Sunday, 30 June 2013

Speedy Chicken Marinade for barbecued chicken breast

This was my ultra-healthy barbecue lunch today - hurrah the sun shone and I realised how I need to losing about half a stone by my holiday later in the year. So it starts today with healthy food and my FitBit! I marinaded the chicken breast in chinese stir fry oil, lemon juice and cracked black pepper for 3 hours before it was put on the barbecue - and it was so delicious the family actually asked what I'd done to it. Lemon juice makes sure that chicken remains succulent and doesn't dry out and because the oil is quite subtle there is a hint of chinese flavouring (ginger etc) rather than it tasting like a stir fry. Give it a go!

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Friday, 28 June 2013

Soiree Classic Wine Aerator review

A few months ago we went to dinner with some friends who had one of these nifty little gadgets. Now before you roll your eyes heavenwards and think 'not another gadget I won't use and don't need' I am hear to tell you that after trying out the Soiree Classic Wine Aerator at our friends, I went out and bought one!

Why? because when you open a bottle of red wine you can pour it straight into a glass and it will taste amazing! We did a taste test pouring a little wine into a glass and tasting it then pouring a fresh amount out through the Aerator. There is simply no comparison between the two - it really does work!

It's a pretty little glass bubble that you put like a cork into the top of your open bottle of wine. It works by infusing oxygen into the wine which improves the taste and enhances the flavour and instead of decanting a whole bottle into a decanter you can do as little as one glass. It works with red, white and rose wine and there is absolutely no mess. It comes with a storage stand which you need as it is delicate. This would make the perfect present for those that like to drink wine and will be a welcome household gadget you won't be sad you've bought.

I bought one from a local shop but they are on sale now on for £19.50 - well worth the money!

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Bobble Jug - great tasting water instantly

A new purchase to replace our normal water filter is this fabulous Bobble water jug. We have one in the office and the water really doesn't taste or anything - it removes the flavour of chlorine and other water additives - especially found here in London. I love the smooth design shapes too although it doesn't fit into the fridge door. Fortunately I can fit it into the salad compartment as the shelf above is broken - it's called making the best of a bad situation.

The best thing is that each filter lasts for 150 litres before you need to change the filter, and it comes with one free. I don't often buy things for my kitchen (or household items in general either if I'm honest) but couldn't resist. Unlike my other filter which allowed water to get trapped between the jug sides and the top where it festered and occasionally went green this filter has no-where for water to get trapped so is much better. It holds 2 litres and has 4 colourways (our local shop had just two and I thought white went with everything really). The filters are £10 each so coming with a spare one was brilliant value as the complete jug/set came to £20. 

The carbon filter has a slight electro-positive charge so chemicals and impurities are attracted to it and as the water passes over the negative ions of the contaminants are drawn to the surface of the carbon granules - that is why this water really does taste so pure.

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sleek Make-Up blush by 3 Sweet Cheeks palette review

I was recently sent a palette of mouthwatering, eye-popping colour for eyes and cheeks from Sleek Make-Up so today I am going to review the Blush by 3 Sweet Cheeks  palette which is really all you'll ever need.

As you can see the tones chosen for the palette will take you through from 'no-tan' to 'high-tan' so is perfect for your summer make-up bag. The three pan blush palette features different finishes including blush in shimmer, cream and matte in a variety of candy pink shades. I used a soft, wide brush to layer and build up the effect and found that the make-up colour is beautifully translucent and stays put for ages. A real bargain at £9.99.

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Sunday, 23 June 2013

D&G nail varnish - perfect for a pedicure

Gosh the colours that make up the D&G nail varnish palette are rich and vibrant and gloriously indulgent. Twenty-eight nail varnish shades in all they glide into place and give sheer vibrant colour to your nails and toes. I have Lover which is a true red and I have just painted my toenails ready for peep-toe sandals this week. Well I can pretend it's summer can't I?

Believe it or not, that isn't fake tan on my feet but the colour I picked up in Cornwall - must fake tan my toes I reckon. Great colour, great coverage and a full range of fantastic colours to get toes and fingers zinging this summer.

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Friday, 21 June 2013

Illumi - home delivered meals for those with coeliac disease

Beef meatballs

I don't have coeliac disease but gluten isn't a great addition to anyone's diet really, so a range of home-delivery gluten-free meals is always of interest. And if you do suffer from coeliac disease and have cursed the lack of relevant foods on offer in terms of home delivery, then your prayers are answered!

Ilumi provide a range of mouth-watering ready-meals to be ordered on-line. They deliver direct to your door and the Ilumi website also provides lots of useful information and expert advice on managing the disease and just eating healthily really. Check out the online magazine for the wealth of information on offer. You can also join their community food-lovers!
Aromatic thai red chicken curry

The range is built on the simple principles of great cooking but with gluten-free as an important part of the mix. The results are delicious, 100% natural and trustworthy plus if you have a problem with dairy then they don't use cow's milk either. I tried out a range which included soup, sauces and curries and they were all really delicious and ready in the microwave in minutes. All the food arrived in sealed containers so they don't need to be kept in the fridge - this was a real bonus when space is a premium. I was also glad to see that vegetarians and vegans are also catered for and there are a number of products suitable for them in the range.

All-in-all I found the products I tried out to be filling and full of flavour and all the recipes have detailed ingredient lists so you can see what you are getting. If you visit the Ilumi site at the moment there is a special (and limited time) offer that if you spend £20 you get £10 off your order - so it's half price and prices range from £1.75 for gravy to £3.50 for a chicken curry. Worth a go to cut out those glutens!

Vegetable and chickpea Jalfrezi

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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

3 top talc-free dusting powders

Gosh it's hot and sticky today and I so wish I had some dusting powder to make me feel less like a boil-in-the-bag ready-meal. As the temperatures soar and we look for ways of keeping cool the Daily Mail website has the cheery news that talc causes ovarian cancer. This is not news and the debate has been around for ages and I can't find anything on any cancer sites (either here or in the UK) that states that talc causes ovarian cancer and that we should all panic. But the Daily Mail loves to cause worry and angst especially in women - it's their daily sport really, or that is how it appears to me. If you do want to completely avoid dusting powders that have talc then there really are lots on the market - here are a few that I think I shall be considering as I am of the age when a dusting powder isn't something my grandma used but something I really quite like.

  Burt's Bees Baby Bee Baby Powder, £7 - if it's good enough for a baby then it's good enough for me I reckon. And I do love Burt's Bees beauty products as you all know... It's 100% talc-free and also phthalate and paraben-free. Lightly scented with fragrant herbs and flowers it will add some much needed freshness.

Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater Dusting powder, £18 - I adore the scent of rose - it's one of my favourites and this powder is lightly scented with violet, florals and musk so is a must really. It is completely talc-free and has corn-starch to absorb moisture plus silkening minerals to help keep skin soft.

Youth Dew Dusting Powder, Estee Lauder, £27 - this classic fragrance sits firmly within the spicy/oriental family of fragrances so is a great contrast to the other two featured here. It comes with a pampering puff too and will leave you heavenly scented and soft skinned. It's been a favourite fragrance for over 50 years so generations of women have loved it for it's top notes of rose and lavender, middle notes of jasmine and spices and bottom notes of vetiver (I love it when my man wears vetiver) and patchouli. 

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Monday, 17 June 2013

Thai chicken and vegetable curry recipe

It's Monday so it's left-overs in this house - and lots of chicken that is far too good for the cat. So I am making a Thai chicken curry which is easy to do and really authentic and is one of my favourite chicken recipes. All you need is chicken, a variety of vegetables and the following -

2 tablespoons thai green curry paste (I am using Marks and Spencer)
1 tablespoon thai fish sauce
juice and zest of a fresh lime
4 thai lime leaves (dried)
200g chicken stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tin reduced fat coconut milk

Stir fry the vegetables in a little oil (I used walnut but sesame is great too). Add the thai green curry paste and stir fry. Add stock and all the above ingredients and drop in the left-over chicken. Slowly cook for around half an hour until the vegetables are cooked. Serve with Jasmine thai rice.

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Have just joined Blog Lovin' so I can not only follow my favourite blogs but also you can follow me there too. It's so easy to do simply go to the bloglovin site, sign up with your email and start your list of favourite blogs so you don't miss any updates. This will be replacing Google Friends really soon so best to do it and be prepared before all your favourites are lost - I certainly have!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Chapel Porth, Porth Towan and St Ives - Cornwall Part Four

Photo of Chapel Porth -

There is a walk that is just so amazingly breathtaking I can't possibly do a write-up on my Cornwall adventures without talking about it. Along the coast from St Agnes you will find a National Trust car park above an abandoned tin mine. Park here and take the coastal path to the right. From here you will get some of the more spectacular views that Cornwall has to offer out to sea and along the coast. After about a half hour walk you will come to the beach at Chapel Porth, home to a beach cafe. Highly recommended to us, we stopped for a lunchtime snack and if you do the same you must try the sausage in french bread which is both delicious in itself but comes with onions cooked in clotted cream - yes until you have had onions in clotted cream you haven't had onions, trust me! Along with that (and if this is not enough) for dessert you must try their exclusive (and famous) Hedgehog ice-cream. Organic vanilla ice-cream is slathered in clotted cream and then rolled in hazelnuts. Yup you can hear your arteries screaming but it's worth it.

The infamous Hedgehog ice-cream

Photo of Chapel Porth -

To get rid of the guilt you will need to walk further up and along the path which takes you to Porth Towan and down onto it's beautiful beach.
Porth Towan coastline

This one does have a tidal cut-off alert, but if you are lucky (as we were) then you can walk back to Chapel Porth along the beach (which we did). All in all a fantastic Cornwall walk that will leave you exhilarated and wanting more.
Photo of St Ives -

Further along this part of the Cornwall coast is St Ives famous for the fact it is a favourite of artists and has a brilliant surfing beach.
Photo of Porthmeor Beach, St Ives -

Winding streets house cafes, restaurants, art galleries and bars. You can take a boat out from here fairly cheaply and explore the coast, or sit on the beach and sunbath. St Ives is more of a tourist place than but the wonderful thing about Cornwall is you can experience the touristy and the remote all within a half hours drive from one another. We will return. We dream of a small ocean-viewed apartment somewhere near here - well you've got to dream haven't you?

We stayed at The Creamery in Good to Know, a great base for our Cornwall tour.

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Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Eden Project - Cornwall Part Three

Back in 1999 The Eden Project was an old abandoned quarry in Cornwall. Hard to believe when you see it today with it's biorbs looming above the beautifully landscaped gardens. Just outside of St Austell, The Eden Project is one of the finest attractions and famous places in Cornwall. Not just an attraction however, The Eden Project is also a charity and social enterprise where they aim to create learning experiences about our world alongside doing valuable research into plants and conservation. Everything they do from the food in the cafe to the water that cleans the toilets are run in the greenest way possible - it made us really stop and think about being a bit more eco-friendly in our day-to-day.

The Eden Project also hosts a rich programme of music, art and entertainment bringing the local community back in through it's doors for more than just the planting. This year they are hosting the likes of Eddie Izzard, The xx and Sigur Ros on their outdoor stage to name just a few. But it is the gardens set within the two huge biomes that people come to see.

Starting in the Mediterranean Biome you wander through the plants and gardens of Southern Europe and even get to dance with the bull god, Dionyssus.

Lemons and olives grow on trees, and you really do forget you are in Cornwall for just a few moments.

Top 10 things to see in the Mediterranean Biome

  1. Drifts of colourful poppies and lupins in our Californian grassland
  2. Bacchanalian sculptures revelling in the vineyard
  3. A collection of heady natural scents in our perfume vats
  4. Giant lemon-like fruits called citrons
  5. A dazzling array of South African proteas
  6. A carpet of tulips in the spring
  7. Gnarled old cork trees - and even some cork sculptures
  8. Huge sprouting aloe veras
  9. The mosaic path; we call it Liquid Gold
  10. The delicate flowers and scents of South Africa's Fynbos habitat

Your next stop will be to the star of the show, the Rainforest Biome. Here you will find a perfectly formed rainforest taken from Malaysia to the Seychelles. You will see bananas and coffee growing - and different types of rice, all to the sound of gushing streams and waterfalls. It really is a triumph and opening this year is a skywalk to see the forest from above. Currently you have to do this via a very wobbly aerial walkway - only for the completely fearless. 

Top 10 things to see in the Rainforest Biome

  1. The Rainforest Lookout, which takes you above the treetops
  2. Mangrove swamps bring a taste of tropical islands
  3. The Rainforest Balloon, that lifts our gardeners up to the canopy
  4. Our Malaysian hut, complete with vegetable plot and paddy field
  5. Bananas - spot bunches of them high up in the trees
  6. The waterfall, crashing through our South American rainforest
  7. The plants that bring us cola, cupcakes and chewing gum
  8. A mini soya plantation, the controversial crop found in all our food
  9. Rubber trees, in everything from car tyres to condoms
  10. Cocoa and chocolate - everyone's favourite beans.

No visit is complete without lunch and I was very impressed here too. The main cafe is run like a buffet but prices are reasonable (about £8 for a lunch) and suitable for vegetarians as well as meat and fish eaters. Children are probably better off in the Mediterranean Cafe which makes fresh pizza and has paella for the adults. 

There are lots of other things to see and do at The Eden Project but it was raining and so we stuck to the Biomes for our entertainment. It is open all year round and standard adult tickets bought on the door are £23.50. Check out The Eden Project site for concessions and offers. 

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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Gylly Beach Cafe, Falmouth

Round the other side of the Falmouth peninsula from the docks and port is a beautiful stretch of Cornish beach called Gyllyngvase Beach which provides an even more beautiful cafe location. On a fine day the Gylly Beach cafe is the perfect location for lunch - in fact while we were there a couple had their wedding photos taken on the beach while the wedding guests had drinks in the cafe bar.

It's modern - your dream Cornish house really, and so is the menu catering for all tastes. There's enough to keep sea-foodies happy, and veggies and those who like a cracking burger. The veranda is virtually on the sand but protected by glass and there is an awning that comes down on bad days so you can still sit by the sea. We were recommended it by a friend who lives in St Agnes and it really did come up trumps!

The cafe/bar/restaurant has won awards and it's easily one of the best beach cafes we came across. Open all year round on this Green Flag beach there is a day menu and night menu ranging from Eggs Bennedict to Buckets of Prawns. We were lunching so chose the Gylly Burger which came with cheese and a chilli jam and the day's special Seafood Chowder. Most dishes are around £10 making this excellent value for the quality and I cannot recommend it more highly.

Gylly Beach Cafe,
Cliff Road,
TR11 4PA
01326 312884

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Port Isaac and Padstow - Cornwall Part Two

Port Isaac

You may well have come across the beautiful Cornish fishing village of Port Isaac as it is the location for the Martin Clunes series, Doc Martin. Due to the famous series they are now having to build a huge car park just outside which will thankfully help with the hordes who descend every year in the hope of glimpsing some filming. Incredibly we were there when they were filming a scene at the restaurant - so caught a bit of the action.

As you can imagine on filming days it's pretty busy but the crowds tend to stick along the harbour. Venture either up onto the tops and you will get some stunning views of neighbouring Cornish bays, or lose yourself among the quiet and undiscovered backstreets, looking out for cottages to hire (should you want to stay). It's a bit touristy but to be fair there is only one shop selling Doc Martin memorabilia which is a relief!

The path above Port Isaac

Port Isaac coastline

The harbour, Padstow

By contrast and on the same day we decided to visit Padstow which really should be renamed Ricksteinville. I must admit it is a bit overwhelming - we counted 5 businesses (at least) belonging to Rick Stein and although he really has put Padstow on the map with the Rick Stein school of seafood, shop, variety of restaurants and even B&B it is hard to find anywhere to eat non-Stein! The good news is you can eat at one of his places whatever your budget so I shouldn't really complain!

I can see why he chose Padstow however. Not only is it as quaint as you are going to get (I actually prefer it to St Ives) but the beaches are amongst the most beautiful in Cornwall.

Padstow is worth a day's visit. It's beach is the stuff that holidays in the UK are made of (weather permitting) and there is plenty of brilliant places to eat on tap. We chose a non-Rick Stein establishment up on the path out of town and had a fabulous Plowman's lunch overlooking the harbour. The sun came out and it really was quite spectacular.
Home-made pate and cheese ploughman's - what holiday's were made for!

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