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Hull Bloggers Informative posts My Life

bad day

As I sit here typing this I can see the dull gloom of the sky outside, and the flickering light of candles on a desk. The landscape reflects my mood; the sun is absent, not even a patch of blue is to be seen and the sky is so overwhelmingly grey. Today is a grey day, and my mood seems similar. I feel dejected, stressed, tired and everything else that comes along with it. I’m at a stage where I’m really resenting things. I resent my body; I resent my body right now because I wake up in pain and I fall asleep in pain, it hurts to walk and it hurts to sit, and all the silly, mundane things that need doing in everyday life seem impossible and difficult. Washing my clothes is an ordeal, making my bed is a challenge, and cleaning the house leaves me in so much pain I can’t do anything for the remainder of the day. I feel hopeless. I feel ashamed of my body, and even more ashamed of the way it makes me feel. Today the pain in my body is taking it’s toll. I feel robbed of the opportunity to do things without having to think of their consequences. I am constantly weighing up the pros and cons of analgesia, knowing that either way I can’t win. Today I am realising that I struggle and it’s the struggle that’s the hardest to address. I am stubborn; but there’s only so much I can take on the bad days.

I’m hoping for a brighter tomorrow.

Categories
Foodie things Hull Bloggers Recipes

Old El Paso Tacos*

Hi there! Today I have another recipe/food review for you all. Another lovely thing from the Hull Bloggers meet was the Old El Paso meal kits. I LOVE the fajita one, and find myself eating it maybe once a week. It’s a really easy meal, and I find it’s fairly balanced, having lean protein, fresh salad and vegetables and a helping of carbohydrates in one quick, easy meal. I usually skip sour cream, too, but if I am feeling like something creamy on my fajitas I’ll opt for low fat natural/greek style yogurt.

Taco shells and seasoning

These tacos offered something a little bit different. I received the spice sachet from the meet, but  bought the taco shells from a supermarket. As expected they were really easy to make, and my  boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

taco shells

Taco shells and seasoning

The packet called for 500g of minced beef to serve 3-4, so  because there’s only two of us we opted to use 250g and add a good handful of roughly chopped mushrooms and half a chopped red pepper. We also prepared plenty of chopped spring onions, cherry tomatoes and grated mature cheddar to top the tacos with.

ingredients

tomatoes and spring onionchopped veggies

All we had to do was to brown off the minced beef in a fairly hot (but not smoking) frying pan, along with the chopped peppers and mushrooms. You then add the entire sachet of the spicy beef taco seasoning, stirring to combine the seasoning with all the ingredients.

peppers, beef and mushrooms

When nicely browned, add 100ml of water and turn down the heat. Allow to simmer and reduce to a thick, rich filling.

And that’s it! All we had to do was assemble our tacos. We had three each, and found this more than enough. We used crisp green lettuce, taco filling, grated cheese and finally sprinkled a liberal helping of fresh tomatoes and spring onions on top.

finished tacos

tacosThese were really lovely; spicy, but not overwhelmingly so by any measure. Just enough heat but with a full-flavoured, mexican style spice. I would repurchase, and think they’d make a great meal to gather everyone together around a dinner table. Perfect for sharing with your friends!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review, and let me know what you think of them if you get to try them!

Happy cooking,

Heather

Categories
Foodie things Hull Bloggers Things I'm loving

Degusta box goodies*

As some of you may have been reading, December was a really exciting month as I had the opportunity to attend a bloggers meet in Hull. As I’m fairly new to the world of blogging it was a really amazing opportunity to meet with other bloggers, make friends, and explore new blogs. I did extremely well in the raffle, coming away with some gorgeous the Balm goodies, Ohh Deer notebooks AND a big box of Degusta goodies. It’s been a long time coming, but today I’m going to share my thoughts on some of the treats that turned up inside the December box!

A sneak peek inside

Firstly, I’ll discuss the Kettle chips. I love Kettle chips; they’re always a favourite treat of mine and have some truly irresistable flavours. These were no exception! I received the Salsa & Mesquite flavour, which was a smoky, tomato flavour. They were deliciously crunchy and were enjoyed by my family around the Christmas tree!

Christmassy Kettle chips Packet of Kettle chips

Next up are the Lindt Lindor My Melting Moment chocolates. Anyone who knows me will know just how much I love chocolate. It’s definitely one of my favourite things and I often find it hard to resist! Lindt chocolate is particularly delicious, and since I love the melting middle chocolates, I was pretty certain I’d enjoy these! As expected they were extremely delicious, with a smooth, melting middle encased in thick Lindt milk chocolate. Really superb. Plus, the snowflake design made them a really special Christmas treat.

Gorgeous snowflake design the outside of the packet

As a student I find fajitas to be a great way to have a really balanced meal (as long as you go easy on the sour cream or skip it altogether!) so when I found the fajita Stir In Flavour Shots in the box I was really excited to use them. Usually I use Old El Paso’s fajita mix, which I also received on the day. As you can imagine there’s been lots of fajita meals since, and I’m certainly not complaining! Unlike the Old El Paso Mix, the flavour shots are liquid. They are fairly thick, but they melt in the pan amongst the meat and vegetables. There are four in a packet, and you use one per meal (which serves 2-4 people). Overall I was really impressed with these. If you like Old El Paso’s, you’ll probably enjoy these as they have a similar, smoky flavour. I have yet to try the Old El Paso Spicy Taco Mix, but the Potato Wedges Seasoning was a big hit and I’d definitely repurchase it. You simply sprinkle it over your potato wedges and give them a good mix. Then you simply pop them in the oven! A really easy yet different way to use potatoes. These went well with the fajitas!

Flavour shits and spice seasonings The Flavour Shots packaging

Here is one of the beverages in the box; the Montano Cider. I’m a fan of ciders in general, and I usually prefer mine on the dry side. Luckily, this cider was somewhere in the middle of sweet and dry, and was extremely fruity. I throughly enjoyed it. With a golden colour and light sparkle, it was an extremely refreshing drink and I wouldn’t hesistate to repurchase it. My whole family enjoyed it!

Pretty bottleGreat for sharingMontano

I’m not usually a huge fan of pickles and chutneys, but Branston’s Mediterranean chutney was a little different. With a rich, sweet, tomato taste, I found this went well on burgers. I tried it on a chicken burger in place of ketchup, and it was really very lovely. The texture isn’t what I’d consider chunky, but it definitely isn’t smooth. I think it would be good on a cheese toastie. I’m not sure I’d repurchase this, but as I say chutneys aren’t really to my taste. Worth a try if you’re into this kind of thing, though.

BranstonBranston chutney

Lastly we have the Cool Dawn recovery drink. I received two cans of this and they’re recommended for a hangover. Unfortunately I don’t really drink an awful lot, so I can’t say much about the hangover-reducing effects. The drink contains a mixture of herbs and juices,  but do not contain any stimulants like caffeine. They have quite an unusual, almost medicinal taste, but they’re certainly not unpleasant, and they’re not sparkling; they’re a completely still drink. They are quite refreshing, and they’re a really interesting addition to any drinks cupboard. Not sure if I’d repurchase, but I did enjoy trying them out!

Cool dawn

These are all the products I’ve tried out so far, and it’s been a really interesting experience! I LOVE the idea of Degusta boxes; you get so much in one box and it’s great to try out new things from brands you love and brands you’ve perhaps never heard of before. I’d definitely think about subscribing to the box. It’s a great way to try things you perhaps might not do usually, and I can imagine it being a really exciting day when your big box arrives! Many thanks for reading and I hope Monday has treated you well.

All the best,

Heather

Categories
Hull Bloggers My Life Things I'm loving

the Balm goodies*

This is a slight departure from my ‘usual’ posts, but when I went to the Hull Bloggers meet I came away with some really amazing goodies and I’d love to share them with you all. I was truly lucky to win an AMAZING bundle of the Balm cosmetics on our raffle, the proceeds of which went to the fabulous Look Good feel Better charity who you can see here:  http://www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk/ .

the Balm goodiesI’ve been using the Balm products for a little over a week now, and having never owned any of the Balm’s products before I’m completely new to them. I have to admit make up serves a few purposes for me. Of course, I love experimenting with new products and styles, but make up is the one thing that can make or break a day for me, especially if I’m struggling and am in a lot of pain. I often find making myself look good helps me to feel my best, and gives me more confidence to face the day regardless of how my body is feeling. I was absolutely shocked to win this prize, and I have been having a lot of fun trying everything out.

First, I’m going to talk about the two eyeshadow palettes I received. I received Balmsai and the Meet Matt(e) Nude. One thing that really stands out about the Balm’s products is their quirky and unique packaging. It’s something I’ve never seen in any other product range and it really brings a smile to your face whilst getting ready in the morning.

Meet Matt(e) and Balmsai

Balmsai is a multi-functional palette, with a mixture of matte and shimmery nude and coloured shades. Each of the shadows are grouped together for ease of use. The mixture of matte and shimmery shades makes for a really versatile palette, and I’ve been finding I’m loving the shimmery shades for the festive season. I haven’t found fault in any of the colours as they’re all highly pigmented and somewhat creamy in consistency, so I don’t have to worry about fall-out all over my cheeks! The addition of the eyeliner and brow stencils means it’s easier to achieve lined eyes and neat eyebrows. This is something that’s quite difficult for me as my hemi hand doesn’t work as well as my other one, so having a stencil enables me to create looks I usually struggle with.

BalmsaiParticular favourites so far are Surfari and Stoked. Theyre perfect for adding a pop of colour into an otherwise natural make up look. As my eyes are greeny/brown, the purple shades seem to complement my eyes really well and I love the sparkle and iridescence in the coloured shades.

BalmsaiMeet Matt(e) Nude is, as you’ve guessed, packed full with gorgeous nude shades that are perfect for an every day look. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a really good nude palette for ages and I’m so glad I have this as it’s everything I’d hoped it would be (and more!)

Meet Matt(e) NudeI also think some of these shades would be suitable for brushing through eyebrows with an angled brush for a bit of definition. Of course all these shades are matte, and like the Balmsai palette, the shadows are somewhat creamy in consistency so don’t tend to fall out after application. I’ve been using my EcoTools brushes to apply these shades and blend them out with my Nanshy blending brush, also a great product from the Hull Bloggers meet.

Nanshy Brush

Next is the selection of blushers and bronzers. The bronzer is Bahama Mama, and it a matte, deep brown shade. It has no shimmer and is great for contouring.

Bahama Mama

Bahama Mama

Next is the blusher Instain, in Houndstooth. This blusher has far more staying power than my usual blushers (Bourjois, Sleek) and is a matte, dark pink. This is great for adding a natural glow to the cheeks and is highly pigmented. I’ve had to be careful whilst applying this as the staying power means you need to make sure you’ve placed it in exactly the right place before blending in.

Instain in Houndstooth

Instain in Houndstooth

Hot Mama is a shimmery, peachy/pink  blusher with gold undertones. It can be used as both a shadow and a blush and adds a lovely glowy, dewy look to the cheeks.

Hot Mama

Hot MamaBelow you can see all three side by side. I am particularly enjoying Bahama Mama as a contouring bronzer, and though it looks really dark in the pan, it’s really good even on my fair skin and doesn’t look at all harsh when blended in well.

Instain, Bahama Mama, Hot MamaInstain, Bahama Mama, Hot Mama

Swatches

Next is the Mary-Lou Manizer, which is a gorgeous, super shimmery highlighter. Again, the Balm’s packaging is so cute, and is really well designed.

Mary-Lou Manizer

Mary Lou Manizer

To compare I’m using my Philosophy Divine Illumination highlighter in light.

Mary-Lou Manizer and Philosophy Divine IlluminationMary Lou Manizer and Philosophy Divine IlluminationThe Mary Lou Manizer is far more shimmery than the Philosophy highlighter, and is great for lightly highlighting the top of your cheek bones and the inner corner of your eyes.

Mary Lou Manzier and PhilosophyNext is the Body Builder What’s Your Type? mascara. The volumizing brush grips every lash. The formula is somewhere in the middle of runny and dry, and so coats every lash in just one coat. It’s great to build volume so you can acheieve either a more natural or more dramatic look depending on your mood.

What's Your TypeWhat's Your TypeSchwing is a liquid eyeliner and is great for creating a retro look. The formula is quick drying and very dark, enabling you to create great definition. The liner itself is very thin, and is fairly easy to use.

SchwingSchwingFinally I’m going to talk to you about the lip products in the bundle. I absolutely love lipstick and lip gloss, so these products were right up my street! The Balm Girls is a cute play on The Bond Girls, and is in the colour Mai Billsbepaid. It is a dark nude colour and very wearable. The bullet of the lipstick is really sleek and pearlescent, and makes the product itself an absolute joy to apply. The lipstick itself is matte in appearance and has great staying power. It stayed on my lips for about 7 hours during the day and only needed the odd touch up.

Balm GirlsThe lip gloss is the Pretty Smart lipgloss in ZAAP! It has a white shimmer in a hot pink base.

Pretty Smart in ZAAP!Though initially it seems really bright, it’s actually very wearable and gives a gorgeous sheen to the lips. It isn’t at all sticky, and has a fruity scent that disappears quickly on application. The doe foot applicator ensures even coverage on the lips. It doesn’t last for ages but I don’t expect lipglosses to have much staying power usually. My lips do feel hydrated after use, which is great in this cold weather!

Pretty Smart in ZAAP!All in all I’m extremely impressed with all the products you’ve seen. As I’ve said above, wearing make up can really enhance my day and I’m so grateful to have some truly wonderful products to use. The Balm has really made my make up bag so much more exciting, and I can’t wait to show you all some looks I’ve created.

I hope you’re having a great Monday!

Heather