Indulging my [not so] inner cat lady with Red Candy

I always have been a bit of a homewares fiend, I blame my mother- she’s the one that got me hooked and introduced me to all of my favourite online haunts for a spot of virtual window shopping. One of the sites she introduced me to a long time ago was Red Candy and it’s been a firm favourite for both of us ever since. I was therefore beyond delighted when the opportunity to work with Red Candy came up- an invitation to select a few pieces to review? Count me in!
It probably comes as no surprise that I went to the search function and typed in “cat”. There is a delightfully large selection of feline themed items available on Red Candy and I was lucky enough to be sent my top three, which you can see above.

Before I move on to the specifics I just wanted to say what a delight Red Candy is, and always has been to browse. It’s a clean, easy to navigate site with a wide range of search options and categories to make finding whatever it is your heart desires a cinch. My parcel arrived well packaged and with the added bonus of a little packet of Haribo sweets too- I’m always straight in there when Mum has placed an order nabbing the sweets, I think it’s such a nice touch.

The first item I picked out was this fabulous plate. I’m a complete magpie and always make a beeline for dining accessories, it doesn’t matter how many plates/bowls/mugs I own, I can always find room for one more. I’ve always been told not to play with my food but with a plate like this how can one resist?

Next to catch my eye was this gorgeous lucky cat pen pot which is a brand new addition to the site. I’m dreadful for leaving pens and pencils strewn across my bedroom so having a cute and quirky way to store them has been a huge help and I can’t help but smile at it’s happy smiling face!

Last but by no means least I picked out this Peropon drinking animal planter. I’m not exactly green-fingered (I’ve killed two succulents already this year) but I really don’t see how I can go wrong with this self watering planter. I’ve got it set up on my windowsill right now and I’m eagerly awaiting the first signs of some strawberries appearing…I’ll report back on my progress with that one!

A huge thank you to Red Candy for the excellent service over the years and for this wonderful parcel of products. Fellow homeware junkies do take a look at the site and let me know in the comments what’s caught your eye.


Easter With Guylian

It’s less than one week to go until Easter (how?!) and I’ve actually done very little in the way of content around it this year for some reason. I just had to pop up a quick post about some tasty Easter treats from Guylian, a chocolate brand I generally love but for the life of me cannot pronounce the name of.
On the shelves this year you’ll find a selection of gifts that are bound to impress whilst remaining affordable- I love spoiling those around me on any holiday but don’t have £20 to spend on a luxury egg per person, so finding some cheaper but still luxurious options is a real bonus.

First up we have a box of filled mini eggs- individually wrapped in an assortment of three flavours; milk chocolate truffle, milk chocolate praline and dark chocolate praline. With an RRP of £4 these are perfect for sharing…or not.

Guylian are probably most famous for their seashell chocolates and they make a great gift year round. Comprised of roasted hazelnuts and creamy Belgian milk chocolate these will put a smile on the face of just about everyone (nut allergy sufferers aside perhaps). For those embracing the Easter theme you can find these coupled with a Belgian milk chocolate egg for a reasonable £4 or for the traditionalists a 250g box will set you back around £5.

Also on the shelves this Easter is an adorable bunny shaped box containing Guylian’s temptations in six incredible sounding flavours; original praline, milk truffle, caramel, dark praline, biscuit and latte. Again this is a very reasonable £5.

I was very kindly sent one of the Guylian milk chocolate eggs complete with seashell chocolates and despite there still being 6 days to go couldn’t resist cracking (terrible attempt at being funny there Laura) in to it. The milk chocolate egg is small but perfectly formed. It’s the kind of size where half isn’t really enough and although you kind of know you probably shouldn’t eat the whole thing at once it’s near impossible not to. Yum.

The seashells are exactly as I recall from years gone by- it’s reassuring to know that some of my favourite chocolates still taste like they should! This is a 65g box so just about enough to share out after Easter dinner. Or to sit on the sofa and eat whilst watching a feel-go film and nursing the bank holiday food baby.

All of these products are available to buy in all major supermarkets, selected independent stores nationwide and online from the Guylian website.
What’s your favourite Easter egg and/or chocolate treat?


Relaxing with Hampstead Tea

I have a bit of a reputation for being a caffeine junkie, never far away from a cup of coffee. In a bid to be a bit more healthy I’m trying to step it down a notch though, I’m pretty sure it’s not helping my already erratic sleep pattern among other things.

I’ve always been the kind of person who’ll experiment with herbal teas- I go through phases of loving and hating them and at the moment I’m experimenting with a different flavours and brands trying to find some that don’t just taste of nothing, or worse, taste like dirty swamp water (or what I imagine it to taste like having never actually sampled it).

Enter Hampstead Tea who were kind enough to send me a couple of their new blends- an intriguing sounding Honeybush & Vanilla* blend named “Shangri La as well as a soothing camomile*.

Out of the two blends it was the Honeybush & Vanilla that I was most curious to try. As a rule I love vanilla flavoured things. It was described as being a decadent and smooth blend and I really can’t argue with that description. I’m still not entirely sure what honeybush is meant to taste like, but combined with the camomile and vanilla that make up the rest of this flavour this made for a delicate and relaxing mid-morning alternative to yet another coffee. A good 4 minutes brewing time left this full of flavour and the brand win brownie points for individually wrapping their bags making them ideal for popping in my work bag for a moment of peace during the working day.

The Camomile was equally good. I’ve drunk a lot of Camomile tea over the years, in a bid to relax and unwind before bed more than anything and I’ve mostly been non-plussed. This was up there with one of the best I’ve had. Naturally caffeine free and full of flavour after a 3 minute brew this is a Camomile I’d actively seek to buy again and at £2.30 for 20 sachets of tea I can’t argue with the price.

For anyone looking to meditate their inner spirit, Hampstead Tea have also released a Valerian and Lavender blend, I declined to try this one as I don’t like lavender and can’t take Valerian but it sounds promising- the combination of ingredients are designed to help send you to sleep and essentially soothe the soul.

Hampstead Teas scour the world looking for the best sources of herbs and spices to use in their teas and where possible only use bio-dynamically grown ingredients- this essentially means ingredients grown with the greatest respect for their environment and in total harmony with nature.

Overall a brand I highly recommend, and with many more interesting sounding flavours on their website it is a brand I look forward to getting better acquainted with over the coming months.

What is your favourite relaxing tea blend?


Bristol Life: Grandaddy at The Colston Hall

It feels like ages since I last went to a gig- it’s something I fell out of love with as I found it more stressful than pleasurable. Social anxiety means crowds can be a nightmare so often it’s easier to just miss out, however when I was given the opportunity to go and see one of my favourite bands at The Colston Hall last Friday I knew I needed to push myself and go.

The band in question was Grandaddy, an indie rock band from Modesto, California who formed way back in 1992. I was introduced to them four years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since my first listen- fronted by Jason Lytle (who has also released some excellent solo work) I find the combination of clever lyrics and eclectic beats strangely soothing/ an. They push boundaries which lifts their sound to the next level- I’d love to be inside the mind of the band, creative genius in my opinion. They split as a group in 2006 but re-formed in 2012 and it’s their later releases that have impressed me the most, their new album “Last Place” especially.

I’d heard they were good live and had high hopes for the gig. I find can be a double edged sword- going in to something unknown with high expectations can often be a set up for disappointment but I’m delighted to report that this wasn’t the case and the band (despite a last minute crisis) exceeded expectations.

Their set lasted just over an hour and was a mix of their latest work and some old favourites. Lytle has a somewhat aloof stage presence and yet still manages to work the room. His voice, live, somehow manages to sound exactly like it does on the records (and this is often where I find live performances fall short) and the band clearly have good chemistry as the banter flowed between songs. They have an almost mesmerising manner about them and the set passed by in the blink of an eye leaving me wanting more and more- I could have watched them perform for hours on end.

If you’re a fan of the band and have yet to see them live then please, do, I can promise you’ll love it. I really hope that Grandaddy continue as a band and bring us albums for years to come. Like good wine they really do get better with age and I would jump at the chance to see them again.
A big thank you to The Colston Hall for making this possible, Bristol may not have any big music arenas but when you have a venue like this you really don’t mind that much! I’ll leave you with one of my favourite tracks from the band- let me know if you’re a fan and what your favourite track is.


The Easter Degustabox

Last week saw the arrival of Spring, apparently, and with it came the delivery of the March Degustabox*- named the Easter Box. I’m not entirely sure what made the box Easter themed as I didn’t spy a single bunny hopping about but it contained chocolate and that’s good enough for me!
This month’s product of the month were these two chocolate bars from Cadbury. I’ve gone off of Cadbury’s chocolate over the last couple of years but I was still excited by the release of these bars as they combine some of my favourite things. Initially I assumed I would like the peanut butter one the best but in reality it was a little bit of a let down (purely because it had so much potential, I was hoping to get something akin to Reeses) but the mint one is truly delicious. I love mint chocolate anyway, and the addition of the oreo pieces added a new dimension. Each bar has an RRP of £1.49- but you’ll find it on offer for around £1 in many shops right now.
What better to wash the chocolate down with than some cider? Well, not for me personally as despite my West-Country origins I’m not a cider lover. These were passed on to my Dad who dutifully tried them and approved. I don’t have the pricing or stockist information for these but if you happen to see them in the shops then they are apparently worth grabbing!
My dislike of coconut water is probably well known by now, but coconut milk I do like. This Chocolate “Mylk” from Rebel Kitchen (RRP £1.99) is delicious and has a reassuringly short ingredients list too. Probably not a direct substitute for a chocolate milkshake but a refreshing (and healthier) drink in it’s own right.
I’m not sold on the idea of “breakfast in a bottle” but did try a swig of the vanilla Weetabix on the go (£1.39). I can see where these have their place in the market and would be ideal for commuters or people who don’t like to eat first thing but I’m too dedicated to my morning porridge to ever see myself swapping. I didn’t try the protein variant (£1.99) as I don’t like the flavours but I imagine this would be ideal for busy gym-bunnies.
Nothing says Easter more than a share bag of Salt and Vinegar crisps right? These are really, really good crisps- made with good quality ingredients from named and passionate providers these really are “crisps as they should taste”- and this comes from someone who doesn’t generally like crisps. RRP £2.00 and perfect for Easter gatherings!
I’m getting really in to my cooking so it was great to see some new ingredients to play with in the box. I love the Maldon smoked sea salt flakes- they add a deeper flavour to all manner of dishes and I happen to think that they pair perfectly with fish (£1.50). The [Seriously] Good Sauce from Heinz is yet to be tried but has been earmarked for some kind of chicken dish as we’re not big fans of steak, which the jar suggests in this house. I’ll report back but I think these jars of sauce are a great size and there are some really nice sounding flavours in the range! (RRP £1.99 per jar).
A slightly random assortment in this section, first we have an organic lemon energy drink from Gusto (£1.50) which is an energising blend of lemon, guarana, ginseng and astragalus. This is an adult take on lucozade in my eyes and probably much better for you as it’s sweetened with agave nectar, apple and grape juice.
I was excited to try the new “full of super” bar from Whitworths as I love this kind of bar as a snack to keep in my work bag or when I’m out and about. This Cacao Raw Bar (£1.50) has almonds, coconut, chia seeds, golden flaxseeds, quino and acai (phew!) and are gluten free, soy free and vegetarian friendly. All that and they taste good too!
The final product in this trio was the intriguingly named “Naturelly” (£1.19) which claims to be a fun and refreshing juicy jelly snack, drink or dessert full of vitamins and with no added sugar. As curious as this product sounds I couldn’t bring myself to try it- it’s a texture thing with me, but if I do find a volunteer I’ll update this post.
If there’s one sweet I can’t resist it’s jelly beans. As soon as I saw this box of 36 flavours from The Jelly Bean Factory (£1.49 for 75g) I hid it away- there’s no way I was sharing! These have been my favourite brand of jelly beans for years, although I hadn’t had them in a while. I’m pleased to report they are as good as ever- and long gone!
Last but by no means least was a bag of chocolate eclairs from £onepounders (go on, guess the price!). I gave these to my parents to try and they raved about them. I’m not sure where you can buy these from although I’m sure I saw them in a local corner shop but dismissed them as “cheap and nasty”. Knowing now that they are cheap but certainly not nasty I’ll be seeking out more of these as well as other products from the over 65 strong range.
For those who don’t know Degustabox is a monthly subscription box filled with 10-15 food/drink products, most of which are brand new to the market so it’s a great way to try things out. On a month by month basis the box costs £12.99 (with a discount for longer subscriptions) but the contents are generally worth far more than this.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last few years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.