Christmas Gift Guide for Her 2019

Disclaimer: Products marked with (*) were gifted for the purpose of review and inclusion in this blog post. No brands have sponsored or paid for inclusion in this blog post, aside from the gifting of products. 

First of all, where has this year gone? I can’t believe we are even talking about Christmas, it feels way too early but it is actually November, so when it comes to Christmas shopping, we all need to start thinking!

I decided to do another Christmas Gift Guide ‘for her’ this year after the success of last year’s but this year, I will also be doing a version for him too!

So, what could you be buying the women in your life this year?

Leggings from Love Leggings*

Every girl is pretty much forever needing new leggings, whether you wear them just around the house or to the gym and I definitely have a new favourite brand that I am recommending to everyone!

Love Leggings are a dedicated online legging shop, selling everyday, sport and maternity leggings, providing different styles and colours to suit every occasion.

I have been lucky enough to try the Energise Full Length sports leggings in ‘midnight black’ and they are definitely something I would tell my friends to buy or get them as a gift for Christmas, especially those who are big gym go-ers!

The sport leggings retail for £28.00 which I don’t think is bad at all and is much cheaper than leading sports brands such as Nike or Adidas and from wearing them, I think they’re better quality!

An Experience Day from Buy A Gift*

I’ve been making a conscious effort this year to buy less materialistic gifts and have been choosing to get my friends and family experiences instead as I think these are much more valuable, so an experience day is the perfect present.

Buy A Gift have thousands of different experience days on offer to suit everyone’s different interests and hobbies, from spa days to cooking classes, driving experiences to water sports, so there really is something to suit everyone.

I know my mum would love a spa day, so I have picked her out the Blissful Spa Day for Two which retails for £55 and includes a 25-minute treatment each as well as full use of the spa facilities at any one of 147 different spas across the UK.

The price range of the experiences is so varied that there’s something to suit whatever budget you want to spend.

Rosalique 3 in 1 Anti Redness Miracle Formula*

Skincare and cosmetics are always popular gifts for women at Christmas and the Rosalique 3 in 1 Anti Redness Miracle Formula is a product that is going to be the perfect gift for anyone with red or sensitive skin.

Suitable for all skin types, whether you have the skin complaints mentioned above or not, the Rosalique cream contains SPF 50 which is a perfect makeup base for anyone but it also conceals, treats and reduces the long term appearance of redness.

A green coloured cream to effectively combat redness, the 30ml size is £29.99, so this is a premium product but a small amount of the product goes a long way, so this size is set to last a while.

Glass Straws from Vaso*

The perfect gift for the friend that loves to be the hostess with the most or the friend that is into doing their bit for the environment, these stunning and high quality glass drinking straws are a gift a lot of people will appreciate.

Available in two different sizes, these glass straws a perfect for every day drinking and decorating your cocktails with at the weekend! Super affordable, sustainable and a great investment to make for someone trying to ditch the plastic, this really thoughtful gift won’t break the bank but will go a long way!

Assorted Truffles from Booja Booja*

I love a selection box as much as the next person but these gluten, dairy and soya free truffles from Booja Booja are too good to not share with EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

Beautifully packaged and packed with flavour, this £9.99 selection box contains 5 different flavours, my favourite being the almond salted caramel… wow!

T-Zone Glitter Face Mask*

The perfect stocking filler, the T-Zone glitter peel off face masks feel super festive with the added sparkle as well as being a real treat for your skin.

Available in a black and silver variety, the black mask boosts glow while the silver refines pores, both retailing for just £2.99 for the sachets or £6.99 for the tubes.

Tomatin Whisky*

A tipple is a classic choice for Christmas gifting and if you know a whisky fan, the Tomatin whisky is a great choice.

Premium tasting and available in a range of different varieties, Tomatin whisky is made using quality ingredients and is made with extra care and attention for the best flavour.

Delicious sipped or mixed with lemonade.

So, whatever kind of woman you’re buying for this year, whether she’s a beauty queen or a real foodie, there’s bound to be something in this gift guide to suit her!

What are you hoping to get under the Christmas tree this year?

Advertisements

Zippo Sunglasses Review | AD

*Disclaimer – This blog is in collaboration with Zippo. Items marked with a (*) in this blog post were gifted by Zippo for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

When we think of Zippo as a brand, we tend to think on lighters. I was first introduced to Zippo many years ago by friends of mine that smoked and used Zippo lighters but as a non-smoker, I never really had a need to explore the brand any further, however, in recent years the brand has brought out a whole new range of sunglasses and they’re much more relevant to my life.

As well as a quality range of leather goods, Zippo have recently launched a range of gorgeous sunglasses and I was lucky enough to receive a pair* this summer to test out when we’ve had good weather and I’m going to be sharing my thoughts with you today.

So, which pair did I choose?

Well, the lovely team at Zippo gave me free reign of their sunglasses collection  so I could pick my favourite pair and I went for the *Smoke Round Sunglasses as this is a style I love but don’t currently own.

I used to have a pair very similar to this from a different brand but unfortunately, I sat on them and they snapped… SO, this was the perfect chance to get a similar pair back in my collection and I am so happy I did because since my Zippo sunglasses have arrived, they have lived either on my face, in my car or in my bag.

The first thing I just can’t believe about these glasses is that they’re priced between £14.00 – £20.00 per pair which for sunglasses is just unbelievably affordable. They’re rally modern and stylish and they have lots of different colours and shapes for different occasions and preferences but they feel so high quality.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re very lightweight because the materials are quite basic but saying that, who really wants super heavy sunglasses? The Zippo branding is really subtle and they pair I chose look like they could’ve come from plenty of different designers.

The pair I chose doesn’t have one of those adjustable nose posts which I AM VERY HAPPY ABOUT because only some of you will understand how irritating it is when your hair is in a pony tail and you put sunglasses on your head and the nose post gets stuck in your hair and you ruin your ponytail… I know it sounds ridiculous but I genuinely avoid sunglasses like that, so these are perfect.

I opted for a black pair as I find them the most versatile but the same round style of sunglasses at Zippo are available in a brown and a green printed finish if you fancy something a little bolder.

Now, let’s talk lenses because as much as a pair of sunglasses need to look good, they need to do their job too and I won’t lie, I have spent hundreds of sunglasses before and the lenses have been terrible.

I always compare sunglasses to my Prada pair as they’re my go-to pair, mainly because they were a real investment and as much as it pains me to say it, I could’ve saved myself hundreds and just bought a pair from Zippo because the lenses are better.

The lenses on the Zippo ones are so dark when you put them on, they’re genuinely really good whereas the lenses in my Prada ones are quite frankly… terrible. In my Prada sunglasses, I still have to shade my eyes from the sun when I have them on because they do literally nothing but the Zippo ones are great.

With the Zippo sunglasses, you also get a little protective drawstring case for them. It is only a thin, protective bag opposed to a hard case but it does the job and for the price of the sunglasses, it’s great that you get anything with them.

So, my overall review of the Zippo sunglasses is that everyone needs a pair… SERIOUSLY!

I absolutely love mine and am currently eyeing up all the other designs in the style I have because I want them all now. They’re a comfortable fit, dark lenses and they don’t break the bank – what more could you want?

The CBT Diaries: My First Session

So, as promised in my ‘why I’m having CBT‘ blog, I am back today to let you all know what my first session was like, what we covered, how I found it and the plan for me going forward.

I had my first session on the 19th August. I went first thing before work at 9:15am and to be honest, on reflection, I wish I had booked it after work or taken the rest of the day off because I came out a little drained.

I have met with four different counsellors before and had that ‘first session experience’ four times before, so I really should have been clued up to the fact that I would feel a little out of sorts when I came out but I just never gave it a thought.

The first time you meet a new mental health therapist of any kind, that session is intense. You’re getting to know each other and you’re probably going to be asked to go over everything that has happened in the past that has brought you to this appointment and that in itself is exhausting, emotionally and mentally.

It is a massively important part of the process and has to be done so you and your new therapist can get a plan together going forward but that doesn’t mean sitting for an hour and talking about the parts of your past that hurt you the most isn’t tough because it is.

So, that was pretty much the purpose of my session. We had an hour where essentially, I spoke and she listened and wrote notes. She’d interject every now and again with a question or a comment to provoke what I told her next but generally, I had free reign to get everything off my chest and tell her my story.

Although this is hard, it is actually quite therapeutic. A fresh pair of non-judgemental ears, whose job is just to sit and listen while you essentially dump all your thoughts, feelings and worries on them. I often hold back from overloading onto friends and family because it simply isn’t their job to listen, so having the opportunity to get everything off your chest is nice, although tough too.

I had to fill out some forms too. I have done them before and they have a kind of grading system on them. They ask you about different parts of your life and different elements of your mental health and ask you to score how severe things are. This in itself makes you stop and think about yourself, your life and how things are affecting you day to day and these forms really are an eye opener. You’ll be asked to fill the same form out throughout your time in CBT or any form of counselling so they can monitor you.

At the end of my session, we decided together that CBT was a good option for me and that I would continue going forward with the process. Although drained, I did leave feeling positive that I was now taking steps in the right direction to get better and also feeling I had a better understanding of some of the things I’d been so bothered and upset about, which in itself is great process.

I have another session this week and I am actually looking forward to getting further into the process. I am excited to move away from just talking about my past and actually starting to proactively getting down to helping me deal with it.

I will be back next week with another update but until then, I hope anyone else having CBT or counselling is finding it useful and is getting on well with it!

 

Why I’m Having CBT | Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Journey

I have absolutely no shame, nor should I, in admitting I have had counselling/therapy before or that I am going to be having it again.

I have seen two NHS counsellors under referral from the CAHMS scheme and paid for one therapist privately but unfortunately, results from all were short lived and life’s twists and turns have left me in need of a little help once again.

I was in two minds about what kind of help I needed this time. I know my mental health has taken a real battering the last 12 months and I can tell it is bouncing back as it has in the past. The low moods are lingering and my ability to put negative thoughts to one side is decreasing but I didn’t know what type of help was going to be right for me.

As soon as me and my ex split up last September, I asked my GP for some help. I was referred to Talking Therapies in October, had my initial phone consultation and told I’d be put on the waiting list to see someone face to face.

Fast forward to July 2019 and I finally saw a therapist under Talking Therapies. We had a 30 minute chat about me and my life and everything I was struggling with but I could just tell this kind of therapy wasn’t going to be right for me. It wasn’t counselling but it wasn’t CBT, it was just about coping and I knew this wasn’t right.

About a week later, that therapist got in touch to say she felt I needed to see someone a little more qualified and that my course of treatment would benefit from being longer and more intense than she could offer me. I was put through to a CBT specialist and from Monday 19th August, I will start having an hour of CBT every week for possibly up to 16 weeks.

I’ve decided to try CBT this time opposed to counselling as I feel like I have sat and talked about my problems so many times, both to professionals and those close to me but I have never had any practical help to deal with them. After suffering with PTSD on and off for the last 12 months, as well as anxiety, depression and Disordered Eating, I know that just sitting and talking about these things again isn’t going to help me deal with them, I need more practical advice and that is what CBT can offer.

I am nervous about having CBT as I know people who have had it and their therapists really pushed them to face their anxieties in order to combat them and obviously, that in itself makes me a bit on edge about whats to come but I am actually looking forward to it.

I have dealt with anxiety, depression and eating issues for years and they really have become part of who I am and how I think and I guess they feel like second nature to me now but PTSD was a real eye opener these last 12 months and that really is a whole new type of anxiety and not something I want to get used to.

I want to document my CBT journey and be really open and honest about how I find it, what I do and how things change for me as not only will that really help me to see my own progress but it may help others about to start any kind of therapy feel less alone or like the whole thing is a bit of a taboo.

Getting help for your mental health is not a taboo or anything to be embarrassed about it, it is responsible, sensible and admirable. Admitting you need a helping hand to get yourself better is progress and a step in the right direction towards being OK.

I am always going to be open and honest about my experience with therapy because if that can help someone else that doesn’t feel quite so confident to talk about it then that makes it all worthwhile!

Check back with the blog or my social next week to find out how my first session went!

5 Things Every Girl Does After a Break Up

I’ve been single for nearly a year now and all I can say is that it has been the wildest year of my life. I am not the same person I was 12 months ago and overall, I’d say that is definitely a good thing but when I sit and reflect on how things have changed and things I have experienced going through a breakup, it blows my mind a little.

When you’re newly single and first going through a breakup, it can feel like your behaviour is so out of character and at times, pure unacceptable and that made me feel so ashamed in myself at times but honestly, girls, give yourself a break!

Your heart is broken, you’re learning to lead a whole new life and you’re trying to rediscover yourself. You will have some wild times and do things that on reflection, you probably wouldn’t do if you had your time again but it’s all part of the process and I promise you, we’ve all been there.

I thought I’d share 5 things every girl does and goes through during a breakup to make sure all you newly single women know you’re not alone and you’re simply going through the motions!

1. The Break Up Hair Cut 

This might sound seriously cliche and you might be able to resist for months, purely to try and resist doing the classic ‘new hair, new me’ but I guarantee it happens!

I became single in September and didn’t have my new hair moment until April but it happened and I felt like a new woman for it! I did the classic ‘mop chop’ and had my long hair cut to just below my shoulders and I felt re-energised after.

I felt classy, mature and a bit like a boss. I enjoyed the shorter hair for a few months before having my heart broken again when I did the opposite and got extensions because as much as I loved the short hair, long hair has always been a comfort blanket for me and I needed that confidence boost.

2. Dodgy Dates 

Whether you actually go on a date or you just chat over the phone, you will speak to people that aren’t right for you and in reality, you’d never even consider because to put it bluntly, you’re looking for distractions.

Going from having someone to talk to and be with all the time to being alone can be really hard and you do find yourself holding onto any conversation you can get and that is FINE!

Do not let anyone tell you how long you should wait to speak to someone new or go on a date, it is up to you! The first few people you associate with after your breakup probably will not last but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy their company – do what you have to do to feel OK every day.

3. Get Way Too Drunk 

I didn’t actually drink alcohol for the whole three years I was with my ex and I stayed teetotal for about 6 weeks after we split up but then I went on a night out with work and about an hour in, I got a text of someone who knew my ex telling me something I didn’t want to hear and that was it, I got seriously drunk.

Since then, I have started drinking alcohol on nights out with friends and that is fine. I used to have fun without drinking and still have fun now I do drink but I think most girls will have a blow out on a night out when they’re newly single and that is fine!

As long as you stay safe and make sure you’re getting drunk with people you trust that will have your back, just have fun!

4. Become VERY Active on Social Media 

I barely posted on Instagram when I had a boyfriend and didn’t get many likes when I did. I also never ever used Snapchat or Facebook and to be honest, I just assumed social media had died a bit and that no one really used it but I was wrong, it was just me who never looked!

It’s inevitable that once you’re single, you kind of have to become a bit more social media savvy. You become a lot more active with the night out pictures and selfies on Instagram and a lot more of your life with make it on to your Snapchat story and that’s great – own it!

5. Gain a New Found Confidence 

If you’re very newly single, you might have retreated into your shell a bit and be feeling massively lost and under confident and be wondering what the hell I am talking about but I promise you, your glow up is coming.

I gained my confidence pretty quick after becoming single but I have friends who took way longer but within a few months, the transformation started, their confidence started to grow and they got that new lease of life that I promise you will get too.

It can take days, weeks or even months to find a new level of confidence in yourself but it will come because being single allows you to explore yourself and your life and make it how you want it to be and that is a great thing!

Break ups are really hard but I promise, the best times of your life can come after them and as long as you carry on pushing forward, you will get the good times that come as a result of these rough times.

Don’t isolate yourself, go with the flow, ride the waves, go through the motions and you will come out the other side of this breakup a better woman!

My Experience of Lip Fillers

I’ve actually put off writing about this topic because I am more than aware that it is controversial and that some people have very strong opinions on this particular thing but for me, I am happy to have had this treatment done and wanted to share my experience for anyone wondering whether they would like to get it done too!

As the title of this blog suggests, I’m going to be talking about lip fillers and my experience of having them done because for me, it has been positive, as it is for many but I know before I had mine done I had so many questions, so hopefully this blog post can answer some of those for anybody considering getting lip fillers.

Why Did I Have Them Done?

I was 19 when I had my first lip fillers which some people may consider too young but for me, I knew my face was done developing and my lips weren’t going to change in terms of shape or size naturally and therefore decided if I wanted to change how they looked then I’d have to do something about it myself.

I had wanted fillers for years because I have such a tiny mouth and therefore quite small, flat lips and I just didn’t like the look. A couple of my close friends went and had theirs done before me and I loved the look of theirs and saw how it totally changed their whole facial structure, so that confirmed for me that it was something I wanted to do.

My lips also turned out to be wonky, particularly the top lip in which the cupid’s bow wasn’t symmetrical.

Where Did I Have Them Done?

I have had my lips done twice now. The first time I went to a clinic in the building where I work and I’ll be honest, I wish I didn’t. They hurt so much to have done and the final result was not perfect but she did correct the shape of my lips, so the second place I had them done was able to volumise them much better and keep the new shape.

I ended up going to Cupid’s Bow Aesthetics in Coventry which for the purpose of transparency, is my aunt’s business but it isn’t her that actually does the lip fillers, it’s her business partner who is a qualified nurse, hence I chose to trust them with my lips after not being entirely happy with my initial results.

Both of the clinicians at Cupid’s Bow are nurses and therefore can provide a more reliable service thanks to their medical background. I went to their at-home clinic but they now also have a branch in Ego Hair and Beauty in Coventry, both of which are lovely locations that feel very professional, hygienic and relaxing.

What Did I Have Done?

The first time I had my lips done, I had 0.5ml of Revolax whereas the second time I had 0.5ml of Restylane Kisse which I much preferred. In total, I have only had 1ml of filler, however, I am due another 0.5ml soon.

I found Restylane Kisse made my lips swell way more to start with but the results were far better. They stayed fuller and sharper looking for way longer and still remain to look quite plump now over a month later.

I have 0.5ml injected between both lips to keep the size and shape natural. The first 0.5ml was used to correct the shape and the second dose a month or so later was for volume and any further filler I have will be for volume.

Would I Recommend Lip Fillers?

I’m never going to ‘recommend’ lip fillers to anyone because that could definitely be deemed irresponsible. It is a cosmetic procedure and it isn’t a decision to take lightly or without proper consideration. Filler can be dissolved quickly, I know but that doesn’t mean having it injected should be done without properly thinking about it and choosing the right person and product.

I can’t stress enough how important research is before getting lip fillers done. I would always recommend going to an aesthetics practitioner who is a medical professional, such as the girls at Cupid’s Bow. I felt in much safer hands knowing a nurse was injecting my lips, as opposed to someone who had just done a filler course.

Do not rush into getting fillers done, no matter where in your face you’re having them, do your research and really think about whether this is something you definitely want to have done and if you do have them done, do not feel ashamed.

I have taken a fair bit of stick from people my own age and older for having ‘work done’, often trying to make me feel as though I shouldn’t have done but I feel much more comfortable with my lips now I have had them done and will continue to maintain the naturally fuller and more shapely look filler gives me!

If you have any more questions on lip fillers, don’t hesitate to ask!

 

 

BeautyWorks Hair Extensions Review

It’s been a while since I did a beauty related blog post and I’ve got a few I want to do but I’m going to start by talking about my new hair because it is a big change and something I know a lot of people think about getting done themselves, so I thought I’d share my review and experience of getting a weave with BeautyWorks extensions.

Why A Weave?

When people find out I have had a weave, the first thing I always get asked is why? People tend to ask why as my hair wasn’t super short or super thin, so a lot of people don’t see what the need was but for me, I missed by really long hair and feel I have always had really fine hair which is something that will never change unless I do something like getting extensions.

I felt like my hair didn’t look great tied up due to being quite thin and the options of what I could do with my hair with the current length and thickness was limited, so I decided to take the plunge and get my hair longer and thicker with the help of a weave.

As for why I went for a weave opposed to clip-in extensions or another form semi-permanent extensions like nano bonds or tapes is mainly because my best friend already has a weave and loves it, so I kind of knew what to expect. For me, the idea of tapes or nano bonds actually looked like a lot of time and effort to get fitted and have refitted every 4-6 weeks and felt like a lot of different fastenings, whereas a weave is just three rows sewed in and feels very subtle and easy to fit.

What Hair Do I Have?

I had already been colour matched with BeautyWorks extensions at a salon before I found the girl who eventually did my hair, so I knew my shade in BeautyWorks, so basically it was the easiest option to go with that brand. I had heard positive things about BeautyWorks hair and of course, Molly-Mae from this year’s Love Island wears BeautyWorks and her hair is just gorgeous, so I was happy to go with their hair opposed to another brand.

I am shade 3 in BeautyWorks which is a colour called Brazilla. It’s a warm-toned dark brown and is actually a tad too warm for my natural hair but we only realised once it arrived but as I have had blonde through my hair before, it actually blends in absolutely fine.

I have 22″ 150g Gold Weft extensions sewed into my hair in three rows. This is the heaviest/thickest weft you can get from BeautyWorks and the second-longest length, they do also do a 24″ length but for me, even the 22″ is ridiculously long.

Getting My Weave Fitted

I went to the lovely and VERY talented Amy Darby at Envy Hair and Beauty in Stockport. She isn’t super local to me but she is 100% worth the half an hour drive because she is so quick and efficient and getting the hair fitted and styled and I am so happy with how it looks.

My hair is sewed in three rows, one at the bottom of my head, one equal with the top of my ear and one just above my ears which comes quite far forward to the side of my head. Amy was telling me how some people really dislike how far forward this top row is sewed which I kind of get, it is a little annoying but she was saying how you don’t get the length at the front without this, so it is worth having.

It took about an hour and a half to fit the hair, cut it in (I had very little length taken off) and curl the whole head which I think is so quick, I was expecting to be there way longer. It wasn’t painful or uncomfortable at all.

Sunglasses – AJ Voyage, Necklace – Bloom Boutique, Top – Topshop, Bag – Michael Kors

Extensions Review 

For me, the hair feels really lightweight and comfortable. I struggled to sleep on the sew-ins the first night because I wasn’t used to it but now I am used to them, I sleep fine and don’t find them uncomfortable to lie on at all.

The hair itself is really gorgeous. It feels exactly like my natural hair and blends in with my own hair in terms of colour and texture which I am really happy with.

In terms of washing and styling, it is a nightmare to wash and dry due to the length and thickness but that isn’t because of the quality of the hair. It washes well and looks really fresh and healthy when it is washed and dried, it just takes ages. I only wash my full head, including the extensions, once a week which sounds gross but I section my hair and wash the natural hair on top of the weave 2-3 times a week so the whole thing looks clean and then actually wash the whole thing just once a week. This saves so much time and effort and also avoids the extensions getting dried out.

I use Sulfate and Paraben free shampoo and conditioner for both my full wash and my top washes to keep the extensions in as good condition as possible. I use the Shea Moisture Smooth & Tame Shampoo and Conditioner which contains argan oil, shea butter and marshmallow root extract and that works really well for keeping my extensions looking sleek and healthy.

Before blow-drying my weave, I put a few drops of the Forest & Shore Hallelujah Hair Oil through the extensions to keep them soft and healthy. I was sent this hair oil for review a while ago and still really really like it and it works really well for my extensions.

For styling, I curl my hair with the Mark Hill Pick n Mix Curling Wand with the medium barrel. I really like this curler because you buy the handle and then just buy whichever attachments you want. The handle is only £14.99 and the attachments are about £14.99 each too, so you can create your perfect curler and carry on buying different attachments to suit your hair as you change styles. I find this barrel to be big enough for the length and thickness of my extensions and I still get a really good curl.

Earrings – Topshop, Necklace – Bloom Boutique, Dress – Oh Polly, Shoes – Miss Guided

So far, I’m really happy with my extensions, both the ones I chose from BeautyWorks and how they have been fitted by Amy. If you want longer or thicker hair then extensions like a weave really are a great option and you can get them in varying lengths and thicknesses to achieve the look you want.

I’d love to know if you wear extensions and if so, which ones and how do you find them?

The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie Recipe

I was convinced I’d shared my original, go-to gluten free chocolate brownie recipe on the blog but it turns out, I have only ever published my Chocolate Orange brownie recipe, so I thought it was about time I got this recipe written down for you all.

These brownies are literally famous amongst my friends and family with a new batch constantly in high demand and I actually forget how good they are until I have one and I quickly remember why everyone goes so crazy for them.

The ingredients list is short and basic and the method is so simple, you literally can’t go wrong with these!

Brownies 2.jpg

Ingredients 

200g Galaxy Milk Chocolate

200g Stork Baking Butter

90g Plain Gluten Free Flour

50g Cocoa Powder

3 Large Eggs

280g Golden Caster Sugar

100g White Chocolate Chips (80g for mixture)

Method 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (fan) and line two 20cm square baking tins with grease proof paper
  2. Weigh out all your ingredients, putting your chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl, your cocoa powder and flour in a small mixing bowl, your sugar in a larger mixing bowl and your eggs in a separate bowl or jug
  3. Get a small pan of water and get it simmering, putting your bowl of butter and chocolate on top to melt. Keep stirring this as it melts to stop it from burning. If it appears to split, don’t worry.
  4. Once your chocolate and butter are melted together, remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature or slightly warmer
  5. One by one, add your eggs to the bowl of sugar, using an electric whisk to stir the mixture between each egg. Once all three eggs are added, continue to whisk until blended and a little bubbly.
  6. Once your eggs and sugar are blended, pour in your melted chocolate and butter and mix in with a spoon
  7. Once that is mixed, you can now sift in your flour and cocoa powder before mixing that in with your spoon
  8. You can now add 80g of your white chocolate chips and give everything a final mix together with your wooden spoon.
  9. Pour your mixture equally between the two tins and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips across the two. Place in the oven, ideally on the same shelf if possible. Cook for 20 minutes to start with.
  10. After 20 minutes, I tend to lower the oven temperature to around 140 degrees and leave in for another 5-minutes
  11. Your brownies should now be done, so remove from the oven but leave to cool in the tin for 30-45 minutes
  12. At this point, remove from the tins using the grease proof paper but leave to cool for another hour or so before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into pieces.

Brownies 1.jpg

These brownies have the perfect consistency of being super soft and gooey in the middle and a little harder on top and the chewy, crispy edges are honestly irresistible.

Easy and classic, what’s not to love?

Brownies 3.jpg

If you give this recipe a go, tag me in your pictures on Instagram – @glutenfreewithellie 

 

Christmas at Revolution Bars – Is It Good for Gluten Free?

*Disclaimer: This post is a non-paid collaboration with Revolution Bars. All opinions are my own. 

There’s going to be two different reactions to the fact I’m already talking about Christmas: some people will be rolling their eyes at this point thinking it is WAY too early to even be touching on this topic but then there’ll be lots of people who can not wait to start talking Christmas and I’m definitely one of those people, so let’s get started.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Revolution Bars then first of all, where have you been? But if you haven’t then Revolution is a chain of bars/restaurants in the UK with locations in cities and towns in England, Wales and Scotland, including my home town of Macclesfield.

Although I spend a lot of time (too many Saturday nights) in my local Revolution, drinking cocktails and dancing with my friends, we also love to head to one of the four Revolution bars in Manchester when we’re day drinking or on a night out in the city.

The Revolution bars in Manchester are bigger (and possibly even better) than my local, so although they’re all decorated very similarly and have pretty much the same food and drink menus, it still feels extra special to head to one of the Manchester branches, so when it comes to Christmas time, we will definitely be taking a trip into the city for a little Revs date.

A lot of people don’t know that Revolution do food full stop but even people that do know you can eat at a Revolution don’t realise how BIG they go at Christmas. You can actually book to go to any Revolution bar that serves food, including all 4 of the Manchester locations and have a full 3 course Christmas dinner… even if you’re gluten free.

If you’re wondering about dining at your local Revs this Christmas then I’ve done the hard work for you, scoured their festive menu and worked out what us gluten free foodies can enjoy during our visit:

Starter

So, to kick start the meal there’s two gluten free starters on the Christmas menu and I am very pleased to report, neither of them involve melon… the classic gluten free starter!

Option 1 is the Sweet Potato and Harissa Soup which is actually a refreshing change to tomato or leek and potato but still relatively simple and classic, so I’m confident everyone will like this.

The other option is smoked salmon and prawns with harissa sour cream and beetroot dressing which is a relatively classic seafood starter with a little extra special twist with the unique dressing.

Both of these dishes are naturally gluten free which I personally like opposed to being given gluten free alternatives to ‘normal foods’.

Mains

Unfortunately, the classic turkey dinner isn’t a gluten free option but for meat eaters, the short rib of beef is gluten free, served with goose fat roast potatoes, balsamic roasted red onions, carrots, parsnips, Brussel sprouts and their rich beef gravy. I personally prefer beef to turkey anyway and I know a lot of people that feel the same, so I’d be more than happy to have a beef dinner over a turkey one.

If you’d prefer fish, the other gluten free option for main courses is the grilled hake fillet with a roasted red pepper and pesto sauce and new potatoes, also served with the carrots, parsnips and sprouts. I personally don’t like fish, so I’d never opt for this but I know so many people like to choose a fish main, even at Christmas, so this is perfect.

The only comment I would make on the main courses is that the vegetarian option isn’t labelled as gluten free so if you’re vegetarian/vegan and gluten free then you may struggle but I’m sure you could ask your local Revolution about adapting the dish to make it suitable for gluten free.

Dessert

Now as expected, the gluten free pudding options are limited but the good news is, the gluten free dessert on the three course menu is NOT a chocolate brownie or a fruit salad, so that is definitely a positive.

The gluten free dessert is a raspberry and prosecco sorbet with fresh raspberries and raspberry sauce which for me, if it has prosecco in it, I’m happy to give it a go and to be honest, this sounds really light and refreshing which after two quite heavy courses, that is just what you need.

As well as a three course menu, there is also a Christmas buffet menu which can be used for Christmas parties hosted at Revolution Bars and there are three non-gluten containing savoury options on the menu which are:

  • Smoked salmon and prawns with harissa sour cream and dressed leaves
  • Chickpea humous with celery and red pepper sticks
  • Mini baked potatoes with sour cream and chive

Although the selection is pretty small, two of them are vegetarian which is great because it means they’re more likely to suit more guests. Unfortunately, none of the sweet dishes on the Christmas buffet are gluten free, so if you are attending a Christmas party at Revs and you have a sweet tooth, you might want to throw a gluten free cake in your bag!

As for price, the three-course Christmas menu is from £18.95 per person at lunch and from £25.95 per person at dinner and the buffet is from £13.95 per person which I think is pretty standard prices for a high street restaurant, if not actually quite affordable.

On a Coeliac note, Revolution are not Coeliac UK accredited and their menu is advertised as having ‘non gluten containing’ options opposed to gluten free which is the same as many other restaurants. As with all cooking environments where gluten containing meals are made as well as gluten free, there is a risk of contamination but as most establishments do, Revolution Bars do try to be as careful in the kitchen as they can to keep things separate.

As always, I would recommend telling your server at your local bar where you’re eating that you are Coeliac and explain precautions you need to be taken when preparing your food.

So, if you’re local to me then I say it’s time we enjoy good food and party together this Christmas! To find out more about their Christmas parties in Manchester, head to the Revolution website now!

The Reality of Summer with a Body Image Issue

For so many people, summer is their favourite season for all the obvious reasons. The warmer, brighter weather automatically puts a smile on your face, the prospect of getting a tan is exciting and your wardrobe is about to get a whole lot less restrictive and  whole lot more colourful but for those of us with a body image problem, summer can feel very different.

For anyone suffering with an eating disorder, Body Dysmorphia or another kind of body image issue, the concept of not being able to hide behind the usual clothes that you use as a comfort blanket due to the weather, having to get more of your body out to handle the heat, is a concept that is seriously scary.

I know this first hand. I love summer for so many reasons; I love what it does for my social life, bringing out a spontaneous side in everyone thanks to the warmer temperatures and lighter nights yet when it comes to getting dressed everyday, it isn’t so exciting.

Anyone with a ‘body hangup’ will probably relate to the fact that summer dressing tests your self-confidence. Clothes are smaller, lighter and generally a bit tighter, you’ve got more skin out and for anyone that isn’t hugely comfortable in their current size and shape, this can be daunting to say the least.

My Story

I’ve suffered with Disordered Eating and a general hate for my body and appearance for a number of years now.

The last year has been mentally tough for me in so many ways but I have also overcome so many of my anxieties associated with food, including my fear of being sick, meaning I was finally able to eat more freely and therefore put some weight on.

I was very very thin this time last year. Probably what you would consider ‘too thin’ or unhealthily thin but for me, I still thought I was fat and I still hated my body. I know for a fact I didn’t feel comfortable dressing for summer last year but I look back now and wish I could go back and tell myself to wear what I wanted and enjoy looking how I did because now I hate my body even more.

I’ve gained weight in the last 12 months to reach a size that is much healthier, my body copes and performs day to day much better and mentally, I am much happier overall but my body confidence has taken a knock with this change in size and shape and it’s hard to accept that I look different to how I once did and dress for that.

I’m not used to my arms being bigger, broader and stronger and it’s the same with my legs. I know have cellulite I never used to have and that is very difficult to get my head around sometimes. I have a much curvier, more womanly figure now, meaning my clothes look and fit different, I suit new styles of clothing I never used to look right in but equally, I don’t look quite right in things that used to be my style and that is a real adaption I’m getting used to.

I feel like I don’t know this new body shape very well yet and I’m still getting used to dressing it which has made summer an anxious time. I’m still not ‘in love’ with the bigger arms and legs and because of that, don’t hugely feel comfortable getting them out. Long sleeve tops and wide leg trousers have become the styles I know look best on me but they don’t really work in summer.

A lot of my old summer clothes from last year simply do not fit anymore. None of my skirts or shorts fit because they’re all size 6 and although I am only an 8/10 now, none of last year’s clothes fit and if I can get them on, they don’t look right which has left me feeling even more insecure and lost about what to wear.

Buying new clothes and exploring new styles can be fun and exciting but when you suffer with body image and body confidence problems, it doesn’t necessarily feel like that.

How to Get Through Summer – And Enjoy It 

I wanted to shine a light on how it feels to go through summer hating your body but I also want to offer a helping hand to anyone that feels like that, so here’s my top tips for getting through summer with body image problems and even enjoy it:

  • Plan Outfits The Night Before – stress when you’re trying to get dressed makes everything feel worse. If you’re trying to quickly find something to wear 10 minutes before you need to go and you feel like nothing looks right, you’re going to feel worked up and more upset by the situation. Plan your outfit the night before, giving you plenty of time to try things on and see what looks best and you feel best in.
  • Moisturise or Fake Tan – I feel 1000 times better once I have a bit of a tan but I’m not a natural tanner, so I like to keep a natural, glossy fake tan up throughout summer. Clothes just seem to look better against a tan, so try and find a daily tanner like a tinted moisturiser that you like and keep on top of that to help you feel a little more confident.
  • Keep On Top of Your Beauty Treatments – whether you go to a salon or you do them yourself, keeping on top of the beauty treatments that make you look perfectly preened is bound to boost your confidence and automatically make you feel more positive about your appearance. Paint your nails, pluck your eyebrows, get your lashes done and just keep on top of those little extras that make all the difference to how you look and feel about your appearance without makeup or clothes.
  • Search For Inspiration – we often get told when we have body confidence issues to avoid social media but used in the right way, platforms like Instagram can provide the perfect space to search for summer style inspiration for your size and shape. Search hashtags such as your dress size or your body shape and have a look at the posts that come up, this will help you get outfit ideas, maybe find new pieces you want to buy or just feel more confident that the way you look is great.

Summer is supposed to be so much fun, so don’t let the way you look and feel about your body ruin that for you.

It’s not necessarily going to be the easiest season but summer can be a huge learning curve and time of progress for those with eating disorders and body problems if you dedicate yourself to feeling better, so why not start now?

My emails and messages are always open if you want to chat, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re struggling this summer!