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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Our Visit To The Isle Of Wight

This is a guest post by the lovely Helen from Mummy To The Max Blog. Helen writes about family life in Southampton, activities and experiences with her son Max, a toddler and reviews.

As some of my readers may know my parents now live on the Isle of Wight. I speak to them everyday and see them regularly when they return to the mainland. Recently Maxwell and I decided to visit them.

We travelled on the newly refurbished Red Falcon ferry from the Red Funnel Terminal in Southampton to East Cowes. I loved the new styling of the ferry and hope Red Funnel will update their other 2 ferries to the same standards. The ferry journey takes 1 hour and the time passed very quickly. Maxwell enjoyed watching passing ships and yachts, constantly waving to all of them.

We were met at the ferry terminal by my parents and as the weather was warm we headed to Shanklin to have a game of crazy golf and to watch people on the beach whilst eating yummy ice creams.


We then visited The Garlic Farm at Newchurch. It is free admission and parking and we had an enjoyable time having a free tasting experience ... garlic mayonnaise, chutneys, oils etc. Maxwell loved watching the farm animals and adored the Shetland pony. We made our purchases from the on site shop and headed off to get an early evening meal at the family orientated pub the Fighting Cocks at Arreton. There was plenty on the menu and they really catered well for fussy little ones.
The next day we visited Arreton Barns Craft Village which is the largest centre for arts and crafts on the Isle of Wight. It is also free admission and parking. We watched skilled artisans at work including wood turners, ceramic artists, glass blowers, leather workers, artists and florists. Maxwell was captivated at the large statues of pirates as he absolutely loves pirates. You can visit the Shipwreck Centre at an extra cost.



We then headed to West Cowes where we looked around various shops and had a late lunch at the Mess Canteen. This is well worth a visit as drinks are served out of jam jars and the food is delicious and priced very competitively. There is a little book corner and a tiny child's chair which Maxwell relaxed in. I loved that they catered for children and thought this was a very nice touch.



After a stroll along the waterfront It was then time to return home ... we said our goodbyes and caught the Red Eagle back to Southampton.

We had a most enjoyable time and we are hoping to visit the Isle Of Wight soon.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Quick Banana Trifle From Soreen

Soreen the makers of the original malt loaf have sent me some of this lovely malty loaf to review. Did you know Soreen make other flavour loafs too? The thought of the flavours such as the Chocolate Mega Loaf, Apple and Sultana Loaf and Banana Fruit loaf actually make my mouth water. 

If you check out their website they also have lots of ideas of recipes to make with Soreen, which got me thinking, what could I make to show off the versatility of the banana fruit loaf?

So here is my recipe for banana fruity trifle. I hope you like it!

Soreen Quick Banana Trifle - serves 1

a slice of Soreen banana fruit loaf
1 banana
1 can ready made caramel
a small pot of Elmlea or double cream
a handful of blueberries

Cut up the Soreen into small pieces.
Put the Soreen in the bottom of an individual serving dish.
Add a few blueberries. 
Pour cream over just to cover. 
Place a couple of dessert spoons of caramel in a microwaveable bowl and heat for 20 seconds until it is softened. 
Add sliced bananas.
Spoon caramel over the mixture.
Add some more blueberries.
If you wish top with cream (optional)
Enjoy!


Soreen have also created a video to show how you can make a chocolate Soreen flapjack recipe, why don't you have a look below. 



You can contact Soreen on Facebook and Twitter for competitions, ideas and advice.  What do you think of my banana fruity trifle? Did you realise Soreen comes in different flavours?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Swarovski Elements From Warren James

Warren James is a company known for their well priced and affordable jewellery. Their motto is "Great jewellery design - just like the brands - but half the price". Since their inception in 1979 this family company has grown to become one of the biggest jewellers in the UK with 135 branches nationwide.

I have to be honest, I have never been in a Warren James store but I think that is about to change. The reason is, I really love the Swarovski Elements sets that you can buy from them. Every girl needs a little glamour in her life and these sets are amazing value for money, perfect as a gift or to treat yourself, and with the Swarovski brand you know you are getting beautiful quality jewellery.



Crystal image courtesy of Shutterstock

I was sent the Gabriella pendant and earring set made of Swarovski elements to review.  Inspired by the Aurora Borealis - the Northern lights, I think you can see why with the play of light and colour.

What I like about this pendant is that although the base crystal is clear, it picks up colour from its surroundings, and the multi-faceted cut adds a healthy dose of sparkle. In some lights it looks gold but in other lights pink or blue. The necklace is on an 18in chain but it also has an extender that adds an extra 2 and a half inches. This feature is useful for those who like a longer pendant or if you wish to adjust the length of the chain depending on the neckline of the top you are wearing.




The earrings again are similar but do not have the small crystals in the bale, also as the pendant they take on the colour of your surroundings or what you are wearing.

Both the earrings and pendant are rhodium plated to keep the whiteness and shine of the metal.



Priced at a bargain £26, this set would be a perfect gift for someone. 

You can follow Warren James on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with special offers, new lines and promotions. Also be sure to follow my blog via email on the right, or social media as I will be giving this jewellery set away next month.

Tell me what do you think of the set above? Have you ever bought from Warren James?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

What's Your Summer Personality?

New Look has created this quiz which determines your summer personality. 


The quiz asks you a series of questions and determines what holiday or festival destinations you should choose based on what you like to do and your personality. So I had a go and here are the results.




The results summed me up well.  So well in fact, that I wondered if New Look could read my mind, after all I went to Los Angeles on holiday last year! Ever since I was a little girl I have been star struck. Films captured my imagination from a very young age. One of my first memories was watching The Wizard of Oz. I really wanted a pair of those ruby slippers.  I was always interested in fashion, even from a young age..... 

Can you imagine how excited I was visiting LA! I was totally star struck. We did the Starline star homes tour, catching glimpses of the houses of all the movie and music stars, Al Pacino, Halle Berry, Madonna, Simon Cowell. We also visited the Hollywood walk of fame with the stars on the boardwalk.

Of course I kept cool in my shorts from New Look. very similar to the ones pictured above, and my sunnies. A girl has to look her best you know, in case you bump into Leonardo... 



Beverly Hills



the balcony where Julia Roberts gets 'rescued' in Pretty Woman



The Hollywood Walk Of Fame




The Viper Room


You can try out the quiz here. Let me know how you get on and if it was as accurate with you as it was with me. New Look approached me to take this quiz with the opportunity of receiving the items featured/ receiving a gift. I am tagging my lovely friend Lucy from It's a London Bird Thing in this post. I wonder what destination and wardrobe she will be matched with....


Thursday, 10 July 2014

Get Summer Ready With Beaverbrooks

Beaverbrooks the jeweller, is celebrating its 95th birthday this year. To mark this occasion they have created some gorgeous summer pieces influenced by the catwalk trends. Importantly they are very realistically priced as well, the majority being silver and gold plated and inlaid with cubic zirconia - giving the look of diamonds without the price!

Many pieces are rose gold plated. I am a big fan of rose gold. The pretty hue adds a warmth to most skin tones and looks fantastic with a summer tan. 





rose gold plated and cubic zirconia flower pendant

The beautiful rose gold plated and cubic zirconia flower pendant above is priced at only £80 and is also available in silver. Transforming any outfit to make a Wow statement, it certainly adds a touch of luxury to any wardrobe.


The cubic zirconia stones add glamour and sparkle to the asymmetrical design and a matching statement ring is available in the same rich tones.

Beaverbrooks also have a range of new catwalk inspired cuffs, in a strictly limited edition run. Only 75 of these exclusive cuffs have been made, and each one has been lovingly designed by an Italian designer exclusively for Beaverbrooks.

As you can see the designs are fluid, wearable but slightly unusually, almost organic in their design. A perfect addition to a special occasion outfit, a cuff like this will certainly make you stand out from the crowd, whether a guest at a wedding, garden party, birthday party or graduation.
This stunning cuff above reminds me of the vines you see in nature and is exquisitely made as you can see. In a warm yellow tone I can imagine wearing this out for a meal or cocktails and would be perfect on holiday whether you are in Dubai or Dublin, Manchester or Miami. 

Ranging in price from £295 to £350 each cuff is also numbered emphasising the exclusivity and attention to detail.

If you prefer silver, or white gold, yellow gold or platinum, Beaverbrooks had beautiful jewellery with a wide range of prices for all pockets. They also have a fabulous selection of luxury watches by brands such as Omega, Tag Heuer, Gucci and my favourite Michael Kors. Delivery is free and with 65 stores nationwide as well as their online shop, this family run business has become a byword for excellent quality, stunning design and welcoming customer service. 



I'm now hoping they will make earrings to match my new pendant. After all a girl cannot have too much jewellery, can she now?

Have you ever shopped in Beaverbrooks? What do you think of these new designs?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Quiche Lorraine

This recipe for Quiche Lorraine does not contain cream, but contains a high proportion of Gruyere cheese for an authentic and luxury taste. 

Ingredients

1/2 packet of shortcrust pastry
6 rashers bacon
1 onion, diced
3 eggs, beaten
250ml milk
100g Gruyere and 50g cheddar or 150g Cheddar or Gruyere, grated
Pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.

Roll out pastry on a floured surface until it is roughly the size of the quiche tin.
Use the pastry to line the tin, trim edges and press down.
Prick base of quiche with a fork to let the air out when it cooks and to crisp it up.
Cook for 5-10 minutes until pastry is set then remove from oven.
Turn oven down to 190 degrees C.



Fry bacon in a little oil until crispy. 
Remove bacon from pan, cut up into pieces, removing any fat and discard.
Fry onion in fat until softened for 5 minutes.
Break eggs into a bowl, add milk and pepper and whisk with a fork.
Add bacon, onions and cheese.
Pour mixture into case.
Cook in the oven for 35 minutes or until set when knife inserted into the quiche comes out clean.




My rustic quiche. It may not look pretty but it was perfectly delicious

Eat hot or cold. Serve with new potatoes or chips and salad.

Serves 6-8

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Hotter Shoes Blogging Event Cardiff

Recently I was invited to a blogging event run by Hotter Shoes. Hotter Shoes was set up in 1959 and originally designed and sold slippers.... until they had their 'Eureka' moment, they would design shoes with style and comfort combined. Their passion for the business, great customer care and quality footwear has seen their brand go from strength to strength, so I was excited when I visited their Cardiff branch recently.




I was welcomed by Mel the lovely PR lady and treated to some refreshments as we chatted about the brand. Before long we were joined by some of South Wales gorgeous bloggers such as Lorraine from Squeaky Baby blog, and Su from Soosie Wales.

Hotter Shoes unique selling point is their "Comfort Concept" -  shoes that are lightweight in design with breathable leathers and liners, great flexibility and softly cushioned soles full of millions of air bubbles. Many of their shoes also have no internal seams which greatly adds to the 'slipper' effect.

Some facts about Hotter Shoes I didn't know

They are a family company.
They are the biggest shoe company in the UK.
They are authorised to use Gortex in their walking shoes and boots.
Their standard fit is a D to an E fitting but they even go up to an EEE.
They have a UK call centre for customer care.
They have a 100 % happy guarantee

These are some of my top picks below, let me know what you think of the designs.



pretty plimsolls

Hotter are keen to appeal to a younger market than they have previously and you can see this in some of their fashion led designs, like the floral plimsolls above. I can see these being worn by uni students or festival goers as well as trendy mums who love comfort.


super soft shoes

These beautiful shoes would add a touch of class to a summer outfit worn at a wedding, a day at the races or a garden party. How gorgeous is the floral liner on the shoes to the left?


wonderful wedges

I would wear these fabulous wedges out for dinner, and I can see they would be popular for workwear, combining classic style with comfort.


Dawn Shoes £65

I was allowed to pick a pair of shoes to take home, but as you can see it was a very difficult decision as I was spoilt for choice! So what design did I choose in the end?  I picked a pair of navy denim effect wedges with an adjustable strap. It is difficult to find navy wedges and these were super comfortable and easy to wear with jeans or a summer dress for a smarter look. The cushioned sole made it feel like I was walking on air and the rattan look was a modern touch.

At the moment Hotter Shoes have a SALE on so it is a great time to buy. You can find Hotter Shoes on Facebook and Twitter, and following them is a great way to find out about new designs, special offers and sales. Also many thanks to The Boy And Me who organised the outing, it was lovely to meet you too!

* I was given a pair of Hotter Shoes for an honest review

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Sale On Now At T. M. Lewin

Although known for their work wear, T.M. Lewin are not just a company that make stylish office clothes. They make lovely quality clothes for all occasions. This fashion led clothes store also has a sale now on. With 4 mens shirts for £80, 3 womens shirts for £66 and some jackets half price, the sale is certainly worth a look.

Here are my top picks to brighten up your wardrobe for summer.
'Shani' Coral statement jacket was £150 now £75

This coral jacket adds a bright pop of colour to any outfit. The crease resistant material means it always looks smart. A perfect jacket to wear to work, to a wedding or even out for cocktails on a summer night.
'Paula' Summer Blue Knit -  was £40 now £28

This versatile jumper is in a soft cornflower blue colour. I love the lace detail neckline and the cashmere blend material means it is super soft on your skin. A quality item at a great price.

'Pippa' Coral Dress - was £110 now £55

This great shift dress skims your body shape and the lace sleeves add an important touch of detail. A statement necklace and simple earrings would add the important finishing touches.

Have you ever shopped at T. M. Lewin? What do you think of the items I have picked?

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Win A Pair Of Portuguese Heart Earrings - Ends 18/07/14

Portuguese Heart make beautiful filigree jewellery from a traditional Portuguese design.  

This type of jewellery isn't widely know outside of Portugal but it has a detailed and delicate look. 

To win a pair of Sonia earrings, check out my interview with the owner of the company Catarina Araújo here, then come back and answer the questions on the Rafflecopter application below.

If you love the earrings as much as me you can enter daily, so be sure to bookmark the page.





My giveaway is open to those 18 + living in the UK only.
Winner picked at random via Rafflecopter
Please allow 28 days for delivery
No automated entries
One entry per person
Giveaway ends midnight on 18/07/14

Good Luck!

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/silver-portuguese-filigree-earrings#sthash.JmNxuT1L.dpuf

Portuguese Heart Jewellery

Portuguese Heart are a jewellery company that sell beautiful unique filigree jewellery. Here I speak to the owner of the company Catarina Araújo about her passion for beautiful Portuguese jewellery.



When did you start Portuguese Heart?

The website for Portuguese Heart went live in December 2012, but the ideas and preparation work for it began long before that. 

What is the idea behind the company?

I wanted to really promote this beautiful and unique art form, which isn't well-known outside of Portugal. I had bought filigree jewellery for friends in the past as gifts; they were always so well-received that it made me want to give others the chance to buy original gifts for their own family and friends. I hope that people will not only love the jewellery they see, but find some inspiration to go to Portugal and discover the myriad other things we have to offer.

What are the price points?

I wanted to have a price range that would be affordable to everyone. Prices range from £14 to £250. These correspond to what you'll find in the jewellery streets in downtown Lisbon. 



What makes the jewellery special?

There's so much that makes it special. Firstly, I make sure to only buy very low numbers of each piece (usually 2 or 3) to guarantee that you won't meet someone wearing the same thing at a party (what woman doesn't hate that?). Another way it's special is that it's hand-made by artisans whose families have been in the business for generations. It's a dying art form - and one that I hope we can preserve by introducing others to it. Finally, the versatility of the jewellery is unrivalled: you can wear it with denim shorts on the beach sipping a caipirinha, or to a ball at Buckingham Palace... and everything in between. It's traditional to wear filigree at weddings in Portugal, but I've seen it at Indian weddings and it looks amazing! 



What are your favourite pieces of jewellery that you own?

For me, my favourites are always the ones that have sentimental value to you. Some of my favourites include pieces that belonged to my great-grandmother (I'm fairly sure I inherited my passion for jewellery from her), a ring my grandparents gave me on my graduation, and earrings that my boyfriend got me on our first Christmas living together.



How do you see the company progressing in the future?

The next step, which is due to take place in the next couple of months, is to start selling solid gold jewellery. And whilst I'd be happy to continue focussing on the filigree jewellery, it would be really exciting to expand to other traditional products - anything from luxury soaps to quality hats. 

You can follow Portuguese Heart on Twitter and Facebook.

What do you think of the jewellery above? I love the beautiful gold plated heart necklace. The filigree looks so delicate and intricate and you know that it would be extremely unlikely for anyone else to have something similar to this unique necklace.