Chilling out today just having a few friends around for a nice catch up and doing a bit of local shopping. The Bloke gave up on using flash when it made me look like an oompa loompa.
This month I’ve been…
Oddly festive already! I always know when I’m really happy as I get into the Xmas spirit really early. I spontaneously bought the nut roast, mince pies and free-from custard me and my Mum will be eating for Xmas dinner.
I’ve even bought everyone’s presents – ok I’m only buying for two but still. I deliberately avoided the insanity of Black Friday – I’ll leave that to the Americans – but someone I know missed out on a £100 discount because they didn’t bother to shop around that day online!
The only event I can imagine shleping out into a cold, dark evening for is an event by one of the shops I adore right in the middle of town, so I think the hibernation instinct has truly kicked it.
Extant a series about a woman (Halley Berry) who returns from space pregnant and has to deal with an alien and the people who planned the close encounter, with the help of her husband, best friend and adopted son, who’s an adorable android by the way.
This show driven by a strong female cast is centred around a lottery wannabe mums going to get the chance to carry the first baby to exist for around 6 years. Obviously there are a lot of shady, murderous politics going on in the background, meaning lots of expositional dialogue that you will be glad of.
Fats Waller the 30’s/40’s jazz singer and pianist. I heard a remixed song of his over a video from The Guardian about a lamb chop being launched into space. No I’m not on drugs, I promise. His songs range from the gimmicky and rather shallow ‘All That Meat and No Potatoes’ (I leave it up to you to find out the meaning) to the beautiful ‘When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful’
I’m making it my purpose to bring girly touches to my usual uniform of grunge this winter. I’ve even bought a pale pink sparkly jumper – maybe someone has been slipping something in my tea ;0) I’ve been tracking down stylish wide fitting boots and fabulous party flats for the coming months. Not forgetting a very fun fashion moment – logo tops with ‘tude.
Er, lots of seaweed, ha! I’ve been trying out different types thanks to The Cornish Seaweed Company (review here) and I’ve also been taking kelp supplements for a fortnight, which I’ll blog about when I’ve finished them. I’m not joking when I say I feel like I’m sharper and more alert as if my attention span has improved already! Lot’s of yummy dairy and gluten free snacks. Here’s the list.
Using these beauty products…
A week ago I ordered a Proactiv+ starter kit as I want to get my combination skin under control in a quick and simple way – review coming up in a few weeks. Seaweed bath bags, eyepatches and a soothing, moisturising poultice for the face by, you guessed it The Cornish Seaweed Company. Here’s the review. I highly recommend the M&S Lemon Verbena Body Butter (an early christmas prezzie) which I reviewed.
That I can wear cartoon tees, things with hearts on, fluffy jumpers, chunky shiny PVC trainers and animal print bags at my age, without looking childish or crazy as long as I balance them with a few neutrals and don’t wear them all together obv.
I’ve gotten pretty good at blogging on a budget over the years.
I’ve heard of the health benefits* of seaweed but I’d never actually tried this unusual algae in my diet before, so I was excited and curious when The Cornish Seaweed Company sent me their edible products.
This is a brown seaweed rich in calcium and magnesium. It naturally has a crunchy texture and when cooked has a beefy flavour or a nutty flavour when used raw in salads. I decided to use this in a stir fry. I soaked the spaghetti for 30 mins in tepid water as instructed. I stir fried cherry tomatoes and mushrooms and pine nuts with a little oil in a frying pan then added the sea spaghetti, almost dry frying it as to not make it too greasy. I quickly stirred in some green pesto before serving.
This mixture of dried seaweeds has the look and feel of confetti when dry. It has many herb like uses or it can be rehydrated and needed into dough – a little too advanced for me I’m afraid! I love the suggestion of adding it to mashed potato for some unique flavour and texture. I decided to add mine to a two egg omelette as I usually find them a little bland. I lightly covered the surface of the egg mixture with Sea Salad before pouring it into the pan. I’ve also started to adding this to my miso soup for lunch.
Another success! This was the best omelette I’ve ever had that wasn’t smothered in HP sauce, in fact I didn’t touch it. Instead I used a tiny pinch of the seaweed sea salt to season.
I’ve started using this instead of normal salt in everything apart from baking. The seaweed adds such a rich savoury flavour that I only need a small pinch or two ground between fingertips in each dish (a third of the salt I used to use). I bought a packet of Indian Chevda (similar to Bombay mix) but found it overly sweet so I added a few pinches of the seaweed salt which brought out all of the different flavours and totally transformed it.
I first tried to use this as suggested on the packet as a stock along with a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon. It tasty quite nice at first but half way through my drink I had to admit it tasted like I was drinking the sea! The other suggestions on the packet were roast, fry or boil. I persevered and soaked a strip in cold water until soft and slimy. So slimy, I wimped out and couldn’t bring myself to combine this with other ingredients to go into the oven. I decided to cut it into pieces and grill it to make crisps. As it was cooking it smelled similar to sausages, which was nice. After 6 minutes the pieces were crispy and tasted good but after chewing the same piece for ages, which just wouldn’t go away, I admitted defeat. I’m going to give the Kombu to someone else to tackle and keep on enjoying the other seaweeds myself.
So that slippery weird stuff which freaks you out when it brushes past your legs in the water actually tastes pretty good!
*Seaweed is rich in iodine which is essential if you eat a lot of soy products constantly. I’m not a nutritionist but every website I’ve visited (regarding the effects of soy on hormonal health) suggest a diet containing iodine to balance the effects of soy on the body. Seaweed is also known for it’s positive effects on neurological health, especially memory and concentration.
I did another free-from snack haul in the supermarket and these are the fabulous five that I’d recommend.
9 bar – Peanut
Gluten, wheat and dairy free
These mixed seed energy bars are named after the 9 amino acids they contain. The peanut version is chunky, tasty and has just enough golden syrup to hold it all together without it being to sticky. The flax seed version is tasty and handy if you’re not a fan of adding dry seeds to your food. These keep your energy up for hours.
Fabulous Freefrom Factory – Covered Raisins
Gluten, wheat and dairy free
These soya based covered raisins are a welcome, and very moreish change from dark chocolate snacks.
Warburtons Sweet Chilli Cracker Thins
Gluten, wheat and dairy free
Most savoury free-from snacks are either salt and vinegar or sweet chilli flavour, which can get boring but these are really nice. They break easily but are great to dip into soup or salsa, although not practical for shovelling up large amounts of humous.
nairns biscuit breaks chocolate chip
Gluten, wheat and dairy free
These taste gorgeous dipped in rice milk for breakfast or super or broken into ice cream for desert. As nairn do a ‘normal’ version make sure to look for these in the free-from isle.
nakd Banana Crunch Wholefood Bars
Gluten, wheat and dairy free
These are a genius collection of 3-4 raw ingredients ‘smushed’ together that are moist, chewy and naturally sweet. The vegan and gluten free flavours are Berry Delight, Cocoa Delight, Rhubarb & Custard, Cocoa Orange.
I have used a seaweed moisturiser and face mask before but I’ve never used genuine unrefined seaweed soaked in water before. A big thank you to The Cornish Seaweed Company for sending me lovely artisan products to try.
Seaweed Bath Bag x2 – Fucus serratus & Fucus vesciculosus seaweeds
‘One of the great brown seaweeds bursting with vital vitamins and minerals: particularly A,C,E fucoidan and antioxidants. The deeply detoxifying , naturally softening and toning properties of this seaweed have been used for centuries in Algo and Thalasso therapies.’
‘Popular in Japanese baths for it’s reputation to lift excess fat deposits , increase circulation and promote an easy flow of oxygen and nutrients from deep within the skin, in turn helping to keep cellulite at bay.’
I filled my bath with several inches of hot water and placed in the muslin bag and let it soak for 20 minutes as instructed. I then filled the rest of the bath up. I raised my limbs out of the water and massaged out all of the seaweedy goodness onto my skin in circular motions. I kept on dunking the bag back in the water quickly to get more moisture. I then left the bag in the water and relaxed for an hour.
The instructions say ‘take 4-8 baths per month. Do not exceed three baths a week.’ For someone who usually has a shower, that’s a lot of baths!
I deliberately didn’t add my usual essential oils to my bath or any Epsom salts. I even went hardcore and didn’t moisturise my skin afterward as I really wanted to test the results. My skin felt totally moisturised (even my leg and feet which are usually very dry) and because the muslin is a little rough it had exfoliated my skin effectively. I noticed my ankles were slightly puffy with water retention before my bath but not afterward. The little bit of cellulite that I have looked slightly smoother as if more even. All very impressive. Now I understand why someone would want 3 baths a week, ha!
Seaweed Poultice For The Face x4 – Irish Moss seaweed
‘Bursting with vital vitamins and minerals including A, E and K, Irish Moss is traditionally used for it’s moisturising properties to sooth and cool the skin as well as relieve sunburn and eczema.’
As instructed I soaked this in a small dish of hot water for 20 minutes and then gently massaged my face and neck, making sure to avoid my eyes. I started to think this could benefit from having a little more seaweed in, however after I left it on the sink for a moment and squeezed the bag again, it felt more slippery so I massaged under my chin as well.
Normally when I get out of the bath my face is really flushed because of the heat and any bath products I’ve put in there, not this time! My skin tone was normal and even, my skin felt moisturised and my T-zone exfoliated. My double chin hasn’t miraculously disappeared but my jaw line seems to be more defined at the sides. Three hours later and my skin is still non-greasy and looks smoother – great news for my old acne scars!
Seaweed Eye Patches x3 – Kombu seaweed
‘Our Kombu is bursting with vitamins and minerals, particularly A, C & E. It also aids the body’s natural production of collagen, helping to keep skin looking youthful and fresh. In traditional Japanese baths Kombu is used to detox the system, helping to rid your body of toxins.’
This is where it gets real, these patches of seaweed have a really floppy slippery texture when soaked for 10 minutes – actually I forgot about them and soaked them for 20. The instructions suggested placing them over eyes and relaxing for 30 minutes. I’m a really restless person but I managed 20 minutes.
They kept on sliding off my face every time I moved my head a centimetre (I should have rescued them from the water when they were smaller and more manageable) and they smelled really strongly. The Bloke thought all of this was hilarious but after the slimy little things dropped onto my pillow for the third time, he kindly fetched me a damp flannel to hold them in place and a towel to rest my head on.
My permanent under eye bags haven’t shifted but they appear a little more taught and my brow bone and eyelid area isn’t as puffy making me look rested, a bonus I wasn’t expecting.
That night I ate a pizza which always bloats me and gives me under eye bags but the next day I was bag free – amazing!
The Cornish Seaweed Company are a tiny independent company who use all recycled cardboard packaging with such attention to detail on their labelling and their seaweed is sustainably harvested on local Cornish beaches by hand. These seaweeds and methods are also available as spar treatments at St Enodoc Hotel, The Headland Hotel Newquay and St Micheals Falmouth.
When I’ve just woken up in the morning and I’m still half asleep, I’m really not in the mood to prepare or eat any food. Same goes for when I’m about to start exercising – indigestion anyone? Protein shakes are the ideal answer but not everyone is a juicing addict because of the clean up time and the endless supply of fresh ingredients that are needed.
Juiven8 are the first bottled drinks to contain real fruit juice, coconut water and 12g of whey protein, which I think is a fantastic idea!
What they say…
‘Recover | Restore | Rejuvenate’
‘Produced in the UK with 12g of whey protein and rich in antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids and electrolytes, Juiven8 is specifically designed with active people n mind, to support workout performance and recovery.’
What I think…
I drunk the Blackcurrant , acai & coconut water flavour at around 9.30am and it got my metabolism (and therefore my bodies central heating system) into gear and saw me through to lunch at around 1.30pm, without a mid morning snack.
I drunk the Mango, pinapple and coconut water flavour before and throughout my evening exercise routine and I was able to increase it from 30 minutes to a full hour, without feeling exhausted like I normally would. Wow!
Contains the electrolytes potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and calcium.
Tastes like a lovely fruity thin shake straight out of the fridge.
Contains vitamin C.
Ready made so no fuss.
Gives you a lot more energy than you would expect and is a lot healthier than all of the other sports drinks.
Available in packs of 6x250ml, 12x250ml and 48x250ml so a range of choices.
Has to be kept refrigerated to 5C which makes it awkward if you want to use it in summer throughout a long workout or to carry in your bag throughout the day. (I forgot I’d taken one out of the fridge early in the morning and came across it that evening. It tasted a little like fruit flavoured, slightly bitter custard and I couldn’t drink it. Completely my fault but it highlighted that this should be treated as milk, rather than juice).
Whey protein comes from milk and can contain a very small amount of lactose, so if you have an allergy to either you should avoid this product. I have a food intolerance which is milder and I just looked a little flushed in the face but had no other symptoms. Ironically all of the energy it gave me probably counter acted the mild fatigue I get from dairy – go figure!?
I was sent several bottles of this product to sample for free. This does not bias my opinion in anyway. All opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.
This is described as ‘sparkling’ and the scent of the beautiful Lemon Verbena certainly is – similar to lemon cheesecake I thought.
It left my mood feeling more energised and my skin incredibly moisturised. It is a little tacky and takes a while to sink in as most body butters tend to.
This, like all M&S own beauty products is cruelty free and BUAV (leaping bunny) approved.
When you start blogging it’s easy to think “I’m on a budget. I can’t afford to buy products and do exciting things to blog about.” Don’t let that put you off.
A lot of experiences like going to the cinema, bowling, dry ski slopes etc. have off peak rates that can a third of the price cheaper than peak times. It’s also worth phoning up and seeing if they have any deals on group bookings and then convincing your mates they really want to try snowboarding.
Would it be possible to swap or borrow things from friends and family in return for something of yours? You could review or feature your mates new game/makeup/box set/shoes/cookware.
Get a membership card (not a store card) where you do your everyday shopping and sign up to beauty cards and brands newsletters that you love. Don’t touch your points and let them build up. At the end of the month or longer (depending on the card) you can treat yourself to a nice blog worthy item you wouldn’t normally justify buying – even if it is just a luxe shampoo or a quirky phone case.
Join blogger groups on Facebook that are for your town/region, are especially for PR opportunities or your blogs genre. This really is the easiest way to become part of a like minded blogging community and to get invited to events and learn about opportunities.
Sign up to Amazon Local and Wowcher to get deals in your area on experiences, food, pampering sessions and much more to blog about. You will have to be flexible on dates and times but it’s better than staying in watching re-runs on TV.
Beware of websites that say ‘free product testing for bloggers’ as most of the time it’s more like a lottery or you will be answering endless questions and inadvertently giving your details to numerous companies.
Style for Outfit Of The Day (OOTD) posts or blogger events: You should invest in key pieces that aren’t going to go out of fashion such as coats like trenches, parkas and blazers, good fitting jeans, simple boots (which can double as shoes worn under trousers). Anything unusual that’s in fashion – and therefore might laughably go out of fashion – don’t waste too much money on. Belts, scarves, hats and bold statement jewellery can refresh and transform an outfit. Layer and play about with how you wear your garments together.
If you love a brand it’s a good idea to talk to the manager of your local branch and explain that you are a blogger and ask if you can take away some samples to review or you could inquire if they have any in store blogger events planned and leave your details – you might give them the idea!
List posts are great for a quick read such as Top Five Cameras For Bloggers or 10 Reasons Why Winter Is Actually Awesome or What’s On My Wish List This Month.
If you are having a night out with the girls take advantage of beauty counter makeovers. Agree beforehand that you will buy X and X if they throw in Y and Y. Remember to blog about it all the next day.
Don’t by the cheapest camera. You will get quickly frustrated with it and wish you had saved up for a better one. It isn’t necessary for all bloggers to own a DSLR unless you intend on covering fashion shows or vast panoramic scenery etc. High-end point and shoots such as a Panasonic Lumix are surprisingly effective for most purposes.
Wait until a good online deal comes up on products you use often and bulk buy, adding in a new item you feel like reviewing, so you will make a bigger saving and the postage cost will be justifiable or even free.
Don’t buy glossy magazines unless they have a free gift you’d like to blog about. If you can’t live without a particular one then wait until the free gift/offer upon sign up is perfect for you. Just don’t moan when your mates who aren’t subscribed are getting great freebies every third month.
If you get to review something you love it’s worth asking the brand/PR if you can have a second one as a giveaway prize for your readers or a money off code. You will be surprised at how many think this is a great idea! [Always check postage costs before running a competition and specify in your post which country/countries the competition is open to] If the prize is a large item ask if it can get sent straight from the warehouse to the winner and not to your house first!
Don’t forget your life experiences and the knowledge you have gained. It might be useful to include in a blog post like this.
Take advantage of speciality subscription boxes which are perfect for getting into a new thing – be it artisan crafts, vegan food or cruelty-free beauty etc. as they will help you to discover lots of new products and brands. You won’t have to spend a fortune on lots of different websites and most sub boxes have some kind of loyalty scheme.
Don’t throw away any products which randomly get sent to you for review or that turn up in a subscription box that you know you’ll never use. Save them up a run a giveaway.
After a while write a post about all of the sample sized products you have acquired.
Research local PR companies and also find out who does your fave brands PR (look at the bottom of their website under ‘press’) then introduce yourself via email, either with a collaboration idea or ask to be put on their mailing list for future events.
Remember everything you blog about doesn’t have to be exclusive or innovative. Everyday experiences like a day out in the countryside, cooking/baking, a walk around a town with great architecture or a picnic/BBQ in the park are all blogable. Don’t forget to include small occasions in weekly/monthly round up posts. Your blog’s content should be about you, it’s your blog after all.
Hope I’ve given you some useful ideas. Happy blogging!