Review: Initial Impressions of Cut Make Trim*

CutMakeTrim photo 2014-04-08084902_zps246e48c9.jpgI was recently contacted by the lovely Alice on behalf of British company Cut Make Trim, and was delighted to be offered the opportunity to review a product of my choice. As you all know I am a huge satchel fan (I own my custom sized massive one, which I’ve blogger about a few times, as well as another from the Leather Satchel Co which I actually won in a competition and really should post about) so I immediately accepted the review opportunity, and not-so immediately placed an order.

Having some experience of satchels I know what size I wanted to go for (15″ to fit A4 – the company also offer 13″ and 11″ as well as an interesting barrel-style satchel. Choosing a colour was far more difficult, in the end I went for ‘ranger‘ which I expected to be either dark brown or black. I was secretly rooting for it to be black, so was very excited when it was. Delivery was quick, and the ordering process was very simple (expected, given there are no customisation options). I must admit though that I was a little put off by the fact that the company themselves never answered a query I sent before placing my order.

My impressions with the satchel so far? I am very impressed with the buckle straps, as they are a lot thicker than my other satchels and do feel a bit more substantial. The rest of the satchel is made up of a thinner leather, and it is a lot more flexible than my Leather Satchel Co offerings. I’ve found I can much more easily squeeze a coat inside this satchel. One thing I will say is that if you are a little shorter than average be prepared to go and get extra holes added in the strap – it reached below my knees! The quality is definitely good, though I found that the edges are a little sharp and a lot more pointy than anything I am used to – they’ve laddered a few pairs of tights and added a few bruises (though having said that, my oversized satchel causes huge bruises for the first few weeks).

The finish is definitely the biggest selling point of this bag. I can’t comment on their more ‘regular’ leathers as this is completely different – it’s matte and almost pre-scuffed. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and it looks unusual. I have a feeling this will last well too, as any additional scuffs and marks will just blend in nicely. If you want a satchel that looks preloved and almost vintage, I’d definitely recommend this style.

CutMakeTrim photo 2014-04-08084914_zps771f171b.jpgYou can order online here, and they’re also sold in Covent Garden Market on certain days. I’m hugely thankful for the opportunity to review this satchel, and I think I’ll be doing a few more posts comparing my bags – I also have a post planned on showing you the (small amount of) wear and tear two terms has caused my oversized original satchel.

What do you think of satchels?

Budget Beauty: Reward Cards

RewardCards photo 2014-03-30113508_zps643708b1.jpgAs you can see from my bulging purse I’m a huge lover of reward cards. There’s a general post on the subject scheduled in the next week or so (I have so many I had to split the post up!) but this is all about my beauty cards, what I get the most use out of, and how I like to use them.

First up I have probably the most well known beauty reward card – the Boots Advantage Card. I’ve loved mine from the moment I got it, I’ve always loved knocking up points then treating myself. Over my first year of university I used all my hard-earned points on everyday items, which saved me a lot. However I felt a bit cheated, so I’d definitely recommend treating yourself. The best thing about this card is the ease of building up points (4 for every pound, often with bonus events), regular vouchers, and the free magazine.

Then I have a little bit of a strange one – my Holland and Barratt card. I have no idea what the reward scheme actually is, but I signed up during an offer where I automatically received £1.50 worth of points. This is a bit slow to rack up I admit, but I only tend to buy a couple of items (more will become clear in the next few weeks – but one of my all-time favourite skincare items is from their shelves).

Finally I have my beloved Bodyshop card. I was reluctant to sign up to this as you do have to pay (around £5) but I’m pleased to report that it is worth it. I’ve more than got my money back during their 40% off weekends, and you get a£5 product/money off during your birthday month. Not to mention the stamps that build up to money off – I currently have £15 to spend on mine!

One last little thing, a request from me. I have £35 on my Boots card, some of which I want to use to buy a little treat. Anything you recommend? I’m visiting a store with a MAC counter over my holidays if that helps…

What’s your favourite beauty reward card?

Recipe: Chicken Khari Curry

KhariCurry6 photo 2014-03-03194816_zps296459ab.jpgYou may remember from my Spicy Pea Toasted Sandwich (which I hope you try, by the way, as its an amazing recipe!) that my boyfriends dad has been taking an Indian Cookery class in Northampton run by Rashmita Shah (I believe she is hosting these workshops this year). Being away at university I’ve yet to sample any other dishes he’s learnt, but he did send me down this recipe, along with a spice mix from Rashmita herself (which I’m amazingly grateful for – so thank you to John and Rashmita – its getting a lot of use!). I was also sent an amended (to remove the evil tomatoes) recipe, which I generally follow to the letter. In fact my only deviations are to add extra veg, generally spinach, and use garlic granules if I don’t have any fresh! I also generally don’t include fresh coriander, simply because I have bought two plants since starting university in 2012, and killed both…

KhariCurry2 photo 2014-03-03192014_zps91a572ab.jpgThe spice mix I am using is made up of hing, whole cumin seeds, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, salt and low sugar. I’ve no idea whether this would work with other spice mixes (and please don’t go and buy generic curry powder…at the very least buy a few separate spices and experiment). I’ve really enjoyed being able to enjoy a curry that isn’t Thai, or a korma – I’ve felt really limited due to my tomato allergy before now! Lets get cooking…

Ingredients (scaled down for one person)

  • 1 portion of chicken
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1.5 tsp spice mix
  • A splash of boiling water
  • Small handful fresh coriander, if you have greener fingers than me!

KhariCurry1 photo 2014-03-03192004_zpse2b57bb2.jpgStart by chopping your onion, garlic and ginger together, as finely as possible. Rashmita suggested grating these ingredients, though I cheated and used an electric chopper. Fry in the oil, which you have heated to a high heat. You want to stir-fry these at a continuous high heat, stirring very frequently, until they are soft and turning golden brown.

KhariCurry3 photo 2014-03-03192901_zps0898b61c.jpgThen add your spice mix to the pan, and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.

KhariCurry4 photo 2014-03-03193225_zps7c924658.jpgThen add your chicken, and continue stir-frying over the high heat until completely sealed and virtually cooking through.

KhariCurry5 photo 2014-03-03194458_zpsc42fc176.jpgTurn the pan down a little, and add the boiling water slowly, still stirring constantly. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is as thick/thin as you like it. I add my spinach just before it is done. Then serve, garnishing with coriander if you have it.

KhariCurry6 photo 2014-03-03194816_zps296459ab.jpgAnd that’s it! I was shocked at how simple this recipe was, as I always assumed most Indian recipes were complicated and used a long list of ingredients. Okay, I’m using a spice mix, but even that isn’t overly complex! This is a quite and easy recipe, that’s well spiced with a complex flavour. It takes around 20 minutes to make, and for me the difficult part is cooking rice on an electric hob (any tips, please pass them on!).

What’s your favourite curry?

 

Review: Lymehouse Jewellery Button Earrings*

LymehouseButtonEarrings3 photo 2014-03-30164741_zps644ac150.jpgA few weeks ago I came into contact with the lovely Jo from Lymehouse Jewellery over Twitter, then last week a lovely parcel dropped through my letterbox.

LymehouseButtonEarrings5 photo 2014-03-30164643_zpsec44443e.jpgI’d fallen in love with the style of the jewellery, despite it not being my usual thing (I’m not a jewellery person – I have some sentimental pieces that I wear often, and I rarely wear earrings at all!), so I jumped at the chance to review a few little pieces. I was especially glad because of the low price point – they are all around the £4 mark, so perfect for a little thank-you gift, stocking filler, or just because. I was however a little worried that the button earrings would be big, chunky, and not very feminine…

LymehouseButtonEarrings1 photo 2014-03-30164804_zpsc5daf75f.jpgWell I am pleased to say I was wrong! Whilst the smaller, plainer pain aren’t really my style at all, I really do love the floral pattern. They are also surprisingly comfortable to wear once I got over the shock of having to re-pierce my ears!

LymehouseButtonEarrings2 photo 2014-03-30164746_zpsaef41ff5.jpg I think these look really feminine, and surprisingly delicate – they are great for summer, and are perfect for going on holiday when you don’t want to risk losing a more expensive pair!

LymehouseButtonEarrings4 photo 2014-03-30164655_zps416bef83.jpgI would highly recommend Lymehouse Jewellery too – they arrived quickly and beautifully packaged. I’d definitely be happy to receive these as a gift…in fact I’m highly tempted by the Sleek Gold versions available at the minute! It made a lovely and refreshing change to switch up my tastes in jewellery, and I definitely will be getting lots of wear out of these earrings, so thank-you Jo!

What type of jewellery do you like to wear? What do you think of button earrings?

Baking: ‘Lighter’ Ferrero Rocher Brownie Cupcakes

 photo 2014-02-25094524_zpsea14e6ce.jpgAfter reading Rachel’s post about her delicious healthier brownies I knew I just had to give them a try. She posts some fabulous recipes, I always enjoy reading her posts (recently I’ve been craving waffles and frites – all because of her blog!) and I had all of the ingredients. It was the question of when, not if, was I making these. However I decided to be far more naughtier than Rachel – I swapped out the peanut butter for nutella, and added a Ferrero Rocher to each brownie-cupcake. In my defense I’m trying to use up all of my leftover Christmas chocolate before replacing it with Easter Eggs, so I had an ulterior motive for the Ferrero Rocher part!

 photo 2014-02-25082051_zps76ee90f1.jpgThe brownie element of these cupcakes is great – really moist and chocolatey. I’ll definitely be experimenting with this recipe more – and I’ll definitely give the peanut butter a go too! Best thing is the recipe is ridiculously easy, so I suggest you give it a go! I used a few different things in my recipe as I found them easier to find, so I hope Rachel doesn’t mind me posting my method here!

Ingredients (Makes 12 Cupcakes)

  • 175g greek yoghurt
  • 85g milk – I used hazelnut milk
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 90g cocoa powder
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 100g nutella (or cheaper alternative!)
  • 12 Ferrero Rocher (for your  information the white ones are amazing – far too good to be used in baking)

Now its time to make Ferrero Rocher Brownie Cupcakes!

 photo 2014-02-25084852_zps19a1ac89.jpgAdd all of the ingredients (except from the Ferrero Rocher) to a blender, and whizz until smooth. The mixture will be very runny (far runnier than you would expect!) but don’t worry, this is totally fine.

 photo 2014-02-25085734_zps2d8c915e.jpgHalf fill cupcake cases with the mixture, and place a Ferrero Rocher in the centre of each.

 photo 2014-02-25094524_zpsea14e6ce.jpg Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes until just firm. Keep an eye on them, as the Ferrero Rocher did tend to burn a little!

 photo 2014-02-25094542_zpsd747d8b3.jpgThese are great at room temperature or warmed up slightly, but be warned – the Ferrero Rocher make them very messy to eat! And thats it; very easy and slightly healthy Ferrero Rocher Brownie Cupcakes. Enjoy them!

What do you like to add to your brownies?

Restaurant Review: Number 12 Tearoom

 photo 2014-03-12133535_zpsde638408.jpg A few months ago I was spending some time procrastinating and reading Groupon deals when I came across an offer I couldn’t resist. This result in myself and Libby ditching revision one sunny Wednesday afternoon a few weeks ago and treating ourselves to a pretty bargainous afternoon tea.

Our voucher was High Tea for Two – we paid £12 for this instead of the usual £30, which we thought was excellent value. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth £30 (in my mind Canterbury is pricy as we get loads of tourists who do actually pay the full price!) but for £12 it was wonderful and I’m searching Groupon for deals like this in the future!

 photo 2014-03-12133659_zps4a371a7c.jpg We were brought out a huge pot of tea (we got three cups each, and they kept offering more), and then a three-tiered stand with all kinds of yummy things…

 photo 2014-03-12133637_zps4a8cff04.jpg

 photo 2014-03-12135007_zps966dc185.jpg I’m one for doing things in the ‘proper’ order so we started with the sandwiches. We both avoided the Tuna & Cucumber, but devoured the others. I was a bit dubious about the Cheese & Chutney as I am not the biggest chutney fan – its often a bit sweet and I don’t find it the best partner for cheesy. However this was quite savoury, there wasn’t too much of it, and it went well with the local sourdough bread. The best though (and probably THE best sandwich I’ve had in a long time!) was the Ham & Mustard. I’ve now developed a love for mustard, and I’ve had to include the extra picture – just look at how thick that ham is!

 photo 2014-03-12133733_zps2d6f6608.jpg

 photo 2014-03-12135516_zpsc0676df7.jpg The next tier was the scones. I scored the plain scone (dried fruit is not my thing at all), and after a quick debate of ‘cream then jam’ or ‘jam then cream’ we got stuck in. The scones were crispy on the outside and fluffy within – only problem was they were so big I couldn’t finish mine. Not when there was another tier to go…

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 photo 2014-03-12142816_zpseb3ce93b.jpg I’d been eyeing up the top tier since we sat down, the cakes are always the best bit in my opinion. These didn’t disappoint. There was a slice of Victoria Sponge each – I thought it was a nice touch that this included a different flavoured jam to that served with the scones. Then there was a few little bits to share. First was a Gypsy Tart, which was lovely although very sweet and virtually impossible to share as it was so gooey. I’m tempted to try and bake a version myself though! Finally we finished with a very small piece of brownie – thankfully it was small as it was very rich.

 photo 2014-03-12134046_zps1b70aa94.jpg Eventually we left, very full, to spend some quality time with the Boots make-up aisles…It was lovely to spend some time with a friend and relax for an afternoon. No chance of that now – exam timetables are up and its all systems go on the revision front for the next few months!

Have you ever been for Afternoon Tea?