Tuesday, 29 November 2016

What are Jamberry Nail Wraps?

Have you heard of Jamberry nail wraps? My sister recently invited me to a Facebook "party" for her friends business and I found myself wayy too absorbed in the fun games and fascinated by the pretty wrap options.

Jamberry Nail Wraps

So what are Jamberry nail wraps? Nail wraps are thin vinyl sheets that are pressure and heat activated to adhere to your nail for a long lasting and beautiful look. They are made with durable materials, so smudges and streaks are never an issue, and can last for up to two weeks on fingernails and four weeks on toes! (Jamberry website)

With over 300 wraps to choose from, it's very easy to get lost in picking which ones you want to try! I ended up winning half a sheet in one of the games and purchasing some more in a deal with my sister.

When they arrived a few people asked me how I got on with them, hence this blog post!

On Sunday I decided to go all out for "cyber Monday" and try the City Lights wraps. The instructions are written on the packet but there's also a handy video on their website to follow. The instructions are as follows:

  1. Push back cuticles and clean nails with a Nail Prep Wipe or rubbing alcohol. When applying wraps over lacquer, apply a fresh coat and allow to dry.
  2. Match nail (finger or toe) to the nail wrap that best fits.
  3. Cut nail wrap in half.
  4. Peel off nail wrap and warm with the adhesive with a Mini Heater or blow-dryer for 3-5 seconds or until soft and flexible.
  5. When warm, press the wrap onto the nail. Apply firm pressure around edges to adhere the wrap to the nail. Use rubber cuticle pusher to seal the wrap around the base of the cuticle.
  6. To remove excess, trim the top with scissors and file off remaining wrap using a downward motion.
  7. Apply heat and pressure to the wrap again until it is bonded to the nail.

So how did I get on?

Well, to begin with, I put them on upside down with the curved end by my tip and blunt end by my cuticle. Not a good look!! But that was me not watching the video and generally being a bit thick. You won't make that mistake, I'm confident!

There's definitely a knack to it but I found the longer I did it the more used to it I got. Of course, as with painting nails, my dominant hand came off much worse than my non-dominant. They took some neatening up and it's definitely not something you want to be doing in a rush but overall, the instructions are easy to follow and only slightly more difficult than painting your nails and I definitely couldn't get my nail art this beautiful. 

Jamberry Nail Wraps

The best bit was I was able to just carry on with my evening without worrying about drying or smudging. 

So far, we're two days in and they're looking pretty good. They even survived a 4 and a half hour stint picking orders in our warehouse at work, including ripping open boxes and peeling labels. I'm not sure my normal manicure would survive that!! 
They do suggest some upkeep such as cuticle oil and filing, but I'm super lazy so I probably won't get around to that!

At around £15 for a single sheet (that does a minimum of 2 manicures and 2 pedicures (some lucky ladies get 3-4 manis a sheet!! But it is nail size dependant!!)) they're definitely a luxury in comparison to picking up a couple of bottles of nail varnish, but, in my experience, cheaper than if you paid for someone to do them at a salon. The range of options is amazing, they're suitable for nails of all shapes and the look can be changed with nail polish underneath. 

I will be hosting my own Jamberry party on Facebook in January, please let me know if you'd like to come along!

If you fancy placing an order in the meantime - Check out the website and contact the lovely Chloë for more info. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

The 2016 Personal Grateful Challenge with Spin Sucks

For the past 3 years, Gini Dietrich from Spin Sucks has run the "Personal Grateful challenge" across the Spin Sucks community and this year I decided to get involved. So I set a timer for 10 minutes, grabbed a pen and my mini notebook and got jotting.

The list is quite personal so I'm not going to share the full list on here but I did manage 99 things to be thankful for. 

Personal Grateful Challenge

The list included:

Family - I'll admit I named each family member individually, which took up a good third of my list (being part of a large family is something I'm very thankful for!). I am genuinely thankful for each one, for our ever growing number, for the ups and downs, their love and support.

Friends - Some key people made the list and I think if I'd had more than 5 minutes the list could have gone on and on. I am reminded so often how amazing our friends are, I hope they know just how thankful I am for them. 

For our home - I regularly have to remind myself of this, especially tonight when I've thrown a strop because the kitchen is small. But I am so thankful for our beautiful home, that it represents how hard Andy works, I'm thankful that this year we've been able to start decorating and putting our own touch on it. I'm thankful that it's ours and holds so many memories.

For my job - Oh how I love my job! I love the people I work with, the work I do, the company I work for. It is wonderful to get up every morning and look forward to going to work.

Our Church - Vineyard 53 has changed our lives so much. We have met the most amazing people, been so supported and loved and had a lot of fun in the process.

God - Do I need to explain this one? I couldn't begin to express how thankful I am and this challenge only reminded me that I do not say thank you enough.

This blog - I am thankful for a creative outlet, for anyone and everyone who reads it, for the opportunities it has opened up and the friends I have made. 

and some (perhaps) more superficial ones that made the list: tea, our kettle, our bed, starbucks, having new films & plays added to the Harry Potter franchise, hot showers, our wedding video and the internet. 

So what about you, What are you thankful for this year?

Thank you, Gini and the Spin Sucks team for a great reminder of the importance of being thankful. I think I'm going to try the challenge more than annually. Who wants to join me?

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Perfect Holiday Bra Quiz

One of the best bits about blogging is that I get to be involved in some truly weird and wonderful projects. So when ThirdLove asked me to take their "Perfect Holiday Bra" quiz and share it with you alongside an exclusive discount (oooohh!) I couldn't very well say no, could I?

So what IS my holiday personality and as a result what bra should I wear this Holiday?

I got: The 24/7 Classic T-Shirt (memory foam cups, whatttt?)

"You take the naughty or nice approach very seriously seeing as how the holiday season is what you live for. With all the baking, shopping, and party-going you'll be doing, it's essential to have a supportive sidekick who's virtually imperceptible. That's where our classic T-shirt bra comes in"

Well, they couldn't have got me much more down to a *hem* Tee (groan, sorry!)

What about you? Take the quiz and let me know what your holiday personality is?

Looking for a new supportive holiday sidekick? Keep reading for an exclusive discount!

Third Love Holiday Bra Quiz

Here is the exclusive promo code for 15% off all orders at ThirdLove use the code: TLNOVBB15.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Not On the High Street Christmas Gift Guide: Part 1

What is your favourite shop? For me, I hate physical shopping, I mostly find it too hot, crowded and a bit stressful. Plus I hate changing rooms.

What I love, is online shopping (which given my job is probably a good thing!) and there's one website I love more than most. It's my go to. Yes, it's Not on the High Street. Now, I should say now this post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by them (I really wish it was), I'm just SUCH a fangirl! 

Not on the High Street Christmas Gift Guide

This weekend I received their Gift Guide for 2016 (as well as an email for VIPs..!) and although I've finished all my Chrismas shopping (smug face), I couldn't resist taking a look. Here are my top picks:

For Him:

Not on the High Street Christmas Gift List
I know a lot of women like Coffee, of course, just not in our house. But what I do like, selfishly, is presents that he likes but also look pretty! This copper coffee set is absolutely beautiful and I know Whittards (also one of my favourite shops) do amazing coffee. 

Not on the High Street Christmas Gift List

I always look at this and wish Andy's watch strap wasn't broken, because it's so lovely. Wouldn't it make a really nice gift for a dad? What I really love is that you can add your own, special message to remind someone you're thinking of them. 

Not on the High Street Christmas Gift List
Hilariously, Andy's mum once said you couldn't buy a wash bag during the summer. So, in case she is right, better stock up now. I love how classy this one is and that you can add initials. 

For Her:

Not in the High Street Christmas Gift List

How adorable is this? I love avocado, but I also love chocolate. This feels like a good compromise, right? At £12 it's a bit more than your standard avocado.. but at least it won't get overripe as soon!! 

Not on the High Street Christmas Gift List
At risk of using the word adorable consistently. How adorable is this little guy? I actually bought this for my mum last year and I think it's one of my favourite presents I've ever given. Perfect for green fingered dog lovers.

Not on the High Street Christmas Gift Guide

My sister and Brother-in-law bought me this last Christmas and it is so beautiful and so precious. The reason I love Not on the High Street is because you can buy so many fully personalised, beautiful presents. 

What is your favourite gift from Not on the High Street?

Next week I'll be sharing my favourite gifts for kids and stocking fillers.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Review: Dude Coffee and Smoke BBQ Gift Box

For those who don't know, I probably couldn't blog without one very special person. Andy, my husband  who is chief proofreader and supporter. He even has his friends at work read my blog (Hi Nic!). So it's nice at times to have the opportunity to share some blogger perks with him. Enter: Dude Coffee and Smoke BBQ gift box.

Coffee Chocolate an BBQ Gift Box Aqua

I was sent* the Aqua box which contains:

  • 250g of cafetiere ground Colombian Suarez coffee.
  • 100g of amazing small batch artisan 70% dark chocolate topped with a load of mixed nuts
  • 40g pouch of Dude Coffee and Smoke BBQ rub. 
  • 60g bag of whiskey oak and apple smoking wood to give your BBQ cooking an authentic smoke flavour
  • Coffee tasting notes card
  • BBQ Chicken recipe card. A simple recipe that makes amazing use of our rub and the choice of smoking wood
  • All packaged in a wooden crate

The box is beautifully packaged and the tasting card and recipe card are great extra touches. The wooden crate is so lovely, I can't decide what to use it for next!

Coffee Chocolate an BBQ Gift Box Aqua

I opened the chocolate straight away and it was amazing. They're not joking when they say it's topped with a load of mixed nuts. It's literally chockful! 

We used the BBQ rub for dinner one night, it's really easy to use. Simply rub it onto the chicken and then bake or BBQ. It made the chicken really tasty and the cooking instructions meant it was really tender. I think next time I'd mix it with some oil to make a marinade so the flavours are even more intense.

This is where Andy comes in, I only like coffee when it doesn't taste like coffee (Hello Starbucks eggnog latte) but Andy loves coffee. He brewed a mug of it and said it was really good, but a bit weaker than he normally drinks it. It certainly meant the house smelt amazing. 

Dude Coffee and Smoke BBQ offer several gift boxes:
Aqua box - as above
Brownie aqua box - as above but with ultimate brownie box instead of the chocolate bar
Purple - Sumatra Jagong Village coffee with a berry topped chocolate bar
Brownie purple box - ultimate brownie mix instead of chocolate
Red decaf box - Brazilian Santa Lucia decaf coffee
Brownie red decaf box - Brazilian Santa Lucia decaf coffee and ultimate brownie mix instead of chocolate. 

Each box is £20.00 or £21.00 for the brownie box.

The perfect gift for anyone who loves coffee, chocolate or BBQing. 

What's your favourite BBQ meat?

You can follow Dude Coffee and Smoke BBQ on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Monday, 14 November 2016

Botanist New Menu Launch - October 2016

It's that time again. The Botanist in Chester has launched their new menu full of yummy starters, mains, and desserts; and I was lucky enough to be invited to go and try some new dishes. 

This time my lovely friend Anna joined me, because apparently, Andy would rather watch football!
The Botanist Chester

We started with a cocktail each, I went for my favourite Thai Basil crush and Anna had a cucumber and raspberry cooler.

The Botanist Chester

We each ordered a starter and a main. To start I had sesame coated falafel which came with an amazing harissa mayo dip and Anna had the baked camembert (seriously, is there anything better than melty cheese). She said the only thing that was missing was maybe a little chutney. The chicken liver pate comes with an amazing chutney so maybe they could serve it with that

The Botanist Chester

The Botanist Chester

I can't go to The Botanist without having a hanging kebab, now can I? So I opted for the jerk salmon with rice and peas. The salmon was served with grilled pineapple as well so it was full of colour and flavour. The rice was fragrant and although I prefer the seasoned chips, I felt pious for going for the healthy option!

The Botanist Chester

Anna had the special for the day which was three mini versions of their pies: sweet potato and spiced lentil, chicken and chorizo and stout and steak, served with small portions of mushy peas, seasoned mash, chips and a little watering can of gravy. So cute!

Anna's favourite was the stout and steak and whilst she gutted that the portion of mash was very small (I'd raved about how good both the mash and chips were) it's a good excuse to go back for a full portion! 
The Botanist Chester

The Botanist Chester

We finished by sharing a cookie dessert which was as good as last time and the perfect dessert for sharing. I also had a Bailey's hot chocolate which I was too full to finish and Anna had another cocktail.

The Botanist Chester

The Botanist Chester

The Botanist was busy the night we visited because of graduations but as ever the staffing was attentive, I didn't get the name of our server but she was friendly and enthusiastic. I always feel like the staff love working at The Botanist and enjoy the food and drinks. Their suggestions seem genuine and that is so important. 

Thank you, The Botanist for a wonderful meal. as ever. 

*The meal at The Botanist was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Dubai - Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotal

I am finally talking about Dubai! It has genuinely taken over a month because I knew writing about it wouldn't help the post-holiday blues. 

We flew with Emirates (so amazing) overnight on a Thursday, arriving in Dubai at 7am local time on Friday. Neither of us had slept on the flight so we were both very tired. So we got a taxi straight to the hotel. 

The Palm isn't too far from the airport, maybe 30 minutes but it is so big that even once you reach there, there's a lot more driving to come. 

From the minute we stepped out the taxi, I knew Zabeel Saray was special. Part of the Jumeirah group which boast a huge number of hotels worldwide, they specialise in service and a first class experience. While Zabeel Saray is classed as a 5 star hotel in Dubai I would say it's probably about 8 stars by UK standards. 

Our bags were taken to be stored and we were shown to reception where we were given cool towels and drinks. Because it was so early our room wasn't ready but instead the lady at check in gave us a lot of information (maybe a little too much given how tired we were) and we were given passes for complimentary tea or coffee, access to the spa and told to make full use of the pool facilities. So, after a quick tea and rummage in our bags, we set up camp by the pool and there we stayed for the day. Catching up on sleep, enjoying the sunshine and the view and making the most of the pool. 

Andy isn't very good at just lying by the pool so after a few hours he went to see if our room was ready (they had given us an old Nokia and said they'd ring). He was told that our room wasn't ready but there was one that was ready and because we were there on honeymoon we'd been upgraded.

The room was breathtaking. An amazing view over The Palm with Atlantis in the distance. A huge bed, an amazing bathroom with a walk in shower and an incredible marble Turkish bath that I'm pretty sure is bigger than my bedroom!

The extra touches were also amazing. When we were shown to our room, our bags were already there and we were given a tour to make sure we were happy with where everything was and how to use the TV etc.

Every day the room was cleaned and the bed stripped and each evening the turndown service included a bottle of water and a chocolate next to the bed. 

Throughout our stay we felt like none of the staff could do enough for us. Every single member of staff was polite, friendly and welcoming. Every time we stepped out a lift we were greeted by a member of staff each time. The little touches really made the experience, from pouring drinks for us to putting our towels on the sunbeds. It was definitely luxury and service that I haven't really experienced before. We were also left  a card and some fresh fruit to celebrate our honeymoon.

The hotel itself was palatial. We were on the second floor of a possible five (?) I think! The hotel included rooms, suites, the spa, restaurants, shops and a huge reception area with beautiful fountains. Outside was the infinity pool, a huge area for sunbathing, another restaurant, a kids area and access to an amazing beach. 

Honestly, I could gush about how amazing the hotel was, but to summarise the whole experience was like staying in a paradise of luxury and I really didn't want to leave. 

Thank you for a wonderful stay, Jabeel Saray, we can't wait to visit again!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Nobody Told Me - Hollie McNish

Nobody Told Me - Hollie McNish

A few months ago, from a source I can no longer remember, I was introduced, via youtube to the poems of Hollie McNish. Within minutes I was captivated, empowered and enthused by the words of "Wow". So, I was pretty excited to see she would soon be visiting Chester as part of the Story House Chester Literature Festival.

Having listened to a few more of her poems I knew she focussed a lot on pregnancy and raising her daughter. While she says as part of her show that she's always journaled, but her book "Nobody Told Me" starts from the point she finds out she's pregnant. Knowing this, I invited my gorgeous friend Nik to come with me. Nik is a first-time mum to a baby girl who turned 1 in August. She's also superwoman. 

We arrived at the Chester Town Hall and I marvelled yet again and how amazing some of the buildings in Chester are, grabbed a drink and sat near the back. 

From the get go, Hollie was powerful, funny, astute and engaging. She started with "Wow" and again I felt empowered and told myself, not for the first time to focus on loving my body. Perhaps it is time that I followed the advice of Hollie's little girl and stood naked in front of my mirror exclaiming "WOW! My body is amazing!"

During "Banana Baby", a poem about all the advice pregnant woman are given, Nik rubbed my arm and assured me, it wasn't all bad and when the time comes I will be ok.  

Hollie read from her book for 45 minutes, a whirlwind tour of her pregnancy and the first year of her daughter's life. Covering with incredible honesty and depth: pregnancy, hormones, relationship, sex, breastfeeding and nan's who don't know when to just not say anything! I could have listened for hours. 

Nikol told me, for her, it was amazing to be reminded of the first year of her little one's life, the bits she'd forgotten about in amongst the lack of sleep! For me, I didn't feel like I needed to be a mum to fully appreciate her words, it just made me excited for a time when that might be a possibility. 

At the end of the night, I purchased her book and queued up to get it signed. Hollie was amazing, chatting away to everyone and apologising for the wait. In fact, we had to get ushered on by some of the Story House staff because we were talking for too long. It genuinely felt like catching up with a good friend over a glass of wine. 

You can find out more about Hollie's book and where she'll be touring next (and I really think everyone should go) here

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Chester Places : Tea on the Wall

I genuinely think it's impossible to live in or visit Chester and not be fascinated by "the walls". 2 miles of history surrounding the city centre. I've walked them with friends, slipped on them in snow (one hell of a bruise!) and watched fireworks from them but until recently 
I'd never really thought about eating there. 

Tea on the Wall was recommended by my new friend, Emma (general fount of all knowledge when it comes to Chester). So a few weekends ago we ventured into Chester in search of the perfect cheese toastie and soup combo (it's a thing!)

Tea on the Wall can be accessed from North Gate on the steps left of Porto/Joseph Benjamin. Which means if you sit in the right place you can get some beautiful views. The cafe is much bigger than a lot of the Chester cafes, I've said before that they tend to suffer from small premises. But you could easily fit a large group in. 

We were greeted and seated by friendly staff, although I did note throughout our visit that the lady who I assume was the owner/manager only tended to interact if you'd made a special booking, like the couple next to us who came in for afternoon tea. 

The menu looks a bit old when it's handed to you but had a really good selection of breakfasts, light bites and lunches.  Again, being a bad tea blogger I didn't order tea. But I definitely want to go back for Afternoon Tea. 

Instead, I ordered the soup of the day which was "gardeners" when I asked what this was, I was told it was "things you find in an allotment: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, potato". While I'm pretty sure lettuce doesn't work in a soup and I'm not sure this actually had lettuce in, it was a really good soup and perfectly accompanied by one of the best cheese and onion toasties I've ever had. 

The majority of the staff were very attentive. I hadn't ordered a drink at all but one girl came over and asked if I'd like a tap water, which was a nice touch. 

Andy ordered a coffee made using a monster coffee machine and a BBQ chicken baguette. Which was literally a baguette, some sandwich chicken and BBQ sauce. I really liked that aspect of Tea on the Walls, the food is simple and unfussy which makes for a really nice, relaxed lunch.  

We were really glad we got there for an early lunch (around 11.45) because as we came to pay the bill the tea shop was really filling up, which just goes to show how popular it is. A dog also ran in, ran around and then left while we were eating and I noticed they describe themselves as "dog and family friendly" which I love, but know not everyone would - so, fair warning! 

Overall, Tea on the Walls does look a bit dated in places and some of the service could have been improved but the general atmosphere is really nice, the food tasty and the location is perfect. I'd definitely visit again. Who's joining me for afternoon tea?

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