24 September 2015

#HBAlPorto Event Goodie Bag Extravaganza!

I mentioned in the last post that the Hull Bloggers event last month left us with a fair amount of stuff to bring home.... 'generous' would be a massive understatement - it was like Christmas come early!
 
 
Everyone got their own little bag of treats from awesome Hull-based vintage boutique Poorboy. I'm absolutely in love with my pretty blue and white scarf!
 
Goody bag accessories
 
Then there was a whole tonne of hair stuff! I'm really excited about trying the Andrew Barton range in particular as I've heard great things about it! I've not really tried anything specifically for coloured hair before (as often that's the least of my hair-related issues!) but do dye my mop regularly (I'm getting old and grey!) so this should hopefully keep it all in good nick! And if not, I'm sure the Vatika Argan Oil will certainly help out in that department!
 
The Tangle Angel mini-brush doesn't look likely to get through my thick mess of hair, but will be perfect for my daughter. For the same reason, the hair thickening spray from Nanogen isn't necessarily something I think I need but I'll make sure this ends up in the hands (and hair) of someone that'll use it and report back! The shampoo/conditioner samples from Fast Hair will be grand for after swimming, when I already have enough stuff to cart about to take in full bottles!

Hair products goody bag
 
We also got an array of bits for keeping my pearly-whites all pearly and white! The set from Ultra Dex came in a very spiffing gift box and looks almost too fancy to use. Almost. Going to the dentist is one of my biggest fears so anything I can do to minimise the amount of time there is a winner in my eyes! The toothbrush and mouthwash from Wisdom will hopefully keep the drill at bay too! I wasn't sure whether the Peppersmith mints belonged here or in the food and drink section but they are supposed to reduce plaque so this seemed as good a fit as any!

ultradex gift box

One of the things across all the bags that I was most excited to discover was the Choc Shots. Its a low calorie hot chocolate mix and the flavours (I got orange spice and coconut) sound amazing! I've not tried them yet but I'll be cracking these open at the weekend! We also got edible/drinkable goodies from Vita Coca, Virtue Ice Tea, IQ Chocolate, Ryvita, Border Biscuits, and Choc on choc. I also got a handy little recipe book from Le Creuset (that I can't eat but still belongs in this little food and drink section!) Alongside these came some lovely Kettle Chips and a Chia Pod, neither of which made it to photos for different reasons (I ate one on the way home, and dropped the other, spilling it all over the place - can you guess which is which?)

coco water hot choc

 This list of beauty based products included is more or less never ending, so I hope I don't forget someone! I got a mini-bag-within-a-bag containing six packets of different Halo wipes - very handy for those messy kids! A lovely bundle of products from Nspa was also included - I got a gorgeous smelling coconut shower gel, hand cream, face wipes and a lime face scrub. The first product I used when I got home was my new make up remover from Yves Rocher, and it's a good 'un! I'm already a big fan on Nanshy brushes, so I was thrilled to see one of their products in my bag, along with more brushes from Lab 2 Beauty! Other items were hand creams from Crabtree and Evelyn (these have long been my favourite handcreams!) and Heaven Skincare (this smells incredible!), a body butter from Mandara Spa (I've tried their bath stuff before and it's ace!) and other samples and stuff from Sebamed, Manukna Doctor, Lilash, Papier Poudre, Flashmob cosmetics and Sensationail.

hull al porto meet up

And yet somehow we are still not done! This is the first time I've ever got books in a goody bad from a blogger even and I think its a wonderful touch! A Better Man and The New Woman, from Atlantic Books, have now found their way onto my to-read list! I'm nuts about the adorable owl tub from Sass and Belle - in fact their whole website is full of amazing things!


Some lovely jewellery pieces from Paul Mitchell, John Greed and Tiny Wishes were also included, and an always-appreciated Yankee candle from Love Aroma. Finally, in amongst a number of great discount cards and vouchers was a very exciting one for a personal planner! Can't wait to get mine organised, I just need to make a decision on my design!
 
A massive thanks once again to the lovely Alex, Kat and Jenny for organising everything, and to the very generous brands who sent items along for the day!

21 September 2015

Degustabox August 2015

I've had so little time to post recently that it's not far off time for the new Degustabox deliveries before I've even shown you what was in the last one! August's was a great box for me, mainly due to large amount of biscuits included - but we'll get to those!
 
Contents of food subscription box

Dr Oetker Mug Cakes - how good an idea are these? You know when you are at home and you need cake and it's too cold/late or you are too lazy to go to the shop, and baking one would take too long because you really need cake NOW,.... just add milk and a mug and a microwave and you have cake in less than two minutes!

cake mix packets

Don't get me wrong, microwave cake will never be as good as proper home baked cake, but when needs must you could do a lot worse! My favourite trick is to chuck a handful of those mini-marshmallows on top as soon as it comes out of the microwave, so they get all gooey and melty and delicious!
 
microwave cakes marshmallows
 
Coconut water does pop up in these boxes quite a bit in various forms and I'll admit I usually just chuck them in the fridge and forget about them. My first experiences with the stuff weren't the most positive and it didn't take much to convince myself I wasn't keen - but the life-affirming packaging and orange flavour tempted me in the end and I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised! The addition of the fresh orange made this much more palatable, but without losing any of the health benefits - win!
 
I've had the Scheckter's Organic Energy drink before and I'm a big fan! It's an energy drink but without that feeling that you are rotting away from the inside...

scheckters organic energy drink

The Ryvita crispbread are a great snack to have hanging round the office when hunger hits! The cracked black pepper is my favourite. I know there's about a million different ways of topping these but I'm boring and petty much just stick to one of a variety of different cheeses!

snacks breads

This is what I was talking about - look at all that biscuit goodness! The Choco Leibniz white chocolate covered biscuits were amazing - a thick and creamy coating over a cocoa biscuit, these did not last very long! The Pick Up! bars lasted longer due to the dark chocolate filling, clearly not as popular in our office as the white chocolate, but I'd definitely pick these up (see what I did there?) in a different variety!

walkers tartan biscuit packets

The Walkers biscuits were not for sharing though! With only two in a packet, there was definitely not enough of these to go round so I figured it was only fair if I ate all these myself! Walkers are universally amazing but special mention here goes to the Fruit and Lemon ones - I need to hunt down a jumbo packet of these!
 
degustabox cookies
 
Pasta and sauce are two of my top cupboard staples, because they add up to the simplest meals for when you are busy! I made this when we had my nephew round as having such an 'easy tea' means I don't have to spend time away from other activities and it always goes down a treat with the kids! The chilli in this was just a little too much for my wimpy daughter but the rest of us loved it!

arrabbiata sauce jar
 
A new thing in these boxes is the addition of 'DB's Discoveries' - the inclusion of products from small and lesser-known brands that the chaps at Degustabox think deserve a little more recognition. My DB Discovery items this time round come in the form of these raw paleo bars from The Primal Pantry. I'm not following any particular diet, raw or paleo or otherwise, but I am trying to make a concerted effort to try to eat a little healthier and these tasty snack bars fit into that brilliantly. For someone that is on a stricter diet, I imagine these goodies would be absolute lifesavers!

raw paleo snack bars

You can sign up to your own Degustabox Subscription here, and receive a big box of tasty treats delivered straight to your door for £12.99 (including delivery!) per month - and you can even save yourself £3 off your first box by entering the code AMQWL!

17 September 2015

#HBAlPorto Event in Hull

It's been a couple of weeks now since I jumped in a van with Mr A Blokes Eye View and Mrs Married to a Geek for the Hull #HBAlPorto event, and it feels like even longer - but such a grand day was had by all I thought I better share it!
 
A Bloggers event in Hull
 
The event was organised by Alex, Jenny and Kat, and it was really obvious what an incredible amount of work they'd put in to make the event special! The venue was Al Porto, a lovely Italian restaurant situated right on the Marina in Hull. I'll admit to being naively surprised that Hull was this lovely looking!  
 
bloggers get togehter
 
I'm afraid the three of us made a terrible food-based mistake on the day - thinking the canap├ęs we knew we were getting wouldn't be circulated 'til later in the day, we all stopped off for a sandwich on the way. Never before have I regretted eating like I did on that day! Don't get me wrong, it was a nice sandwich and all, but didn't look a patch on the glorious little nibbles provided by our host venue. Despite being pretty full I still managed to try a couple - it would have been rude not to! - and though I sadly failed to take any pictures at all of the food, believe me when I say everything looked and tasted marvellous! I just wish I could have eaten and appreciated more! I did, however, thankfully manage to try a few of the cocktails instead - this delicious Bellini went down almost too well....

Al Porto Hull Cocktails

If we hadn't already guessed that Lush would be in attendance, it was pretty obvious as soon as we hit the right floor in the building - that aroma is pretty distinctive! I love how eager Lush are to be involved with events like this, and I happily spent much of my day camped out within arms reach of their stall where I was eager to check out some of the newer products I hadn't had chance to see previously!

space bath
 
The Intergalactic bath bomb (above) had such a compelling sales pitch that I couldn't not take one home with me - but I'll save that story for the upcoming review post!

weird shaped bath bombs

There were plenty of other tempting products too - I've been crossing my fingers that these former Oxford St exclusives would find their way up north! The Comforter shower cream is definitely on a future to-buy list, as are pretty much all the new bath products!

lush stand at blogger event

The lovely Lush ladies were also offering out hand massages featuring a couple of their lovely new products too, as demonstrated below by Simone. I had one with the incredible smelling Salted Coconut hand scrub, topped of with some Love and Light hand cream and it felt like I had brand new hands afterwards!

lush blogger event hull

The good 'uns that they are, they'd also put together a little goodie bag for each of us! Mine had a Granny Takes a Dip Bubble Bar, a generous blob of green Fun (my daughter's favourite!) and a sample of one of their fresh face masks that I tragically forgot to put into the fridge for a week and a half, oops! Included here are my purchases of the Intergalactic bath bomb and Kinky, a treatment for curly hair - keep your eyes peeled for more on them very soon! I wanted to buy more but had been given very strong hints that we'd have enough to carry home already, as you'll see!

Hull event lush products

Next stop was to say hello to the chap from Viridian - I'd not heard of this company before but they specialise in ethical, organic vitamins and supplements. We bravely tried a couple of samples on the spot, including a surprisingly non-disgusting fish oil - and again, were given our own goodie bags of things to try at home. I'm really looking forward to trying these as I'll be the first to admit that my diet isn't naturally the most vitamin-filled!

vitamins health products

A representative from Weleda had come along too to talk us through the products and once again generously provide a few samples. I've tried a couple of the Weleda prodcuts before through beauty boxes and the like and have always been thoroughly impressed. Their Arnica Bath Soak is definitely going on my shopping list for when I've emptied out my bath cupboard a bit!

weleda table sale


Our super organisers had also put together an incredible range of prizes for a raffle hosted by the hilarious Lewis-Duncan Weedon. Between us all we raised £227 for The Eve Appeal, though I think this was in large part due to a widespread desperation to win some of the marvellous jewellery donated by Joshua James!
 
hbalporto

Unfortunately none of the bling came my way, but I certainly can't complain as I came away with some great prizes nonetheless! I know Carl was particularly jealous of my Newman's Own Cooking Sauces, how good do these look?

raffle prize aporto

I also came home with this handsome package of Marine Collagen from Vida Glow. It's blueberry flavoured collagen supplement that is supposed to do wonders for your skin - between this and the Viridian stuff I should be glowing with health!

drinkable collegen

On top of that, I also won this skincare trio from La Roche-Posay - I know people have absolutely raved about this line and they'll make a very welcome addition to my skincare routine!

French toner

Between my raffle wins and the lovely goodies provided by the brands that had come to see us on the day, you'd think I'd done very well for myself in terms of bringing things home - but this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the huge filled goodie bags (yes, bags, plural!) that the girls had organised for us all! We were so well treated that I think I need a whole separate post to show you it all - that'll be coming soon! 

14 September 2015

World Curry Festival 2015

Bradford is a city full of exciting events and awesome cultural happenings. (Shush, I don't care that you don't believe me, it's true!) This weekend marked one of my favourites events in the Bradfordian calendar - the return of the annual World Curry Festival!
 
Events in Bradford

Even those that don't share my enthusiasm for this great city must surely agree that if there's one thing we have a long-standing positive reputation for, it's the quality of the curry!
 
This year saw a couple of changes to the festival: one of date - this was originally scheduled to be happening in June before being shuffled back to September, and one of location - the even has moved from it's usual city-centre spot to the lush grounds of the lovely Lister Park.

cartwright hll event

Though I did initially think it a shame to move it away from the easily-accessible centre, Lister Park (and the free-to-enter at gallery Cartwright Hall in the middle of it) is well worth a visit anyway so if you can combine the two, that's no bad thing!

cooking chicken tikka

This year we actually made two visits to the festival - a quick one on Saturday morning where the rain and later appointments meant we just had time to have a quick run round and grab a chicken tikka wrap (this one from Zouk's, as I'd so enjoyed their one the previous year. I know I should have moved some of the salad in the picture to give you a better view of the spicy chicken goodness but it was raining and I had my hands full....!) and return on Sunday afternoon as the sun had come out!

chicken salad street food

With the sun out, the place was in full swing so we headed straight over to the Crabbies bus to help get us in the party spirit!

Bradford Curry Fest drinks
 
It's hard to beat a cold ginger beer on a sunny day, and it makes a great curry accompaniment too!  I ended up taking a couple of these lovely bottles home with me as well - the idea was to keep them in the fridge for when the mood strikes but I ended up drinking them both later that day, oops! They also had some very tempting looking ginger wine in stock - maybe next time!


Other drinks for the day were provided by festival sponsor CocaCola, who were there to make sure everyone was doing their bit when it comes to recycling. They were also offering the opportunity to take part in a taste-test and for the other half, correctly identifying the different kinds of coke was up there with his proudest achievements.

bradford curry fest coke

I've been meaning to try My Thai for a while now, having driven past their Bradford home countless time and hearing great things about their newer venture in Leeds. The curry festival provided a great opportunity to finally chuck myself in and order the Pad Gra Paw (if I remember correctly!) This was delicious and completely different from anything else we tried at the festival - definitely enough to make sure I hit the restaurant properly sometime very soon!

Pad Gra Paw Thai food

Despite the scrumptious thai offerings above, we hadn't quite had out fill of chicken tikka. To make the most of having so many different restaurant offerings available, the Mr and I decided to split up. I headed to Hasan's (not realizing it was a Leeds restaurant but nevermind) for a very satisfying chicken tikka on naan,....

Hasans Leeds at Bradford Curry Festival

And he went the way of Zaara's for a chicken tikka wrap. I admit the percentage of food we ate that we chicken tikka in some sort of bread wasn't necessarily the most exciting, nor indicative of the wide array of curries of the world available on the day. It was just really really good!

bradford curry festival best food

 


I'd have been tempted by more but thankfully the free sweet samples from Zoya helped draw that line between 'savoury' and 'sweet' and let my body know I was done with curry for now! I tried one of the little coconutty pink things though reckon I could have eaten my way through a lot more given the opportunity!

Zoya sweet tasting bradford curry estival

And speaking of sweet things, I was of course thrilled to find this gorgeous little sanctuary of tea and cake nestled among the more exotic stalls. This was particularly welcome on my rainy Saturday visit when the chance to sit down undercover with a hot brew and homemade cake was vital! This yummy looking lot was brought by local church St Pauls.

St PAuls Church at Curry Festival
 
I sadly missed all of the cooking demonstrations that were going on throughout the weekend but there were plenty of them for those interested. I was all about eating as much as I could with my short time at the World Curry Festival and I think I managed that very well though, so a very successful visit from me! Looking forward to next years!