Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker Review

I've been looking for a good quality bluetooth speaker for a while; we've had iPod docks in the past and I had actually planned to buy a dock but then realised that I'd be upgrading my iPhone in the New Year and chances are I will go for the iPhone 5, which is a different connect to the iPhone 4S, so I was worried that it'd just get left on the shelf if it didn't have an adapter. That's where the Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker comes in, because as the title suggests, you connect via bluetooth rather than having to dock it. 

bose-soundlink-mini-bluetooth-speaker

I looked all over the place for one of these, but they were proving a very popular Christmas present because they were out of stock everywhere I went. I looked at other bluetooth speakers but they sounded a bit tinny and not anywhere as good quality as the Bose. 

The speaker itself is stylish and compact with the controls on the top and a charging dock which comes with it. Of course, once it's charged you can play it anywhere but I wouldn't say that it's something you'd want to carry in your bag all the time because it is heavy, but the weight is definitely justified when you hear the sound quality to come from such a little device. This Bose speaker is a bit of a pocket rocket as far as volume is concerned... I was amazed at how loud it was. Think of hi-fi kind of loudness to the point where at it's loudest you struggle to hear someone talk in the same room. It has to be heard to be fully appreciated so if you're ever near a Bose store, go and have a listen.

I'd like to thank Halifax who gave me an Amazon voucher to go towards buying something for someone special this Christmas as part of their 'Giving Extra' to someone special campaign. 

Treaclemoon Christmas Bath Treats

I've posted about Treaclemoon products quite a few times now, I think they're amazing value for money and they smell gorgeous. So when my friend bought me some of their bath/shower gel I couldn't wait to have use these christmassy bath products.

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Treaclemoon Bath and Shower Gel £2.99 Tesco

I know cinnamon can be something you either love or you hate, I personally love the smell; it reminds me of Christmas and really helps me relax and feel cosy when I'm in a bath. Warm Cinnamon Nights is more of a sweet sort of smell, the cinnamon isn't overpowering it actually smells a little bit like sweet shop sweets. That Vanilla Moment is a really beautiful creamy ice cream kind of smell, more of a younger persons kind of vanilla rather than more mature; quite different to the vanilla you find in The Body Shop.

I could literally fill my bathroom with Treaclemoon products and I'm dying to try their candy jar limited edition products. Tesco often have some offers on like 2 for £5 but even at £2.99 each I think they're a bargain because they last for ages!

Ted Baker Beauty 'Golden Girl' Christmas Nails

I've seen all sorts of fancy Christmas nail designs just recently, and although they look amazing I know not everyone can afford to have that done, and to be totally honest I prefer a simple nail look. I don't have long talons I have average length nails so doing intricate designs can prove a little bit difficult!

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 Ted Baker 'Golden Girl' Nail Duo £8.50 Boots*

This nail duo by Ted Baker provides the perfect nail look for the festive season, you could use the high shimmer Golden Girl on every nail or you could use Totally Twinky for the accent nail like I did.

gold-christmas-nails

Both polishes are so easy to apply, if you're not the neatest at nail painting then not to worry because it wipes away easy and doesn't stain your fingers. I found that both polishes needed at least 3 coats for an opaque look but if you just wanted a bit of glitter on top of a normal nail polish then one coat of Totally Twinky would provide sufficient sparkle. £8.50 for 2 polishes is great value in my opinion, the attractive packaging would also make the set a great little gift.

Gift Idea For Someone Who Has Everything

I've had my eye on this for a while now (since last Christmas probably!) and I've only just bought it for myself this week. Q&A a day is exactly what it suggests: a book with a different question which you answer every day for 5 years (the same question on the same day every year, so you can see how you change). I don't keep a diary, but I used to so I thought it would be nice to start something similar again but without the commitment of writing a lengthy entry every day. I think it's be a great idea for the person in your family who is really difficult to buy for.



Q&A a Day £8.26 Amazon

It's actually not as big as I expected, it's about the same size as my hand but big enough to be able to write comfortably in it. The design was something that really caught my eye, it's like traditional book style with gold around the edge of the page. You can start filling it in at anytime during the year but obviously the beginning of the book starts with January 1st. 

Although I have bought this for myself, I think it would be a great Christmas present for anyone who you are struggling with... those that tend to have everything. I think it'll be really interesting to fill this in and look back over the next 5 years and remember how I was feeling on that particular day!

How I Lost 2 Stone on Slimming World

It's been a little while since I last posted about my Slimming World journey, mainly because I have been so busy but secondly because I couldn't really think of anything to say without repeating myself. But tonight I hit another milestone so I thought I better write a little update and maybe give some inspiration to those who are looking to lose a little bit before Christmas (yes, you could still do it, there's 4 more weigh ins). I lost 2.5lb to give me my next award...

slimming-world-2-stone-award

So in 10 weeks I've lost 2 stone, which averages out at just over 2.5lb per week which is pretty good considering I aimed for 2lb per week which would have given me 2 stone in time for Christmas. Anyway that's enough gloating for one night, I still have a long way to go until I hit my target so I'll leave you with a few things that I've changed in my life since I started Slimming World.

I have veg or salad with every single meal; granted not the 1/3 that Slimming World recommend ALL the time but most of the time I will have a sizable portion on my plate which stops me eating more of the higher calorie foods.

I think before I eat, when it's something high syn I think is it really worth it... even if it's just a bite, Jason will often say it doesn't matter. But it does!!!!

I have recently discovered Weight Watchers dessert recipe yoghurts, still a yoghurt but they have little pieces of soft biscuity bits in which are supposed to be part of a 'tart' which makes it feel like much more of a 'naughty' pudding than it is because they are in fact free!!

I plan, I decide what I'm going to eat in advance so I don't have to go hunting in the kitchen and risk picking up stuff that I shouldn't!!

I never eat takeaways, not even as a treat. I don't even crave them if I'm honest and I don't want that feeling of guilt afterwards.

I'm so determined, more determined than I've ever been before. I don't enjoy being fat (and 2 stone later, I still am!) but I know that I'm taking the necessary steps to change that and hopefully by May next year I'll be close to my target if not at it!!

I drink more water, not every day but if I'm feeling fat or bloated I have a couple of pints which flushes me through and I seem to get rid of the water weight. 

The key thought for me is... 'Nothing tastes as good as being slim will feel'

Look Inside Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual

It's one thing loving makeup but a total other thing actually knowing how to apply it, like many beauty bloggers, I am not a makeup artists and I have never been on any kind of training to show me how to apply makeup. The majority of my makeup skills have come from other blogs and also YouTube tutorials, however last year I treat myself to a few makeup books and one of them was this Makeup Manual by Bobbi Brown so I thought I'd give you a sneaky look and an idea of what's in it.

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 Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual £13.00 Amazon

Obviously written by the makeup artist wonder, Bobbi Brown, this book contains advice and tutorials which would suit makeup beginners to those who are looking at more advanced makeup application. There are twelve chapters beginning with a little bit of background information about Bobbi Brown right to a list of memorable makeup moments from some of the most famous makeup artists in history. 

bobbi-brown-makeup-manual

For me personally some of the stuff is a little in the realms of the obvious but there's also some really interesting bits of information and tips that I didn't know before. One of the first chapters has pages of information about the equipment you might need as a makeup artist and also how to look after that equipment and it progresses on to basic makeup application such as how to apply foundation properly and so on (which may seem obvious to some but I'm sure you'll agree that there are plenty of people in this world who could do with some tips).

bobbi-brown-makeup-manual

Lots of pictures of pretty, smashed up makeup which seems a crying shame given how expensive Bobbi Brown stuff is!!! But all in the name of makeup artistry I suppose. It's also not all just about makeup, there are some parts about skincare which I found very interesting. 

bobbi-brown-makeup-manual

After the basics and towards the middle of the book is where the tutorials start, there's literally everything from how to apply lipstick to how to define and shape your eyebrows, through to more advanced makeup application with bold eye looks and how to make colour work for you (and your clients, if you're an MUA).

Chapter nine is then about being a makeup artist, how you can break into the industry and advice on how to get along (coming from a tycoon like Bobbi Brown I'd say it was some pretty sound advice). I know this won't be to everyone's taste because you don't all want to be a makeup artist but I thought it was an interesting read nevertheless!

I'm not an avid reader of books in general but I really enjoy looking through this, I definitely don't regret buying it one little bit. If you are into makeup and you find the industry quite interesting then I'd definitely suggest that you either buy this or pop it on your Christmas list. Also if you know anyone who is envious of your makeup application skills, this would be an ideal gift. 

How to Deal with a Maintain on Slimming World

I'm a bit late with my post this week, been at work since 9am this morning and I've literally just got back into the house! I didn't have high hopes for this week and I actually expected a gain so as long as it wasn't too drastic I wouldn't have been too surprised. It's the first week since starting in September that I haven't lost weight, this weeks disappointing weigh in result was...

Maintain

Which is fine. I was more pleasantly surprised by the fact that I hadn't gained. I know a maintain isn't great but the pace I've lost weight sort of weighs itself out and I'm still on track for 2 stone by Christmas so that's absolutely fine by me. I could think of 10 excuses as to why I haven't lost this week, one of which was that I went to Betty's in York and it's also 'the wrong time of the month' so I'm feeling quite bloated and a fat anyway!

I have eaten some nice things this week though and I'm going into the next week with a new found motivation because I definitely don't want another maintain and especially not a gain next week!! Here's what I loved eating this week (I won't include Betty's because we all know how nice naughty foods are!!!)


Ham, 2 fried eggs (fried with Fry Light), SW chips, peppers and cucumber

Such a simple yet really nice meal, so easy to make aswell!

 Orange Segments

I usually don't buy oranges in the supermarket but I got a few in the bag of fruit I got last week as I was slimmer of the week and I really enjoyed eating them. I've also got back into eating satsumas, I've got 2 to take to work with me tomorrow.

This coming week is going to be a real challenge for me because I'm back at my old office for 2 weeks which means I have to be even more strict with planning so I don't go hungry! I've already made a shepherds pie for tomorrow so I can take some in a box. I'm hoping for a good loss next tuesday and I hope all my planning actually goes to plan!

Imperial Leather Foamburst Bodywash Review

My mum has bought this ever since I was about 11/12 when it first came out and I've liked it as a shower gel ever since. They've recently brought out some new fragrances out and I got this one in Boots when they were on offer for £2. It is a bit more of a luxury bath product in the supermarket aisles but if you can catch it on offer it's well worth a try.

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Imperial Leather Foamburst body wash with moisturising honey & almond milk £3.09 Superdrug

foam
straight from the pump

foamburst-foam
lather with the tiniest bit of water

If you like foam/lather/bubbles then this will definitely be your bag, you literally only need to press the pump very slightly to get enough out to cater for your whole body. It comes out like a gel but quickly starts to foam on contact with you hand and 'bursts' when it comes into contact with water. 

It is a little more expensive than some would be prepared to spend on a high street body wash but it is more luxurious than ordinary shower gels which give you lather but not to this extent. The honey and almond milk smells really nice, really comforting and great for unwinding in a bath. I tend to use this with a shower puff because the lather seems to be even better. 

If it's ever on offer or you're looking for an indulgent bath product without breaking the bank then this is for you. Full price is always around the £3 mark but like I said, I got it for £2 a bit ago. 

YSL Shocking Mascara Review with Before and After Photos

The other night I had the urge to treat myself to some luxury makeup and was debating over which high end mascara to go for as I'd run out of my Benefit They're Real and the little samples I'd got from various gift with purchase bits. After Googling different mascara brands and trawling various different blogs for before and after photos I finally decided on YSL Shocking Mascara. I've decided to do before and after photos of the YSL Shocking mascara just so you can truly see how good/bad it is.

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Yves Saint Laurent Shocking Mascara £23.50 Debenhams

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 Before
ysl-shocking-mascara-on-lashes
After

This mascara takes some getting used to, the amount of product that goes on is unbelievable, probably a little too much because it seems to clump very easily. I think the wand is very much to blame for this problem; it's helix-cut which means that you can load lots onto the brush but I think it means that it doesn't brush on as well.

There's no denying that it gives great volume and adds length but it doesn't separate the lashes as well as I would like. I think application of this mascara is going to take time to perfect, I think I'm going to need another clean mascara wand to brush the lashes out once I've applied enough product. I do think it's more of a night time kind of mascara unless you also like bold eye looks during the day. 

Once it's on and applied properly the staying power of YSL Shocking is pretty impressive, it lasted me all night on a very drunken saturday without smudging or flaking around my eyes but it's really easy to get off when cleansing which is always good!

I'm not keen on doing these kind of 'meh' reviews because I'm neither recommending it nor advising against it which I don't like doing but I have told you what I do and don't like about it! As for likelihood of repurchase, I'm pretty sure I won't repurchase. I had a small sample size Lancome Hypnose mascara a few months ago, I much preferred that. How it applied was much better, I just wanted to try something new which is why I went for this YSL one. 

An Unexpected Weightloss on Slimming World

This week is going to be quite a short and sweet post, purely because I don't really have anything to show you in terms of recipes a) because I've not had anything different and b) I have forgotten to take photos! I didn't have high expectations this week because I got very drunk for the first time in 5 years on Saturday night which then resulted in 6 chicken nuggets off the buffet on Sunday because I worked all day and felt pretty shocking!! Despite the things I thought would really damage my weightloss I got on the scales in group tonight to discover that I'd actually had a huge unexpected weightloss of 5lb!

Not that I'm complaining in any way, shape or form but considering I had about 40 syns worth of stuff on Saturday and 18 syns worth on Sunday I really didn't expect that at all!! But having said that every single other meal has been completely on plan with superfree and all that. 

I do believe that having superfree is the key to my weight losses, I religiously fill at least 1/3 of my plate with salad or veg which means that I put less of the higher calorie stuff on my plate and therefore I'm still eating as much food but not as many calories! I think people think that they can still lose lots of weight just by having 'free' foods which are meat & potatoes (+ other things, obviously) but they often are disappointed with weightlosses because they're still taking in too many calories. What I'd probably say is that if you don't put superfree on your plate at all you may as well count 1/3 of your plate as syns, because thats not how Slimming World works. 

I know salad and veg can be really boring but I tend not to have lettuce much anymore I have lots of different coloured peppers with cucumber and I love the pre chopped tins of roasting veg which you can get in Tesco for £1.55... probably slightly more expensive but it takes away the 'hassle'. 

Next week I'm hoping to keep up the momentum and lose 2lb, I only have 6.5lb to go to my 2 stone award which is what I was hoping for in time for Christmas. I reckon I can do that!!!

Due to the lack of photos this week I'll leave you a photo of me, dressed as a Mexican.


John Frieda Sheer Blonde Review

After finishing my bottle of Alberto Balsam I thought it would be quite appropriate to review the John Frieda Blonde range, if I went in Boots and I had to pick a bottle of shampoo which was a little bit more luxurious than the others, my choice would always be from the John Frieda range. Obviously I have blonde hair which is why I chose this particular range but you probably already know that there is a range for brunettes as well as red heads and there's also the John Frieda Full Repair range which I have also tried.


The main reason why  John Frieda is my choice of 'high street luxury' hair care is because it's like a salon standard treatment but without such a hefty price tag. The shampoo leaves my hair feeling clean, the conditioner makes it easier to manage and the serum is the perfect finishing touch to keep it from going frizzy. 

I double cleanse my hair with the shampoo, I have quite a lot of hair now (it's both long and thick!) so I think 2 applications does the job properly, I still only apply conditioner to the ends and I leave that on to work while I wash the rest of my body. I then apply the serum to the ends of my hair before drying and then another application after drying and straightening to just give it a final smooth out (only a teeny bit each time, you don't need to use a lot!).

Since using the Sheer Blonde range I've had a fair few people ask me if I've had my hair coloured (which I haven't, it's been almost 6 weeks since I had my last highlights done), so the 'highlight activating' claim seems to have some truth in it!! It doesn't weigh my hair down and it keeps it feeling really nice and the smell lasts until I wash my hair again. Like I've said in previous posts, hair care like this isn't essential to every day life but if you can afford it then I would say use it! If I had to pick one of these products as a 'must have' it would be the Frizz Ease Serum because it really keeps frizz to a minimum. 

You can buy all three of these products in your local Boots/Superdrug/Tesco, the shampoo and conditioner are £5.59 each and the serum is £6.29. There's usually offers on these in most places so keep an eye out if you were thinking of trying them, at the moment Boots has a 2 for £8 offer on!

Blistex Relief Cream Review

As far as seasons go, I much prefer autumn/winter to spring/summer because I love wrapping up in cosy stuff and this years colours have got me really looking forward to wearing plum shade lip products! The only thing I hate about autumn/winter is the state it leaves my lips in, if I'm not careful I end up with dry, cracked lips which are an absolute pain to apply any kind of lipstick to! Vaseline and products like that are great for protecting your lips against the cold but they are no good at actually treating your lips once the cold has bitten. You need something with some kind of moisturising or medicated properties, Vaseline and the like are just barriers, they sit on your lips without penetrating any deeper. 

blistex-relief-cream
Blistex Relief Cream £2.59 Superdrug

Cracked lips can get really painful if you don't treat them and they are frequently exposed to cold weather. Blistex is ideal to use before you go to bed because you coat your lips and go to sleep so the medication can get to work without disturbing it by eating or drinking. It looks very white when first applied but once you've rubbed it into your lips you can't see it. It leaves your lips feeling a little bit tingly as it contains peppermint oil but it's nothing unpleasant. 

It contains camphor to help soothe your lips and also lanolin which helps to protect them from further damage. You can also use this to treat cold sores; I haven't used it for this as I never get cold sores (lucky me!) so I can't comment on how effective it is for that but I can say that within 3 days you can tell a difference in how your lips feel. My husband had a really bad crack on his bottom lip; nothing was helping so I told him to use this and it cleared up completely within 1 week! 

For £2.59 I don't think you can go wrong with this, it's so handy to have in your drawer in case you need it and it doesn't cost a fortune. It's a real no-frills product, the packaging isn't pretty and there's no gimmicks to it, it just works... and that's all you need to know :)

Slimming World Easy Tomato Speed Soup Recipe

If you've been following my Slimming World posts you'll know that every week I've been getting some pretty good weight losses, mostly due to careful planning and adding lots of superfree foods to every meal. This week has been somewhat different; mainly due to stress and a very busy weekend in the pub. We did our first 3 course meal for a wedding on Saturday and I spent most of last week panicking about it and not giving my food much thought. I didn't plan any of my meals (can tell this as I don't have many meal photos to show you), it's been a case of seeing what's in the cupboard and chucking something together. 

This week I lost 0.5lb 

I know it's 'still a loss' and all that but it's not the kind of loss I want every week, I haven't enjoyed my food enough to have lost so little! I'm still more than on track for losing 2 stone for Christmas but this minor 'hiccup' has given me food for thought. I need to go back to planning properly and writing everything down. I need to make sure I MAKE time to put something in the slow cooker at the weekend so I have something to eat and I don't eat crap out of necessity. This weekend I had cheesecake, sausage roll, white bread and a whole load of other high syn stuff, not because I wanted it as such, but because I didn't have time to go home and prepare something and I REALLY needed to eat. 

Anyway, onwards and upwards. I'm going to lose 2lb + this week because I'm going to eat properly and get lots of superfree in again. I'll leave you with some of my food highlights from this week...

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 Tomato Speed Soup - so simple!

Tin chopped tomatoes
Tin carrots (drained)
Tin baked beans
1 large pickled onion (or a few small ones)
Chicken stock (I used around 350ml)

Boil it all up in a pan for about 10/15 minutes then blitz it with a hand blender! 

Chicken Salad with Kraft Light Garlic & Herb Dressing (1 syn) & Cheese pasta (6 x Laughing cow extra light cheeses HEXA)

Cadbury Highlights (2 syns for any flavour) and Pink n' Whites (2.5 syns)

I have just had Diet Coke Chicken for my tea and that is hands down my favourite Slimming World meal, I've actually missed having 1/3 of my plate with superfree, I leave off the lettuce a bit now because I got bored of chasing it round my plate so I just use cucumber, peppers & celery. This week I've actually bought a baking tin from Tesco which has lots of superfree veg in it and it's ready to just shove in the oven, it doesn't have any oil or dressing on it so it's totally free and makes getting your superfree hassle-free!

I might be disappointed with my small loss this week but I'm still loving Slimming World and I'm motivated as ever, which is always good :)



Yankee Candle Salted Caramel Wax Tart

I'd calmed down a little on the Yankee Candle front but when I saw that they were doing a Salted Caramel fragrance I had to have at least a wax tart of it! I know there are lots of different scents which smell good enough to eat but seriously this one is a whole other ball game. 

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Yankee Candle Salted Caramel Wax Tart £1.95 Amazon

It came through the door in a little white jiffy bag and I found the bag half chewed by Jasper. He never bothers with the mail normally but the smell of this was so strong and sweet, even when in the jiffy bag, that he obviously couldn't resist investigating!

It smells exactly like salted caramel and really evokes a sweet craving in me (which admittedly isn't ideal given I'm doing Slimming World). I will say that if you're not into sweet scents (like my husband) that you probably won't like this because it is sickly sweet but for me gorgeous at the same time. 

This is the first scent to make me want to buy a bigger jar, good job Father Christmas is coming soon!!

Slimming World Diet Coke Chicken Recipe

So, I've just got home after my 4th weigh in at Slimming World and I'm pretty pleased with myself this week because I'm still 100% on plan, I only went over syns by 0.5 on one day and I've still been getting superfree foods into every meal. This weeks result was...

-4lb

I am really impressed by that because not only is it a really good weightloss it also pushed me well into my 1 stone award and got me slimmer of the week (I've had slimmer of the week twice already since I joined!)

slimming-world-award-certificates

I don't like to gloat because I know how hard it is to lose weight and I really feel for those who find it especially difficult, I don't want to seem like I'm smug or anything, especially not in group. But the truth is I'm actually really not smug or THAT pleased with myself, well I am pleased with myself obviously but I am determined not to get complacent because that's when it all goes wrong. I know I've got a long way to go to get to my target weight (which isn't actually set yet!) and I'm determined to do it this time without losing my head and letting it all go down the pan. I've done it too many times and I'm not prepared to do it again! 

Anyway... onto what I've been enjoying this week:

diet-coke-chicken

Diet Coke Chicken - Mention this to anyone and they'll say ergh why would you pour diet coke onto chicken? But it is actually really REALLY nice. I'd say it's like a cross between BBQ chicken and some kind of chinese style chicken dish. Credit to Leanne from Do Not Refreeze who gave me this recipe.

Ingredients:
Chicken (cut into strips or diced)
Onions
100g Passata
330ml Can of Diet Coke
Worcester Sauce
Soy Sauce
2 cloves of garlic (or garlic powder)
1 chicken stock cube/pot
Whatever herbs and spices you like

- So first of all spray a deep frying pan or wok with Fry Light
- Add the chicken & onion and fry until the chicken is sealed on all sides
- Pour in the full can of Diet Coke along with the passata, stock cube/pot, garlic and herbs
- Mix it all together
- Simmer on a low-medium heat for around 30 minutes. This reduces it to make the sauce thicker and more of a 'sticky' texture. It looks REALLY thin when you first pour everything in but don't worry it will reduce.
- Once the sauce has thickened take it off the heat and serve with whatever sides you fancy; it's good with rice, chips, salad, veg... anything really! You can also add peppers, mushrooms etc. into the mix when you fry the chicken and onions if you fancy!

Apparently this also works well with Diet Fanta/Tango although I've never tried it, has anyone done it with that?


Butternut Squash Chips - Butternut Squash is a pain to cut, the skin is so thick but I think the results are worth it. I love chips made in the Actifry and by using Butternut squash you are getting more superfree which = better weightlosses!


Spaghetti Bolognese - This looks a little bit bland I know but it tasted so good! It's all free and I added lots of tomatoes and onions to get some superfree. I could have maybe done with a little more superfree but I didn't know what to put with it, having anything else would have felt a bit wrong I think! 

This week I'm determined to make some soup, I've been saying I will from day one so this week has to be the week because I need to mix it up a little bit in order to stay focused. I've bought the latest Slimming World mag so I'm going to look in there for more meal ideas. Next week I'd like another 2lb off, I'm well on my way to reaching my mini-goal of 2 stone by Christmas but like I said I can't afford to take my foot off the gas. 

One thing I will say about this week is that saying 'no' is making me feel so good. I know that sounds daft but I'm offered biscuits and other high syn things on a daily basis and I have got well into the habit of saying no because although you may think 'that little bit won't hurt' it WILL and it leads onto another 'little bit' of something else which then reflects when you get weighed!!

If you're on Slimming World or you have been before, what is your favourite meal? I'd like some more inspiration!

Bath & Body Works Hand Sanitizer Review

I know most of us are suckers for the stuff that Americans can get hold of across the pond, that we cannot here in the UK. Bath and Body Works anti-bacterial hand gel has done its rounds on UK blogs for some strange reason. For some even stranger reason, I went and bought it from eBay. 

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Bath & Body Works Anti-Bacterial Hand Sanitizer - £2.84 eBay

It comes in lots of different 'scents' and for whatever reason chose Japanese Cherry Blossom. It doesn't smell remotely like cherry in my opinion, it just smells like alcohol (which is essentially what hand gel is!). The bottle is absolutely tiny, I feel well and truely ripped off paying almost £3 for something that is around £1 in Boots/Superdrug/Tesco and I bought it purely because it's from Bath & Body Works. 

Funny how my mind works at times, this is a big reminder that not everything that comes out of America is all singing and dancing; this is very bog standard and really not work spending £3 on. In the US this is probably the cheapest of the cheap in hand sanitisers, and I bought it all because someone made it look pretty and desirable on their blog; the power of persuasion!

I think I'll be waiting for my trip to Florida to get hold of any other 'American must haves'.

Easy Slimming World Meal Ideas

Well this is the first week that I've thought I might have either maintained or put weight on, I was dreading the scales because it was our first wedding anniversary this week and we went out for a meal at a restaurant near us called The Peppered Pig; amongst some really nice, less than Slimming World friendly food I had about 4 glasses of prosecco and a glass of Bailey's to finish my meal off. I was good for the rest of the week so thankfully that seems to have saved my bacon in terms of weightloss. This week I lost...

- 2.5lb


I am really really pleased with that loss and it means that I have a total weightloss of 12lb and I'm only 2lb off getting my stone award so I'm working towards that next week. I have nothing stopping me in terms of events at the weekend so there's no reason why I can't do it. 

What I've been loving this week...


Shepherds Pie - The perfect comfort food, if made with less than 5% fat mince this is free on Extra Easy which is perfect for me because I like a good plateful and some broccoli on the side for my 1/3 superfree. You can use carrot & turnip mash if you wish; this would give you plenty of superfree but I've never tried this.


Pizza Topped Chicken - This is one of my all time favourite meals and there are so many variations of toppings, recently I've been using HP Honeysmoked BBQ sauce with cheese to make a low syn hunters chicken (1 syn per tablespoon of BBQ sauce & 45g mozzarella for Healthy A).  



Honeydew Melon - This is a super speed food which is great for a sweet kick and is something a little different if you're used to ordinary fruits like Apples, Bananas etc. I can easily devour a full melon. It's a messy food but bloody lovely.


Steak with butternut squash chips, cucumber and cottage cheese with chives - instead of using potato for my chips I tried butternut squash, it's more of a pain to prepare because butternut squash has a really really hard skin so it's harder to peel and chop up but they taste beautiful... and they're superfree! 

I'm still sticking to the fact that Slimming World is the best eating plan I've ever been on, I eat more now than I did before and I can still have some treats if I want! As I said I want to lose 2lb this week if I can as I'd like my stone award :)

Easy Slimming World Burger Recipe

This week I've been pretty much 100% still on plan (maybe could have eaten more Superfree, ie. Veg, Fruit and Salad), and my weightloss this week is...

- 3.5lb

I'm really really pleased with that as it's tipped me well into my 1/2 stone award and also got me slimmer of the week for this week.


I can't believe how much I've lost in only two weeks of being at Slimming World, I knew I could do the diet it's just having the motivation and the mind set to put it all into practise. This week I plan to keep it up with lots more superfree foods and I'm going to try and include more speed and super speed food in my diet (eg. Melon). Also I'd ideally like to keep my Syns down to around 10 per day rather than maxing it out to 15. 

Anyway here are some Slimming World meal ideas...

Slimming World Bacon Burgers


Ingredients
- Less than 5% fat Mince
- 1 Onion
- 1 Clove of Garlic
- Mixed Herbs
- 1 Egg
- Couple of Splashes of Worcester Sauce

Method
- Crush the garlic clove, chop the onion into small pieces & beat the egg
- Combine everything together in a bowl (mince, onion, garlic, herbs and egg, worcester sauce)
 - Separate the mince mixture and make it into patties as thick or as think as you would like, as big or small as necessary. 
- Place the patties on a grill or on a BBQ for about 20/30 minutes, turning periodically. I think the key is to cook these fairly slow so as you don't burn the bottom/top.
- Towards the end of the cooking time of the burgers, add a few slices of lean bacon to the grill.

And the rest is up to your personal taste really, you can have it with or without bread (use a 57g wholemeal roll if you haven't already used your healthy B otherwise it would be syns), You can also add cheese as a healthy A if you haven't already used yours for that day. When I want to make my meals syn free by using ingredients as healthy extras I find that I mainly have to change my breakfast a little to fit in with this.

Chicken Dinner

Just a couple of syns for the gravy but technically you could use stock for it which would make it free; I don't because I like thicker gravy. As you can see, more than 1/3 of my plate has super free foods on it (carrot and turnip mash and broccoli).


 Cooked Breakfast

Perfect start to the day, only 1 syn for the whole thing (Tesco Light Choices sausages are 0.5 syns each) and I've got some super free on there with the tomatoes.

Peppermint Tea

I've been loving this as a night time drink or after a meal, it aids in digestion and is something different from tea/coffee which I would normally have to use milk in. It's an acquired taste but if you can get a bag from somewhere I would try it before you knock it!

Sour Cream & Onion Pringles 40g Tub (10.5 syns)

I really fancied a tub of these after we bought some to sell in the pub so after not using any syns on Sunday I decided to treat myself and I really enjoyed them. Not something I'd have regularly because of the high syn content but as a one off they are very nice. It's the little things like this that remind me that Slimming world is not a diet it's a healthy eating plan

Next week I'm aiming to lose 2lb, I only need 4.5lb for my stone award so I'm working towards that within the next two weeks. I know a 9.5lb weight loss is good but I'm wanting more now! The only thing that is stopping me this week is that it's our 1 year anniversary and we're going out for a 6 course meal, although I hear the portions are very small and I've seen the menu and it's mainly meat and veg so not too much to worry about I don't think!

First Week of Slimming World - Weightloss

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may know that I joined Slimming World last Tuesday in a quest to lose 2 stone before Christmas (I have a long term goal but I'm not sure of exact figures yet so for now I have a short term target of 2 stone). I would imagine that you have heard of Slimming World but if you haven't, it's basically all about Food Optimising, filling up on the good foods but not depriving yourself totally of the foods you love (i.e what probably made you fat in the first place, ha). 

There are 4 types of food in Slimming World - Free, Superfree, Healthy Extras and Syns. The aim is to fill each plate you eat with 2/3 free foods and 1/3 superfree with your Healthy Extras in there and your Syns (if you need them). There are so many free foods to name individually but you can pretty much say that free foods include: meat (with all visible fat cut off), fish/seafood, Quorn (meat replacement), potatoes, mushrooms and so much more. Fruit and Veg is your Superfree (excluding advocado), your healthy extras are your daily intake of fibre and calcium (usually in bread, cereal, milk and cheese... again there are many more options). And finally your Syns are everything in between; condiments like ketchup and mayo, chocolate, crisps, takeaways, alcohol etc. etc. 

The reason why I love Slimming World so much is that there is no limit to how much you can eat when it comes to Free and Superfree foods, no weighing or measuring you can eat as much as you want until you are full. It works for me because I like to eat a lot, I don't like diets to leave me hungry because I just don't stay on them long enough, I get bored quickly and look for a quick hunger fix. I know for a fact it works as a diet, there is some very slender evidence in the form of Leanne from Do Not Refreeze, as an example!

I am so ready for this weightloss and I'm going to share my experiences every week with you. I was horrified at how much I weighed at my first weigh in but I've started as I mean to go on and my first weeks weightloss is...

- 6lb

Yes it's big and yes it's in bold because I am so proud of that, I know that my losses aren't going to be as big as that every week but it doesn't take away from the fact that 6lb is a great weightloss. I even had 2 days in London for going to Olympia Beauty and I still managed this, I made sensible choices in restaurants and didn't eat food I didn't need to eat.

Here's some of my favourite food from this week...
Meal Idea
Birds Eye Bake to Perfection Salmon in Lemon and Butter (free)
Baked Potato (free)
Cherry tomatoes (superfree)
Cucumber (superfree)
Lettuce (superfree)
1 Level Teaspoon Lurpak Lighter (1.5 syns)
1 Level Tablespoon Heinz Light Salad Cream 30% less fat (2 syns)


 Snack Idea 
Seafood Sticks (free)
1 Level Tablespoon Heinz Salad Cream
1 Level Tablespoon Tesco Tomato Ketchup

 Treat
125ml Glass Prosecco (4.5 syns)

Meal Idea
Baked Potato (free)
Tin of Tuna in Brine (free)
Lettuce (superfree)
Cucumber (superfree)
Cherry Tomatoes (superfree)
Picked beetroot (free)
3 x Level Tablespoons light mayo (6 syns)
1 level teaspoon Lurpak Lighter (1.5 syns)

I have taken a photo recently of myself so I can do a bit of a comparison once I have lost a significant amount of weight. I am so ready for this, I'm sick of being overweight and this diet is so easy!

Neal's Yard Palmarosa Purifying Facial Mask Review

If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I have to be careful what I put on my face, the slightest imbalance of something can break me out in pretty awful acne. I try and look for supposed 'good' ingredients and try and stay away from 'bad' ingredients (when I say bad I generally mean anything OIL based, I know they say oil is good but the only good oil product I've found which is good for my skin is the Clarins Lotus Oil which I use once a week or so, very sparingly... less so during summer because my skin just doesn't need it)

I used my first Neal's Yard products in the new year when I was given their citrus hand wash and lotion for Christmas; I loved those so the next step was to try some of their skincare range. If you don't know who Neal's Yard are, they were founded in 1981 with their first shop in Covent Garden, that in itself makes me want to try more of the brand as I'm really keen to support anything British. 

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Palmarosa Purifying Facial Mask £25.75 Neal's Yard*

The most striking thing with anything Neal's Yard is the smell, everything smells absolutely beautiful and really draws you into wanting to use it; it contains 59% organic ingredients; maple extract, raspberry leaf extract, hemp seed oil and geranium flower oil to name but a few. As you can probably imagine, Palmarosa is quite a heavy sweet floral scent but it's not overpowering, it's actually really enveloping and relaxing; I especially like using it while I'm relaxing in the bath, it kind of takes away the need to use a candle. 

It basically has the 3 most important skincare properties for me; 
- Deep Cleansing
- Oil Balancing 
- Minimise Blemishes

I apply a thin layer onto my skin and let it work for around 10 minutes; it doesn't dry like the usual clay masks I use, it doesn't crack as much and it's generally softer feeling on my skin. I wash it off with a clean flannel and I usually just spray my face with a bit of Serozinc afterwards. It leaves me feeling perfectly relaxed and my skin feeling clean and fresh. 

I only use this when my skin is fairly clear because I don't think it calms down spots and redness as well as the Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Mask (maybe to do with the Palmarosa mask having less clay content) but this Palmarosa mask is significantly cheaper and nicer to use in terms of pampering experience. I do think that the SkinCeuticals mask is more functional whereas this is more appropriate for a proper pamper session. 

The Neal's Yard website says that there should be enough for approximately 5 masks in one of these pots making it £5 per mask, but I do think that's a bit of an understatement. Less is more with this mask and I've had about 5 masks out of this already and I have just under half left. Maybe I don't use enough but I only put it on areas of my skin which are affected by acne (namely my t-zone, chin and cheeks) I don't put it right to the edge of my hairline because I don't think it's necessary. I know some people would moan about it being in a pot, it not being 'hygienic' and all that but seriously, if you wash your hands before you use it, what's the problem?

I would recommend this to anyone with combination/oily skin as a really nice luxurious product to use once per week, especially as we're entering the autumn/winter months were skin tends to crave richer products and you live for the nights where you can just relax in the bath and get all warm and cosy.