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Lifestyle

Get Ready for Spring with Yankee Candle

Public service announcement – Sping is coming! I’ve started buying daffodils from the supermarket to have around the house and my Instagram followers will have seen the little Snowdrops I noticed in Colchester this week. Yes it’s been snowing out, but thankfully it’s no longer dark when I leave work and it’s getting noticeably lighter in the mornings too!
I’m getting ready for Spring now, buying bits here and there as they start filtering into the shops. Yellow and light blue cushions, a new light duvet and a fresh set of candles. Regular readers will be well aware of my love of candles, Yankee Candles in particular. I’ve been stocking up on their new range of seaside scented candles ready for the warmer months ahead, and thought I’d share a few of my favourites with you. Let’s take a look!

Sea Air

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Let’s start off with an absolute beauty! Having grown up by the seaside I always love the scent of the beach, and this candle perfectly captures that salty air aroma and brings it into your home. With notes of rose and sandalwood, this candle brings back happy memories of weekends at the beach house in Southwold or adventures up the north Norfolk coast. Dreamy!

Sun-Drenched Apricot Rose

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Next up is the wonderful Sun-Drenched Apricot Rose candle, a really strong and sweet fruity scent. I like to burn this one in the evening when I get home from work although to make the house smell of sweet treats when relaxing on the sofa into the later hours. It’s quite a strong one though, so you don’t need to burn it for long to get the full effect! You’ll absolutely love this, and because of its strength you’ll find it should last you into the summer months too.

Early Spring Bloom

 
 
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Early Spring Bloom is a much lighter scent than the previous two, with notes of lily, cherry blossom and jasmine, it’s an elegant and fresh scent that you can burn and leave for the afternoon. I like to put it on for a few hours after cleaning the house at the weekend as it brings in that extra bit of spring freshness!
If you’re looking to stock up then there’s a Yankee Candle sale on at Latestdeals, so have a nose over there for a spring scented bargain, then hop onto Twitter and let me know which ones you picked up.
Happy shopping!
*in collaboration with the lovely people at Leatestdeals
 

Lifestyle Travel

5 Places to Visit in Tenerife

So I’m in full travel planning mode right now, and if you’ve been following lately you’ll have read my posts about holiday destinations and bikini shopping. I’ve been thinking about European city breaks and long haul flights to tropical destinations, but I think I’ve been missing a middle ground – a great beach holiday that doesn’t take 10 hours to get to.
That got me thinking about Tenerife – beautiful volcanic island that makes up one of seven Spanish Canary Islands off the coast of both Morocco and Western Sahara. Being so close to the equator naturally the weather is great all year round and I  last visited the island around 10 years ago with my family and had a great time. I’m not sure why but I haven’t thought about going back until today. On my last visit we spent most of the time by the pool in our hotel, and while we did trek up a volcano one day I’m convinced that the island has a lot more to offer. So I set about doing some research and wanted to share my findings – so let’s look at 5 things that the island of Tenerife has to offer!

1. Teide National Park

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The island is made up of three volcanos that moulded together after years of volcanic activity. The views at the national park are amazing and you can clearly see the larva rock formations. Mount Teide is the largest on Spanish soil and the worlds third largest volcanic structure! There’s a Cableway that goes to the mountains highest point and you’re set for a spectacular view at the top, so hop on and enjoy the ride – and the view!

2.Basilica of Candelaria

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If you head on over to the small town of Candelaria you’ll find a small basilica with a lot of history. Beautiful on the inside and out, this Roman Catholic building is actually the original home of the Royal Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Candelaria – better known as the black Madonna. Be sure to take a look around then catch the statues in the square and the beautiful neighbouring bell tower. Your Instagram will thank you later!

3. Siam Park

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Siam Park is a water park with a Siamese theme and a ton of fun waiting to be had! Situated in Costa Adeja, it’s been named by TripAdvisor as the best water park in the world. Blimey! The rides, park buildings and cafes all have the same beautiful theme and the park is also situated on a hill which makes for some great views before sliding down into the splash pools below. One of the best rides to try is The Tower of Power – it’s a 28m near vertical drop, and if you dare take it on you’ll be whizzing down at 80km/h. See ya!

4. Barranco Del Infierno

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Just a 15 minute drive inland from the water park is a slightly more hidden treat, the Barranco Del Infierno –  a ravine situated in the small town of Adeje. You’ll need to take the hikers trail to get to it, meaning more beautiful views on the journey up there, and when you do arrive you’ll have Tenerife’s highest waterfall waiting for you. There’s actually a limit to how many people can go up there each day as the area is also really important archaeologist site with drawings that are thousands of years old. You won’t want to miss it.

5. Pyramids of Güímar

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On the east side of the island in the district of Chacona you can find the famous Pyramids of Güímar – a site which offers 6 Canarian pyramids which date back to 19 Century CE. It’s thought that there were originally 9 but only six have survived to the modern day and what’s left looks absolutely stunning . Tenerife is the other side of North Africa to Egypt, but there are several historical theories about the Egyptians having a hand in their creation. Definitely worth taking a look, and decide for yourself!
Have you had any great Tenerife holidays or are you planning to go this summer? Let me know over on Twitter.
Happy Travelling!
*In collaboration with the lovely people at James Villa Holidays

Lifestyle

Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins!

Veganuary has been in full swing and it’s inspired me to try out some new and interesting recipes. I bought this book called The New Vegan from Award winning UK cook Aine Carlin – she runs blog Pea Soup Eats and recently wrote Keep It Vegan, another holy grail recipe book for me and I’m loving this too.
I always struggle with breakfast related recipes that are yummy and good for you so this is the first thing that I gravitated towards. There’s only so much butcher muesli you can have so when I saw the Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins part way through the book and realised I had most of the ingredients, I jumped at the chance at making them.
There’s a little preparation to them but they’re relatively easy to make and I loved seeing the end result. They’re rather browned on top so I’d cook for a little less time maybe but they tasted amazing and I even took them into work. Needless to say they went down well and I’ve had requests to make more too.
The recipe is available from the The New Vegan on Amazon. And actually Aine Carlin has a new recipe book Cook Share Eat Vegan due out April 5th.
Let me know if you’ve been loving his recipe from Aine Carlin and if you’ve tried out these Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins over on Twitter.
Happy Eating!
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Lifestyle

Choosing a Prom Dress

As many of you know I love trying new things, and jetting off abroad to discover new food, cultures and ways of life is something I think I’ll never grow tired of. Lately though I’ve been thinking about how many traditions from abroad have started creeping into the UK over recent years and found a home. Black Friday used to be something you only saw on Youtube when videos came out showing Americans climbing over each other for cut priced TVs, now it’s not only well established it’s taken on its own life here – lasting almost two weeks as we go mad for sales leading up to Christmas. Chinese New Year is getting bigger, and I’m slowly starting to hear of more and more friends going to Thanksgiving dinners each year. Another big tradition that seems to have come from abroad and stuck is the prom.
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Proms are something you used to see in movies like American Pie – it was a big night with an even bigger buildup. You had to carefully consider who to ask to the prom and whether they already had a date, what dress you were going to wear, and whether you could sneak out some alcohol from your parents cupboard to try on your last night with your friends before you all departed for different colleges. In real life there’s much less pressure and drama, as they’re usually held as you progress up from one school to another with the same friends. However choosing what to wear is still a big deal, and for a lot of teenagers finding the right prom dress is the equivalent of an adult having to choose their wedding dress. Having been through the drama of choosing a wedding dress I would have really appreciated a practice run by choosing a prom dress!
I know I have quite a few young readers, so I want to do my best to give them a few tips on how to choose the right dress for their big night. Let’s go for it!

Start Looking Early

My biggest piece of advice when starting to find your prom dress is to give yourself enough time! I cannot overstate how important this is. There’s a lot of dresses out there and you need enough time to figure out what works for you and to have any adjustments made if necessary. You don’t want to end up panic buying or having to settle for a dress that you’re not that keen on just because time got away from you, so start shopping early and nail it with weeks to spare.
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Ignore Trends

This is a tough one, but when choosing a dress go with what suits you over what’s hot right now. Your hair, body type and own personal style should dictate your dress, not the other way around. You want to this to look effortless, so if you buy a dress that’s bang on trend but doesn’t match you then you’re going to put in some serious time and cost to make it work, and then you run the risk of it looking that way. Also when you look back on your photos in the future you don’t cringe up if whatever was in at the time is now very much out.

Match Your Date

Got a prom date? Lucky you! Ask him what he’s wearing. If you’re arriving together, dancing together and having your photo taken together you’ll want to make sure what you’re wearing doesn’t clash horribly or look too similar. Your outfits should compliment one another, so plan them together if you can.
Are you heading to a prom this summer or have a daughter who might be? Hop onto Twitter and share your dress buying tips or photos.
Happy shopping!
*This post is sponsored by the lovely people at promdressfinder.co.uk

Lifestyle

Advice Corner – Planning Your Wedding Day!

While I sit writing this it’s snowing outside and will be dark in a few hours. This time of year can be a bit of a grind, but the thing that pushes me through the miserable weather and short days is the thought of the summer getting closer and all the wonderful things that come along with spring and summer when they finally arrive.
Weddings are one of things I always look forward to, and so far this year I’ve already had a few invites for friends’ big days to come in the months ahead. Some are jetting off to exotic locations and others are going for a more traditional approach closer to home. And while I’ve been lucky enough to successfully plan and survive a wedding day of my own, I can only imagine that my friends whose specials days are creeping ever closer and getting more nervous, excited and stressed in equal measures.
One of the things that makes me happiest is helping others, but I hate to step on my friends’ toes and try and give too much advice when it comes to planning a wedding, and I know that when I was planning mine so many people had their advice to give me on how things could be done and how they think our wedding should be. While they mean well sometimes it’s not always helpful and can quickly turn into a case of too many cooks, while you want to keep your wedding unique, special and personal – so taking lead from how others did things isn’t always that useful.
With that in mind I wanted to share a bit of my own advice here, mainly for people who are starting out with wedding planning. With the Christmas period just gone so many people are newly engaged, and with Valentine’s Day approaching I’m certain there’ll be plenty more. So let’s dive in and look at some of the basics when it comes to planning your wedding day.

Roles and Duties

One of the first things to do is to pick your team! There’s no way you can do this alone, so you’re going to need to bring in your friends and family who can help and support you on the day and throughout the buildup. Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and Ushers are obvious ones, but think about having a toastmaster who will organise your guests and keep things ticking on the day as they make announcements, draw people into the correct place at key times such as speeches and cake cutting and offer crowd control when needed! Lastly make sure that you get your wedding party little gifts to say thank you. Have a look at websites like confetti.co.uk for inspiration, and try and make as many of them personalised if possible – it adds a little extra special touch. We tried to hand make a lot of the gifts that we’d seen online – it was time consuming but worth it!

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Don’t Cut Corners on Photography

There’s no way around it, weddings are expensive and you pay a premium for seemingly normal thing. Flowers, cakes and photography all cost more if they’re for a wedding, so when you’re budgeting you’re going to cut a few corners and get people you know to do you favours. However one of the areas you really shouldn’t cut corners on is the photography. You may have an uncle with a great camera, but unless he’s a wedding photographer he won’t know how to get the right shot and the right time and the pictures of your special day are going to be below-par. Do your research and plenty of it when it comes to photographers – meet them, look at their work, ask their opinions on your ideas and see how knowledgable they are. It’s crucial that you get great photos, because when the day is over all you’ll have left is your memories and the picture, so make sure they’re fantastic! Just don’t hang around, the best ones get booked up fast.
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The Wedding Dress

Okay – the big one, the dress! It’s a huge decision to make, and you may have always dreamed of a certain style of dress and see them in shop windows, but when you put it on and look in the mirror it’s a different ball game! My best advice would be have an open mind about styles – lots of my friends have had a really clear idea about the kind of dress they wanted when they walked into a shop, but walked out with something they never expected to buy. Browse online first to get an understanding of all the different styles that are out there, and try on dresses you don’t think will suit you, so you have a true perspective. And most importantly, take an entourage of people with you – your closest friends and family, people who aren’t afraid to tell you truth. If your bum looks big your dream dress then you need to know about it!
If you’re married, hop on over to Twitter and let me know your biggest wedding tips! How did you day go and what would you do differently if you could go back and do it all again?
Happy planning!
*This post is in collaboration with the lovely people at Confetti.co.uk

Lifestyle

Yankee Candle Christmas Collection!

Regular readers will know that I absolutely love a good candle! Once lit their warm scent can instantly change your mood, or bring back a happy memory from years ago. They’re also great for creating an atmosphere in your home – I love to light a candle when I get home from work in the evening, and in the morning at the weekends when I’m making breakfast.
It’s during Christmas when candles really come into their own though, and in recent years I’ve loved having a Yankee candle advent calendar, which gives you a little Christmas scented tea light to burn each day as you count down the number of sleeps until Christmas morning. Cinnamon, caramel and other sweet or spicy scents transform your home into a domestic winter wonderland as you wrap presents, bake goodies or snuggle up in front of a movie while the snow falls outside.
This year I was lucky enough to receive a set of candles from Yankee Candle, the undisputed Champions of festive scents. They sent through a set of 4 jars – The Perfect Tree, Christmas Magic, Crackling Wood Fire and my personal favourite – Spiced White Cocoa. I have to confess I’ve only taken these for a quick spin, lighting each one for a few minutes to get a sample of the festive scents each one has to offer. I’m saving them for the cold December nights once our tree goes up!
Yankee Candles also make a fantastic gift with plenty of box sets on offer. But for something a little bit different you can use their website to upload a photo and create a completely personalised candle to give to a loved one. You just choose your size then select from one of the 18 fragrances. Add a photo and message and voila! You’ve got a cracking prezzie. I created my own, uploading a photo of my husband and I from last Christmas in front of our tree on a cinnamon stick candle – his favourite!
Do you love the smell of a Christmas candle? Head over to Yankee Candle and have a browse through the treats on offer and Tweet me and let me know which one you’ll be burning this Christmas eve!
Happy Shopping!
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*PR samples

Lifestyle

Thanksgiving Pecan Pie

Happy Thursday! Now, for my UK readers it’s just another day – Black Friday is tomorrow and it’s a little closer to the weekend. But if you’re in the US, it’s a different story – today is Thanksgiving!
Being a British girl I’m not completely sure what thanksgiving is all about – I asked a Canadian couple about it once and they said it was just a day where you take a moment to express gratitude to all the people and things you care about in your life. I think that’s a great thing to do every day, but doing it together with loved ones over a meal seems like a wonderful tradition.
While it hasn’t really hit the UK and Europe, recently I have heard of more and more Brits heading to Thanksgiving dinners with American friends in London, and I think in a few years we’ll see a lot more of it.
This year I wanted to get involved in a small way, and so when a Deliciously Ella recipe for a vegan pecan pie popped up on my Instagram feed I grabbed some ingredients and gave it a go! While I’m still waiting to tuck into it, the kitchen smells amazing and I snapped a few pics before it gets demolished.
Are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Tweet me and let me know what you’re grateful for.
Happy eating!
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Lifestyle

Vegan Baking Fun! Blueberry Lemon Loaf Cake

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about vegan food is that it’s just boring salads, seeds and misshapen bits of tofu. But those of us who have been to many vegan cafes and restaurants that have been popping up all over the country in the last couple of years can attest that vegan food is not only exciting, often it’s not even always healthy! Vegans love the taste of burgers or cakes as much as anyone else, just without the animal products inside.
This weekend I decided to bake a naughty vegan cake using a recipe I found in a cookbook on my windowsill aptly named The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town by Ms Cupcake. I picked out a favourite that I’ve made before – the blueberry lemon loaf cake. This beauty is made with three lemons and a small box of blueberries and is delicious. I put in more lemons than the recipe suggests so it’s more like a drizzle cake, with extra lemon peel going into the icing which I purposefully dribble down the sides.
The recipe is definitely a bit naughty for containing plenty of sugar, but I do use rapeseed oil which is a healthier oil than most alternatives, almond milk and plenty of fruit of course! My favourite part about baking this cake is when you open the oven door after half an hour and you get hit with a wave of hot zesty lemon. It makes your kitchen smell amazing and of course it all goes down wonderfully with a cup of tea.
Take a look at the pictures below, and if you’re interested in baking this yourself check out the recipe book on Amazon!
Happy baking!
*This post is sponsored by the lovely people at rapeseedoilbenefits.com, check them out for more healthy oil recipes!
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Lifestyle

The Dreamers Ever Leave You, A Review

The Dreamers Ever Leave you

This week saw dancers from both The National Ballet of Canada and The Royal Ballet collaborate on a new piece by Canadian choreographic associate and former Royal Ballet Apprentice Robert Binet. The piece, The Dreamers Ever Leave You is to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, a huge feat. Binet took a short piece that had been created while working with Wayne McGregor that was inspired by Canadian painter Lawren Harris, of beautiful yet simple landscapes and built on this. The site specific piece was originally set in a Canadian gallery that had a major Harris exhibition on show. When this collaboration came up at the Printworks, this seemed like the perfect piece to rework and set there and they weren’t wrong.
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The heat as you walked into the space hit you first, but this was to keep the dancers warm so that there were no injuries during the performance. Three flat stages were set in the darkness on the ground floor of the Printworks. The blue and yellow lighting set the tone of the piece and had the essecence of the Harris paintings with shadows of the 13 dancers moving across the walls.
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The beautiful live hypnotic score was created and performed especially by Lubomyr Melnyk, and it lulled you into a meditative state before building with a stunning and emotional reprisal.
The performance cycled three times, each section lasting 45 minutes with the dancers working hard. The audience was as close to the performance space as you could get, with the likes of principles Francesca Hayward, Alexander Campbell, Yasmine Naghdi, Heather Ogden and more dancing just feet away which was a rare treat. So close in fact that you can feel the heat and see the sweat coming off the dancers as they brushed past you and moved between the spaces to their next section or to rest and catch their breath.
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It was an interesting mixture of performance and behind the scenes movement and ritual.
Separately the individual elements of this piece were beautiful and highly technical but together it became an immersive bubble that you were allowed into for a short amount of time. I enjoyed this insight into both companies and I went away feeling inspired by this moving and once in a life time experience.

Lifestyle

3 of my Current Favourite TV Shows!

When I’m not working I love to watch a little bit of TV to unwind. who doesn’t! I like a good story, some believable acting and some drama so I thought that I would share with you 3 of my favourite programs at the moment.
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NCIS Los Angeles
First up is an America show called NCIS Los Angeles – It’s a spin off of the much loved NCSI Series and it brings together military and police expertise. It follows the Navel Criminal Scene Investigation team that go undercover to crack cases. It’s full of light hearted humour amongst the heavy subject matter. There’s lots of action and it has a reel of star actors including a main character appearance by rapper LL COOL J. You’ll find this on Channel 5, it’s a good one!
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Our Girl
Next up is a British Program called Our Girl. Series 3 of the show currently follows Michelle Keegan as Army Medic Corporal Georgie Lane in the first of three separate humanitarian missions in war torn countries and follows her story along the way. The first two series were great, with a somewhat gritty and action packed storyline and I’m looking forward to what the third series has in store.  Our Girl currently airs on Tuesday nights on BBC 1. Enjoy!
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Chicago PD
Last up in another American TV show called Chicago PD. It’s a cross over or/and continuation of Chicago Fire as Sargent Henry ‘Hank’ Voight was in both. Chicago PD follows uniformed police and the Chicago Intelligence Unit fighting the cities worst issues. It also features Sophia Bush from naughties series One Tree Hill as Detective Erin Lindsay. The acting is beliveable, the story lines are fast paced, gritty and there’s hard hitting action. You might even recognise a few of the perps. You can also find this on Channel 5 too.
Let me know if you love keeping up with any of these series or are thinking about giving one a go.
Happy watching!