22 May 2017

A Blooming Great Tea Party

You may not know this about me, but I'm a big fan of tea and cake (OK, so you MAY know that about me!) 

Coming up next month is the Marie Curie Blooming Great Tea Party, which is exactly the kind of fundraising event I can totally get behind! 

Hosting your own tea party can be a great way of raising some cash for charity, and getting together with your nearest and dearest to appreciate the finer things in life (like cake). The Blooming Great Tea Party takes place over the 23rd-25th June, and if you are interested in hosting your own party - at home, work, or anywhere else - you can get a free fundraising pack from Marie Curie here!


There's loads of advice and recipes on the website too but the good thing about a tea party is it can be relatively simple to put together some thing spectacular. The individual elements are all quite straight forward - you need tea (lots of it!), daintly little sandwiches with a variety of fillings, a good selection of cakes,... and possbily the most important (and potentially controversial) aspect - the noble scone. 

The scone is the source of many arguements - plain or fruit? served warm or cold? And each of these could take up posts and posts worth of discussion but today I thought I'd tackle one of the biggest scone-related debates - do you top little baked nuggests of goodness with JAM first or CREAM first? (based on the incontestable truth that for a scone to really count, it has to be served with both)


Now, I know my opinion (which may be illustrated by my various sconed photos) but in the spirit of fairness I thought I'd throw it open to debate and see what others thought. Here are my findings.....

JAM FIRST 

I was gong to keep you in suspense to the end, but I might as well let you know the inevitable truth now - the Jam First crew had a resounding victory, with 50% more people thinking this was the right way round to do it. And just like that, my faith in humanity was restored! Here are some of the reasons I was given

Faye Jones from Glossytots knows it's the right thing to do because 'the jam slides off the cream otherwise!' Similarly, Emma (emmareed.net) thinks 'its a mess trying to put jam on top of cream' and Lyra (thisiswhereiblog.com) knows that 'it just looks prettier that way!'


Applying the cream before jam is traditionally the favoured approach in Devon but this is no excuse for getting it wrong, as both Devon Mum Emma and and Devon Mama Hayley put their jam on first too. I particurlarly likes Hayley's passionate response - "Jam first. I just don't understand how you could do it the other way round?! Do you spread the cream like butter and then jam over it?! It makes no sense! Everyone knows the joy is a nice thick layer of jam and then a HUMONGOUS dollop of cream on top!' Girl knows her stuff! 

Donna at Bobsys Mum makes another excellent point - 'that way means you get more cream!' - always a bonus! Emma, Louise and Kirsty are also firmly in the Jam first camp. 

CREAM FIRST 

The Cream First side does have it's supporters though! Suzanne from And Another Ten Things suggests you should 'Use the cream like a second butter and then spoon the jam on obvs', and Aarti at Honestly Wonderful likes to 'put loads and loads of cream with a little teeny weeny dollop of jam on top'. 


Natalie, who blogs at Diary of an Unexpectant Mother, has hers like this - 'A thick spread of cream then a spoonful of jam on top. And try not to get it on your nose. And it has to be proepr clotted cream' I do agree with her there at least!

Tracey seems to think that it's 'Definitely cream first - the jam slides off if you do it the other way!, and for Emma it's 'ALWAYS cream first!'

OTHER 

And then there are the others. The ones that don't like to play by society's rules. The rebels like Kristine's husband who eats them dry. The mavericks like Becky who will only have cream because 'Jam spoils it', the nonconformists like Claire, Lucy and Helena who avoid the cream.And then there are the Jade's and the Nadine's of the world that will jam one side, cream the other and then stick both halves together.


CONCLUSION

I think, if anything has been proved here, it's that the preparation of a scone is a very personal thing. My advice? If you put together your own tea party -I'd just provide jam and cream by the bucketload and let your guests apply to their own liking (yes, even if they're doing it wrong!) 

That way any scone based argueemnts can focus on the number one issue - - how do you pronounce it?!

8 May 2017

The Source of Good Skin

I've been a long time fan of Crabtree and Evelyn, and funnily enough it was their La Source range that was my first introduction to the brand. We found mini versions of their products in a hotel we were staying in on holiday, and that was the start of the love story. 


The La Source collection was inspired by the 'restorative power of the sea' and features marine based ingredients included to boost skin benefits. The collection has recently been reformulated, featuring four new marine blends and a whole host of products featuring the La Source super ingredient, green seaweed extract. 


I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try out a couple of these hero products recently. The La Source range covers products for your hair, body, face and hands but I was particularly interested in the foot products. I have karate training around three times a week, which can be not only quite tough on my feet physically, but it means people probably spend longer looking at my bare feet than is common. This gives me double the reason to take care of them! 


So now, my favourite post-training treat is a relaxing soak with the La Source Efferversent Sea Foam Soak, followed by the La Source Warming Foot Soother.

The soak features Crabtree and Evelyn's Refreshing Marine Blend - anti-oxident rich green seaweed and purifying brown algae extract - and contains citric acid (for exfoliation) and mineral rich Dead Sea Salts (which conditions the skin). A few minutes soak in hot water containing this is perfect for soothing any aches and strains.

The results are even better when coupled with the warming foot smoother. This is a great little scrub featuring volcanic sand, fine pumice and salt crystals to exfoliate hard areas, but it's also intensely moisturising, containing shea butter and rice bran oil to soften and condition the skin. The product is self warming, and while I'd have liked to be warmer (read: HOT), it feels really indulgent and comforting - just what I need! 

It's hard to describe the difference in how I feel after using these two products - its incredible! I've gone in feeling like I never wanted to so much as walk again, and finished up feeling completely renewed, like I was walking on a cloud! These two products will be part of my life for a long time to come for sure!


And while at the minute I'm all about the feet, I feel it would be remiss to write about Crabtree and Evelyn and not mention their Hand Therapy creams. I love these creams and have gone through numerous scents and varieties over the years (and since La Source is my current bae, of course the matching hand cream is my current go-to!) The Overnight Hand Therapy is the 'beauty sleep' version of this - pop it on before bed and wake up to smoother softer hands! 

My only problem now is that my hands and feet are so well taken care of that I feel like I'm neglecting the rest of my body!

Do you have a favourite Crabtree and Evelyn range? Or any other tips of how to look after my poor achey feet? 

31 March 2017

Holiday Packing - The Great Swimwear Question

March is a terrible time to work in accounts. It's our company year-end, which means we have a *lot* of work to try and squeeze in before the end of the month - and obviously its even worse when my computer decided to throw a wobbly, making it necessary to re-do half of the last month work.

I can honestly say I've earned my cookie Fridays at work this month!

But thankfully, the end is in sight. March is nearly done with and after a few days in April tidying up my messes of paperwork and receipts that I have thrown around my office, I am taking a well earned break. I actually didn't realise when I boked my holiday how much I'd feel like I needed it by the time it came around - but I really do!

In less than two weeks I'll be sat on the beach, cocktail in hand and hoping the kids don't drown while I just finish the next chapter of my book.... but because I've been so busy on the run up I've barely given any consideration to things I need to go away with! So, as a treat for getting my VAT return in on time, I've allowed myself a quick holiday-browse!

One thing I really need, is some new swimwear. I have about half a dozen swimming costumes at home that are all 'broken'... missing straps, or lost underwire, or something else making them, well, not ideal. (Yes, I know I should get rid of them,... I'm not so good at throwing things away!)

But swimwear is a tricky thing to buy. I'm not a bikini-wearer. It's not because I'm too old and fat, I never wanted to wear one when I was young and skinny. They're just not for me. I also don't like anything that's too plain or too fancy, anything with cut out bits or plasticy embellishments,... anything red or pink or,... essentially I'm a massive fusspot!

This year for the first time I am discovering the magic of the swimdress!



What a revelation! Now, don't get me wrong - I'm sure this isn't a new idea,... but I'm slow to catch on, ok? But I love it, all the swim-ability of a swimming costume, but with the 'I'm dressed enough to be out in public'ness' of a dress! These two from Bonmarche were the first two to open my eyes to this war of dressing for the pool, and I think I'm edging towards the turquoisey one, it's a cracking colour with such a cute shape to it... like a shorter, swimmier version of something I would definitely wear on holiday anyway.

Of course, I probably need more than one (and I like over-shopping) so I've also got my eye on this gorgeous strawberry number from Joe Browns, and the cute-as-a-button polka-dot swimdress on the Swimwear365 website...

So that should be my swimwear covered,... now I just need shoes, hats, dresses, bags, books, a plug adaptor, books,... what else?!

* I was fiscally encouraged to write this post,.. but I really do need to think about holiday shopping!

22 March 2017

Forgotten Costs of Cheap Holidays

If there's one thing better than a holiday, it's a cheap holiday and I've often been impressed with the prices I've managed to book a quick European break for. I don't really like to let myself believe that some of these trips aren't quite the bargain I tell myself!

So my 'less than £200' trip to Prague, or my 'bargain' trip to Paris end up actually costing a lot more than I expect, because of the hidden costs I 'forget' about in order to justify booking!


Here are some of the holiday costs I never take into consideration:

Airport Parking - sorting out my airport parking is always one of the last things I do. I don't mean to leave it to the last minute, but once I have something booked I want to concentrate on the 'fun' planning and sorta forget the 'boring but necessary' bits that need planning too! But, of course, any money saved on not booking the expensive last minute parking is money that can be put towards the fun stuff, so it all relates - I'll be making sure to follow these tips on how to save money on airport parking next time!

Passports - Mine is good for a few years yet, but both the kids passports need renewing this year. At £46 each for a child passport, that roughly an extra £100 on top of the next family holiday away!

Plug Adapter - OK, so this isn't something that I should need to buy every trip, but it's the thing I always forget until I get to the airport, where they cost about four times as much as buying one anywhere else! I have literally about 8 European adapters at home.... maybe one day I'll remember to take one with me!

Insurance - This is with airport parking in the 'boring but necessary' category. I might save money overall by getting one of those annual policies but I really need to make the time to look into it properly, instead of quickly clicking 'yes' to something on the way out of the door!

New clothes/shoes/sunglasses/whatever - Now I understand there is a big difference between needing new holiday things, and needing new holiday things, and this can vary depending on what type of holiday it is. I didn't really need a couple of new dresses bought for Paris, but I did definitely need a thick waterproof coat for Iceland!

Airport spending money - I have my holiday spending money carefully budgeted and stashed away, but I always invariably end up spending a small fortune at the airport before we go. Drinks for the plane, sucky sweets, a brew and slice of cake to kill the couple of hours waiting around time... it all adds up!

And that's before we even go anywhere! Once I arrive at my destination its a whole other mess of spending as my carefully planned budget goes out the window and the 'whatever, I'm on holiday! attitude comes in!

Still, it's not going to stop me telling myself that I can definitely afford that weekend away I've been looking at!

* In collaboration with Cheapflights but no less true for it

20 March 2017

A Charming Mother's Day Giveaway

As a special, gift-giving occasion is coming up I'm going to rely on my usual suggestion for the best gift to give to the important ladies in your life - one of the gorgeous handbags from Vendula London!

My love for these stunning bags is old news to anyone who's read this blog for a while, and only grown as they release new ranges. Today I get to share my love for this innovative company by giving away fantastic Vendula prizes to two lucky winners this Mother's Day!
Up for offer are their unique charm bags. There is a choice of a couple of styles of bag complete in a range of colours. The bags can then be accessorised with the detachable charm sets in a range of designs to really dress them up!

I love how one quite simple bag can be personalised to suit a range of preferences and occasions. The charms really add something different and fun, and are bound to be a talking point! I know my cat-lady mum would love the Cat's World charm set, but my favourite is the Beside The Seaside set - so reminiscent of those classic British beach holidays, making me long for ice cream in the sunshine that is hopefully not too far away now!



The lucky winners can choose from any one bag and any one charm set from those shown here (apart from the Alice or London charm sets), just enter below!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(And remember, even if you don't win a bag, you can give thanks/win points with your mum by treating her to a Vendula London gift anyway - they're making it even easier for you at the minute with 20% off full priced items before Sunday if you enter the code 'MUM2017' at the checkout!)