I flipping love a mini product, don’t you? And if you know any students that are heading off to university this autumn, this gorgeous Estée Lauder #Gameface beauty box, specially curated to be the ultimate Freshers survival kit, is just the perfect gift to see them off with a big smile on their faces. I wrote recently about taking the leap from home to uni, and it’s a daunting prospect for even the most confident student, so anything that’s going to give them a lift – and make them look and feel their best too – is most welcome. Also, for most new students, money is really tight, so this many products are going to be really welcome, especially when the box contains so many brilliant Estée brands.
Spaghetti and meatballs is one of our favourite family dinners (‘spagerder!’). You just can’t beat tender, savoury meatballs in a silky tomato sauce with mounds of freshly cooked pasta. Of course, there are a hundred different variations out there: some meatballs use pork and beef, some add Parmigiano to the mixture, some bake, some cook in the sauce… the possibilities are endless. My take on it uses a pretty standard beef meatball, baked in the oven first, then cooked in a rich tomato sauce with a hint of sweetness from the balsamic vinegar and a hint of chilli spice too. Of course you can use a jar of tomato sauce, which I often do too, and linguine instead of spaghetti if you don’t have it. Here, then, especially for you, is my own, well-loved recipe for spaghetti and meatballs with tomato balsamic sauce.
I usually save my shopping posts until the weekend, as you know, but the hush autumn 2018 pieces have gone live today and I’m SO EXCITED, there was no way I was going to wait until Saturday to show you my favourites. As usual, hush have excelled themselves, going for a mix of effortlessly easy to wear separates, lovely dresses (some old favourites in new prints), some cute casual pieces and some more luxe pieces that will be perfect as the weather gets colder and, as with most hush investments, will last for years. So if, like me, you’re obsessed with laid back luxe, you’re going to absolutely love this collection. Here’s my hush autumn 2018 wishlist:
All I’ve wanted to wear for the last few weeks is strappy dresses, shorts and vest tops, which is glorious (I could live with this weather all year round – I love the sunshine). But all good things must come to an end and as usual at this time of year, new, autumnal items are starting to appear all over the high street (and the internet). I thought I’d dedicate this weekend’s wishlist to a few new season trends. And while some are more wearable than others – I’ll be steering clear of capes, thank you very much – there are some gorgeous new season pieces appearing. Here are some of the ones I’ve spotted.
If you don’t know much about Halloween Horror Nights, it’s an annual event at Universal Orlando Resort (2018 is the 28th year, which is why you’ll see the hashtag HHN28 used a lot on social media), where for a limited time, the streets come alive with murderous, terrifying characters, or ‘scareactors’, haunting scare zones around the park and also inhabiting individual mazes (haunted houses). Inspiration for the scare zones and houses is taken from modern and cult classic horror and sci fi films and TV shows, plus you’ll find incredible original concepts inspired by various eras or genres of films. Visitors can walk through the scare zones – areas of the park taken over by terrifying, realistic characters and walk through the incredibly detailed and realistic mazes. Want to know more about the houses and scare zones at Halloween Horror Nights 2018? Here’s everything you need to know!
This time last year, we were just beginning to get everything ready for Charlie to go to university. He was delighted to be offered a place at Leicester, and we were slowly ticking off items from the ‘to do’ list, from sorting out a student bank account, to shopping for bedlinen and essentials for his new uni accommodation. Making the leap from living at home is a huge undertaking and can be a really stressful time for even the most confident teenager. Student accommodation provider, Unite Students has recently released The Leap – a report about the challenges involved in making the transition to uni, and providing tips for making the leap to university from a range of experts, parents and students.
I’ve known my friend Erica since we met on our first ever Disney trip together back in 2009. We’ve always stayed in contact and, along with most of the original members of the Disney 7 (our group of mummy bloggers from way back who met on our very first Disney trip), chat pretty regularly. Erica lives in Edinburgh (where she runs the hugely successful Edinburgh food blog, Foodinburgh), so we don’t get to see each other that much. Every so often the opportunity comes up for us to take a trip together, and this time as we were both so busy, we wanted to choose a holiday where we could kick back and relax. We wanted lovely, chic surroundings for a few days of quiet contemplation and catching up, with a bit of light exploration thrown in. As you probably know, I’m a bit in love with cruising: I love the glamour, the gorgeous surroundings, the delicious food, cocktails on the deck and waking up in a new port with all the fresh possibilities of exploring a new destination, so we chose a Greek islands trip from Malta on board P&O Oceana – a beautiful not-too-big, not-too-small ship, with a bit of old-world glamour thrown in. And although you might not immediately think of taking a cruise with friends as a grown up holiday option, we absolutely loved it. Here’s why we think cruising with friends is fabulous:
I don’t know about you but I really struggle with night time skincare. I feel like I want to use a bit of a richer product at night, but I don’t want anything too heavy and greasy, and my skin can be a bit sensitive (oh, the horrible tingly pain of a recent dabble into Vitamin C). What I want at night is a lovely smelling, nourishing, soothing moisturiser so I wake up all plump skinned and happy. I was starting to think it was too much to ask, and then I discovered REN Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm and I’m completely addicted. I’m a huge fan of REN products; they’re cruelty free and as I mentioned recently, they’re really interested in sustainability, introducing a new 100% recycled plastic bottle, 20% of which will be plastic collected by global organisations like Surfrider from oceans, beaches, rivers and lakes worldwide. So I thought I’d dedicate this weekend’s wishlist to telling you about some of my fave products, and giving you the heads up about some fab REN skincare deals and discount codes too.
Oh. My. Days. Did you love cherryade when you were a kid? I have the most wonderful memories of sitting outside the cricket club on balmy summer evenings with a bottle of Corona and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps. I adored it, even if it stained your lips pink, and if we were super lucky in the school holidays, we got to pop a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it and make delicious ice cream floats. I think I’ve probably been fantasising about cherryade since about 1980-something, so imagine how flipping chuffed I was when these little beauties arrived in the most lovely packaging from craft soda firm Dalston’s. And it tastes like the best cherryade in the world.
12 years, though. 12 whole years! I can’t actually believe it’s been that long since I sat at my enormous, clunky computer in that little house down a long drive in County Dublin and listened to it making that weird, warbly dial-up sound connecting to our bloody awful internet connection. They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and for me, my journey really began when I started writing down my thoughts about moving our young family to Ireland. This led on to being a part of the very early blogging community in Ireland, and from there – well, you know the rest! And what better way to celebrate with you than with cake and sprinkles, and to give you, dearest reader, the most precious of gifts: the best vanilla cupcake recipe I own!
It’s hot, hot, hot! I think I might be in the minority in that I absolutely love a heatwave. There’s nothing guaranteed to make me hop out of bed in the morning than a peek of a sunny day blossoming through the crack in the curtains. In this weather there’s nothing better than a loose dress, catching every little bit of breeze, and not clinging to you in the heat. So, for this weekend’s wishlist, I thought I’d have a look for a few deliciously light, floaty, cool options – all perfect dresses for hot summer days.
Do you work from home? I haven’t worked in an office for as long as I can remember (English Mum is 12 next month – can you believe that?) and I feel so incredibly lucky to do what I love without having to commute to an office every day. However, I’ve been feeling recently that my little spot at the kitchen table isn’t serving me that well. The boys are both home from uni (Sam has finished uni – I feel a million years old), and the kitchen tends to be where everyone gathers, so when I’m busy trying to think of a different word for sophisticated while writing a ship review for Cruise International, I end up actually writing down whatever conversation I’m listening to instead. I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s time to head back upstairs to the ironing room (it’s a single spare bedroom currently used for extra storage and ironing) and mulling over some stylish home office ideas.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I’m incredibly interested in sustainability. Whether that means committing to preserving our natural resources and lessening our individual environmental impact by eating less meat, doing my bit to save our planet by working towards ditching the single use plastics (sorry, favourite takeaway, your plastic containers mean that we won’t use you), or just committing to reusing and recycling as much as possible in our day to day family life and trying to reduce the amount of waste we create. Of course, one of the best ways to work towards zero waste is to sell your unwanted items, be they clothes, furniture, cars, or anything else, online. It’s a great way to save money and then, of course, you can purchase something to replace it feeling completely guilt-free. It’s a win/win way to live more sustainably. I wish I’d known then what I know now, though. I’m definitely going to give it a go a lot more often, and it’s all thanks to some top tips for buying and selling on Gumtree that I’ve learned.
I do love a little travel kit, don’t you? There’s something about teeny products that I love – they’re perfect for travel, or just popping in your handbag, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this gorgeous hush x balance Me summer edit skincare set. I mean, as if the cute jelly watermelon pink limited edition pouch didn’t light your fire, they’ve only gone and covered it in palm print too. It’s like it was meant for me! Happily, the products inside are brilliant as well – I’m just discovering the Balance Me range and I’m loving everything about the botanically active products, most of which are 99%, if not 100% natural.
I love to travel, but it’s also really lovely to get home and do a bit of nesting. I miss being in our kitchen, cooking for everyone while we all chat, catch up and have a giggle – there’s nothing quite like a house full of people (and quite a bit of mess at the moment – I need to do some decluttering). Charlie is home from uni and Sam has finished uni (I’m so old!) so doing a bit of part time stuff until he can get something more permanent, so often there’ll be all of us – plus girlfriends and often the odd friend too. I love it. The more the merrier, and these easy spiced lamb kofta meatballs are perfect for feeding a crowd. I guess you wouldn’t really look at meatballs as sunny day food, but, if you’re anything like me, there’s only so many salads you can eat when the weather is warm.
If you follow me on any form of social media, I’m pretty sure that you won’t have missed the fact that I was back in my favourite place on earth recently for the opening of brand new Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida. First up, I’ve got a video we had great fun making, showing you all the highlights of this incredible new addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and then I’ll tell you five reasons why you need to visit new Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World – the largest expansion in the history of the park!
- Weekend wishlist: Estée Lauder #Gameface beauty box August 18, 2018
- How to make the best spaghetti and meatballs with tomato balsamic sauce August 16, 2018
- My hush autumn 2018 wishlist August 14, 2018
- Weekend wishlist: new season trends are landing! August 11, 2018
- Houses and scare zones at Halloween Horror Nights 2018 August 10, 2018