The January Degustabox

With the madness that was Christmas and an overall manic month it’s only just dawned on me that I failed to review the December Degustabox*, a first in all of the time I’ve been reviewing them. It completely slipped my mind until the January 2018 box arrived at my door, so apologies to the Degustabox team for that- here’s a fresh start for the new year. The January box had a “New Year, New Me” theme to it, and whilst I don’t buy in to that ethos I was still eager to get stuck in to a selection of great looking products.
I can’t actually review these LighterLife Fast Ready to drink shakes (£2.49 each from Superdrug) as I can’t bring myself to sample such a diet targeted product whilst in recovery from an eating disorder. What I will say though is that these look good and the flavours sound good- they are designed to be used as a meal placement for those following the 5:2 diet, or as a quick protein hit.
This year I’m on a mission to cut my Pepsi Max habit so for once I eyed the soft drinks selection with excitement rather than a flat out refusal to try. The Mahtay Yerba Mate Sparkling Tea (£1.49) is a lightly sparkling drink that combines energy giving Yerba Mate tea with coconut water and acai berries to provide a natural energy boost- I can’t say I’ve actually tried this yet, but I do like the principal and it’s packed in my work bag for sampling this week.
The Robinsons Fruit Cordial (£2.49) is a product I’ve been eyeing up in the supermarket lately so getting to try it as part of this months box was a real bonus. It comes in three flavours- I was sent the Raspberry, Rhubarb and Orange Blossom variety which is the one I’ve been most eager to try and it definitely tastes as good as it sounds. I dilute it with sparkling water and have it in place of my daily can or six of fizzy.
There were loads of products in this month’s box that got me excited to get busy in the kitchen, the Ramen Noodles were a particular hit, I just added chicken for a healthy dinner for two, and whilst I haven’t tried the Santa Maria products yet I’m itching to whip up a Latin American feast.
The Explore Cuisine Edamame and Mung Bean pasta might look scary but I love this! It’s full of plant based protein (three times more than regular pasta) and has a unique taste. I use this with a portion of meat free bolognese for a quick after work dinner, and whilst it’s pricey at £3.00 per box I’d definitely buy it.
There’s not much I can say about a tin of tuna other than it’s damn good tuna. At £3.49 a tin you’d expect it to be, but it doesn’t hurt to be able to confirm it!
I’m almost as much a tea drinker as I am a coffee one these days and Clipper is one of my favourite brands. Their everyday organic tea is one of my go-to black teas and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone.
It’s no secret that I’m an absolute snack fiend so this is always my favourite part of the un-boxing process. This month I was most taken with the Mallow & Marsh coconut marshmallow bar (£1.35) which is absolutely delicious and gooey AND comes it at under 100 calories for anyone who’s counting.
Frusli bars have long been a staple of mine and at 45p each are an affordable on the go option. I really enjoy the red berry variety, probably more than any of the other flavours (and I’m not usually a berry lover). Perfect to keep on my desk for a mid afternoon “feed me” moment.
For a sweet treat I usually opt for my childhood classics like jelly tots or a milkyway, but these Hersheys Cookies N Creme bars are taking over. You get five snack sized bars in a pack for just £1 and whilst they might not be gourmet, for a quick hit of something sweet you can’t go wrong.
Finally a couple of products from Pulsin’ which I’ve been eyeing up for a while. The Vanilla Choc Chip Protein Booster is an affordable protein bar at £1.59 (most seem to be over £2) and delicious. It has a cookie dough like texture and taste which makes it feel like a treat whilst packing 13g of plant based protein meaning it keeps you fuller than say, a chocolate bar for a similar amount of calories.
The Protein Powder (£1.99) has 22g protein in a 25g serving and is rich in amino acids thanks to it’s Whey protein. It’s suitable for vegetarians and is made using low fat, hormone free milk from UK cows. It’s also low in sugar and whilst it might sound mighty boring and good for you, it actually tastes pretty good- I’ve been using some in my morning porridge for an extra boost of protein and energy.
For those who don’t yet know, Degustabox* is a monthly food subscription box that gives you the chance to try new and exciting products on the market whilst providing amazing value for money.
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 as you can see if you do the maths.
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 couple of 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.


My Working World*

Since my return to work in March last year I’ve found myself in an office based role- for those who have read my blog for a while you’ll know I was mostly clinic based prior to being signed off sick so I had never given much thought to what my ideal office would be like.

As it happens this is an incredibly timely post as just last week I was offered a full time position in my new job role, meaning I’ll be a 9-5 desk girl for the first time in my working life. I never thought I could do a desk job, I fidget too much, I usually hate being chained to one place and inactivity drives me crazy, however, it turns out that with the right components office work can actually be great fun and perfectly comfortable.

In this post I’ll be talking about my ideal office environment, everything that makes my 9-5 both comfortable and fun, in association with Slater & Gordon employment solicitors


Probably the most important factor for me for any office environment is team work. In my job as a prescribing clerk I work as part of a small team- and it really IS a team. We all pull together to sort out problems, support one another and provide friendship and camaraderie- and we’re really good at taking it turns to do the coffee/tea run! this is what makes 9-5 bearable to me, having colleagues I know I can count on and who I know can count on me. We do the work we need to do, and we do it well, but we have plenty of laughs along the way.

Secondly having the chance to personalise your work space is really important to me. On my desk I have my own mug, my own stationery and a couple of Instax photos of Mae and Pablo blu-tacked to my monitor. I like coming in each morning knowing where I’ve left things, and having familiar items around me that make me happy and give me something to ground myself with when things get stressful.

Having access to free tea and coffee is a definite perk that makes the day that much easier! I know that not everyone has this luxury at their work so please don’t think I’m rubbing it in- I know how lucky I am! Sometimes taking five minutes away from the screen to grab a caffeine boost and gather your thoughts makes all the difference!

Finally, the most boring and yet probably most important point- the furniture! If you’re going to be sat at a desk all day you need a decent desk and chair set up. I do find this tricky as my history of back problems makes finding a chair that suits really bloody hard, but referring to my earlier point about personalisation, I find bringing a bright and fun cushion from home to provide extra lumbar support not only makes me working day more comfortable but also means I’ve put my own stamp on my working environment.

What would your ideal office environment be like? I’ve kept it pretty simple here as firstly, I don’t go to work for the bells and whistles, I go to do the job that I enjoy and all of the office slides and free massages in the world wouldn’t take away from that. Secondly, office work is still pretty new on me, give it a year or two and I might have a list of demands to rival any showbiz diva, but for now my needs are met and I’m perfectly content.


Help your skin glow with key nutritional supplements *

Gorgeous, glowing skin looks and feels fantastic — but how do we achieve it? Online and in-store you’ve probably spotted a variety of lotions that promise a youthful, effervescent appearance.

However, whether these truly work is up for debate- so could the answer to better skin, in fact, lie in nutrition?

Photo by Sarah Gray on Unsplash

Free radical damage
Certain supplements can help to keep our skin smooth and protected. However, a major cause of loss of skin firmness is free radicals — which are especially harmful when exposed to strong sunlight. There are 25 types of collagen in the body and, along with elastin, they give skin texture and structure. Free radical damage causes collagen and elastin to break down, which leads to wrinkles and skin losing its firmness.

So, what supplements are available to help us combat damage caused by free radicals? Antioxidants such as vitamin C and coenzyme Q10 can protect cells from the damaging effects of these toxic chemicals. Similarly, incorporating plenty of fruit and vegetables into our diets can help us naturally improve our vitamin C levels. However, it’s best if you ingest this raw, as the vitamin is damaged when cooked or processed.

Clearly, vitamin C is an important nutrient and essential to not only our skin’s health, but our general wellbeing. However, levels of vitamin C are reduced by factors such as smoking, alcohol and certain drugs like antidepressants and oral contraceptives — which is why many people find it beneficial to get enough of this vital nutrient via supplements. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 60mg/day or 120mg/day, if you’re a smoker.

How about other supplements that help tackle free radicals and promote good skin? Although we make coenzyme Q10 within our own bodies, our ability to do this drops from our mid-twenties. So, a good solution is to take coenzyme Q10 supplements. Coenzyme Q10 plays an important role in producing energy in our bodies and is also a powerful antioxidant. This means it protects the skin from free radical damage and promotes effective skin repair. Coenzyme Q10 has been proven to reduce the depth of fine lines and wrinkles over time.

Repairing skin with fatty acids
Many of us will have heard about omega 3, and potentially, even already take it. If so, you’re doing the right thing. Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory, making it good for irritable, sore skin, and the richest source of omega 3 is from oily fish such as herring, salmon, tuna, and sardines. Many people choose to take an omega 3 fish oil supplement. Due to concerns about environmental pollution in fish, it is safest to choose a supplement that contains oil from the flesh of the fish, rather than the liver.

If you already take omega 3 regularly, how about considering the lesser-known omega 7? Omega 7 supplements can help with lubrication throughout the body, protecting the internal organs, as well as the linings of the eyes, mouth and skin. If you get a supplement featuring sea buckthorn oil, you can also benefit from one of the best natural oils for mature and wrinkled skin. This is due to its essential fatty acid and vitamin E, C and A properties. Omega 7 and sea buckthorn oil have nourishing, moisturising and restorative abilities, promoting tissue regeneration and reducing age-induced skin wrinkling and signs of premature ageing.

Blood flow

Since our blood carries all nutrients and oxygen to where they need to be in the body, it makes sense that we ensure our blood flow is the best it can be. Pycnogenol is a plant-based extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree and can be taken as a supplement to improve blood circulation — thereby helping with skin hydration and vitality. Pycnogenol can also help to reduce wrinkles by binding with skin proteins collagen and elastin to protect from various harmful enzymes. It also rebuilds elasticity, which is essential for smooth, youthful skin, and is believed to reduce over-pigmentation for a more even complexion.

All of these supplements can help improve the health of your skin and how good you feel. Browse your options online.


Skincare Sorted with Cetaphil at Superdrug

Last year one of my main goals was to sort out my skincare, and I did manage for about three months, then products ran out, life became busier and I got a whole lot lazier about it.
This year I’m vowing to do the same, I’ve started to get breakouts when I’m stressed or hormonal- not to mention the fact I’m now thirty and I can’t fall back on the luck of youth being on my side. Thankfully Superdrug came to the rescue by sending me a selection of products from Cetaphil, a brand I’ve heard a lot about but not yet got round to trying thanks to my local store having only just (literally days after the products arrived) starting to stock it.
I was sent three products from the range- the Moisturising Cream, the Gentle Skin Cleanser and the Moisturising Lotion. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks testing out all of the products and I’ve popped my thoughts on each below.
Out of the three products I was sent I think the Moisturising Cream is my favourite. This is a rich and intensive moisturiser perfect for combating my dried out winter skin. It can be used on both face and body and I’ve found it an absolute godsend on my hands which really suffer in the cold weather. I’ve also been using it last thing at night once I’ve taken my makeup off, it sinks in so quickly meaning I go to bed feeling smooth and soft rather than just sticky and when I wake up my skin is soft and soothed rather than irritated, which I had been noticing more and more prior to starting using this cream.
Next up, the Gentle Skin Cleanser was the product I was most wary of trying. I tend to find most cleaners dry out my skin and make them feel tight but I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case. As this is a product for both face and body I tend to use it in the shower to wash my face and as a body wash.
It claims to sooth as it cleans and I would agree that it does, my skin certainly feels fresh and happy after using this without a hint of irritation. As with all Cetaphil products this is fragrance free and suitable for even the most sensitive of skin. This is definitely a product I’ll be repurchasing- I’ve never found an all in one shower product that I’ve loved before.
Finally, the Moisturising Lotion. This is a super light product that is once again suited for face and body. I’ve been using this in the morning before doing my makeup and I’ve found it makes a huge difference- I’ve certainly noticed how tight and dry my skin feels after a day in the office if I forget to pop this on. I’ve also found it invaluable as something light and fast absorbing to put on after a bath or a shower. I have a bit of an issue with the feeling of products sitting on my skin so tend to avoid moisturising, much to my own detriment. This makes a great light moisturiser that has turned out to be invaluable after leg shaving- it has the added bonus of not stinging half as much as other products either (because I am that person who is incapable of hair removal without drawing blood!)
So for now at least I have my skincare sorted thanks to Cetaphil and Superdrug. The products are reassuringly affordable as well- £10.09 for the cream, and £8.99 for the lotion and the cleanser. Superdrug currently have them on offer at £2 off as well which makes now the perfect time to try them out for yourself.

Let me know about some of your skincare saviours in the comments, or if you’ve tried any of these products let me know what you think.


Products sent to me by Superdrug for consideration for this post. Post also contains affiliate links.

Keeping up with interior trends for 2018*

Interior design trends are constantly changing — this was evident in 2017 and we are here to help your home stay with the times instead of being left in the past. We’re now in 2018, and redecorating your home to comply with new trends is achievable.
Taking a trip back to 2017

Ensuring that our homes look their best throughout 2018 is essential, to do this, we need to look back at the trends of last year to make the appropriate predictions for what we expect to come. So, what were some of the best trends that transformed our homes over the past year?

A common colour of 2017 was Greenery — and was even announced The World’s Colour of the Year in 2017. The colour green did well in general, as we saw the use of this colour in fashion and commercial design – making it an instant hit with the general public. Greenery represents refreshment and revitalization, which a lot of people could relate to during that time.

A lot of home owners went for a rustic look, using untreated walls to their advantage to create a more edgy-studio vibe, showcasing the original bricks or stones that the home is made up of — adding more character throughout. This trend was a brilliant way for homeowners to save both time and money when decorating, whilst giving them the flexibility to be versatile with their furniture.

Corked-furniture was a new feature to the home, and added a touch of elegance to our products. The environmental friendly material was commonly used throughout the year to make items such as vases, glasses and even lampshades. However, they were often accompanied by a metallic surround that gave off a youthful yet premium vibe.

Mason jars used as cups were another hit in 2017, and was a revolutionary change for our kitchens. Young or elderly, everyone had one in their kitchen. This trend even caught on with restaurant owners, who discovered that they could use these to serve drinks as well as storing food and ingredients. Accompanied with a striped straw, mason jars are the perfect item to serve a nice cool beverage.

Those were some of the biggest trends of 2017, but they’re so last year! What can we expect for 2018?

Expect the unexpected!

We’ve partnered with department store Oldrids & Downtown, retailers of dinner sets to discover what trends that think will be big this year.

Copper was huge last year, but it’s time to leave it behind. Gold and brass furniture will make its return and will become a household essential, although making it subtle is the key to making them look good. Golden legs of a table accompanied with a white top will be the talking point of all of the dinners you host, for instance.

People will find themselves adding a bit more character to their kitchen, as pristine white was a must-do in 2017 — expect experimentation with colours and materials this year. Everyone seems to have a white kitchen, white tiles and white marble worktops and, frankly, it’s a bit repetitive. Mixing finishes will give it a cool New York-like aesthetic that everyone will love.

When you’re picking out your curtains this year, go with rich colours that will pop off your walls. This can really benefit the furniture you have in your room and make it pop to any visitors. Don’t go too wild with different colours, but at the same time don’t be afraid to try something you haven’t used before, such as a mustard tone – be the trend setter with all of your friends.

Forget brighter walls, we’re going dark for 2018. For those who opted for untreated walls last year, it’s time to leave them there and generate something new in your living space. Picture grey walls with your mustard curtains – it’s an interior designer’s dream. Withhold the elegance in your home by opting for a palette of aged colours that will make the most beautiful backdrop.

70s furniture is finally making its return, expect vintage wooden furniture to make its way into your home. From units in your living room to your dressing table (accompanied by a long motel-like mirror), you will have plenty of storage space that will accompany the colour of your walls and threads beautifully.

What trends are you forecasting this year? Which of the above will you be implementing into your home?