guilt-free and healthy (depending on what you top them with!)  Unlike a lot of rye crackers, these aren’t at all dry, and are satisfyingly thin and crispy.  I’ve been eating these as a snack topped with Lotus caramelised biscuit spread (yum), or soft cheese and cucumber, but they can also be used in baking and cooking to make crispy crusts.  I would 100% buy these again!

Elizabeth Shaw Dark Chocolate Cocoa Crunch Flutes (RRP £2.59)

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Elizabeth Shaw always reminds me of Christmas at my grandma’s house, which is a good thing.  These slender flutes consist of rich, dark chocolate, and are studded with tiny nibs of crunchy cocoa.  The chocolate is already full of flavour, but the nibs add an extra depth and crunch that make these an extremely luxurious treat.  And only 23 delicious calories each!  When I eat chocolate, I tend to eat quite a lot of it, but these are so rich I can only manage one or two, which I suppose is a good thing as it means I can savour them.

Dr. Oetker Cake Release Spray (RRP £2.28)

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I’m yet to use this Dr. Oetker Cake Release Spray, but it is a genius idea!  The spray is oil-based, and can be sprayed on the inside of cake tins and trays to grease them before pouring in the cake mix, making it easier to remove the finished product once it’s baked.  For some reason I’ve always disliked rubbing butter around cake tins to grease them, as it can be messy and somewhat time-consuming, so this quick and easy greasing spray is the ideal addition to my baking cupboard.

Cirio Supercirio Tomato Puree (RRP £1.10)

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A tube of double concentrated tomato puree…  Not that exciting I know, but Cirio’s Supercirio is surprisingly good quality.  I’ve used this on homemade pizzas and in pasta so far, and it has a vivid colouring, authentic tomato taste, and it isn’t acidic like some purees.  A sound example of a good quality tomato puree.

Cirio La Classica Passata (RRP £1.35)

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Passata in a plastic bottle seemed a little strange to me at first, but once I used it, it all became clear.  There’s too much passata in this bottle to use all at once, but the plastic bottle makes it easy to pour and store, compared to the usual cardboard cartons that get messy and don’t keep well in the fridge.  The passata itself is beautiful – packed full of flavoursome Italian tomatoes with a delicate sweetness.  A lot nicer than the watery, bland stuff I’ve tried in the past!

Garofalo Pasta (RRP £1.89)

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Yay!  Pasta!  One of my favourite ingredients to use in hearty evening meals.  Garofalo is an Italian brand from near Naples, and have been making pasta since 1789, using durum wheat and bronze dies for shaping.  I’m pretty sure these pasta tubes are rigatoni, as they’re large, ridged, and slightly curved tubes, and they are delicious served al dente.

Here’s an easy recipe for a summery pasta dish, using Garofalo pasta and Cirio passata…

Summer Vegetable Pasta

(Serves 2 people)

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Ingredients:

200g Garofalo Pasta

250ml Cirio La Classica Passata

1 Courgette

1/2 Red Bell Pepper

1/2 White Onion

1 Garlic Clove

4 or 5 Sundried Tomatoes

1 sachet Oloves Olives

Method:

– Boil the pasta for 10-12 minutes.

– Meanwhile, chop and fry the courgette, pepper, onion and garlic until soft.  Add the olives and sundried tomatoes.

– Add the passata to the vegetables to make a sauce, and simmer for a few minutes.

– Stir in the cooked pasta and serve immediately, with a sprinkle of cheese.

This is my third Degustabox so far, and though it isn’t as packed full of sweet treats as the last one, this is still a brilliant box, and once again everything in it is vegetarian!  It was a pleasure to try so many new products and brands, and I’m pleased to have discovered a few new items to add to my weekly shopping list.

If you fancy giving Degustabox a go, you can get a £3 discount by entering code MZIIQ at the checkout.  You can also follow Degustabox on Twitter and Facebook for more exclusive offers.

Naomi x

PS. You can check out the rest of my Degustabox reviews here.

*This Degustabox was sent to me by Degustabox for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

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