Sunday, 20 November 2016

Lifestyle: Life Through My Camera Roll #9

It's been quite a while since I have sat down at my desk and written a blog post. I've not been feeling very motivated or inspired to write anything lately. I love my blog and my little space to share the things I've been loving, life updates, fitness tips, healthy eating, motivation or new recipe creations - but I've always told myself to blog when I want to, not because I feel I 'have to'. So I thought I would share with you another 'Life through my camera roll' post - I love writing these as it's a fun way to update you on the things I've been loving/doing/watching/eating lately.

The past few weeks have been pretty good - autumn/winter is my favourite time of the year. Autumn especially as the weather is at that perfect 'cold enough to wear boots and bundle up in a cosy scarf' - but not so cold that you contemplate wearing three layers and a duvet for a quick trip to the corner shop. I love the crisp air, the beautiful jewel tones and seeing the leaves fall from the trees and change from green to vibrant yellows, oranges and reds. Autumn really is beautiful.
Autumn and Winter is also a great time (read: valid excuse) to stay in and snuggle up. It's cliche but getting cosy on the sofa and whacking on Netflix is kinda the best, isn't it. Two words: Gilmore Girls. My boyfriend actually introduced me to it, he'd seen a few episodes years ago when it was first on TV, and knew that it would be right up my street. So as soon as it popped up on Netflix he insisted that I watch it. He knows me very well, and I bloody love it! It's the perfect show for cosy evenings at home, and is so easy to binge watch. I adore the relationship between Lorelei and Rory, the best friends/mother-daughter/almost sister like duo is so refreshing and hilarious to boot. They bounce off each other so well (especially with all the caffeine running through their veins) that you actually believe that their relationship is real. I also kind of want to move to Star's Hollow immediately - with the never ending autumn vibes and snow filled winters, the town had a magical vintage feel, it's like a step back in time. If you've never seen Gilmore Girls, I would highly recommend giving it a watch - if you love throwback references, all the junk food, small town gossip, sarcastic comebacks, the best puns and more one liners than you can shake a stick at, you'll love it.

I've been loving getting home from work and whipping up a hearty belly-warming dinner (hello comfort food) such as spaghetti bolognese or a vegetable casserole. There is something wonderfully comforting about home cooked classics at this time of year. My favourite dish is mushroom chilli served in a fluffy baked sweet potato - it's like a carby cuddle. Fruit crumble is another winner, it's the perfect warming breakfast or dessert, check out my healthier recipe here.
Autumn/winter has the best fashion. From super snuggly jumpers and ankle boots to oversized blanket scarves and bobble hats. I love being comfortable and cosy, and chilly weather and drizzly days pretty much insist on comfort. I have more jumpers that I care to admit, but my favourite purchase is an oversized fade effect chunky knit - it's ridiculously comfortable and super cute. It has adorable wooden buttons all the way down the back. I love pairing it with classic grey wash jeans and ankle boots, or layering it over a black denim button up skirt and thick tights.
P.S How amazing does this giant Ferrero Rocher look? It's a ferrero rocher chocolate hazelnut 'shell' with two ferrero rochers hidden inside - find at Tesco and devour.

I hope you enjoyed this 'Life through my camera roll' update post. What are your favourite things about Autumn? What have you been loving lately?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Recipe: Broccoli Bruschetta (In Collaboration with Tenderstem*)

I was recently contacted by Tenderstem* who asked me if I would like to try my hand at creating a recipe using tenderstem broccoli - I love broccoli and I love getting creative in the kitchen, so of course I happily accepted! I wanted to create a simple, but delicious recipe that was easy to follow and recreate at home. If you try your hand at recreating any of my recipes, tag me on Twitter or Instagram - so I can have a nosy!
After a lot of brainstorming and endless lists, I finally settled on a broccoli bruschetta. Bruschetta is one of my favourites, whenever I dine out at an Italian restaurant it's always my go-to starter. Bruschetta is traditionally made with grilled bread topped with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, basil and tomatoes. I wanted to try something a bit different and put my own spin on it. 
You will need:
Fresh rye bread
Tenderstem broccoli
Parma ham
Parmesan cheese
French mustard

Bring a pan of water to the boil and allow the broccoli to gently boil away for about five minutes, or until cooked through but still al dente. While the broccoli is cooking, slice the mushrooms and add them to a bowl along with two teaspoons of mustard, mix until the mushrooms are evenly coated. Fry the mushrooms in a pan on a medium heat until soft. Once the mushrooms are cooked, set them aside and begin to wrap your broccoli spears with the slices of parma ham. Gently fry the wrapped spears in a pan until the parma ham begins to crisp. Toast the rye bread, and you're ready to assemble the bruschetta. Top the rye bread with the mushroom mix, add the parma ham wrapped broccoli on top and finish with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
The broccoli gives the dish a nice crunch, the crispy parma ham adds a lovely saltiness, combining that with the nuttiness from the parmesan and tang from the mustard - makes for a delicious and flavoursome combination.

I hope you enjoyed this 'Broccoli Bruschetta' recipe post. Will you be recreating my recipe? What's your favourite way to cook with broccoli?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

*This post is in collaboration with Tenderstem. The above recipe is my own creation. All thoughts and opinions are my own - please see the contact/pr section of my blog for more information.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Healthy Recipe: Breakfast Bowls

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day - I go to bed dreaming of what deliciousness I'm going to whip up come morning. I don't always have a ton of time in the morning before heading off to work to whip up a fancy meal, so breakfast bowls are one of my favourite go-to dishes. Here are three of my favourite (ridiculously simple, but delicious) breakfast bowl combinations. If you recreate any of my recipes please tag me on Twitter or Instagram - so I can have a nosy!

The Smooth Move
Smoothie bowls are all over instagram and for good reason - they are delicious, nutritious, picture perfect and are kinda like having ice cream for breakfast. (the dream)

You will need:
1 frozen banana
A handful of frozen berries
(I like to use a mixed bag of strawberries, cherries, blackberries and raspberries)
A splash of almond milk

Add all ingredients to your blender, and process for a few minutes until smooth and creamy. Add as much or as little milk as you wish - I prefer my nice cream to be thick and creamy, so I only add a splash or two. Top with whatever you fancy. Granola, chia seeds, sliced banana, fresh berries and cacao nibs are some of my personal favourites.
The Cereal Killer
Cereal is so underrated. I could eat it at any time of the day, breakfast for dinner is the best. #brinner

You will need:
Bran flakes
 (or your favourite cereal)
Sliced peach
Chia seeds
Frozen strawberries
Greek yoghurt

Whack it all into a bowl and enjoy! Greek yoghurt makes your cereal bowl so thick and creamy, as well as being packed full of protein.
How A-mus(eli)ing 
Muesli is another of my favourites. I love how it goes a bit soggy when mixed with milk. I also like adding in frozen fruit as the berries start to defrost and turn the milk a pretty shade of purple. (kinda like with chocolatey coco pops but a bit more nutritious)

You will need:
(I like mine full of nuts and raisins)
Oat milk
(one of my favourites - so creamy)
Sliced banana
Chia seeds

Add the berries, muesli and sliced banana to your bowl, top with milk and a sprinkle of chia seeds.Adding chia seeds to your muesli bowl gives you a morning boost of omega-3, fibre and protein.

 I hope you enjoyed this 'Breakfast bowls' recipe post. What is your favourite breakfast bowl combo? Will you be recreating any of my bowls?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Healthy Eating: Wild Thing* (You make my heart sing, You make everything groovy!)

....Wild Thing I think I love you! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) The lovely people from Wild Thing* contacted me and asked me if I would like to try some of their products (I of course said yes please!) anything food related, especially good for you food is always a big fat yes! Wild Thing are a paleo food company who create delicious, nutritious, organic products with no added nasties, additives or chemicals - nada, nothing, zip, zilch! If you are unfamiliar with the paleo way of eating it is a diet (as in the food you eat not being 'on a diet') based on the types of foods that early humans would have eaten. Such as meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, and excluding processed foods, dairy and cereal products. It is a great concept if you are trying to eat a 'cleaner' diet and cut down on the amount of processed and junk foods you consume. 

Wild Thing kindly sent me a variety of snack bars and a box of their brand new granola. Let's start with the snack bars shall we... damn, I'm starting to get hungry while typing this. There are four different snack bars, all of which are raw, made of 100% natural ingredients, 100% paleo, gluten free and suitable for vegans. So they really are a great all rounder!
Berries and seeds
A delicious combination of juicy dates, sunflower seeds, sweet cranberries, goji berries and blueberry. This is the perfect fruity bar if you are craving something sweet, without all the added sugar.

Coconut and chia
A mix of dates, cashews, coconut and chia seeds. I loved this bar, it had the perfect balance of coconut and chia. Chia seeds are such a great addition to your daily diet, they are high in protein and fibre, provide a good source of omega-3, calcium and potassium. 

Cacao and almond
This bar of goodness is a blend of sweet dates, almonds, cacao powder, raisins and vanilla. This has to be my favourite of the four bars. I have the biggest sweet tooth, anything chocolate is a winner! This is the perfect bar if you are craving chocolate and don't want to reach for the Dairy Milk - perfect with a cup of tea! 

Nuts and seeds
A mix of dates (there's a recurring theme here...) sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, cashew butter, pumpkin seeds and Himalayan salt. I love the combination of sweetness from the dates, and salty from the cashew butter and seeds. The perfect pre or post workout pick me up.

Granola is one of my favourite breakfasts. I love sprinkling it on top of Greek yoghurt or as a smoothie bowl topper - delicious! I usually steer clear of packaged granola as it can contain a lot of added sugar. But as this is a paleo blend, it is organic, vegan, gluten and grain free - with no added nasties! Wild Thing have created four different granolas: Rainforest Fruit, Mountain Berry, Equatorial Cacao and Island Coconut. I was kindly sent the Rainforest fruit granola, which is a mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, dates, coconut sugar, cashew and Brazil nuts, banana, coconut oil and pineapple. The combination of seeds, nuts, dates and banana is delicious, add in the pineapple and coconut sugar and you have a bowl of tropical goodness! I enjoyed this granola with my favourite mango, pineapple and maca smoothie bowl, sprinkled on top of my healthy banana split and simply with oat milk - absolutely delicious and so versatile.
Check out my instagram for food, health, fitness and more food!

I hope you enjoyed this 'Wild Thing' review post. I would highly recommend the snack bars if you are looking for a delicious afternoon snack that also happens to be packed full of goodness! The granola is also a delicious breakfast addition. Which snack bar would be your favourite? Are you a granola addict like me?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

*I was kindly sent a box of granola, and the snack bars mentioned above by Wild Thing Paleo to try and test for the purpose of a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own - please see the contact/pr section of my blog for more information.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Health: My Top Tips For When You Feel Under The Weather

That time of year is upon us again (well sort of... the sun is currently blinding me and it's muggy as anything today) but it's now September! As soon as mid-September hits I start dreaming of cooler weather, ankle boots, hot chocolates and bobble hats. I mean to be completely honest it's most likely going to be cold, rain a lot and we're all going to moan but let's pretend it's all Autumn leaves falling in slow motion and picture perfect pumpkin spice lattes. Autumn and Winter are my favourite seasons: My birthday is in October, it's not too long until Christmas, you can eat your body weight in Halloween sweets and who doesn't love jumping into piles of crunchy leaves. It's a great time of year!

But when the cooler days roll in and the night's get gloomier, I find myself feeling a little under the weather, the change in seasons always gets me. I start to feel tired, lethargic, I always have sore, dry lips and a stuffed up nose. So with that delightful picture painted for you, I wanted to share my top tips that always work for me when I am feeling run down. 

Tea please
Tea solves pretty much anything (unless you despise tea of course, sorry about that) anyway, tea is always my go to for every situation. When I'm feeling tired, if I want a boost, if I have a slice of cake or if I'm feeling unwell - tea is the answer. I was kindly sent a few samples of different green teas from the lovely people at T Plus*. Each tea is designed to target a different part of your body, and they are all full of goodness and antioxidants which makes them the perfect brew for when you're feeling run down.
There are four green teas in the T Plus range:
A blend of ginseng, Yerba mate, raspberry and pomegranate. This 'boost' tea is designed to energise. Ginseng and Yerba mate are both plants that naturally give a slow release of energy and combined with b vitamins, makes this tea the perfect morning pick me up. 

A blend of milk thistle, ginger root, b and c vitamins, apple and blackcurrant, makes this the ideal cuppa for when your body needs a little TLC. Maybe after an overindulgent weekend, or if you are trying to add some extra goodness into your body. The combination of milk thistle and ginger root helps to support internal cleansing, and leave you feeling fresh as a daisy.

This is my favourite of the four teas, it's the perfect blend for when you're feeling run down or under the weather. The combination of orange, blueberry, echinacea (flowering plants in the daisy family) and ginseng gives your body the vitamin c boost it needs, and also helps to backup your immune system. The hug in a mug you need when you start feeling that cold brewing.

This the perfect all rounder tea, packed full of nine different vitamins and heart healthy antioxidants. A delicious green tea with a mix of cardamom, rosemary, spearmint, peach and lemon. 
Comfort food
I don't know about you, but as soon as I feel even the slightest bit 'under the weather' I crave all the carbs. I'm talking bowls of chilli, fluffy baked potatoes, the pasta heaven that is spaghetti bolognese and warming bowls of soup. (with a chunk of bread for dipping of course!) I love making big batches of my chicken casserole, or a bowlful of mushroom chilli when I'm not feeling my best. It's warm, it's comforting, it's delicious (if I say so myself) and it fills your body with all that goodness it needs to get back to feeling fabulous. Check out my chicken casserole recipe here.

Sweat it out
You're going to roll your eyes at me with this one, but it really does help! I find that even fifteen minutes of moderate exercise gives me a much needed rush of endorphins, and leaves me feeling full of energy. I also find a relaxing yoga session, combined with some gentle stretching a great way to relax, unwind and detox your body.

When you're not feeling your best, water is your best friend. Try to drink at least 2 - 3 litres of water every day to stay hydrated, flush out your system, maintain your body's fluid balance and regulate body temperature. Add in a few slices of lemon, lime or orange for an added vitamin c boost.

I find it so hard to relax, I'm always go go go and it's difficult for me to switch off and just do nothing. When I'm feeling run down I always try to take an hour or two out of the day for myself. Grab a blanket, get into your cosiest pyjamas, whack a good film on (chocolate bar optional but highly recommended) and just be lazy! It's okay to slow down once in a while, especially when you're feeling unwell. It's important to let your body rest and repair itself, and if that means binge watching a whole series on Netflix while it does so - even better!

I hope you enjoyed this 'Top tips for when you feel under the weather' post - Which T Plus tea would be your favourite? Are you a tea addict like me? What are some of your tips for when you're feeling under the weather? 

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

 *I was kindly sent the teas mentioned and shown above by T Plus, to try and test for the purpose of a review. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own, for more information see the contact/pr section of my blog.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Fitness: My Relationship With Fitness | BooHoo Fit Collab*

Fitness to me isn't about washboard could-grate-cheese abs, body fat percentage or looking great in a bikini (although I wouldn't say no to the abs, but alas I like cake too much) I feel that fitness is about challenging yourself, being healthy and strong, and feeling comfortable with yourself. I love being active, it's become such an important part of my life. I exercise around five days per week, I love starting my morning with a sweaty workout to get my blood pumping, and those feel-good endorphin's flowing. 
Two years ago my relationship with fitness was non-existent, the closest I got to exercise was a short walk to the shops or maybe a very rare trip to the swimming baths. I used to always take the lift over the stairs, and pretty much avoided exercising like the plague. The reason for my aversion to fitness was that I myself was unfit. I couldn't walk up the stairs at work without getting out of puff, and my legs would ache (and I would whinge) if my boyfriend wanted to drag me out for an evening stroll. I felt uncomfortable and unhappy in myself and my body, so I didn't want to try. I thought people might laugh at me or stare at the overweight girl attempting to exercise. But after a ski trip in 2014 the realisation of how unfit I actually was hit me. Skiing is tiring, it's tough on your legs and bum, and falling over is so much more embarrassing when you aren't able to pick yourself up without assistance. After getting home and seeing the photographs I was shocked at my size, I thought that the oversized ski pants and baggy t-shirts were masking my larger frame, but the camera doesn't lie. It was then that my relationship with fitness began. 
I started going out for long walks, taking the stairs and tried to be generally more active. I work in a hotel on the reception desk, so much of my time is spent sitting down. I tried to stand more and move around as much as I could. Little by little the weight started to drop off (combined with a healthy, balanced diet) and I could feel myself getting stronger. I lost five stone in eight months and went from a UK size 18 - 20 to a 10. I looked healthier and I sure felt happier, but I wasn't strong. I was slim but not 'fit'. I did a lot of cardio so I didn't really have much muscle strength. I wanted to get stronger and feel fitter so I started combining cardio with strength training. (all in the comfort of my own home) I love trying different workouts and incorporating new exercises into my routine. I've found that a mix of dance, high intensity interval training (HIIT) plyometrics, strength training, yoga and pilates works for me. I enjoy variety and learning new things, I like to keep my routine fun and varied as it stops me from getting bored or stuck in a fitness rut. 

My body is in no way 'perfect' and I still have hang ups, but I'm strong, I'm healthy, I'm active and most importantly I'm happy. I might not have a super toned figure or long, lean legs up to my armpits but I am me, and I have come a long way from that unhappy overweight Lauren that I used to be. My body is the way it should be, the way I want it to be and is a body that I can be proud of. 
I am a big cheerleader for being body positive and confident. Whatever your shape or size, be proud of your body - it is amazing and allows you to do wonderful things! Run, jump, skip, dance, swim, and be kind to yourself - you are strong, you are capable, you are beautiful and most importantly you are you. 
I hope you enjoyed this 'Relationship with fitness' collab post, What do you think of my BooHoo fit picks? I love the Aztec style sports bra - too cute! What is your relationship with fitness? Are you a cardio queen or more of a yoga lover?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

 *This post is in collaboration with BooHoo Fit (BooHoo X Couch To 5k), and their fitness clothing range. I was challenged to style some pieces of my choosing from their collection, combining fitness with fashion. and share my own relationship with fitness. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own, for more information see the contact/pr section of my blog.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Health: Glugging Ugly*

Water is my favourite beverage. I aim to drink between 3 - 4 litres of water every day, and you will always find me with a big bottle in hand. Water is one of the best (and easiest!) things you can do for your health and there are so many benefits. It improves digestion, energy levels and brain function, improves physical performance and can also help prevent headaches.
I was kindly sent a box of cans from the lovely people at Ugly*. Ugly is a sparkling water drinks brand, who create delicious carbonated drinks with no added nasties!
Their motto is: Ugly isn’t dressed up to look pretty, it’s unsweet and has nothing to hide. It’s just sparkling water infused with natural fruit flavours. Because you’re sweet enough already.

Ugly have two different flavours of sparkling water - lemon and lime, and grapefruit and pineapple. I love that both flavours have no added sugars or sweeteners, and contain nothing artificial. It's simply sparkling water, natural (lemon and lime/grapefruit and pineapple) flavours and citric acid. Oh and as for calorie content... a big fat zero! 
The lemon and lime tastes just as it says on the tin can. A delicious blend of citrus, with a lovely lime kick, I added a wedge of lemon to mine for even more zest! The first thing that came to mind when I spotted the grapefruit and pineapple was Lilt! (I used to love ice-cold, straight from the fridge Lilt in the summertime.) Again it was delicious, a lovely mix of tart grapefruit and super sweet pineapple. 
I enjoyed both drinks chilled, straight from the fridge with lashing of ice. They are the perfect sparkling drink for a warm day, to hydrate and refresh your palate. I will admit that they aren't anything like a fizzy drink, so if you're a big fan of sugary pop they may taste a little bland. But if you love flavoured water, with a fruity kick then you'll love Ugly! #glugugly
If you would like to know more about Ugly, or pick up a few cans for yourself - check out their website here.
I hope you enjoyed this 'Ugly Review' post. What is your favourite beverage? Will you be giving Ugly drinks a whirl?
I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

*Ugly drinks very kindly sent me the cans of sparkling water mentioned above, to try and test for the purpose of a review. As always all opinions and thoughts are my own. For more information please see my Contact/PR tab. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Lifestyle: Life Through My Camera Roll #8

It's been quite a while since I have updated you with a 'Life through my camera roll' post (catch up here) - so I though it was about time I shared with you all the things I've been doing/loving/watching/munching lately!
 I have new Netflix obsession for you - That 70's Show! Me and the boyfriend have been binge watching it for the past month and it's so funny. It features a baby-faced Ashton Kutcher, a super spoilt Mila Kunis and a redheaded Laura Prepon (Hello Alex from OITNB) The show is set in, you guessed it, the seventies! The series revolves around Eric Foreman and his idiot friends hanging out in his basement. It's a witty sitcom full of great one-liners, and has a brilliant cast. If you like retro jokes, stupid stunts and running gags, then you'll love it. 

I've been mixing up my fitness routine lately, as I love to try new workouts and incorporate different exercises into my routine. My new favourite is plyometrics, in which you perform exercises that exert your muscles maximum force in short intervals, with the goal of increasing power and speed strength. For example I do a combination of squat jumps, lateral jumps and skaters. I love it as it gets your heart rate up, burns fat, is fun to do and you can smash it out in twenty minutes.

I spotted this chocolate hazelnut heaven while browsing the Tesco website a few weeks ago, *adds to basket*. I have tried this spread before when Jim Jam's kindly sent me a jar - but since finishing it (sob) I couldn't get my hands on another, as it wasn't readily available in my region. So I was over the moon to see that Tesco are now selling it. It tastes just like Nutella but with 83% less total sugars and is suitable for diabetics, vegetarians and is gluten free - a winner! I love spreading mine on wholemeal toast or crispbreads, with sliced banana and chia seeds, mmm. (they also sell a standard chocolate version)

Holland and Barrett is probably one of my favourite shops, I spend far too much money picking up healthy snacks and I love discovering new brands. While browsing the aisles these babies caught my eye - they are 'Hippeas' organic chickpea puffs, and being a big fan of chickpeas I had to give them a try. I can confirm that they are blimmin' delicious - they look similar to cheese puffs but are low in calories (only 90 per packet) high in fibre and are a great source of protein. They are also gluten free and vegan too. They come in a variety of different flavours, from black pepper and herbs, to fajita and paprika. The 'in herbs we trust' has to be my favourite - the combination of rosemary, oregano and thyme reminds me of pizza. A must try.

Cancer awareness: Having had a few family members lose their fight with cancer, I think that spreading awareness of any and all types of cancer is such a wonderful thing. I was recently contacted by the lovely and very brave Heather, who has battled (and won!) her fight with a rare type of cancer called Mesothelioma. This aggressive type of cancer can develop in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart and is caused by asbestos. There is no known cure and it has a very poor prognosis. Heather was unknowingly exposed to asbestos as a little girl by her father, who worked in drywall construction. Heather beat the odds and beat cancer, she is now a ten year cancer survivor and an advocate for Mesothelioma awareness (such an amazing lady!) September 26th is Mesothelioma Awareness Day - which is the perfect opportunity to help spread the word and educate people about Mesothelioma. I myself knew nothing about it before reading Heather's story - it is such a rare disease, that really could happen to anyone. Here is the link to Heather's blog series, if you would like to read her amazing story and be kind enough to share it! P.S It made me sob just a bit, she is truly a remarkable woman.

I hope you enjoyed this 'Life Through my camera roll' post, What's your current favourite Netflix series? Will you be helping to spread the word about Mesothelioma awareness day? 

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Health: We Are Tea*

Tea is a daily necessity for me. I always start my morning off with a litre of water and cup of the good stuff. Green, herbal, fruit or classic breakfast - I love them all! So when the lovely people from We Are Tea* asked if they could send me some of their brand new tea range, I of course happily accepted!
 We Are Tea are an independent British tea company based in lovely London. They describe themselves as independent, ethical and whole leaf, which is wonderful to hear. They source all of their tea leaves directly from the best tea gardens around the world. (Mainly China, India and Africa.) I love how much thought goes into their teas, from the careful chosen high quality natural ingredients, to the ethical and environmental measures they implement. The teas are all free of genetically modified organisms (so no added nasties!) and all of the tea bags are 100% biodegradable. I feel proud to support small companies that really care about how they source their ingredients and are kind to the earth, as well as producing high quality and delicious products.

We Are Tea have teamed up with Amanda Hamilton, who is a leading nutritionist to create a brand new blend of teas, called the 'everyday good range'. The idea behind this range is to provide their customers with teas that not only taste good, but that do good too! Each tea in the range has been specially created to target a different part of your body.

 There are three different teas in this range:
The 'svelte' tea, which is a blend of Yerba mate, nettle, dandelion, ginger, fennel and seaweed. This tea has been designed to balance your metabolism and invigorate your body. I will admit as soon as I spotted 'seaweed' I was a bit dubious of trying this blend, but it really doesn't taste of seaweed (it does have a whiff of it though!) it's not my favourite of the three, but I do love the hints of nettle and fennel which come through.

The 'glow' tea, which is meant to boost your skins radiance. This tea contains red berries, Echinacea (a type of flowering plant, belonging to the daisy family) dandelion, calendula (a mix of herbaceous plants) and petals. This is my favourite tea from the range, I love the refreshing blend of berries and herbs - it's the perfect morning pick me up, and hopefully does make my skin look that bit brighter!

The 'soothe' tea, for tummy relief. This tea is the one I was most excited about, as I often suffer from bloating and my stomach can feel quite uncomfortable. This tea is a blend of fennel, chamomile, lemon verbena (a flowering plant) holy basil, mint and ginger. I have been enjoying a cup of this tea each evening after dinner, as it's usually the largest meal and it really has helped ease my bloating and digestion. A winner!

I hope you enjoyed this 'We Are Tea' review post, Are you a big tea fan like me? Which of the three blends do you think would be your favourite?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

*We Are Tea very kindly sent me three packets of the teas mentioned above, to try and test for the purpose of a review. As always all opinions and thoughts are my own. For more information please see my Contact/PR tab. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Lifestyle: Confidence

If I had to describe how I feel about myself I would say that I lack confidence. From my hair to my thighs, I am constantly critiquing myself. Last year I started getting a few spots on my chin, and after going through most of my life spot free it was quite worrying. Those worries only made the bastards multiply, the more I fretted the more spots appeared on my face. It got to the point where I would feel so self conscious that I would cover my face with my hair as much as I could, and conceal the hell out of my skin. I used to often go out sans make up but this became an absolute no-no. 

After hiding for what felt like an eternity, I booked myself an appointment with my GP to try and get some advice. He told me to remove all of my make up so that he could see my skin, I freaked out and maybe had a little sob at the request but I obliged, and he told me I had acne. I asked him how and why this had happened to me as my skin was always clear, and he explained how it could be hormonal or stress related. He prescribed me some tablets and a cream to use nightly, and sent me on my way. After months of using a combination of the two daily, my spots slowly started to disappear and no new ones were rearing their ugly heads. I felt happier and brighter, but my bubble was slightly burst by the scarring I was left with. A lovely little reminder of my acne struggle. I continued to use the medication daily and my scars did start to fade a little. 

It's now a year on and I am still using the medication. My scars are still there, and they probably will be for the foreseeable future but I have learnt to embrace them as one of my little 'flaws'. I still have days when I look in the mirror and yearn for my previously clear face, but I just remind myself that no one is perfect, we can only be the best version of ourselves and if the best version of myself has a few acne scars on her face, then I can handle that. I have shared a make up free photograph of myself that my boyfriend took - it was taken completely off guard but I love it. I feel happier, brighter and am more confident in myself, and I think this photograph highlights that. I'll never have oodles of confidence and sass, and I'm okay with that. I'm me, and I won't hide anymore.
I hope you enjoyed this 'Confidence' post, and it wasn't too much of a ramble! How do you feel confident in yourself? Have you ever had or have acne?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Friday, 5 August 2016

Lifestyle: Fun In The Sun

I'm a homely girl through and through. I love nothing more than curling up in my comfiest clothes on my big, squishy sofa with a mug of tea and shutting the door on the world. Home is my safe place, my own private haven and a place I feel happiest and most content. Having anxiety can often make me feel as though I have no control over certain situations - so being at home is always a big comfort. I have been trying push myself bit by bit, out of my little bubble and into the wide world. It sounds silly but it's important for me to push myself to at least try, otherwise I end up retreating into myself... which is never a positive thing. Anyway enough rambling my point was over here somewhere.. oh yes, SUN! Since the weather is somewhat warm in England at the moment (I say warm, it's currently chucking it down as I type) I thought I would share with you some of my favourite ways to spend a sunny day. We don't often get much sun, so as soon as it comes out (even just a brief glimpse) I race outside to soak up every last ray.
Be it in a park, in the woods, at a castle or on a cute bench somewhere - picnics are the epitome of a British summer. (well that and a barbie in the rain) Grab a wicker basket or Tesco bag for life, whatever floats your boat, some plastic cutlery and paper plates, freshly made sandwiches (smoked salmon is a firm fave) a bag of fancy crisps, cocktail sausages and sweet treats and you're good to go. For extra posh picnic points pack a cheeky bottle of Prosecco. 

Beach day
 I love the beach. The sound of crashing waves, more ice creams than you can shake a flake at and the rare opportunity to catch some rays, and maybe a tan. Unless you're anything like me, then you will end up looking like a lovely little lobster. 

My boyfriend Ian is a dab hand at sunset photographs - he just has the gift. We love nothing more than heading out on summer evening armed with our camera's to capture a beautiful sunset. The combination of pretty pinks, mellow yellows and vibrant oranges is definitely a sight to be seen. 

Sweet treats
I have the biggest sweet tooth, seriously just look at my instagram feed (cheeky plug) if it's chocolate covered, dipped or rolled I'm sold. Some of my favourite summer treats have to be homemade lemonade, ice lollies - Fabs, Twisters and Magnums are all winners or freshly baked scones with lashings of clotted cream and jam - I can't help it, I'm a Devon gal after all!

Garden time
Be it a family barbecue, garden party or a weekend get-together, there's nothing like grilling up a feast and sipping on homemade Pimm's in the comfort of your own backyard. I wish I had a garden of my own, but alas I live in a second floor flat. I used to love my old house, as we had a decent sized garden, which was perfect for sitting outside on a warm summer evening, with a good book and a cup of tea. 

Lunch date
Ian and I try to go out on a date together at least once a month. Be it dinner, watching a film at the cinema, heading to a city for a day of shopping or simply slobbing on the sofa with a chippy tea - it's important to spend some quality time together as a couple. I think it makes you stronger, happier and feel closer to each other. Hello soppy. We love going out for lunch dates, especially in the summer time. There's something about eating al fresco that's so lovely, especially in England. 

I hope you enjoyed this 'Fun in the Sun' post, What are some of your favourite ways to spend a sunny day? 

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Healthy Recipe: Homemade Nutty Granola

I love granola, it's one of my favourite breakfast toppings. I like to sprinkle it on top of yoghurt, banana splits or smoothie bowls for some added crunch. I have always bought large bags of granola from the supermarket to last me a few months, usually just simple oats and honey or nutty varieties. But after reading the ingredients list on the back of some of the packets, I realised just how much added sugar and nasties can be lurking in seemingly 'healthy' brands. Don't get me wrong, some brands are better than others, but it's the ones with the hidden sugars, salt and unnecessary added ingredients that you need to steer clear of - just because it seems 'healthy' or is marketed as such, doesn't mean that's always the case. It's definitely worth checking the label.

With all of that in mind I decided to start making my own granola - it's actually super duper easy to make, and you know exactly what your putting in to your body. You can also customise it to suit your tastes - Hate raisins? Leave them out. Love hazelnuts? Add more in! After a few trial and error attempts, I have finally perfected a nutty granola recipe that is quick to make, crunchy, sweet and delicious too. Oh, and it only requires four ingredients - win, win!
100g of rolled oats
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
(Lucy bee is my gal)
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
(I love the Clarks maple carob syrup)
30g of chopped nuts 
(I love hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts and cashews)
You can also add in anything else you fancy - such as seeds, raisins, dried fruit, cinnamon, honey or dark chocolate chips.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (electric fan assisted) and line a tray with baking paper.
Chop the nuts, not too finely as you want some nice chunks in there too.
Melt the coconut oil, I do this in the microwave in 30 second bursts - it usually takes about a minute or so to melt completely.
Add the oats and chopped nuts into a large bowl, then pour the coconut oil and maple syrup into the bowl. Mix well until all of the oats are coated in the maple syrup, coconut goodness.
Pour the mixture onto your lined tray, and spread it out into a thin layer using a spatula. 
Bake in the oven for fifteen minutes until golden brown.
I like to check mine half way through, to make sure it isn't burning.

And that's it! Granola done for the week. My recipe makes between 4 - 5 servings, depending on how much you like to use. Pop your granola once cooled, into a airtight jar and it should keep for up to a week. 

I hope you enjoyed this 'Homemade Granola Recipe' post, Are you a granola fan? What's your favourite flavour?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Health: Finding Your Healthy Balance

As you probably already know if you're a regular reader of my blog, or happen to follow me on instagram - I love to eat a healthy, balanced diet full of delicious and nutritious foods, to fuel and nourish my body inside and out. Don't get me wrong I love to indulge in whatever I fancy, usually all the chocolate/cookies/cake, every now and then, as I am big believer in eating everything in moderation. I have been following the 80/20 rule since losing five stone in 2014. (Catch up on my weight loss journey here) the concept of which is simple - you eat healthy, nutritious foods 80% of the time and indulge in whatever you fancy for the other 20%. It's not a diet, and I use the term 'rule' loosely as I personally don't believe in restricting myself, or classing foods as 'good' and 'bad' - it's a way of living! Life is meant to be full of fun and freedom, not restriction and guilt.
I try to eat a healthy, rainbow of foods on the days that I am working, and I save my indulgent 20% for a lunch date on my day off, ice cream by the seaside or a big bag of pick n mix while watching a film. But I don't plan a 'cheat day', if I fancy a bar of chocolate and a cup of tea on a Tuesday night I'll go right ahead, but I won't have another one on Wednesday night, or maybe I want to have a takeaway pizza and ice cream on a Friday night, then on Saturday I'll have something a bit lighter and more nutritious. It's all about finding a healthy balance that works for you!

Along with eating healthily, I am also an active person. (Believe me, I never used to be! #coachpotato) I actually enjoy working out, maybe not always in the middle of a bikini HIIT workout but on the whole I do enjoy it. It makes me feel strong, confident and full of energy. I work out at home, I don't have access to a gym as the nearest is about 20 miles away, but even if that wasn't the case I actually prefer to exercise in the comfort of my little flat. It's free, it's easy and I can do it any time, any day and for as long as I want to.
I don't really have a set fitness routine (for example, leg day, arm day etc) but I do plan out what workouts I want to do on particular days. For example I like to do yoga on Wednesdays and a dance cardio workout on Mondays, as I have a little more time before work. I prefer to exercise in the morning, but it's not always possible with my work schedule. If I'm starting work at 10.00am, I will do a morning workout, but if I'm starting at 9.00am, I will workout in the afternoon.

I aim to work out about five days per week. I usually have one rest day each week, maybe two if I've been overly active, as I do love to go out for long hikes with my boyfriend, weather permitting. A few weeks ago on my planned 'rest day' we ended up going on a five mile walk by the river, it was beautiful! I do find it hard sometimes to sit still and do nothing, I feel restless and like I should be moving my body in some way. But it is so important to let your muscles have a rest and recover.

The main message I wanted to share with this post is that you know yourself better than anyone, do what works for you, and what makes you happy. Try to eat well, indulge in the things you love, move a little every day and just be happy. Every body is beautiful. There's no point in living your life feeling miserable because you've put on a few pounds after having a fun weekend of ice cream and pancakes with your loved ones, or beating yourself up because you skipped a planned workout to spend some quality time doing something else you enjoy. Balance in definitely the key in my eyes, it's just a question of finding yours. 

I hope you enjoyed this 'Healthy Balance' post, Have you found your healthy balance? Do you also follow the 80/20 'rule'?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Lauren x

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Lifestyle: Feeling Fancy With Stone Bridge Hair*

When the lovely Claire from Stone Bridge Hair* asked me if I would like to try out some of their hair accessories, I of course jumped at the chance! I've been following Stone Bridge Hair on Twitter for a few years now, and they have the prettiest hair accessories - from clasps to hairbands, clips and everything in between. Each piece is hand finished, forged and stitched either right here in the UK or across the pond in Canada and the States, by designers who's work appears in Hollywood films and major Television series. How amazing is that! The level of care and passion that goes into these creations, is clear to see in each beautiful piece.

After a quick chat via email, a few questions about my hair type, shape and thickness and a couple of shameless selfies, my accessories were then carefully chosen to suit my hair and then shipped straight to my door. Upon opening the parcel I first noticed the level of attention to detail, from the beautiful silk drawstring bag containing carefully packaged items, to the pretty red ribbon tying the parcel together. The whole experience felt like such a treat. I think it'd make such a wonderful present for a loved one to brighten their day, or even a little gift from you to you.
I absolutely love all of the pieces chosen for me. The bright silk hairband adds a lovely pop of colour, and I think it looks great against my brunette curls. The perfect piece for summertime.
The butterfly clip is just beautiful, it adds a feminine touch to any outfit. I have been wearing the baroque claw in my hair most days at work, it looks lovely pinned back in a half up half down style, which gets my hair out of my face while also looking pretty too.
Hair is something I don't often spend much time or money on, (opposed to jewellery or make up) or try to 'dress up', but with these beautiful accessories I am definitely going to be making more of a statement with my hair style. I would highly recommend Stone Bridge Hair, their service is impeccable, the accessories are unique and stunning, and the ladies who own the company are so lovely! Here is the link to their website if you would like to treat yourself (and your locks) to a pretty clip or hairband. They also have a great section on their site where you can 'tell them about your hair' to help you find the perfect accessories to suit your style!

I hope you enjoyed this 'Stone Bridge Hair' post, What do you think of these lovely accessories? Will you be treating your hair to a new piece?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

*Stone Bridge Hair very kindly sent me the hair accessories shown above, to try and test for the purpose of a review. As always all opinions and thoughts are my own. For more information please see my Contact/PR tab. 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Lifestyle: Life Through My Camera Roll #7

It's been far too long since my last 'life through my camera roll' post, I usually try to make them a monthly edition, (catch up here) so I thought it was about time I shared with you what I've been loving/doing/munching lately! 
A few weeks ago, the lovely people from DragonFly Tea* kindly sent me a few boxes to try out. They are a wonderful family-owned, British tea company who are passionate about introducing tea lovers (like myself!) to new, quality tea experiences. I am a huge green tea fan, I am constantly sipping endless cups throughout the day. I find green tea so refreshing and hydrating, it's packed full of antioxidants and nutrients which are great for your skin, nails and general health. It's also been proven to speed up your metabolism and increase fat loss. I am loving the Dragonfly tea range, the citrus and berry flavours are both delicious. I love the combination of green tea with lemon, it's a great way to start your morning. You could even brew up a cup, allow to cool, add some ice and enjoy a refreshing iced tea. For more information, or to pick yourself up some dreamy teas - check out their website here.

Me and my boyfriend are both box set addicts. (hands up if you can relate!) We spend most evenings curled up on the sofa with all the food and a few episodes of our latest obsession. But after whizzing our way through many a series far too quickly, we have gone back to an old favourite - Modern Family! If you've never watched it before, where have you been? It's hilarious, real and so down to earth. Full of brilliant one-liners and a fabulous cast, Phil and Gloria have me in stitches! Watch it now. 

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day - I go to bed dreaming of what deliciousness I'm going to be munching on come morning. I am a big fan of yoghurt, granola and fruit, I have a combination of the three at least twice a week. But after reading the back of some of the bags of granola I had been picking up from the supermarket, I realised just how much added sugar can be in one serving. With that in mind I have started baking my own granola, it's cheap to make and so easy too! I love that you can add in whatever you fancy, and make it to suit you. If you would like me to share my easy, peasy granola recipe - leave me a lovely comment below.

I love fitness - I work out at least five times a week and love to mix it up. Lately I have been trying out yoga. I love how the focus is on your breathing and clearing your mind - my brain is always full of to do lists/stress/worries and negative thoughts, so it's been nice to switch my buzzing brain off for half an hour and just be in the moment. Yoga isn't just all oms and savasana, it's also a great way to tone up, strength your core and it has also helped to improve my posture. Give it a try, you might love it and if not you can just enjoy a lovely relaxing stretch on your mat for half an hour!
Healthy baking is a passion of mine, I love creating my own dishes and trying out new recipes be it from blogs, YouTube or cookbooks. My current favourite sweet treat are my Banana almond butter cookies, they are so quick to make and require only six ingredients, all of which are probably already sitting in your cupboard! They are full of nutritious ingredients, have no added sugar and taste pretty damn delicious (if I do say so myself). Tweet me a snap if you try them out, I'd love to see them!

Flowers are one of my favourite things. They are so beautiful, and really brighten up my flat. I was kindly gifted a lovely bunch of bright yellow carnations from a lovely guest at work, it was such a nice surprise and a thoughtful gesture. It just goes to show that something so small can really brighten someones day!

I did it! A few weeks ago I was challenged by the Exeter Deaf Academy to take part in their #VoiceOff challenge - I had a great day, raised some money for a wonderful cause and also gained so much knowledge. Check out my blog post here.

I hope you enjoyed this 'Life through my camera roll' post, What have you been loving lately? What's your favourite healthy sweet treat?

I'd love to know, leave me a lovely comment below.

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

*Dragonfly Tea kindly sent me three boxes of green tea to try and test for the purpose of a review. As always all opinions and thoughts are my own. For more information please see my Contact/PR tab. 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Lifestyle: I Took On The #VoiceOff Challenge

A few weeks ago I put up a post all about taking on the Exeter Deaf Academy 24 hour #VoiceOff Challenge. Well the challenge took place on June 15th, and I did it! WOO! So I thought I would share a little round up of how I got on, the hardest parts of the challenge and how much money I raised for such a wonderful charity! (catch up here)

I started my morning off as usual with a hearty breakfast and a cup of tea, but I really missed saying good morning to my boyfriend and wishing him a lovely day. I then got myself ready, put on my badge, grabbed my white board and headed off to work. I work in a hotel and the guests were so kind about my challenge, although some thought I had a sore throat that's why I wasn't speaking! haha.
I explained my challenge by displaying a sign next to my desk, wearing my badge (this had 'I'm doing the Voice Off Challenge in aid of Exeter Deaf Academy. I have switched my voice off for 24 hours, please be patient with me.' written on it) and using my whiteboard. I found having a whiteboard made this challenge so much easier, it was a simple way to quickly write a message or note to a guest. I wrote 'Good morning, how can I help you?' on one side and 'Thank you' on the reverse side. The hardest part about not speaking at work was not being able to answer the phone - every time I was left alone for a few minutes the phone would ring, and I would have to run across the building to find someone to answer it! (getting my cardio in for the day!) The only small thing that made me feel a little awkward was that some guests would look right past me to my Manager, instead of attempting to communicate with me.

My work day seemed to fly by surprisingly, and I even received a few sponsors from some of my guests. I did feel a little left out and isolated from the rest of my colleagues, as they were all laughing and joking and I felt I couldn't always join in, as it was difficult having to write everything down. It can be very time consuming. I feel that deaf people must have the patience of a saint, as it can be quite frustrating trying to 'act out' or sign what you are trying to explain. I did manage to sign for sorry, thank you, hello, goodbye and deaf, while doing my challenge - all of which were provided to me on a leaflet included in my fundraising pack. This was a huge help!
The rest of my day went well, I popped to the shops and acted out what I wanted and spent the evening at home with my boyfriend watching TV. Although it did feel as though we didn't chat as much, as we usually comment on the show we are watching or ask how each others days have been. My boyfriend was so supportive of my challenge though, he texted me throughout the day and left me little notes around our flat, which was so lovely.

I found the challenge tough, but inspiring. We rely so much on expressing ourselves through speech that we sometimes forget to listen. I found that I listened so much more to what people were saying, and read their expressions. It was an eye opener, I will be trying to make more of an effort to stop and listen fully more often.

I managed to raise a wonderful £153.96 (£157.96 with gift aid) for the Deaf Academy, and I am so proud of myself for being able to take on such a difficult challenge. It was a great experience, I learnt so much about sign language, the struggles deaf people have to face every day, and I also raised money for a great charity! I want to say a huge thank you to Nicola at the Deaf Academy for being so kind, my dad for supporting me through my work day, all of my friends, family, colleagues and blogger babes for sponsoring me, and my lovely boyfriend for making me smile all day long!
I hope you enjoyed this #VoiceOff challenge post. Would you be able to switch your voice off for 24 hours?

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

*I am not being compensated or paid for taking part in the #VoiceOff Challenge, I am simply taking part to raise money for a good cause!