Christmas Gift Guide: For Her

Giftguide_Her2

1) Kiko Glass Frame | 2) Rabbit Night Light  | 3) Gold Spot Mugs 4) ‘Home Is Where The Gin Is’ Print | 5) Christmas Breakfast Hamper  | 6) Intax Mini 8 Camera | 7) Unicorn Jewellery Dish | 8) Cactus | 9) Pearl Earrings | 10) Marc Jacobs: Daisy | 11) Stila: Into the light Palette | 12) Liz Earle: Cleanse & Polish

 

I can barely believe it’s that time of year again but it is and, actually, for once, I’m super excited! 2014 has been a great year and I’m great spirits going into the festive season! Being in control of the office radio I’m counting down the days until I’ll be able to put on my Christmas playlist without the familiar groans of disapproval from my colleagues. Anyway this year I’ve decided to be better at putting together gift guides for you. I know everyone does them but I love looking at them for my own gift inspiration and I think they’re super fun to put together. So this is my first (of may be 3), gifts for her, all gifts are priced from a super affordable £3 for Ikea Cactus to a pretty extravagant £750 for those gorgeous pearl earrings from George Pragnell the Jeweller so hopefully there will be something for everyone and something to suit all budgets!

 

What do you think? Are you getting into the Christmas spirit this year? And most importantly, have you started your Christmas shopping yet?! 

 

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Healthy living & the 5:2 diet!*

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Becoming healthier…

I’ve been trying to live a healthier lifestyle this year, one of my New Year resolutions in January was to drink more water and eat more fresh fruit & veg and I’m pretty pleased to say that I’ve definitely achieved these! Most days I consume at least 2 litres of water with relative ease and by becoming almost entirely ‘meat free’ since Lent and introducing juicing to my diet my fruit & veg intake per day is on average around 7 portions. Both of these changes have been gradual, drinking more water was something I had to work on a lot and some days I still forget but that’s ok. Upping my fruit & veg intake happened pretty naturally as I learnt to stop relying on meat or carbs by default and fruit & veg stopped being a food group that felt like a chore to eat. But I know I can still do better.

 

Now I’m healthier in general, I’d like to start working on shedding the pounds that’ve been following me around since dominos and energy drink became my staple diet at uni. What do they say? You either lose a stone a year at uni or put on a stone a year? I’m not sure it was ever that extreme but I definitely fall into the latter category.

 

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5:2

I’ve been intrigued by the 5:2 diet (ergh I hate that word, can we call it a lifestyle instead? 5:2 lifestyle…) since watching Michael Mosley try it for himself for the BBC Horizon show ‘Eat, Fast & Live Longer’ (watch it here). In it Mosley explains all the health benefits of regular but occasional fasting. I even bought the book he wrote (find it here) and read most of it, finding it all pretty enlightening. If you’re not sure what the whole idea is, essentially, you fast for 2 days a week (only consuming 500-600 calories on these days) and eat normally for the rest of the week. It’s supposed to be a sustainable lifestyle choice because you never have to go without anything for very long. Want chocolate? That’s fine, just wait until tomorrow. Fancy a pizza? No problem, just gotta make it ’til morning. There’s also a bunch of real scientific theory and proven benefits about living as evolution designed our bodies which are all in the book so I won’t try and explain.

 

But when I tried to do it, and I did try whole heartedly, I found it all a bit of a faff.

 

Counting calories is hard enough when your target is 1500 let alone when your target is 500 and what are you supposed to cook for that? Do you cook two tiny meals? Do you cook one big one? How will you get all of your nutrients? There are plenty of 5:2 recipe books and blogs out there now that allow you to eat really satisfying meals for your measly 500 calories/day on your fast day but it’s all just a lot of effort and effort makes you hungrier. Personally if I’m going to fast I probably don’t want to have to cook too much, I’d rather keep myself busy and not thinking about food.

 

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 LighterLife Fast Easy Fasting!

Enter the LighterLife Fast! I was approached by the popular meal replacement service LighterLife Fast to see if I wanted to go on a three month trial of their fast day packs. 5:2 without the calorie counting? 5:2 without the hassle? A healthy eating plan I can actually maintain over Christmas?! Yes please!

 

Currently billed as the quick and easy way to shed some pounds in the run up to Christmas, fit in your LBD and keep the affect of all those tins of quality street at bay I though this would be the perfect way to ease me into the realm of fasting.

 

First impressions? Fantastically simple. You eat four LighterLife FastpacksTM per day (only available at Superdrug) and that tots up to 600 calories plus all of your RDAs of key minerals and vitamins, together with plenty of protein and fibre. The Fastpacks come in lots of different varieties and flavours, from shakes and bars to actual meals, all are meat free too which really pleasantly surprised me. I was so sure with all of my dietary requirements (meat free, nut free, etc…) that I wouldn’t be able to take part but the choice is really great.

 

In my first month I opted to try the porridge (cold wintery mornings in mind), spaghetti bolognese (so I feel like I’m actually eating a real dinner) and the chocolate shakes (because I’m a chocoholic and nothing can stop that). Each box that comes in a between £8.00 – £9.00 has four packs in so whether you want to eat the whole of one box or mix and match from others, you’re eating on your fast days for under £10/day which is an absolute bargain! (I’ll easily spend £8.00 in Pret twice a week just for lunch)

 

I’m having my first fast day today (which as I’m writing this is a Sunday) and I think my next will be on Wednesday. I’ll update you later in the month with how I’m getting on, what the packs taste like and if I’ve shed any pounds!

 

Wish me luck & thanks for sticking around to the end of this essay long post!

 

Find out more about the LighterLife Fast here.

Get your LighterLife FastpacksTM from Superdrug here.

 

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TGI Friday’s New Menu

TGIs410750261_805554409481697_3687416624187750233_o10533319_805554322815039_3712282545306112989_oTGI’s:  Reinvention

TGI Friday’s has had a bit of a reinvention in recent years I think. When I think of TGI’s when I was a kid, I remember eating okish food but mostly lots of it, in a retro, American sticky feeling booth. And then there was the embarrassing 13th Birthday party that had me standing up on a chair shouting at the whole restaurant that I was, at last, a teenager (either that or I had to stick my face in a bowl of whipped cream as a forfeit).

 

Fast forward nearly 10 years (how has it almost been a decade since I was 13?!) and TGI’s is still a family fun restaurant but it’s also a cool place to go with friends for a cocktail or two (or three), really good food and a great atmosphere. Especially in the new restaurants, like the one in Bristol, the decor is beautiful, it’s still retro & music inspired but the over done red American booth style is gone in favour of something much cooler and more sophisticated.

 

10714088_805554396148365_5839322955606431149_o TGIs9 TGIs2 TGIs1The new menu

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Bristol Cabot Circus TGI Friday’s for the press unveiling of their new menu. As well as getting to try the new additions, me & my flatmate Carys also got to chat to the TGI Friday’s Head Chef Terry McDowell, the guy responsible for coming up with these amazing new dishes. (Best job in the world contender for sure! This guy traveled round America trying every burger he could to help him come up with TGI’s burger menu!)

 

What struck me was that Mr McDowell is genuinely passionate about the food he creates. I hadn’t actually expected TGI’s to have a head chef, rather just that they’d create dishes based on some dull consumer survey or customer data. But from listening to Terry for only a few minutes you can see that that just isn’t the case, and actually the dishes are created to give customers a delicious & contemporary American dining experience.

 TGIs6 TGIs7 TGIs8TGIs5THE FOOD!

Anyway, onto the food!… To start with Carys & I both had the new bruschetta which was absolutely beautiful and I think actually my favourite thing off of the new menu. I usually find bruschetta’s too bready, you know? Not enough toppings! But this was perfect, lots of tomatoes, mozzarella, onion and other secret things to make it taste so nice. I’d definitely recommend getting one to share though, we were well on the way to being pretty full after just our starters!

 

For mains Carys very bravely tried the Warrior Burger, which I think is aptly titled, don’t you? Think Big Mac but much much bigger and with other lush ingredients like caramelised onion and mozzarella sticks in it. She could only finish half and ended up taking the other half away and giving it to a homeless man. I had the Mexi Dog (in a rare break from my meat free diet, hot dogs, weirdly the only meat I actually kind of crave)  which is basically a Mexican inspired hot dog, with Monterey Jack cheese, red and green chilies, jalapeños, Fridays Spicy Guacamole and Southwest sour cream on a beautiful brioche bun. It was lush but again so bloody filling!

 

We couldn’t fit any pudding in but we did have a couple of cocktails throughout the night. I always forget what a great place TGI’s is for cocktails! They have over 100 different types and their ‘Bar Stars’ are amazing at picking one you’re bound to love. We were asked what kind of tastes we like, I love gin and fruity drinks and ended up with a cocktail perfect for me and Carys really doesn’t like to taste her alcohol so our barman literally made her the most delicious cocktail ever.

 

Over all we loved the new menu dishes we tried and were super impressed after talking to Head Chef Terry. Thank you TGI’s for asking us to come along, it was a great evening.

 

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