30 June 2014

Degustabox UK June Box Contents

Last month I fell in love I fell in love with Degustabox - well, how could I not love a big box of food delivered right into my hands! But was it a flash-in-the-pan infatuation, or true stand-the-test-of-time love?  There was only one real way to find out - after all, you don't decide to marry someone after just one date - you need to get to know them better! 

What I'm trying to say is . . . here's the June Degustabox! 

food delivery service

First thing I spotted - well I could hardly miss it, it's pretty big! - was the box of Bear Alphabites cereal. These contain no refined sugars, salt or other nasty additions, so they're pretty healthy as far as cereal goes. I'll admit I'm generally a fan of the really bad, highly sugared cereal but these are great for the kids as the fun alphabet shapes distracts from any lack of artificial sweetness! 

healthy kids cereal

The Veetee rice is microwavable, which awesome because I've mentioned before my complete inability to cook rice properly!  Though I'm sure this would be great made up as part of a larger meal with other stuff, I'll probably just leave it work for one of those days I don't remember to take anything with me! 

The Urban Fruit baked pineapple is another one that I imagine will go down a storm with the fruit-loving kids. I'm probably either going to split it for lunchboxes, or take it along on one of our weekend picnic days out! 

basmati microwave rice veet

Lambrini is one of the first things I remember drinking when I was (sort of) old enough to drink! I haven't gone near it in a lot of years but do really like the sound of a strawberry flavoured one, sounds like it'd be just the thing for warm summer days in the garden! 

The Estrella is probably much more my usual tipple. My dad has just come back from holiday in Spain and says this Spanish lager is all he drank while he was out there, and assures me it's very nice! 

Estrella spanish beer

The Be Fast banana drinks are a 'breakfast on the go' - high in fibre, low in fat, good to keep you going until lunch time! I can't imagine they're a real substitute for a 'proper' breakfast, but a lot of the time I don't have that 'proper' breakfast and try to stave off that morning hunger with coffee and biscuits, so this is probably better! 

The Strawberry Milkshake was an added little bonus, and a very welcome one - I LOVE strawberry milkshake and the only bad thing about this is I wish it was twice as big! (Yup, I give the fruit and the healthy cereal to the kids, but this 'kids milkshake' was definitely for me!)

breakfast alternatives

Both Dr Oetker and Elizabeth Shaw popped up in the last box too, and if I could pick two of May's brands to reappear, these would be the two! Dr Oetker make super baking products and I've already put last months Cake Tin Spray to good use, so I'm looking forward to figuring out how to incorporate the Madagascan Vanilla Grinder into my next lot of baking! 

Hopefully something I can use the Elizabeth Shaw Milk Chocolate Amaretto Flutes in too! These are delicious - obviously the first thing I tried (that photographed box has been taped shut as I couldn't even wait to take the pictures first!) and it too SO MUCH self control to not eat them all in one go! 

amaretto chocolate

I'm pleased to say my Degustabox relationship is still going strong! If you think you could love Degustabxo too, here's how you can get one! 

Just pop on over to the web site, pick from a couple of different subscription options, and wait for your delicious Degustabox, filled with 9-14 exciting new items, to be delivered! The boxes work out at £12.99 monthly including delivery and you can even get a £3 discount off your first order with the code OUWEV

And if you can think of any yummy sounding thing I can make with my vanilla grinder and amaretto chocolate I'd love to hear your suggestions - - otherwise I'll have to just eat it all!

* Item provided at no cost for review purposes 

29 June 2014

The Hop, Saltaire

It's not very often, in my time blogging, that I've come across something exciting  happening in Bradford. Leeds, plenty, but the BD postcode area seems to be distinctly neglected. So I was very excited indeed to be invited to the opening of The Hop on the site of the Old Tramshed in Saltaire.

Opening of the hop at the old tramshed

I'd never actually visited the place in its previous incarnation, so can't really say for sure how the new set up compares but I must say it does look rather spiffy! Simone, my partner in crime for the evening, had been along once or twice and assured me the place had been well scrubbed up -looking classy as well as cosy, with comfy chairs and and snug little seating areas. 

bar from above

The newly named place is owned by Osset Brewery, so as you'd imagine there's a strong emphasis on good beer. And as a pleasant change I'd managed to get out of driving for the evening so managed to 'test out' some of the brewery's offerings. 

Excelsior Beer

Starting from a modest £2.70 for their very drinkable Yorkshire Blonde, to around £3.30 (if memory serves) for for offerings like the strong and tasty Excelsior. 

As well as permanent beers, The Hop promises a wide range of guest beers to suit a range of preferences. If beer's not your thing though there's plenty of other drink options, the bar certainly seemed fully stocked! 

Though the 'drink' aspect is a big draw, I'm definitely a food lover - and I'd heard exciting tales of the gorgeous new wood-burning pizza oven but it wasn't until I got there and had a good look through the food menu that I realised it covered a range on non-pizza food too, including a kids menu and some top sounding desserts!

pizza the hop

We even got to try a few bits of the wares on offer, and everything I tried was fairly incredible! I love pizza (who doesn't!) and really need to get myself back there for a full one as the bits I tried were delicious!

tasty cheese pizza

As well as the food AND the drink, there's an area set up for live music - and I can completely imagine that the 'Showtime' dinner and show events would make a cracking night out! 

It was a great night in a lovely new venue - really busy, showing the enthusiasm for this place in the local area and the excitement about its new facelift!

I'm looking forward to my next visit - and I'm glad that for a change I don't have to go all the way to Leeds to do so! The Hop in Saltaire is open now and I do recommned you call in to check it out, and say hello to them on twitter too! If you can't make it to Saltaire, they also have sites in Leeds, York, Wakefield and Sheffield!

28 June 2014

Lancome Hypnose Mascara Review

Since blogging I seem to have amassed a ridiculous amount of different mascaras... from cheap high street ones to specialist high end types, and everything in between. My newest and current favourite though is the very impressive Lancome Hypnose Mascara

best mascara

Despite the fancy shape of the tube, the want itself is quite unassuming. No weird wiggly shapes, random little balls or lumps, not made made of any unexpected materials - just short neat dense bristles. And I think this proves beyond doubt that you don't need any of those fancy gimmicks for a top-notch mascara. 

It's a slightly drier feeling formula than I'm used to, but applied easily and stayed put all day. I went to see the new How To Train Your Dragon film today (which means 'there were tears') and it didn't waver. Despite this, I didn't find the hard crispy eyelashes that I sometimes get from 'They're Real', neither was is it so difficult to remove. 

fancy make up

My photo's aren't amazing - I'm forever in awe of people who can take really great photos of bits of their own face - but you can certainly see the difference a sweep of this mascara has made! If I had any concerns it's just that this was maybe a bit too dramatic for everyday day time wear - but it's an easy way of making it look like I've made an effort on those days I can't be bothered with other make up! 

what does lancome mascara look like on?

Priced at £22.50 on the Debenhams website, this isn't the cheapest - but you can make a significant saving by picking it up from Chemistdirect.co.uk instead for just £14.99, where you can also find a loads of other discounted beauty items!

*Item provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

27 June 2014

Pretty Gradient Nails For Cheaters

Anyone that has seen any of my previous attempts knows that fancy and professional looking nail art is not my thing. I've seen many a blogger do tutorials on the prettiest gradient nails, but all the expert sponge-dabbing seems to be completely beyond me and I've never managed to recreate it in any way that doesn't look a complete mess.
But then I managed these:

ombre nails
Not the most vivid example of colour change, and I'm sure many could still do better with a sponge, but they're pretty good for me - and this is how I did it!

nail polish trio pink korean

With this little cheat set I got in a previous Memebox. I remember at the time being slightly disappointed with my pink set, as other shades were available too, but this colour scheme has really grown on me. Lighter and girlier than I would usually choose, but the finished effect makes me thing of a summer sunset, or a fancy cocktail and both of those are nice things to think of when you look at your nails!
How it works is, you paint your whole nail with number 01. Not a lot going on at this stage colourwise, just a hint of it and plenty of shimmer too.

Then just pop a little way up from your nail bed and paint with 02.. Still at this stage, it doesn't seem to have done much,... but give it a minute!

It's when you add 03 to the last third of your nails that the shift in colour really becomes noticeable, and I think the finished look is ever so pretty! You can make this more complex but adding in different start points, or by layering up to make the colours a bit stronger, but it really is incredibly simple.

Of course, you could probably do this with a few different shades of any polish, but the rather thin consistency of these stops the colour changeover looking really obvious in a way others might not and therein I think lies the beauty of them - it would be really hard to get them wrong!
These are available here from the Memeshop for $14 for the set of three, and they have some lovely shades to choose from - I'm eyeing up Sugar Mint next!

25 June 2014

Rosie's Diner - Kirkstall, Leeds

I've been enjoying so many lovely blogger meals out recently that I figured I should go get some good food with that boyfriend of mine. I'd been along to Rosie's diner a couple of months earlier for a bit of a blogger brunch, and had been hoping to get back to see how the evening menu compared, so was very happy when he chose this place from the list of suggestions I'd sent him. 

24 hour food places in leeds

The breakfast I'd had on my previous visit was a bit hit-and-miss, but one element that was all hit was the amazing Butterscotch Milkshake, so I chose the waiting-for-our-table-time (only about 10-15 minutes) to get myself another one of these. The only bad thing about them is that they are so delicious that no matter how hard I try I can't seem to make one last more than a few minutes - so not really a good meal accompaniment, and at £3.95 it works out a pricey couple of minutes worth of drink. This would never stop me getting one each time I visit though! 

cute retro milkshake bottle

And onto the food! I was happy to give the starters a miss to make sure I could definitely get a dessert - you gotta prioritise! - so it was straight to the main courses! Mr KC had his eye on the steaks as soon as he clocked the menu, and settled quickly on a medium-cooked 10oz rib Eye with pepper sauce. The steak (well I had to try a bit!) was delicious, perfectly cooked - tender and juicy and just gorgeous. I'll admit to being a touch jealous I hadn't ordered this myself, though I did steal the leftover peppercorn sauce to dip my chips in - yum! 

american diner in yorkshre

I fancied one of the hot dogs - I think I could smell them when I first walked in and good food smells always sway my choices! Though I do usually have my hot dogs as plain as possible (no sauce, no onions, nothing!), but in a cunning ploy to hide how boring my food choices often are (which I of course ruined by admitting it anyway) I upped my game a bit and went for the Pitbull: a 100% pork oak smoked hot dog with peppers, jalapenos, philly cheese sauce and fried onions. When it arrived, I didn't think it looked that big, but I was less than half way through when I started to struggle, and I shamefully had to remove a lot of the really spicy bits to get it finished! I'm such a wimp - I don't know what I was thinking! It was really good though, just a little spicy for delicate lil me! 

We both opted for 'spicy waffle fries' rather then regular fries instead of the regular kind. These were tasty though not particularly spicy (or maybe that was just in comparison to my chilli-laden hot dog?), but didn't seem to stay as hot as I'd have liked for as long as I'd have liked which is a shame.

spict hot dog with chillies

I made the mistake of ordering a side dish as well, as I really fancied trying the Mack N Jack. 'Mistake' I say not because it was bad by any stretch but just because we had so much food! The Mack N Jack side was huge, and wouldn't have made a bad meal in itself! I think it could have been a great side if two of us were sharing it but as the other half isn't really a pasta eater, it was all on me and it was hard going to eat enough of it as to not leave an embarrassing amount! It started off nice but I was definitely sick of it by the time I gave up! 

Rosies diner side dishes

I did say from the outset that I wanted dessert and despite my fullness I knew I'd be disappointed if I left without having one! I was torn between a couple of different options but two separate waitresses worked at convincing me towards the Peanut Butter Stack. Wow. Just wow. They told me I wouldn't be disappointed and I couldn't be - this was essentially a (tidy) pile of peanut butter, chocolate and caramel, served with ice cream. There's not really any possible way this could have been anything other than amazing. 

Peanut butter stack rosies

The Mr confused everyone by ordering the Birthday Cake Sundae despite it being months away from his birthday but I got very good reports of this. I'd have loved to try it myself but at this stage in the meal anything else might have just killed me! 

I did tell one of my blogger buddies on my way over that after the mixed response I had to the breakfast it'd take something pretty special to make me forget the bad bits but I came away with incredibly positive feelings about this place. The staff were all charming and friendly, full of youthful exuberance and enthusiasm and the food was all really really good. I'd definitely visit again! 

(Total bill for food., desserts and drinks came to £47)

24 June 2014

Memebox From Nature

I like to think no one is sick of the Memeboxes here on this blog yet - I know I can't get enough of them!
The one I have for you today is the Memebox From Nature ($39 + postage), which was one of the very first 'special' boxes they released (for those not already familiar, Memebox do a few different kind of boxes: the regular ones, with a variety of different surprise products - Memebox 15 is the next one available; or the specials that contain products collated around a particular theme).
This box, as the name suggests, bring you a range of beauty products derived from natural ingredients. There seems to have been a massive move in recent years away from overly chemical-laden products to more natural ones so if you are looking for more nature-friendly solutions to your beauty problems this could be your answer!
Here's what's inside this box:
ingredients from nature in korean beauty products

The SN-T cream ($19) uses stem cells from yew trees for their regenerative properties - this should improve skin tone and help control breakouts.

korean sebum control system

I really like the packaging on the Tea Tree Blemish Solution Mask ($6 for two, both included in the box)  - the white Dr coat signifying 'Hey, this will heal you up good!'. I love the ultra-clean smell of tea tree, and this also contains aloe vera and golden larch bark extracts to calm, hydrate, repair and clarify your skin. I'm saving this one for when I really need it - which will probably be soon, I seem to be on a bit of a downward spiral this week!

korean doctor sheet mask

The Lanoa Natural Soap ($17) is a bit of a funny one as even though it contains some lovely sounding ingredients (sulphur, shea butter, chamomile, lavender), I'd feel weird using proper solid soap on my face. I haven't done since I was little. This does promise to be extremely gentle though so perhaps I will give it a go!

gentle face soap

The Ramosu 100% Propolic Extract Ampoule ($20) should prevent dehytration and give your sin a healthy glow! Just mix a drop or two of this in with your skin cream and you'll be well on your way to feeling healthy and hydrated! Propolis, if you didn't know (I didn't!) is a natural ingredient extracted from bee hives - you learn something new every day!

As well as all the lovely plants that provide us with amazing ingredients for our beauty products, we can't forget the less aesthetically pleasing, and this Snail Gommage Peeling Gel ($25) is a prime example! I wasn't overly sold on the idea of snail extract in my products but I let myself be broken in gently with the snail and honey handcream I got in a previous box, and it's so good it's helped soften me towards the idea of using snail products elsewhere! This is supposed to remove black heads and dead skin cells and clean out your pores, leaving you all smooth and nourished.

snail in beauty products

Though these boxes do tend to be skincare-heavy, it's not all you'll find in them and this one here has something for your hair thrown in too. The Moongkle Intense Repair System is a hair mask containing all kids of natural super-ingredients to smooth and nourish damaged hair, which I have plenty of! You get two of these in the box too, very generous!

korean hair care
I think I'm most looking forward to trying out the weird snail gel thing, 'cos it sounds gross and fun as well as very useful!
As I've found with the Memeboxes in the past, there's a great value-to-cost ratio here, and the products are always with full sized or very generous samples. My personal preference is for the slightly wackier themes (like the cocoa box I have on order), but if you have a good look around the site there's pretty much something for everyone! The only thing is, you sometimes have to act fast - the Memebox from Nature is now sadly sold out but there's plenty more to choose from instead!
If you don't fancy a full box of goodies but are after something specific they also carry a huge range of Korean skincare and makeup products in the Memeshop, with special offers changing regularly!
If you find something you like the look of you can use the code FPZ1PBG23L7G for $3 off your order until the end of the month!
*This products was provided free of charge
** Post contains affliliate links

22 June 2014

Sunday Soak - Espa Foam Bath

Out of the millions of amazing things we were given at the Leeds May Meet as part of various goody bags, the one I have used most often so far is the Espa Foam Bath. You may be aware, that I'm partial to the odd bath... and I do usually have an arsenal of bombs, bubbles, melts and whatever else you can imagine to accompany these, meaning my baths are usually varied. But since the first time I put this in my bath I haven't used anything else! 

really luxurious bath foam

I think that should give you some kind of indication of just how lovely this is. It does't make my bath water pretty colours, or expel a layer of glitter of any of that fancy pant Lush-esque stuff, it doesn't even make my skin feel particularly soft. It's just that it the smell of it makes my soul feel happy. 

bergamot jasmine and cedarwood bath

The fragrance, that of bergamot, jasmine and just a touch of cedarwood, is naturally derived from essential oils for a fragrance that is so comforting, so welcoming, that I just want to bathe in it everyday. It feels like a good soak in this can heal many ills, and each time I come out of the bath feeling renewed. I love it. I love it so much I even plan to repurchase this when it runs out and at £18 a bottle that's not a purchase I'd make lightly. 

Well done Espa, just well done. 

20 June 2014

World Curry Festival, Bradford

As you may know, I have a great deal of pride in my much maligned home town of Bradford. And I can recognise that it is a city with faults, but there are a few things we do really really well, and one of those is curry. 

The World Curry Festival is an annual event and I always look forward to the sights, sounds and - most importantly - tastes of Bradford's spicy finest. The festival opened today and we thought it'd be worth getting down early to get the lay of the land, and optimise my curry-eating over the next few day! 

Despite a good look around I went back to the first place we went to for my chicken tikka wrap from Zouk. I bravely went for chilli sauce on on mine too and it was absolutely amazing. T'other half got himself a fish tikka naan from the next stall on and he said it was equally delicious. 

As well as amazing food, there's live music, cooking demonstrations and a whole host of other fun stuff happening. I even managed to find a stall selling tea, now there was an unexpected treat! 

The only dessert I managed to find come from an ice cream van parked up in city park, but Mr Whippy with a flake is essentially what summer is all about and is always brilliant. 

It's always nice to have a reminder of just how right we can get things as a city sometimes. City Park, with it's play-friendly mirror pool, is always a joy in the sunshine and the party atmosphere is undeniable. 

The festival is just on this weekend so if you are anywhere in the vicinity you should definitely pop down and get yourself curried up! 

Bradford Curry Festival

Cooking chicken tikka
charcoal chicken

Bradford Curry Festival

bradford curry festival double decker bus bar

curry festival market stall

kuckoos street food


19 June 2014

Confectioners Afternoon Tea at The Croft

I'd mentioned in a recent post that we'd popped up to Croft for tea - we specifically went to visit the Croft Tea Rooms, the most Northerly spot on the Yorkshire Tea Trail.

confectioners afternoon tea

My absolute favourite thing about the Croft Tea Rooms is the option the offer for a 'Confectioners Afternoon Tea' - you may be familiar with the problems I often have with afternoon tea sandwiches ('the salmon problem'), but the confectioners afternoon tea promised lots of cakey goodness without the pesky uncooked fish so sounded perfect to me!

There's plenty of nice tea on the menu too, from good old Ringtons. Unfortunately I'd already ordered a plain ole tea before looking at the menu (I usually do to be fair when it's to go with cake as you don't have to worry about flavour-clashes, regular tea works with everything!), but the Strawberries and Cream Infusion sounds like a delight!

tea at croft tea room
Scones were served warm with a pot of fresh whipped cream and a choice of too jams. Unable to decide between them, I had one blackcurrant half and one raspberry - and both were lovely!

croft tea room scones

But it's always the plate of little mini-cakes that get me most excited! You generally know what you are getting with a scone but this it is always new, different and exciting! My first port of call was the little meringue things - pretty dollops of sugar held together with cream. These were lovely and just the right size - any bigger and the high sugar content may have proved too much even for me! From there I moved onto the little pink things - I was momentarily disappointed on fist bite, as I'd been expecting a soft, squidgy melt-in-your mouth macaroon, but this was just a well-presented pair of pink biscuits with strawberry cream in the middle. Once I know that's what it was, it was a very nice version of that thing, but I've been craving proper macaroons since my visit here!

mini brownie, lemon tart, macaron, meringue

Lemon tarts are one of my favourite desserty things, and these were lovely. The filling was quite runny and likely to spill if you held it the wrong way and weren't paying attention (not that that happened to me or anything!) but if you kept it all in the right place it was lovely. The brownies were gorgeous too, though I didn't actually get round to eating these 'til the next day!
I'd expected the confectioners afternoon tea would be just the regular afternoon tea but without the sandwiches, but unless the regular afternoon tea is exceedingly generous, we also got an extra layer of cake!

confectioners afternoon tea

Unfortunately I was all caked-out by this point (and that's not something I say often!) so we took these home with us where they promptly devoured by the little fellas so I can't say much about how these tasted but they sure looked lovely!
I don't like to complain (though you wouldn't believe me if you looked at my last couple of tea room posts, I must be getting fussier with my old age!), but if I had one niggle with the Croft Tea Room it's that it took a really long time for us to get our cakes. We'd pre-booked in and though we got out tea almost straight away it was nearly half an hour before the cake stand emerged, meaning the tea was pretty much either gone or cold by the time we got to eat. I know I could have asked for fresh tea but as one wasn't offered we just made do with what we had. I have no doubt I could have got further through the pile of cake with a nice brew to wash it all down with but on it's own it was a little hard going, which is why we decided to take half of it with us instead! (Glad I always have spare boxes in the car!)
Apart from this little hiccup, it was great. The location is lovely, the tea room pleasant, the staff friendly, the cakes tasty and the idea of the confection-only tea a stroke of genius for us sugar-minded folk and based on the assumption out delay was a one-off, I'd definitely recommend the place!