Monday, 20 February 2017

FRATELLI GUZZINI Knives and Blender Review

Recently I have had a kitchen detox. Ok, a clear out to put it bluntly. I've had a brand new kitchen. Gone are the gadgets I no longer use, the chipped knives, the mismatched plates and in their place are sleek colour co-ordinated accessories and products I need and want. To this effect Fratelli Guzzini, the Italian homeware company have helped me out.



Now, there are some things that are important to a home cook, and one of these are a set of great knives. 

The Fratelli Guzzini knife block comes with a set of five knives of varying functions. They describe the knives as a knife for cold meats, a bread knife, a kitchen knife, a general purpose knife and a carving knife. 







What struck me at first was how sleek and modern the knife set looked in my kitchen. Shallow I know but this is important to me as it fits in well with my new kitchen that I am lucky to have. This knife set has been designed by award-winning Ora Ito, an Italian designer and it shows.

The set I was sent is in the grey colour scheme, with grey soft touch grips on the handles. The acrylic base is white on one side and dark grey on the other and looks super smart. It's useful having the knife block transparent on one side so you can see and select the appropriate knife for your needs.

I also was wondering how I would clean it, but it can be dismantled for ease of cleaning, which is a great idea. My old knife block was made of wood and was so hard to clean and not terribly hygienic. Everything is dishwasher safe so that is an added bonus.



As you can see above the set of knives covers most things you would need. The knives come with a little plastic guard on the tip for safety in transit which is reassuring to know.




So how sharp would these knives be, would it be style over substance? I needn't have worried. They are sharp and cut well. No problems here. One thing I would say is that they do not come with a knife sharpener so I can't comment on how long the sharpness will last. 

This set of knives with knife block costs £80 (90 Euros) from Fratelli Guzzini which when you consider you get 5 quality knives and a stylish knife block, I think is a decent price.  They also come in funky green and red colour ways if you want to inject some colour into your kitchen.




Fratelli Guzzini also sent me a blender to review. The blender has tempered glass and feels solid. The lid fits well and has a small measuring cup built in so you can remove and add more ingredients to the blender.



The blender has a large 1500 ml capacity, perfect for a family. The settings are a slow setting 1 and faster setting 2. There is also a pulse setting as well as off. 

The design of the blender is smart, whilst still being functional and unfussy. The side of the blender has a chrome finish and looks particularly lovely. The non-slip feet is a great safety feature and ensures the blender will not move when it is in use. The blades are super sharp and are suitable to crush ice, this would make it very good to make smoothies as well as blended soups, milkshakes and sauces. 




The jug is heavy when full so you do need to bear that in mind, but it is also heat resistant so great when you want to blend soups, gravies and sauces that are hot.


I made a banana and peanut butter smoothie in the blender and it coped well with nuts in the peanut butter as well as making a very smooth and thick smoothie. The blender cost £90 (99 Euros) and makes a useful and chic addition to your kitchen and looks smart on your counter.

If you are looking for stylish kitchen accessories I would certainly recommend Fratelli Guzzini. The products I tried combined style with function, quality with class, a bit like me!

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Friday, 17 February 2017

The Benefits Of Buying Vintage

In the olden days, we used to cherish our possessions. I remember the days before Ikea when many young people would buy furniture second hand and upcycle it as buying new to furnish their homes was so expensive. I remember myself buying a dining table and chairs from a charity shop and spending ages sanding it down, staining the wood and re-upholstering the chairs.

Baby clothes would be hand knitted by grannies and mums trying to make ends meet, and clothes and furnishings such as cushions and curtains would be hand-sewn by seamstresses. Craftsmen and women would spend hours making furniture, jewellers would hand select the best stones for their jewellery and watchmakers would spend hours selecting the perfect hands and movements for their watches.  You knew when you were buying something like this you were buying quality. Then came mass production and with that came the throwaway society. 

Buying vintage, however, has come back into fashion and there are many benefits to buying vintage today.

Quality


Many of today's products are mass produced in volume not handmade or produced in small batches like they used to be. That's not to say everything mass produced will be of dubious quality but there is nothing like a dress that is handmade by a seamstress or a watch loving crafted by a watchmaker. 

When you are buying vintage you are generally buying quality as it has lasted over time.

Uniqueness 

In this throwaway society finding an unusual piece of jewellery, a quality timepiece or a remarkable dress that no one has is a huge benefit of buying vintage. It's extremely unlikely you will see this item on anyone else due to the smaller production values of a bygone age. 

Price



Many vintage items such as furniture and clothes can be picked up at a fraction of the price of new in second-hand or charity shops and flea markets. 

Items such as diamond jewellery, designer bags, and luxury second-hand watches hold their value but can still be picked up for a bargain so if you like your designer and luxury items consider buying vintage from a reputable dealer.

Provenance 

There is a history to an item that is vintage and this is called provenance. Provenance, a record of ownership and history can add real value to an item in terms of financial value and authenticity. This is especially important with antiques, jewellery and watches. 

Provenance in terms of an heirloom like a pre-owned Rolex passed down through generations can keep an item adored and treasured throughout time. 

Eco-Friendly



When you buy a vintage item you are recycling it and saving it from the rubbish tip. Don't be a slave to fashion, buy vintage items that are classic and take care of your clothes and you can wear them time and time again. Sand down old furniture, stain it or paint it and varnish it and you will have a unique piece of furniture at a bargain price.

The manufacturing of new products has an impact on the environment in terms of toxins, materials, water use and greenhouse gases, so reduce buying, reuse and recycle and you are helping the environment.

Tell me, would you consider buying a vintage watch or jewellery? What do you think of the vintage trend?

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Struggling to Reach Payday? Sell Your Jewellery for Instant Cash

If you’re still counting the cost of the festive season in February, you’re not alone. While Christmas has come and gone, many families are still facing the burden of excess spending and struggling to recoup their finances. With the combination of the early payday and a long month in January, it’s no surprise that 80% of Brits struggle with their finances over the festive period. What’s more, the need to take out payday loans is becoming increasingly necessary — a financial decision that can cause a hangover well into the year.

So what can you do?

While many families opt to budget hard or delve into their overdraft, a smarter option might be to sell your unwanted goods to earn an extra bit of cash and ease the pressure.

Sell your unwanted jewellery



Have you considered selling jewellery? Selling your unwanted silver and gold is always a safe bet. It’s something many of us have in a drawer at home and can actually be worth some serious money.

Now is the perfect time for a pre-spring clean, but instead of simply throwing your old jewellery away, why not give your bank balance a welcome boost by selling it to a cash your gold company? Not only are you guaranteed to get a fair price for your items (selling jewellery that can be resold will actually mean you get more!), but it’s also completely hassle-free. Sell your gold online and you won’t have to trudge to the high street and haggle with a pawnbroker. Simply send off your goods in a pre-paid envelope and if you’re happy with the price, the money will be sitting in your account in as 24 hours.

Finding a reputable cash your gold provider


When it comes to selling your old jewellery — even if you don’t have any sentimental attachment to it — you still want to make sure you find someone you trust. Gold and silver prices fluctuate daily, so do your research and make sure you’re getting a fair quote. Getting your jewellery appraised can make all the difference, so be on the lookout for cash your gold companies who are experts in the industry. The last thing you’d want is to be stung by a provider offering you the price of scrap when your jewellery is actually worth a lot more.

Don't want to get rid of your old jewellery? Other money-making tips

You may have plenty of old jewellery around the house that holds sentimental value, meaning you don’t want to sell it on. But selling jewellery isn’t the only way to make some easy cash.

Sell your unused goods online

The majority of us have a habit of not throwing things away. It’s that old adage that things will come in handy again at some point but, realistically, it’s unlikely they ever will. As a result, it’s so easy to accumulate a vast amount of junk in a short space of time. A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t used it for a year, it might be time to consider passing it on.

Online marketplaces such as eBay are a great way of getting rid of your old stuff easily — and to minimise your costs further, keep an eye out for the chance to host your auction for free. You might just cause a bidding war! You never know who might fall in love with that handbag you bought last year, but haven’t used since.

Future-proof your bank account

How great would it be if every time you bought something, be it your weekly shop, a holiday or a new outfit, you could earn extra cash? With cashback apps and websites, such as Quidco, you can! While you may be cutting back on luxuries in the first few months of the year, with cash back, you might find you don’t have to scrimp on that takeaway treat you’re craving at the end of the month!

The New Year may be a time of promise and beginnings, but as the daily realities of bills, spending from previous months and a long wait for payday set in, you may find yourself struggling. We could always do with a little bit of extra cash, especially during tough times, and selling jewellery and your belongings can, quite literally, pay off.


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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Beauty Tips: Your Lips

Although lips are a commonly forgotten area in beauty routines, they require moisture and nourishment just like the rest of the face. Lips require extra hydration and protection since they lack natural oils. Read on to learn three tips for keeping your lips plump, smooth, and healthy. 




1. Block the Sun

Lips are especially vulnerable to UV damage caused by the sun's rays. Harmful UV rays will not only age lips faster but they also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

It is crucial to protect lips with a lip balm containing sunscreen - EOS offers an excellent option that is water resistant for 80 minutes and provides SPF 30 - each time you go outside. Also, be mindful that UV rays are capable of penetrating glass and clouds. This means sun protection should also be worn on the lips when riding in a car and even on cloudy, overcast days.

2. Moisturise Lips Frequently
In addition to always using a lip balm with SPF during outdoor activities, it is also essential to use regular lip balm on a frequent basis. Adding moisture to the lips throughout the day helps keep them supple and soft.

Look for a brand, such as EOS or Burt's Bees, that features a formula with natural oils, vitamins, and moisturisers. Adequately moisturised lips will be better protected against dry air, low humidity levels, and harsh weather.

3. Use a Lip Oil

Aside from using a lip balm during the day, consider using a lip oil at night to provide lips with an extra-rich boost of moisture. Brands such as Yes to Coconuts offer lip oils specially designed to drench lips with superior hydration.

Using a rich oil overnight will pamper lips and help keep them from becoming dry as the night passes. If desired, lip oil can also be applied over regular lip balm to lock in moisture.

Final Words

Overall, remember to consider your lips when completing your daily beauty routine. By providing your lips with extra moisture and adequate protection, they will remain softer and more youthful looking as you age.

Do you think about your lips in your beauty regime? 

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Winter Getaway At Bluestone Wales

If you were to ask me my favourite place to stay in Wales I would say without a shadow of a doubt Bluestone Wales. I have been lucky enough to visit this luxury resort situated 10 miles from Tenby in West Wales a number of times and I have always had a great time. 

The luxury holiday park and resort is set in over 500 acres of beautiful countryside. With the emphasis on activities as well as relaxation, there are many things to do here for young and old alike.





I am also proud to be a Bluestone Blogger and get invited back to review on a regular basis. I could never be complimentary about a venue though if I didn't like it,  but that has never been the case with Bluestone. I mean look at the standard of accommodation at the Ramsey Lodge below on our recent stay, amazing isn't it!?

Accommodation








The Ramsey Lodge is designed for 'upside down living', with the living space upstairs and the bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs. This is a genius idea as you get a terrific view of the beautiful scenery around the park.



Everything in the lodge was perfect. The two bedroom lodge had a double bedroom and a twin bedroom,  one with ensuite bath and toilet and the other with an ensuite shower and toilet room. Upstairs is the lounge and kitchen/diner. The lounge contained a table and chairs big enough for four, two sofas, a flat screen TV and DVD player. The kitchen had a small fridge/freezer, cooker, microwave, dishwasher, toaster and kettle, and all the dishes, pans and utensils you would need to cook and serve a meal. 



The condition of everything was spot on. The bathrooms were incredibly clean, the sofas and tables were in excellent condition, and there were no scuff marks on the walls. The carpet also looked new and was different to when we visited the park last year. You can see Bluestone Wales refurbish and replace on a regular basis.

Activities

The park has amazing activities for kids and I can confirm that the Blue Lagoon all weather water park, looks amazing and has a fantastic looking slide. 

The family adventure centre will also keep the kids happy with mini golf, a climbing wall and soft play as well as a circus zone, messy play area and a sensory zone for babies, all under cover.

You can hire bikes and buggies to get around the park, a good idea if you have little ones or mobility problems as the park can be steep in places.

There is even the Well Spa where adults can have a massage, pedicure or other treatments as well as using the small pool and the different therapeutic rooms. 




The outdoor play area always looks like great fun too!



If you love nature, check out the bug lodge and the beautiful lake with the little ducklings, whilst history lovers will enjoy the history walk with the local historian Terry John which is free.



Also watch out for the bunnies!


This visit we decided to try one of the activities for adults. Now, should we go for the archery, high rope zip line, laser clay pigeon shooting, or indoor rock climbing? As I am not a fan or heights we decided to try one of the shooting activities so after visiting the booking centre we trotted off to the laser pigeon shooting the next day.

Now I am a bit of a crack shot. This is not due to a misspent youth, more to do with a natural ability. I think I was Annie Oakley in a former life. Actually, I don't know how I do it but I'm pretty nifty with a gun, and found this out at a shooting range in Las Vegas, so the pressure was on.

Mr W is a competitive sort, and in everything we do he always has to be the best, and can slyly put me under pressure if I am winning. It was going to be interesting to see who was the Bluestone clay pigeon champion January 2017!





After a quick explanation of how the guns worked, it was on to the practice round. The guns have a little infra-red light that is fired at the clay targets, this then reflects back to the scoreboard. I did well in the practice round, and Mr W was already complaining that his gun wasn't working properly... Forty-five minutes later, we were all finished, and I won against three other people and I don't think I will ever hear the end of it! So if you want to upset everyone in your family I would highly recommend trying one of the competitive sports when you visit.

Food





Bluestone Wales has a small grocery shop as well as a number of cafes and restaurants on site mostly all in the village area.  The shop has a captive audience so prices are on the high side so we would recommend taking most of the food you will think you will need with you. You can get most things you need in the shop though so don't worry if you forget anything or just want to buy food when you are there.


Camp Smokey looked good fun but was not open when we were there. The Farmhouse Grill is a restaurant tailored to families and Ty Coffi is a super little cafe. 


We had a really good meal at The Knight's Tafarn, the pub in the village area. The chicken madras, poppadoms, and nan bread we ordered were really tasty and the chips that came as a side dish were very good too.  

We were surprised that the more upmarket Oak Tree restaurant had changed the type of food they served since last time we went. Instead of a refined upmarket bistro, the restaurant now serves more hearty pizza and pasta dishes. 



We ate there one night and the food was good, not perfect but still good, and the prices were excellent, with main courses being about £10. I had a pulled beef ragu and Mr W had penne arrabbiata, which we both enjoyed. There were no starters other than garlic bread, and it would have been nice to have more choice here. Dessert options were limited to chocolate brownies and ice cream, and again more choice would have been brilliant but the brownie was outstanding and the ice cream great quality.

Service was very good at the Oak Tree restaurant, and this has much improved since the first time we visited Bluestone Wales. As this is the main restaurant for adults, (although children are welcome too) perhaps the lighting could have been adjusted to give a more ambient atmosphere.  I do think however Bluestone Wales have made the right decision to change the restaurant to pizza and pasta, just a few more starters and desserts would have made it better.



Bluestone Wales is well situated in West Wales, being a short drive from Tenby and Saundersfoot, and if you love history Carew Castle is only 7 miles away.  



Bluestone Wales has something for everyone. We saw a real mix of people during this stay, from families with babies to retired couples. The luxury holiday park suits those looking for a family-friendly activity break to those looking for a quiet stay in a beautiful holiday park close to nature. I haven't touched on all the activities and events available, but these change seasonally. The park is always changing, updating and improving and Bluestone should be commended for this. With a 4 night midweek break from £149 per lodge in low season then I think it can be tremendous value for money too. 



Check out this video for an insight into our Bluestone stay.





Tell me would you visit? Have you been to Bluestone Wales?

Bluestone Resorts Ltd
Canaston Wood
Narberth, 
Pembrokeshire, 
SA67 8DE
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Monday, 13 February 2017

5 Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate itself contains many health benefits and some people even compare it to a superfood…but can you stuff your face, completely guilt-free?

The experts over at Vitabiotics have written this article about the positive benefits of dark chocolate that you need to be aware of.




1. Good for your heart

Studies have proven that eating small amounts of dark chocolate can actually lower blood pressure. This is due to the fact that it contains nitric oxide, which sends signals to the arteries to relax. Also, in the long-term, it may mean that less cholesterol will lodge in the arteries, preventing serious conditions such as heart disease and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

2. Good for the brain

Dark chocolate has been shown to have great positive effects on your mood and mental wellbeing. Dark chocolate contains the same hormone your brain responds to when you're in love, which could be why we feel ‘super’ when we eat it.

3. Reduces stress


So, when you hear people say they whip out a box of chocolates after work to help them relax, it is actually scientifically proven to help. When stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol within your bloodstream. Despite this hormone being a normal human reaction, a prolonged period of it can have negative effects on stress levels and anxiety.

Research has shown that those who ate 40g of chocolate per day over two weeks had a reduced rate of Cortisol in their body than before the test, which may lead to a happier lifestyle.

4. Controls blood sugar

Eating small amounts of dark chocolate can maintain the health of your blood vessels and may even prevent conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Cocoa, particularly the flavonoids in dark chocolate could help cells function normally.

5. Good for skin

The flavanols within dark chocolate are said to be great for the skin. There are claims that they protect against sun damage and increase skin hydration. If you are planning a trip abroad anytime soon, it may be worth introducing some more flavanol-rich dark chocolate into your balanced and varied diet, in combination with a skin supplement such as Perfectil, which helps to nourish and support skin. 

Tell me do you eat dark chocolate? Were you aware of the potential health benefits?

* Guest post 
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Sunday, 12 February 2017

How To Make A Sex On The Beach Cocktail

With Valentine's day just around the corner, you may be thinking of what to cook for your partner and that perfect meal. You may want to make a sophisticated creation washed down with an excellent Sauvignon Blanc or you may go fun and frivolous and complete the meal with a heart dessert and her favourite cocktail like Sex On The Beach.



The first Sex On The Beach cocktail was created in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the 80's when a bartender wanted to create a fun drink for those celebrating Spring Break. If you are wondering why the name, the crazier the name the more likely people will order it in the cocktail game. 



It's one of those cocktails that is super simple, easy to make, and colourful. Perfect for those that like their cocktails sweet with refreshing and dare I say it innocent. It's not sophisticated but it is delicious.

This cocktail is one of those cocktails that will take you back to that fabulous holiday in the sun, you know the one, where you sipped cocktails by the pool, where the food was so fresh and delicious it was amazing and you felt the most relaxed you have ever been.




How To Make A Sex On The Beach

Ingredients

2 measures of Vodka
1/2 measure of black raspberry Liqueur such as Chambord
1/2 measure of butterscotch Schnapps such as Teichenne
1 1/2 measures of freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 measure of cranberry juice
orange slice and a cherry to garnish

Method




1. In a tall highball glass, add all the ingredients, stir and top with ice.
2. Decorate with an orange slice and a cherry garnish.
3. Enjoy dreaming of your next holiday.





To buy all the spirits needed for Sex On The Beach,  head over the 31 Dover and buy it all online, with no need to carry heavy bottles home from the supermarket. With quick delivery and a price match promise, you get the best prices on alcohol delivered to your doorstep at one click of a button.



Tell me do you order your drinks online? What's your favourite cocktail?
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Friday, 10 February 2017

Interesting Design Features To Add To Your Home

Do any of us have the perfect home? Unless you have a millionaire's budget there is likely to be things that you want to change. Maybe your house is too small, your rooms too dark or you need some extra space to chill out.  Here are some interesting design features to add to your home to make it lighter, brighter, bigger and more interesting. 

Conservatory



A conservatory is an excellent way to add extra space to your home and is not just for hotels and cafes. A conservatory made of glass panels is very light and airy and can be a lovely place to sit in the Summer or Winter especially.

It is also one of the ways to add extra value to your home according to property expert Phil Spencer and we all want that don't we?

Loft Conversion



If you need more space in your home but can't afford to move consider a loft conversion. A loft conversion is another way of increasing the value in your home whilst creating extra space. 

A loft conversion can be used for another bedroom, a cinema room or a music room for example and is a great design feature that all the family can enjoy.

Bi-Fold Doors



Luxury bi-fold doors are a great addition to any home. By having bi-fold doors installed you can bring the outdoors in, and you can sit in comfort in your lovely warm house when it's cold outside and look out at the garden.

They also maximise the natural light and dispels the gloom in any dark room, whilst being cheaper than an extension or loft conversion.

Skylights


Adding skylights to a dark room can really brighten it up and make it feel lighter whilst given us the added benefit of vitamin D from the sun.

Modern UPVC skylights are self-cleaning and thermally efficient too so keep the heat in whilst saving your money on your energy bills.

Garage



Adding a garage to your home can be really worthwhile to help protect your car and lower your car insurance but if you don't have a car or need the space consider converting the garage into another room. 

Adding extra rooms to you home can really add value as well giving you that chill out space. You could even rent the space out.

Wine Cellar



If you are a connoisseur of wine, why not make a wine cellar in your basement? 

There are many websites out there that can help you with the conversion and can suggest the materials you need such as an air conditioning unit to keep the wine at the correct temperature, moisture resistant flooring and paint. When it's done you can sit and relax with a glass of wine enjoying your new cellar.

Tell me would do you have any of these design features in your home or would an appeal to you?

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