Whilst I like to think I keep my finger on the pulse; I know, in reality, there are so many brands and products I’ve yet to discover. So here’s a quick round-up of the brands that came on to my radar during May. Some of these companies have been around for decades and others are small businesses that are still emerging but they all have one thing in common; I wish I knew about them sooner.
- Green People – Organic skincare and make-up brand, Green People, have been going for 20 years providing people of all ages with products that will not harm their skin. I stumbled on to this company whilst looking for a solution to little girl’s nasty case of baby eczema and was really pleased with what I found. I’ll be heading back to them in the near future for some make-up remover for me and some suncare for little one.
- Ink Rocket – A design-led clothing company that is ethical and sustainable with garments for both adults and children. Their range includes everything from slogan tees to colourful hoodies and even ‘Mummy & Me’ matching outfits. With plenty of cute prints and uplifting messages; I can see this brand really taking off. Personally, I’m saving my pennies for when the baby and toddler collection is launched.
- Decadent Decaf – It’s no secret that I love coffee, but I’ve had to limit my caffeine intake due to breastfeeding. I’m a big believer in supporting local businesses and, as a Hampshire based blogger, Decadent Decaf HQ is only a short way from me. I was after a decaf that would still taste like ‘real’ coffee and boy did it deliver – no wonder they’ve won awards.
- Zymurgorium – PARMA VIOLET GIN – need I say more?! After hearing of this drink on Twitter I instantly knew I needed to track it down & luckily a lovely fellow blogger was able to point me in the right direction – Zymurgorium. This Manchester based drinks company have brew and distil a wide range of delicious drinks guaranteed to induce good times and evoke happy memories.
I can’t wait to see which brands and products fly on to my radar this month. Let me know if you are part of a small business, local company or emerging brand that I should know about.
Pudding; the best part of a meal in my opinion! Summer is here now; so it’s time to ditch the dense cakes and filling crumbles in favour of something a little lighter. Whether you’re counting calories, or looking to deliver a wow factor dessert, meringue is a wonderful way to get a sweet treat. Incredibly versatile, and surprisingly simple to make, they can be the main element or play a small part in a much more dramatic recipe.
Looking for inspiration? Here are four ways you can use meringue:
- Toffee Coffee Pavlova – Two of my favourite flavours paired. This dessert sounds too good to be true and from the moment I saw this recipe on a food blog, a couple of years ago, I was dreaming of sampling it for myself. Needing only a handful of ingredients; this dessert is both easy and inexpensive to put together making it a dinner party dream.
- Sandwiched Meringues – These bite size drops of heaven are not for the faint-hearted! Don’t be fooled by how beautifully delicate these look; they pack a serious sweet punch but are worth every mouthful. Chocolate filling brings two rose shape meringues together for a sugary hit perfect for that mid-afternoon low point. Whilst the rosettes can be slightly tricky to master; the finished product is incredibly impressive.
- Tropical Fruit Mess – Eton mess has to be one of my all time favourite desserts. Not only is it incredibly simple to make; it can be constructed in seconds and ingredients played around with depending on preference. Only last week I enjoyed my first traditional ‘mess’ of the summer at a local café and I’m already anticipating many more portions of this style dessert. I like to substitute the traditional berries with tropical fruits for a refreshing, and somewhat summery, twist on this British classic. Pile the fruit high or use lashings of cream, it’s completely up to you but one thing’s for sure, you wont be disappointed.
- Meringue topped Espresso – There are thousands of ways to enjoy your coffee and it’s really not uncommon to add some sweetness with sugar or syrups but how about meringue?! When this Korean trend started popping up on my Pinterest feed towards the end of last year I thought my eyes may have been deceiving me. However, when you think about it, giving your coffee a meringue lid is no different to adding sugar or buying a slice of cake to accompany the drink. Whether this trend gets picked up in the UK remains to be seen but I’d be open to sampling if it appeared on a menu near me.
What’s your favourite use of meringue as a dessert? Will you be trying any of these ideas for yourself? Let me know in the comments section.
Ah summer; it’s finally here and with a change of weather comes a change of wardrobe. What says ready for fun in the sun more than a playful print?! There are so many lovely patterns available at the moment but fruity prints are always eye-catching and give an immediate summer vibe. So here are 4 of the cutest fruit prints for this seasons garments.
- Cherries – For weeks I’ve been crushing on a cherry print blouse by an independent designer. Since first seeing this top; I keep noticing more pieces I love with a cherry theme. Lots of small cherries in a very ditsy design give a real ‘girly’ feel or you could make more of a bold statement with larger cherries.
- Pineapples – Is there a more summery fruit than pineapple?! I keep seeing pineapple prints everywhere; from accessories to interiors. Pineapples instantly make me think of sipping cocktails by a pool so what better pattern is there to get you in the right frame of mind to go and soak up some rays.
- Watermelon – Whilst the word ‘watermelon’ makes me think of the famous ‘Dirty Dancing’ quote; the contrast of the pinky red flesh against the bright green rind is an image that stands out. Often accompanied by slogans; watermelon print tees make a great cover-up for over swimwear during a trip to the beach or a splash at the pool.
- Apples – On Children’s clothing; apple prints are extremely cute. There’s something quite sweet and innocent about it whilst being fun. Often found on rompers and dresses; the apple design is one that will definitely be making an appearance in my little girl’s wardrobe this season.
What prints make you feel summery? Let me know in the comments section.
Some families are loyal tea drinkers; in our house there’s only one drink – coffee! When I was pregnant I wasn’t worried about giving up alcohol, or missing cheese, it was the thought of giving up caffeine that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to manage. I survived it though and that first cup of ‘real’ coffee after little miss was born was THE best I have ever tasted. However, I didn’t take into consideration the effect caffeine would have on little one whilst breastfeeding – it keeps her up even more! So, in search of more sleep, I cut it out of my diet once again. Fast forward over a year and I’m still breastfeeding. As I’m only doing so at night; I am allowing myself one ‘normal’ coffee a day but it’s not the caffeine hit I miss, it’s the taste.
I’m not sure why, but I have always thought of decaf coffee as pointless but desperate to be able to consume more than one mug a day, I decided to expand my horizons and look into the decaf market a bit further. I tried leading brands, grounds and instant, and was beginning to lose hope when I heard about Decadent Decaf; an award winning company specialising in decaf blends. Worth a shot – if you pardon the pun.
I’m pleased to say; I was won over from the moment I took my first sip of the ‘Signature Espresso Blend’. Brewed in our beloved Aeropress for 4 minutes, the result was strong yet smooth with almost velvety tones. And the smell, the rich scent of coffee filled the kitchen, heavenly for a coffee addict. Worried it was a fluke, I made a couple more mugs that day; using the French Press as well as the Aeropress. Each mug had slight differences but they were all delicious. The only negative is that the grounds are slightly too fine for the Aeropress but that is a compromise I’m willing to make for such good flavour.
Moving forward; I’m excited to try more blends in the Decadent family and will be sure to tell all my coffee (and sleep) deprived friends that decaf coffee doesn’t have to mean compromising on taste.
Have you got a favourite make or blend of coffee you’d recommend? Let me know.
Where does all the time go; Little One is 15 months this week but I can count on one hand the amount of photos we have of the three of us together. I’ve always been one to shy away from the camera but I would hate to look back in years to come and regret not having family pictures taken whilst there’s someone else around to hold the camera. So when the opportunity presented itself to have a professional portrait session done against the beautiful backdrop of Clevedon Pier; I jumped at it.
It was a wet and windy day and I was a little dubious as to how that would affect the session but I needn’t have been as the images we’ve seen so far are wonderful. The pier is not only a beautiful landmark; it is also a place that will forever hold a piece of my heart, making it the perfect location to make new memories. After my Grandfather passed away; a remembrance plaque was put on Clevedon Pier and we added another plaque alongside it following my dad’s death. It may sound silly to some, but for me it felt like having our portraits taken there meant they could somehow join us in creating images to cherish.
It was a great day and we had so much fun; I’ve got the bug now and have made a big long list of locations where I’d like to have more professional photo sessions. Time will no doubt continue to fly and it’s important we make the most of every second – taking the pictures and making the memories.
Quality time with family has always been important but now I’m a mum I am even more eager to spend as much time as possible making special memories and cherishing those moments with the ones that mean the most to me. This past week I have been in my home county of North Somerset seeing both sides of our family and experiencing ‘firsts’ with little girl. Like most small children; little miss loves animals so with this in mind we decided to go for an animal themed adventure and have a day out at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall.
Before yesterday; it had been well over ten years since I had last stepped foot on the site of the rapidly-expanding zoo site and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of it. I’d heard how wonderful it is, how there’s such a wide variety of animals, how it would be a day never to forget but in the back of my mind I still had a few doubts. You see, as I child, I would go to Bristol Zoo to see the animals and I have such fond memories of it that I don’t think a similar venue could live up to it. Over the past few years I have heard people weigh-up whether to visit Bristol Zoo or Noah’s Ark and more often than not the latter has won out with people citing that it has more to offer. However, wanting to give my daughter the best zoo day possible, I gave in to public opinion and opted to give Noah’s Ark a try.
So off we went, four generations of one family, packed in to a car ready for whatever the rainy day had to throw at us. Within minutes of pulling in to the car park; it was as if no time had passed but that soon changed once we stepped through the entrance and looked at the site map to plan out our day. Gone were the days of stroking a few rabbits and peeking at chicks in incubators; Noah’s Ark had now become an all-singing, all-dancing Zoo full of big cats, elephants, giraffes and much more – I instantly knew little girl would be in her element. And in her element she was; the joy on her face and the laughter you could hear as we approached each enclosure spoke for itself.
Whilst the entrance fee was a little pricey, £19 per adult and £13.50, it was worth it as a one-off treat. There were plenty of animals to see, a large play area for kids to let off excess energy, and a nice café to grab a quiet cuppa. The only thing that would have improved the day was if ‘Miss I’ had been big enough to go on the tractor ride – here’s to next time!
When you have sensitive skin it can take lots of trial and error to find a product that will not aggravate you and will soothe any irritations. Make-up, toiletries and even washing-up liquid has been known to cause my skin to flare up in a rash which is why I was so disheartened when I first noticed my little girl had developed a pretty nasty case of baby eczema. Not wanting to see her suffer; I instantly set about finding lotions and potions to help her. Fast forward several months and it’s still as bad as ever. We’ve tried plenty of things from prescription to over the counter skincare and even holistic alternatives but still the crimson scourge of dermatitis remains present. So when someone recommended I try ‘Lavender Soothing Baby Salve’ by Green People I was willing to give it go.
It’s been nearly ten days now since we, the royal ‘we’ that is, started using this organic skin product as part of our bedtime routine and what a difference those days have made. It is usually a nightmare to get little one to sit still whilst I apply creams but she remains completely calm as rub this in. I’m not normally one for the scent of lavender but the fragrance is so light in this that I don’t mind it and it’s perfect for just before sleepytime! You can tell it’s made with all natural organic ingredients as it doesn’t take me a lifetime to wash the inevitable excess of my hands afterwards. Oh and did I mention Mr Green Man, as we like to call him, he’s the cute little character on the side of the tube that makes my little girl laugh as I apply the ‘magic medicine’.
I don’t want to give false ideas, the eczema hasn’t completely gone, but it improved substantially and appears to be much less irritating to her. At £10.50 for 100ml it’s definitely value for money with only a little able to go a long way. I can see this product, and Mr Green Man, becoming a regular in our household. Fingers crossed the benefits long continue.
To say I have a sweet tooth would be an understatement of epic proportions! Generally speaking; I prefer chocolate to more traditional sweets but there are some smells that draw me in and instantly make me feel like I’ve had some of the pleasure of enjoying confectionery without any of the calories. So when multiple brands started bringing out skincare products with a nod to some confectionery classics; I knew they had the ability to become a staple in my bathroom and I wasn’t wrong!
There are so many wonderful varieties of sweet shop inspired soaps but if I had to narrow it down these would be my ‘best of the bunch’:
- Patisserie de Bain, Sugared Violet – Ah, Parma Violets, my favourite non-chocolate sweets. Not only have Patisserie de Bain absolutely nailed this; they have made this soap in the shape of a deliciously sweet looking cupcake. I usually prefer liquid-hand soap to the bar variety but this is the exception to my rule as it leaves my hands feeling silky smooth.
- Wilko, Rhubarb & Vanilla – If you asked people what their favourite traditional sweet is then I’m pretty sure a lot of them would say ‘Rhubarb & Custard’. Wilko have taken this classic sweet and bottled it in soap form. My only complaint would be that the smell is a bit too authentic as it always leaves me desperately wanting to make a trip to the newsagents!
- Carex Fun Editions, Cola Bottles – I don’t actually like the taste of cola bottles, controversial I know, but I really do like the smell. This soap provides me with all the joy of a sweet shop scent without the desire to gorge on the item it’s reminiscent of. Available in most pharmacies and supermarkets; Carex Fun Editions is a product able to fill many homes and minds with sweet memories.
- The Body Shop, Strawberry – This soap is designed to be fruity rather than sweet-themed. However, whenever I use it I can’t help but associate the smell with strawberry laces as the scent is overpoweringly sweet. Whilst it’s a little bit more expensive than the others; it is made with all natural ingredients which allows your skin to reap the rewards that come with natural beauty.
Which confectionery scents are your favourites? Are there any similar products you think I should check out? Let me know in the comments section.
I love to cook, ever since helping my Dad in the kitchen at an early age, but with an energetic one year old to look after I’m no longer able to spend as much time preparing a meal as I’d like. This means I tend to keep a few ’emergency meals’ in the freezer just in case time runs away with us or we don’t have a chance to eat until after little girl has gone to bed. There’s nothing wrong with a ‘ping’ meal as I’ve heard them be described. However, like many things, there are good ones and bad ones and I’m not about to waste a meal on something bland or watery. When I saw that Iceland were stocking a range of Pizza Express ready meals that had been exclusively made for them; I couldn’t wait to try them out.
With OH coming through the door late from work and leaving not much time before I would have to run a bath for LG; last night was the perfect excuse to put the Pizza Express ready meals to the test. To the freezer I went; it would be ‘Prawn Liguine’ for him and ‘Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne’ for me. As the microwave whirred, delicious smells began to fill the kitchen, it was a good first indicator. *PING*, it was ready in only a shade over ten minutes and once plated it looked as good as it smelt. Now for the taste test.
The Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne completely outshone any Spinach and Ricotta ready meal I’d ever had before. Every element had so much flavour but it was so well balanced that it was not overpowered by one specific taste. There was a good amount of filling and you could actually see the authenticity of the ingredients as opposed to it becoming one watery mess like some microwave meals do. I wasn’t disappointed and, more to the point, I wasn’t left hungry.
Now I didn’t actually taste the Prawn Linguine, I’m not that great when it comes to fish dishes, but when serving I took note of the large amount of prawns included in the meal as it’s not uncommon to find a prawn ready meal with next to zero prawns in it. I’ll be honest, I was a little bit concerned by the two chilli pepper symbols on the packet and the vibrant red slices dotted across the plate but I’ve been informed it was a ‘nice heat’ which packed flavour rather than a punch!
Verdict? Need you ask – it’s a resounding yes! We loved the meals and they will definitely become freezer favourites for those last minute dinners.