Friday, 31 January 2014

Freebie Friday

Here we are again Freebie Friday!!

My little roundup of some free samples, money off deals and lovely blog giveaways. I hope somebody finds something to please.

Its open all week not just Friday feel free to add all week round! If this link is closed just hit the tag or look for next weeks in the side bar.

Bloggers feel free to add your blog giveaways and free offers to the Linky or comments. 

For non bloggers the linky can be used too, just add the url and the offer (in the name area)

If you have spotted a sample or coupon, post that too.

This week on the blogs you can win a memory foam double bed worth £650, I could do with that!!

Have a great weekend!!

Free Vapr Electronic Cigarette  Use fr33trial click free delivery too!!

Great Offers
Three Manuka Doctor skincare products worth £15.99 you only pay postage of £2.50

Superdrug BeatyCard holders 200 points (= £2) for a very short survey.

Komodo Teriyaki Sauce

3 L'Occitane Hand Creams and lovely pouch
Print and collect

Free Kispy Kreme Doughnut

Colgate Max White One sample

BreatheRight free sample
FREE sample of NaturVits mega-3 with Vitamin D3 for kids.
Worth a go as more than 100!

Fibrology Shampoo 250ml, Conditioner 250ml and booster 30ml 31/01
300 Full sized samples (randomly picked)

Tyrells Apple Crisps 500 cases

Blog Giveaways
Add yours this week!!

For all those Mac Fans out there, 

The Life Of LeeshaStarr is giving you the chance to win a Mac product of your choice to the value of £15

Win a memory foam bed worth £650

Win a Multi Cooker from Sage

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

#AlproAM Alpro Almond Mornings

 In a recent survey of 2000 people, Alpro found that the 10th of January came out as being the most depressing day of the year! 

Some of the others have also been miserable too. The unending rain and grey skies have seemed more than usual.

Alpro also discovered that women tend to get more down in the dumps at this time of the year. 

Well, this is where #AlproAM is here to help!

#AlproAM aka Alpro Almond Mornings is all about encouraging people to brighten winter mornings with a healthy and delicious, plant-power smoothie using Alpro’s Almond Unsweetened – the lowest calorie nut drink there is! 

Alpro asked me to take part in a seven day AlproAM challenge This would involve creating seven simple smoothies each day of the week using Alpro Almond Unsweetened in the smoothies I make. They sent me some milk, recipes and a few goodies to cheer me up.

The almond milk is full of plant goodness; lactose free, naturally low in saturated fat and a source of calcium and vitamins B2, B12, D and E. Contains just 26 calories per 200ml serving

Keen to start today and having the fruit and spinach in already I made the first one.

I thought the spinach may be overpowering so added less and more blueberries.

I really liked the taste and feel energised already.

I will be tweeting my smoothies for the next week, look out for the #AlproAM hashtag on Twitter, plus I will add a couple to the Facebook page and pinterest as well .

 Disclosure I was given free products. I provided all other fresh ingredients, I was under no obligation to receive the kit or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Maison Du Chocolat Valentine's Review

Ahh Valentine's Day the day I adore, as you will remember from the last couple of years posts Chris and I got engaged on Valentine's Day in Paris, he proposed in Notre Dame Cathedral, down on one knee. 

Here we are 21 Valentine's Day later and we still try to make it special.

Chocolates, flowers, a really nice meal and a DVD this year, looking after Granny means we do not get away anywhere.

I like to buy special chocolates for Chris, I was sent some Maison Du Chocolat Valentine's Collection chocolates and they nearly went to my hidden pile of goodies for him, but, well I have to review them for my readers and sadly for Chris I spotted a violet ganache, I decided my need was greater!!

The box is adorable, I received size 1, the coffret  comes in four sizes

Coffret size 1: £13 - 4 chocolates  ;  coffret size 2: £27 - 9 chocolates  ;  coffret size 3: £36 - 16 chocolates ;  coffret size 4: £42 - 25 chocolates

A bit of a luxury is OK for special occasions.

The heart is a really unusual chocolate, it is a praline with caramelised sunflower seed, trust me it works. The chocolate and  toffee like taste is  good and the crunch is lovely.

The Jasmine chocolate again is so unusual, yet works so well. It has a caramel flavour too,and delicately perfumed, I am more of a milk chocolate fan but the dark chocolate is perfect, not too bitter.
The next one I tried was all chocolate its dark again and has me starting to really appreciate the flavour,its strong but smooth and leaves a lovely aftertaste.

Onto the one I most want, the Violet, its perfect, a real fruity flavour, I could taste the raspberry, blueberry and the flowery complement of violets. I could happily eat a great tray of these.

I recommend the chocolates as a lovely luxury way to say I love you. 

Amidst the flurry of notes of love this Valentine's Day, Nicolas Cloiseau unveils a poetic bouquet of chocolates, perfect for holding a floral tête-à-tête…

Five creations, deftly crafted, form a heavenly aromatic chocolate bouquet. Enticing, yet subtle, ripe with sensation, floral flavors become the season’s sweetest gift. 

The master chocolatiers of La Maison du Chocolat introduce the essence of flowers with new and innovative infusions of dried flowers, dabs of essential oils, hints of seeds, blends of blooming buds, and even the fruit of the flower. Each creation is an unexpected, complimentary union of tastes and textures, and a new discovery of the warmth and richness of chocolate.

Woody Jasmine
Crispness of dark chocolate caramel ganache enhanced with a subtle infusion of jasmine.

Caramelised Sunflower
Crunchy centre of a luscious praliné with caramelised sunflower seeds.

Acidulous Violet
Dark chocolate ganache with acidulous notes of violets and red fruits.

Vanilla Fleur de Sel
Floral and roasted flavours of a dark chocolate ganache with vanilla from the Comoros accented with an almond praliné with fleur de sel.

Fleur de cacao
Plain chocolate ganache from Madagascar with notes of black fruits, roasted cacao beans.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, 24 January 2014

So...? Dry Shampoo Giveaway

I have been trying out the one of the So...? Dry Shampoo range,  I chose the Va Va volume as if my hair is a little oily its even flatter than normal. It is a formulated dry shampoo that promises greater volume and cleaner hair.

Firstly I just have to say how great it smells with notes of mango, orange flower and vanilla It really really is gorgeous, I don't know about you, but if my hair needs washing and I have no time,  I just spend all day feeling not quite ready for the world. 

A quick few blast of the Va Va Volume and my hair looks clean, bigger and smells as if I have visited the salon. It instantly has boosted my mood, I actually would like the fragrance as an everyday hairspray or perfume.

To use you just spray onto the roots of the hair massage in and then it suggests to brush hair. I find if I get some sort of style first, spray, very gentle massage through and do not brush too much it gives a better result, but my hair gets oily very quickly.

I love the fragrance so much, it would be fab as a hairspray for styling.

I have a can of the So...Dry Va Va Volume to give away to one lucky follower.

Just fill in the easy peasy rafflecopter

Plus check out Freebie Friday for lots more blog giveaways and freebies!!

Devonshire Apple In and Out Pudding

I am still in my lazy cooking mode. Not sure when I will get my apron properly donned and cook up a storm. I keep buying ingredients to make wonderful concoctions, then  go off the idea of making what I planned and then end up spending too much time looking through cookbooks for inspiration and quick meals.

I had bought Bramley apples to make my Bramley Apple Cake but could not raise any energy to make that, even though its simple. 

I have a book called Devonshire Recipes, its part of a series of cook books that cover counties in England, you can usually find them in gift shops in holiday towns.

 I found a baked apple and suet sponge recipe and was very pleased to see it was an all in one method. Vegetarian suet could be used if you are not keen on beef suet.

5 ingredients, I had them all,  a mix together and bake. Perfect. Look at the method below, I cannot really embellish or add to it. Its really that simple.

Its known as Devonshire In and Out pudding, also known as Exmoor In and Out pudding. The name suits it perfectly, all the ingredients mixed together into the oven and out!

The original recipe for this uses water, I somehow felt it was a frugal wartime recipe, I have an abundance of milk, so used it instead, feel free to omit if you want a dairy free apple pudding. I would next time use more sugar, not because of the apple, but the sponge needed a bit more sweetness. I have left the recipe as is, but I recommend 100 g of sugar.

Ignore how it looks and how it does not seem to come together in the bowl, trust me it works perfectly. Looks pretty good when it comes out of the oven and tastes really homely.


200g self raising flour
100g suet
75g golden caster sugar
4 medium Bramley Apples, peeled and sliced.
Milk to mix about 4-5 tablespoons. 


Fan 170C 190C gas Mark 5

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

Add the apple slices and stir.

 Add milk or water a splodge at a time.

Add the apple mix to a baking dish.

Cook for 40 minutes.

Serve with cream or custard.

Link up your recipe of the week
Tasty Tuesdays on

Freebie Friday

I have often popped on a few freebies or competitions  that I spot to help give readers a treat.

I decided to try a weekly round up of free samples, money off vouchers, great competitions and nice little blog giveaways I have spotted this week.

If you spot any nice blog giveaways or want to add your own giveaway, free offer, money off voucher for next week, just reply below or use the linky provided.

Have a great weekend.

Free Tickets 10,000 free Megabus tickets (50p) booking

Samples Kerastase Conditioner and shampoo samples

Free Dog Food sample

FREE sample of Escada Perfumes!

First So Many
1000 bottles of Heinz Salad Cream to give away.

Competition first 5000 entries get a sample Palmer's Cocoa Butter for Men
Answer: Scrum Half

Fun way to get a free pot of Quaker Oats Heaps of Fruit

£1 off Danio when you sign up to the newsletter, Danio is often less than a £1

50p McCains voucher and entry for big prizes

Blog Giveaways
Better start with mine!!

Win a night's stay in a hotel for a family and tickets to Legoland

Win So...? Dry Shampoo 12/10

Win Stargazer's Cosmetics For Valentine's Day - Ends 07/02/2014

YSL Touche Eclat highlighter pen/concealer 31/01

Win a Quaker Oats Hamper

Win a Gorgeous Teddy Bear ends 5th Feb

Win a Beautiful Engraved Necklace 10/02

Win a Thorntons Valentine's Chocolate 10/02

Bespoke Little Bug Canvas 28/01

Moonpig Bouquet champers  and chocolates 07/02

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Braun SkinSpa versus Braun CoolTec Review

Chris and I were invited to duel review for Braun over Christmas, a 'His and Hers hair free pamper challenge.

I was given the new Braun SkinSpa which combines the power of epilation and exfoliation in one beauty tool. 
Chris was sent the Braun CoolTec shaver.

A lovely pair of robes to get the full effect of the luxury and we were away.

Now I am a pamper queen, I also spend way more time getting rid of hair than Chris 

I hate my own stubble, my hair grows like weeds.

 I have used an epilator in the past but found it very 'ouchy' the technical term for having hair torn from your body. I have seen the reviews for the last Braun Silk-Epil and heard it is much less painful, so with a little trepidation, donned my robe and had a go.

As I turned it on, I jumped, the noise is not loud but sounds ominous, but I am a daring girl, besides my need for hair free skin outweighs the discomfort.

On dry skin it's not as bad as my last epilator, but I decided to not even carry on, I ran a big warm bath as the great feature of the Braun SkinSpa is its ability to be used wet or dry. However you will not be seeing any  gratuitous bathroom shots.

The bathing and epilating is a much more pain free experience, not sure of the science, but the warm water soothes, it seems to help ease the hair out  more gently.

I was left with little raised red bumps, these disappeared after a couple of hours and in uses since, this has not happened, I think my body has adjusted.

What I did love is the bright light shining on the area I was working on,  it shows up all the hair,  this was also great for next use as the hair came back finer in places. As for the hair coming back it was a good week to 10 days before I felt like a grizzly bear again.

The exfoliator head is the finishing touch and great benefit to this package. Firstly as anyone who epilates knows, the hair especially on legs can become ingrown, very painful if left.

The only way to avoid is to exfoliate regularly, because the Braun is in the bathroom and can be used whilst in the shower, it meant that I was more inclined to use it. 

The SkinSpa far outweighs any other epilator I have used, its a real winner!

Chris is not averse to stubble, one of the reasons is that shaving is troublesome for him as he gets razor rash, it burns and so he has days off, I don't really blame him, but I love it when he is clean shaven. He is quite reluctant to use electric shavers and so he had a little of the trepidation I experienced before first use.

He had a good days growth so off to the bathroom, he went.

Please bear in mind that he will not be overly expansive, however, I could tell he was very impressed, he explained that the cooling effect, really helps make shaving an easy, he said it was like an inbuilt ice pack for his skin. It made it easier just to get on with shaving, it has changed his opinion of dry shaving. 

 It really removed hair well and gave a smooth result, better than any other shaver he had tried. 

 He then said it gets close into the face (contours) "Great for odd shaped faces like mine, before you say it!"

It was fast to use, easy to clean and ....result he would use again. I may get a more clean shaven husband.

The Cooltec like the skinSpa can be used in the shower, its waterproof, so great if your man likes to shave in the shower.

The battery lasts a cool 45 minutes too and the charge time was just under an hour. 

The CoolTec has an integrated aluminium cooling bar which actively transports heat away from skin to minimise the shaving-induced increase in skin temperature. This is the scientific explanation for the technology. Its Braun's pioneering Thermo-Electric Cooling (TEC) and usually used in the construction of spacecraft and satellites.

I feel this was a good challenge, with regards to one being better than the other, I feel mine wins as it removes hair for longer. Chris and the CoolTec probably won on the most pleasant experience and both win for ease of use, flexibility of using in the bath and shower and in good hair removal!

ct Sheet

The Braun SkinSpa is available exclusively on
RRP £169.99

The new Braun °CoolTec is available at Boots, Amazon, Argos, larger supermarkets & other good electrical retailers,   
RRP £ 199.99

 Disclosure I was sent the Braun items and robes in order to carry out a  review and for the challenge. I was under no obligation to receive the products or talk about Braun. I get no additional benefits for talking about the products or company.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Easy Oven Baked Mexican Rice

I was feeling ultra tired last night. I rooted around for some oven cooked meal and found some chorizo wrapped chicken. I didn't fancy wedges, chips or shop bought rice dishes. But I wanted rice and I wanted a  flavoursome spicy rice. I also wanted the least fuss possible, I decided to try and concoct an oven baked Mexican rice!

 I winged it and happily it worked. So my easy meal  took on a homemade dish and made me feel better about being lazy. 

I took my Jambalaya recipe and minus the meat and tweaking the ingredients devised a recipe that would involve no stove top cooking at all.

I wanted all of it to go into the oven, even the frying of the vegetables. I will make this often.

The timings will be dependant on the whim of your oven, rice used and dish. Mine was a deep casserole dish. A shallower vessel will probably allow quicker cooking.

I used easy cook long grain rice, next time I will try basmati or paella as these cook quickly. But it was a spur of the moment decision.

The spices are a homemade blend, again on the Jambalaya post. I use for spicing meat as well. Feel free to use a shop bought one.

Happily for Slimming World followers this can be easily adapted without using oil. 


Oil or Frylight
1 large onion finely diced
Half a red pepper finely diced
Half a  green pepper finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 chicken stock cube
600ml boiling water
400g can chopped tomatoes
300g long grain rice
2 tsp  homemade Cajun seasoning or shop bought.


Preheat oven 200 C Fan 180, Gas Mark 6

Add oil to the base of the casserole dish.

Add the onion, pepper, garlic to the casserole and oven cook for 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, stir well, mix in the spice and rice, finally adding the stock. Give a final stir.

Cook for 1 hour uncovered. Check the rice from about 40 minutes, then every 10, adding foil if the liquid is absorbing too quickly.

Remove from the oven and stir together thoroughly.

Add a coriander garnish to impress the diners!!

Link up your recipe of the week

Tasty Tuesdays on

Homemade Thursday

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


Well what do you think, I decided to have a makeover, not being able to afford the real thing and possibly way past restoration, my blog got a new look. Thanks to Paige for the help.

I hope you like the cleaner sleeker look. 

All the follow buttons are hopefully easier to spot. Handy for the giveaways!!

You now can see my face in the top photo. Hope this does not put you off. As you can see from the photo, I am easily distracted and hope to carry on distracting you all with, news, reviews, giveaways and yummy recipes!!

Tell me what you think and I can take any feedback good or bad. Not too harsh though, I may cry!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tea Loaf Recipe

Tea loaf is the easiest fruit cake to make in the world. 
You could make it blindfolded almost. 

Chris who follows me around the kitchen, hoping for a chance to lick the bowl I believe, said "Is that it?" 

Its a fat free fruit cake, well until you slather on butter as I do.

It originates oop north, my Granny a Lancashire lady often made this for our tea. 
It is also made in Wales and if you google Bara Brith recipes they are very similar.

It is soaked in cold tea overnight, for those who are not partial to a cuppa, do not be put off, it has no tea flavour, the name comes more from the drink served with it. 

I had some lovely goodies left over from making the Christmas Pudding with M+ S.

 I mixed up the Turkish sultanas, Vostizza raisins and Thompson raisins. You can use a bag of mixed dried fruit, add glace cherries if you fancy, cranberries and some people add nuts.

I add marmalade for an extra taste of my favourite citrus, it can be omitted or you could use an orange tea, orange zest etc.

If you can manage to defend this cake against hungry marauders, it is beautiful kept in a tin for a few days, I am yet to try this fact.

Its a cake using  leftovers but the result is something that even a crumb will not be left!

You need to start this the night before for the best result, you just make an extra mug of tea, no milk or sugar and add it to the fruit.
This means the fruit plumps up and you will get the moistest fruit cake ever.

If you want to make the same day, try for at least two hours of soaking, but trust me overnight is the best.


250 ml 1 mug cold black tea
350g 12 oz mixed dried fruit
1 tsp mixed spice (optional)
200g 8 oz self-raising flour
100g 4 oz caster sugar
large egg
tablespoons marmalade


Grease a 1lb  loaf tin

Preheat oven to 180 160 Fan or Gas mark 4

Soak the dried fruit in cold tea. Soak overnight if possible, or until the fruit swells.

In a bowl add all the ingredients, mix thoroughly.

Pour into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

I start checking just before the hour and add a little foil sheet on the top if started to go too dark.

Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin.

This recipe has been added to Tasty Tuesday's over at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays on