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!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Devon Delights #5: Cheesecake Heaven At Boston Tea Party*

When the lovely people from Boston Tea Party* kindly invited me back to my local cafe to review their new menu additions (I reviewed their wonderful healthy menu options earlier this year, catch up here) I of course jumped at the chance, as I had such a lovely lunch on my last visit. I saw the words 'review' and 'cake' and was instantly sold! I have such a sweet tooth, so I was excited to see what new creations they had come up with.
First up on the menu was a smoothie. I love smoothies - they are the perfect pick me up to start the day, and are also a tasty lunch addition. There are two new smoothies on the menu, The Green One and The Red One - I opted for the green one as it sounded right up my street. The raw vegetable smoothies are made with fresh, wholesome ingredients and are full of goodness. The green one is a delicious combination of spinach, cucumber, banana, chia seeds, apple juice and lime. A must try!

I am a big fan of sandwiches for lunch, I often whip myself up a stuffed pitta or wrap when I'm at home, as I find myself lagging around lunchtime as my post workout breakfast fuel starts to waver, so I always go for some carbs to keep me satisfied and energised for the afternoon ahead. Toasted sandwiches are a gift from the gods. Cheese and bread is just heaven on it's own (cheese on toast anyone...mmm) but Boston Tea Party have upped their game and added some amazing toasted sandwiches to their menu. I went for the Chipotle chicken and parmesan, which has chicken, chipotle sauce, sun blushed tomatoes, parmesan cheese and roasted peppers. The combination of crispy sourdough, juicy chicken and gooey parmesan is delicious, add in the spicy chipotle sauce, sweet peppers and tomatoes, and you have a winner! I love that all of their toasties are made with freshly baked Hobbs House Bakery sourdough bread, which is yeast free and with it's soft texture, makes it perfect for toasting! (They also have gluten free options available)
And now for the pièce de résistance... dessert of course! No lunch date is complete without dessert. I love all things sweet and indulgent, so when I spotted this beauty on the counter I was sold! It's a lemon cheesecake like no other - a pastry base, with a layer of baked cheesecake, topped with lemon curd, a thin layer of soft meringue, then topped with crumble. I think I just drooled on my keyboard while writing this... it is by far the best lemon cheesecake I have ever had! The zesty lemon curd is to die for, pair that with thick, creamy cheesecake and a buttery crumble and you have dessert heaven. It's so indulgent and creamy, yet so fresh and light on the palate. Oh, and if it couldn't get any better - it's also gluten free!

As if the baked cheesecake wasn't enough, they also have a few other new sweet offerings. 
Coconut and lime cake.
Earl Grey and cranberry malt loaf
Coffee, walnut and cardamom cake
Vegan Date and walnut flapjack with peanut butter icing
The Ambassador 
(Hazelnut meringue filled with Nutella mascarpone cream - also gluten free! I wanted to try this bad boy, but they didn't have any in my local cafe, I'll definitely have to hunt it down next time!)

We had such a wonderful lunch at Boston Tea Party, the food is incredible! I would highly recommend popping into your local cafe for a spot of lunch, here is a list of their locations, we will definitely be returning!

 I hope you enjoyed this 'Boston Tea Party Review' post, I had such a wonderful lunch, and I wish I had a slice of cheesecake right about now... mmm. Have you ever visited a Boston Tea Party cafe? What were your thoughts? Do you have a right old sweet tooth like me?

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

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

*Boston Tea Party kindly offered me a complimentary lunch for two, for the purpose of reviewing their new menu additions. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own, for more information please see my Contact/PR tab.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Lifestyle: Cheerz x Polaroid Collaboration*

I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Cheerz*, who kindly invited me to review their brand new Polaroid 3000 prints. If you're not familiar with Cheerz, they are a photo printing company who in their own words 'bring your memories to life'. Cheerz have a website and app, full of great products onto which you can print your favourite photographs. I have worked with Cheerz before when I reviewed their amazing four square photo frame and magnets - I absolutely love their prints, so I of course jumped at the chance to work with them again! 
I love Polaroid photographs and I actually own an Instax mini Polaroid camera, that my lovely boyfriend kindly surprised me with a few Christmases ago. I love the idea of being able snap a photograph and then instantly have the print in your hand. It's such a great concept! No muss, no fuss.
Cheerz have taken the idea of Polaroid images and put their own unique spin on it. Of course they aren't 'instant' photos per say but to be able to receive your personalised printed Polaroids within 4 - 5 days of placing your order is pretty darn good!

Cheerz have teamed up with Polaroid to create a brand new set of prints, the 'Polaroid 3000' box. Cheerz wanted to create a box that was inspired by the classic look of Polaroid prints, but with your own chosen photographs. The prints are on thick, glossy paper and have that classic embossed look to them. I love how you can also personalise your prints to suit your style, by adding text. I added a few words to each of my prints, as I think it's such a wonderful way to look back on where you were when the photo was taken, or when a particular event happened. 

Cheerz are such a great company; the service, quality and delivery are all top notch - as is the quirky packaging. You simply download the app, which is free or use their website, then select the photographs you would like to print straight from your phone or computer album, then pick the type of print your would like to create. There are so many different options available; from magnets to photo albums, frames and of course the brand new Polaroid 3000 box - you'll be spoilt for choice!
I am so pleased with how my prints turned out! I love the style and look of the photographs - the box also comes with a magnetic Polaroid style outline 'frame' in which you can slot one of your prints inside and display on your fridge - how fab is that! I would highly recommend Cheerz, the prints are so professional and it's such a quick and easy service to use. They also make such brilliant gifts for anyone - perhaps for a personalised Father's day present!

I hope you enjoyed this 'Cheerz review' post, What do you think of my personalised Polaroid prints? Will you be giving Cheerz a whirl, and picking up a gift for yourself or a loved one?

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

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx

*I was kindly sent a code from Cheerz to create my own 'Polaroid 3000' box to try and test for the purposes of a review, as always all opinions and thoughts are my own. See my Contact/PR tab for more information.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Healthy Recipe: Nutty Banana Cookies

I love taking seemingly 'unhealthy' dishes and giving them a healthy makeover. I've already revamped a fruit crumbleFrench toast and pancakes, so I thought I'd try my hand at some healthier cookies. Perfect to enjoy with a cuppa or to take as a snack on the go. Delicious! This cookie recipe is easy peasy, healthy and only requires six ingredients to make - win win!

If you recreate this or any of my recipes, I'd love it if you tagged me on Twitter or Instagram (@clumsybaby) so I can have a nosy!
To make five cookies you will need:
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon of soft but not melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
75g of rolled oats
2 tablespoons of almond butter
(I tried these with cashew butter too and they were heaven)
Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

If you want to make a bigger batch simply double the recipe.

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (fan assisted) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Peel and mash the banana in to a bowl using a fork, until it's a smooth consistency and there are no lumps.
3. Then add the coconut oil and maple syrup and continue mashing until all the ingredients are combined.
4. Pour in the oats, nut butter and vanilla and stir well.
5. Form the mixture into five cookies and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
Leave to cool and enjoy!

The cookies should last up to three days in a sealed container.

These cookies are soft and almost cake like on the inside but crunchy on the outside, with a lovely nutty, banana taste throughout. I have been whipping up batches of these beauties to take to work with me as a mid-morning snack. I hope you love them as much as I do!
 (Oh and my dad gave them a big thumbs up!)
I hope you enjoyed this 'Nutty banana cookies' recipe post. Will you be recreating my cookie recipe? What's your favourite healthy sweet treat?

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

Let's be friends!

Love Laurenx