24 totally random life lessons i’ve learnt in 24 years

As of yesterday I have been living on this planet for 24 years.

That honestly blows my mind.

Remember in school when you were young, you’d look up to people in the older years and think how old they seemed, and anyone over the age of 20 was just a fully grown adult, probably married with kids and a dog?

Now i’m 24 and I can’t help but think how far away I am from being an ‘adult’, whatever that really means.

But I love it! I love feeling young, I love not quite having my life together. Yeah sometimes it gets annoying but it’s all part of the journey.

And in the wise words of Ronan Keating…

Life is a rollercoaster just gotta ride it

Seriously, words to live by right there.

In my 24 years of living I feel like i’ve done a fair bit.

I’ve moved around, travelled, been to uni, had jobs in almost all sectors, had relationships (good and bad) and been through the ups and downs of general life.

Over the way i’ve learnt many things, but this year I thought i’d share a random few to celebrate another year of living.

  1. Time has a funny way of working things out, so let it take it’s course
  2. Cheese is a great addition to almost every meal
  3. The friends you make at uni will be like family
  4. And if you manage to stay in contact with your friends from school after splitting for uni etc, it’s likely they’ll be there for a long time to come
  5. Chocolate can burn
  6. If a guy wants to pursue something with you, he will make the effort. Don’t make excuses for shit guys
  7. Hair removal cream is not worth it
  8. 18 is often too young to know which career path you want to go down, so choose something you enjoy and go from there
  9. Family is everything
  10. You’ll end up disappointed if you always expect to be treated how you treat others
  11. So expect the worst and hope for the best
  12. Melted chocolate and raspberry is the ultimate combination
  13. Hair has the ability to appear on your body in the places you really would  not expect
  14. Friends: quality over quantity
  15. On a night out, nothing good ever happens after 2am
  16. It’s not just teenagers that suffer from spots
  17. There’s nothing better than chicken nuggets after a night out, or at any time as a matter of fact
  18. Exercise will always make you feel good
  19. After cooking with chilli, you can never wash your hands too much
  20. Cooking is therapeutic
  21. Love: when you know, you know
  22. Uni will make you appreciate your family in a way you would have never expected
  23. Although at the time dating disasters and break ups are utterly shit, they make the best stories and life lessons
  24. Beauty comes from within

Esther xo

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A bloggers guide to the perfect girls night in

As I sit here and write this post, i’m staring out my living room window seeing greyness, sogginess and general wintery dreariness.

Bearing in mind it’s now the start of May, it’s a slightly confusing feeling wanting to snuggle up on the sofa in a duvet, with a hot tea and a movie.

But ya know, England.

My birthday is in the middle of May, so i’ve been thinking about possible plans. (You may be wondering about the connection between the crap weather and my birthday – but stay with me)

I always like to do something to celebrate my birthday, even if it’s just dinner with friends. Because if there’s an excuse for a celebration, why not make the most of it!

With the weather being the way it is, it’s kinda got me wondering about planning a cosy girls night in.

Sometimes I find nights in are better than nights out…yes, the grandma in me is ready to come out.

Seriously though, you can’t have a good chat on a night out. Drunken heart to hearts are far better in the comfort of ya cosy pjs with a slice of pizza within arms length if things get deep.

The thing is as we get older, and jobs start to become more and more a part of our lives it becomes difficult to plan with friends. Work patterns don’t match, and sometimes life just gets in the way.

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SO, what better way to celebrate, get everyone together and have a huge catch up, than to plan a girls night in?!

My ideal night in includes a huge amount of food, and probably twice as much prossecco, but I wanted to get some thoughts from fellow bloggers so we could put together the perfect girls night in guide…so here goes!

A perfect girls night in needs…

“A Chinese takeaway…and comfy clothes so we can eat as much as we like and be super comfy for hours on the sofa” Abi

This speaks to me on so many levels and this girl is talking ultimate night in sense. A girls night in is absolutely not complete without some slobby clothes and fluffy socks. We want to be at the prime of comfort so the stretchier the better.

“Some pampering products like a face mask…I love the Sand and Sky Brilliant Skin one” Sophie

What better excuse to treat yourself with some pampering treats than at a girls night in? I totally agree with Sophie on this. I’m talking facemasks galore (which are also great for hilarious photos), nail painting kits and maybe even some hair braiding stations.

“Sweets, chocolate, popcorn, crisps and possibly some rum and coke for cocktails” Jess

Is anyone just drooling at their screens right now? I need all of these snacks instantly. We need a perfect mixture between some savoury and sweet, and crisps are always on my list. Literally – any excuse.

For girls nights in I would usually choose prossecco, but I love the idea of making cocktails.

“A really nice smelling candle to help me relax, preferably a Diptyqe or Jo Malone” Sophie

Setting the scene is essential for a girls night in. We need to create the perfect atmosphere with all the lovely smells. Incense, candles, and many many fairy lights. This instantly creates a relaxing setting.

“Pizza, wine, rom-coms and matching PJ’s” Elise 

I just adore the idea of matching PJ’s. I’ve seen some hen parties and birthday parties getting all matching in pink and I love it.

And how could we forget the movies?! Although most girls nights in are focussed around nattering, it’s nice to have some background watching and something to pop on in the background.

Is this sounding more and more like the perfect night to anyone else?!

A bloggers guide to the perfect

So there we have it, the bloggers guide to a perfect girls night in!

Now it’s time for you to plan your own.

What’s your favourite thing about a night in?

Esther xo

 

How to bulk cook your way to tasty lunches for under £1.10 a day

I work a nine to five job, meaning I eat lunch at work every weekday.

I’ve never been one of those people who just buys their lunch every day from the shop. Firstly because I absolutely cannot afford it but secondly because I prefer to be in control of what I eat.

Of course if I go to the shop I have some choice, but I don’t really want to be in the position where i’m having to decide between a Dairylea Lunchable and a slightly stale chicken salad sandwich.

So i always bring my lunch in with me.

My lunch habits go in phases. Sometimes I’ll just stick to homemade sandwiches and crisps and if i’m feeling particularly short on time I hate to admit I tend to fall back on a Naked Noodle pot.

But I like to think that’s a rare occurrence.

What happens more frequently in terms of my lunch time routine is that I try to bulk cook something yummy for the week.

On a Monday evening i’ll pop some Adele on, pour myself a nice drink and cook for the week.

And I honestly love it. Cooking relaxes me. It makes me feel calm and I seriously enjoy it.

Recently i’ve been bulk cooking something ridiculously simple which just tastes unbelievably good.

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It’s also super super cheap, which in the world of recent graduate living in Cambridge is 100% necessary.

During the week I try and stay relatively healthy. This is mostly due to the fact I like to relax with my eating at the weekend, so this helps me stay balanced.

This recipe is also v v healthy which I love, and it leaves me feeling energised and absolutely not bloated.

I find at work if I eat to much at lunch i’m left feeling sleepy and unmotivated.

So if you’re looking for something cheap, healthy, easy to make and bloody delicious, look no further!

I’m going to base this recipe on Tesco prices, as that’s where I do my weekly shop but it’s just so you can get a general gist of how affordable it really is.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 peppers (any colour you like) – £0.95
  • 1 red onion – £0.21
  • 1 punnet mushrooms £1.00
  • 1 brocoli £0.55
  • 1 bag quoin sausages £1.00
  • 2 avocados £1.70

You can use any veg you fancy, these are just my favourites.

What to do:

Chop up all your veg into small pieces. Throw the onion, peppers, mushrooms, sausages and anything else that can cook in the oven onto a baking tray. Turn the oven up to about 180 degrees and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over your veg. Mix the veg around on the tray so the oil spreads.

Put the veg in the oven and cook for around 20 minutes until it’s softened. Whilst the veg cooks in the oven, chop up the broccoli. Once you have some water boiling in a pan, put the broccoli in and cook until it’s softened. It kinda depends on how soft you like it.

Once the broccoli is softened, drain the water and finish it off in the oven with the other veg. Be careful with the broccoli as it can burn easily in the oven. I’d say an extra five minutes with the rest of the veg will do it perfectly.

Once everything is cooked through, take out of the oven and leave to cool. Chop up your sausages and mix it back in with the rest of the veg. Once cooled, split into five even portions.

I wish I could say there’s more to this recipe but that’s what I love about it. It’s SO simple.

I take the avocado with me to work and chop it up when i’m there. This just keeps it fresh.

Once you’ve chopped up the avocado, simply mix it in with the rest of your veg bowl and there you have it, a tasty and very easy lunch recipe.

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As a variation to this recipe, and one I might try if i’m feeling the need to treat myself a bit is to add some roast cherry tomatoes and feta on top of the veg bowl each day.

I’d love to know what you think about this recipe if you try it, so please let me know!

Esther xo

 

 

Garnier SkinActive range: my honest review

When it comes to skin care, i’m totally out of the loop.

My skincare routine has basically just extended to some simple kind to skin moisturiser and some boots own brand makeup wipes.

I know I know, you’ll all be screaming into your laptops at the fact that until about two months ago, I still used makeup wipes.

But they’re just so convenient!

Until this year, my very minimal skincare routine had always worked fine. I’ve been lucky enough to have pretty tame skin. Maybe a little oily on the forehead side with the occasional hormonal chin mountain, but most of the time i’ve been pretty lucky.

But for some reason, in my 23rd year of living my skin decided to turn on me.

The amount of spots i’ve been getting has probably doubled, and they’ve been appearing in places i’ve never had them before.

Like my jawline?! I mean seriously…spots on my jawline?! Why?

After doing a bit of research into why you might get spots in certain areas, it appeared to be either down to hormones or stress. And this is what I find is the case for most of my breakouts.

Before doing anything drastic I decided to make a few small lifestyle changes:

  • I started washing my makeup brushes more frequently: something I think probably a lot of us are guilty of is not washing our brushes nearly enough, me included. I threw out one of my really old ones, and now attempt to wash my brushes every week.
  • I started tying my hair up more: I often leave my hair to dry naturally, but as it’s so long it falls down onto my neck meaning the oils and shampoos from my hair are resting on my jawline and neck.
  • I stopped wearing scarfs all the time: In winter I wear big scarfs all the time, it’s my thing. But similarly to having my hair around my neck constantly, my scarves were probably picking up bacteria which would then rub off onto my neck. (sorry if this is grossing you out a little – I realise it’s not the loveliest topic!)
  • I tried to go makeup free 1-2 days a week: This is something which just makes my skin feel better and gives it the chance to breathe.
  • I got back into healthy eating: Whilst we can’t be healthy all the time, I know that constant binging on crisps and chocolate will effect my skin, so I try to make a conscious effort to think about my skin when making food choices.

After making these changes, I did start to notice a difference. The spots around my jawline have pretty much gone, and the ones that appear on my face aren’t as frequent.

 

I also decided it was time to make a skincare change and to finally stop removing my makeup with wipes, so I purchased a few items from the Garnier SkinActive range.

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Now i’ve been using the range for about a month, I thought i’d let you know exactly how i’ve got on with each of the products.

And if you’re anything like me – a total skincare virgin, this might just help you out!

Garnier SkinActive – Refreshing botanical gel wash with Aloe Extract

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I’ve never used a face wash before. See, I told you I was new to this!

But what I like about this product is I can use it in the shower. I just use a tiny amount in the mornings, give my face a quick scrub and that’s it.

Admittedly, I haven’t noticed any massive benefits to using the face wash but I do like the feeling of using this wash. It’s refreshing and cleansing and I genuinely feel like it does a good job at simply washing away any dirt.

If anything I think it actually dries out my skin a little, but for me that’s ok as I tend to get oily skin.

Garnier Skinactive – Refreshing botanical cleansing milk with Aloe Extract

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This is my favourite of the range.

I use a pea sized amount of this moisturiser after my shower and it is such a refreshing feeling.

As the wash tends to dry my skin a little, this cleansing milk does just the job of getting rid of that after shower tight skin feeling and leaves my face feeling super soft.

It smells great and feels light. I get no sense of it being too thick and clogging up my pores.

Garnier SkinActive – Refreshing botanical toner with Aloe Extract

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I’ve actually been using this in combination with a boots micellar water to remove my makeup. I get the bulk off with the water, and this helps to remove the residue.

I’ve also tested is out by using just this product to remove my makeup, and whilst it does the job, I end up getting through quite a lot.

I like the feeling of this toner, but I have to say i’m not 100% sold on it’s benefits.

If I could use it on its own to remove makeup, I’d be happy.

Overall i’m happy with these products however I haven’t noticed a huge improvement in my skin. I’m still getting a similar amount of breakouts and actually when I first introduced this range into my routine I started getting some extra unwanted face mountains.

I guess that’s just my skin being mad at me for introducing to something new.

I like the feel of the products, and whilst they aren’t showing any huge benefits I know they’re being kind to my skin.

For now my plan is to persevere, and maybe things will change in a month or so.

What are your favourite skincare products?

Esther xo

Must watch crime thrillers you can binge on Netflix

So I thought i’d do something a little different today on the blog.

Usually you’ll see foodie bits, Instagram tips, and just a bit of my general lifestyle but as I was thinking about what I fancied writing today, I thought about something that comes up in my conversations a lot.

Netflix series.

Whether it’s friends at work, family, or the online world, i’m always looking out for Netflix recommendations and if i’ve enjoyed a new series recently – you’re guaranteed to hear about it.

You might have seen if you follow me on Instagram, I often describe my ideal Friday nights include a bath, a glass of wine, and a Netflix crime programme.

Now you may think this sounds like an odd kinda evening but trust me, there’s nothing better than starting a new series on a Friday night and being able to binge watch the entire thing over the course of the weekend.

And I absolutely love the crime genre.

Documentaries, dramas, investigations, they’re just so gripping. Luckily I know i’m not the only one with this slight obsession, as it seems a lot of us are a bunch of crime loving weirdos. And I’m totally fine with that.

Recently we’ve binge watched some cracking Netflix series which I cannot recommend enough, and because i’ve already told everyone I know about them, I thought i’d share them with you.

American Crime Story – The People VS OJ Simpson

As the title suggests this series is all about the trial of OJ Simpson after he was accused of killing his ex wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

I love true stories. Films and series based around true events always grip me, and I end up feeling the emotion so much more.

This series is bloody fantastic.

I’m kinda ashamed to say I knew barely anything about the OJ Simpson case apart from its link to the Kardashian family. I know – awful.

But if you happen to be in the same boat I highly recommend you watch this series. What went on over the course of the trial was incredible, and the series dramatises it so well.

It goes into full detail of the trial including back stories of the jury and what they went through. I had no idea the conditions they were under during the course of that year.

The characters are fantastic and it really leaves you wondering how the trial ended in the way it did.

If I had to rate this series on a scale of glued to the telly or browsing Instagram every ten minutes, I would say I was off the scale glued to the telly, not even wanting to blink. I actually think it was beneficial that I didn’t know anything about the trial, because when the final episode played I had no idea what the outcome would be.

And it was SO dramatic. If you’re interested in criminal trials and real life stories this really is a must watch.

Sinner

Do you ever get that feeling after you’ve finished binge watching a series where you feel a little bit of your life is missing and you’re not sure anything will fill the space? That’s how we felt after we’d finished the OJ series.

(ok that might be a little dramatic, but you know what I mean!)

We started browsing Netflix to try and decide what to get stuck into next and after watching the trailer for Sinner we decided to give it a go.

The basis of the story, and i’m not spoiling anything with this, is about a woman who kills a man in broad daylight, on a beach, and she has no idea why.

The series then follows her story and tries to depict exactly why she committed the murder.

It features flashbacks into her past, and piece by piece the story starts to unfold.

Slowly enough so you just can’t stop watching!

Although at first I was unsure about this series, after an episode or two we were gripped. Throughout the whole thing it kept us wondering where it was going to go, and that’s what I loved about it.

You were never sure what the outcome was going to be.

The main character is played by Jessica Biel who is just fab – and also bloody stunning.

If you’re interested in a bit of mystery mixed with mental health, this is a great watch.

The Alienist

The Alienist is set in 19th century New York.

“In the 19th century, persons suffering from mental illness were thought to be alienated from their own true natures. Experts who studied them were therefore known as alienists.”

This series is based around a group of people trying to figure out the minds of criminals, and the story focusses on one criminal in particular and the gruesome acts he commits.

I will warn you straight away this series is graphic and gruesome and within the first episode you see the body of a mutilated child.

But surrounding the gore is a gripping story as the characters try to understand why one criminal is acting in the way he is.

It’s so interesting to get a feel for the kind of views that were held back then, and see the way people were treated depending on sex, race, class etc.

If you’re looking for something a little different than your modern day crime dramas this series is worth a watch.

You get some seriously interesting back stories to the main characters and find out what has shaped them into the (slightly odd) people they are at that point in time.

Although I wasn’t sold on the ending, I know there was a purpose and meaning to why they chose to end it in that way…i’m trying not to spoil here, so please let me know your thoughts if you’ve watched it.

Do you have any crime series recommendations? Let me know!

Esther xo

3 apps to help up your Instagram game

When it comes to Instagram, there’s a whole host of apps out there aiming to make Insta life a bit easier or your feed a little bit more fabulous.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to begin.

The reason i’m writing this post is honestly because I’m pretty happy with the way my Instagram is going at the moment.

Call me big headed (pls don’t) but I really like the way my feed is looking and my photos are edited.

Wow, it really is hard to give yourself a compliment without feeling like you’re boasting!

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I’m steadily gaining followers and i’ve had some fab interactions with fellow bloggers, so I thought it might be useful for others if I share my Instagram editing and planning routine.

If you’re interested in learning how I actually doubled my followers in a month (yes, it really did happen!), i’ve written a post with my top tips here.

The first app I swear by when it comes to Instagram editing is VSCO.

I love VSCO. I’m pretty particular when it comes to editing my photos, I have a specific image in my mind on how I want my feed to look. And until I discovered VCSO, I just couldn’t figure out how to put my vision into reality. Now I use VSCO to edit all of my photos before uploading them to Instagram. I use the same filter each time, then I mess around with the exposure, sharpness, contract etc until i’m happy with how it looks. It’s pretty self explanatory and has plenty of options to choose from.

Here’s a before and after of on of the photos I took for this post:

I love the way I can make the colour pop, and I can get a real crisp edge on the photo.

The next app which I just cannot live without is Preview.

I use the Preview app solely for the purpose of planning out how my feed is going to look. Before I downloaded Preview, I would often be in the situation where i’d post a photo, and once I saw it next to the rest of my feed i’d realise I didn’t really like the way it blended, or it was just in the wrong position – a bloggers worst nightmare right?!

Now I use preview, I can see exactly how my photos are going to look on my feed next to each other. It makes a huge difference.

You can also view insights and schedule posts through the app, but at the moment I’m mainly just loving the ‘preview’ function.

Here’s a little insight into how it helps me plan my feed:

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This is how my feed looks in Preview app.

See above the yellow line? They’re all photos that aren’t currently posted. I play around with the order which is another great feature of preview, you can just keep switching them around.

A real life saver.

Cut Story is a recent find for me. I’m a huge Instagram story user and often like to upload videos. I recently filmed a little time lapse of my makeup routine and wanted to upload it to my story. The problem was that the video was too long.

Cut Story chops the video up for you into different lengths. Let’s say you want to upload a video to Instagram or Facebook but it’s currently too long, Cut Story will edit the video for you.

With my makeup time-lapse it simply chopped my video into three shorter clips which I then uploaded to my Instagram stories.

If you find it difficult filming yourself in 15 second spaces, why not record yourself filming for a longer period of time and use the app to split the video up?

Cut Story is a really simple but seriously useful app.

So there you have it, the current Instagram routine I absolutely swear by.

If you want to have a stalk of my feed and see how my editing is going, you can find me here.

What are your favourite apps for Instagram? I’m always up for trying some more!

Esther xo

 

The worlds easiest chocolate chip cookies

A few Saturdays ago we were having a very chilled out day in the flat.

We had nothing planned, had made a big breakfast and it was just going to be one of those pottering around type days.

We had enough food in the house to keep us going, but as we’re on a bit of a spending ban at the moment we’re basically living off bulk bolognese and toast.

Absolutely fine by me, but not so ideal when you have guests.

Out little day of pottering around was lovely, and in the end we actually had some family pop in for cups of tea throughout the day which was fab.

Now we have our own place, i’m more aware of the fact that when people pop over whether it’s family or friends, it’s nice for us to be proper hosts.

I kinda turn into a mix between Monica Geller and one of those feeders from that channel four documentary that came out a couple of years ago.

I’ll usually get the fancy tea pot out with the nice mugs (I say nice mugs they’re just the ones I can find that are least green tea stained) and some sort of sweet snack.

So, when I realised we had people popping over and there wasn’t a biscuit in sight, I decided to rustle something up.

Luckily we had all the ingredients for some super simple chocolate chip cookies and I have to say they were pretty good, so I thought i’d share the recipe – you know just in case you’ve ever got last minute guests and also share the need to feed people.

Although we didn’t have any chocolate chips in the flat we did have plenty of leftover Easter chocolate and as chocolate orange is one of my favourite flavours I decided to bake chocolate orange chip cookies.

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The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 250 grams of softened butter
  • Two tsp of vanilla essence
  • One large egg
  • 140 grams of caster sugar
  • 300 grams of flower
  • Two chocolate orange bars

Method

  1. Mix together the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon
  2. Add in the egg and the vanilla essence and stir until combined
  3. Sift over the flower and mix until the mixture starts to turn doughy
  4. Add in the chocolate chips, and mix with hands until you’re able to form dough balls
  5. Preheat the oven: Fan 180
  6. Put a sheet of baking paper on a wide baking tray
  7. Make small balls of dough with the mixture and press down onto the tray leaving enough room for the cookies to spread in the oven
  8. Bake for 15 minutes until slightly golden and soft to touch
  9. Leave to cool on a baking rack

Make yourself a cuppa tea, put an episode of friends on and you’re good to go!

 

This honestly is the simplest baking recipe i’ve ever tried.

I started baking at 11:45 in the morning and by the time family had arrived at 12:15, there were fresh cookies ready to eat.

If that’s not me being the hostess with the mostess then I don’t know what is.

Or is it just last minute luck? Who knows.

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These cookies are light, soft and fluffy and the chocolate orange combination is delicious.

I’d like to try some further variations, maybe adding a little orange zest into the mixture.

Let me know if you give these a try!

Esther xo

 

 

The Skinny Bakery: sweet treats to make you feel good

When it comes to dieting and healthy eating, i’ve pretty much tried everything under the sun.

From calorie free pasta to detox tea, you name it, i’ve tried it.

If you’re a new follower of my blog *waves and smiles* and don’t know too much about my ever so interesting life story i’ll give you the quick low down.

Over the last five years i’ve been on a pretty big journey with my weight.

After putting on an impressive three stone during my college and uni years, I ended up becoming pretty unhappy with my weight and the way I looked.

So, in an effort to change my ways, become healthier, and ultimately feel more comfortable in how I felt about myself, I embarked on my happiness journey.

Using a range of diets and techniques (you can find some of my most successful ones here) and with a shed load of will power I managed to loose over three and a half stone.

It took me around three years to get to my goal weight, but I can say with 100% certainty that I feel so much better in myself.

For about a year now i’ve been at a stable and happy weight. It fluctuates of course with snack filled weekends and the occasional boozy staycay but ultimately i’ve got to a point in my life where I don’t need to be so strict with my regimes.

One thing this journey has shed light on for me is how much I truly love food, and along side that, finding ways to eat yummy food guilt free.

And that’s where The Skinny Bakery comes in.

Surely the words skinny and bakery in a sentence are just not compatible I hear you say?

I beg to differ.

I recently discovered The Skinny Bakery on Instagram, and when they contacted me asking if i’d like to sample their low calorie treats I just new I had to do it*. With my long history of dieting and exploring the world of low calorie eating**, it was the perfect opportunity for me to try a new kinda sweet treat and share it with you guys.

Now i’ve taste tested quite a few of their products, and when I say taste tested I mean eaten the whole lot, I thought i’d let you know a bit more about them.

 

Here’s what we tried:

  • Skinny Beetroot Pearls
  • Skinny Choc & Organce Cookies
  • Skinny Double Chocolate Meringue Cookies
  • Skinny Carrot Cake Pearls
  • Skini Mini Gingerbread Men
  • Skinny Chocolate Pearls

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Firstly, what I loved from the get go with these treats is that the nutrition and calorie information is displayed clearly on all the packaging.

For me there’s nothing worse than buying a snack and having to work out the nutrition info based off 100g and all that stuff, what I want to know is how much it’s gunna set me back if I eat the whole pack.

And that’s what you get with the Skinny Bakery. Let’s say you want to eat a whole pack of the Skinny Beetroot Pearls, you know all in all that’s going to be 169 calories. No messing.

After all who can start eating cake and then actually persuade themselves not to finish the whole thing?

 

As a chocolate lover i’m always overjoyed to find a chocolatey treat that’s not going to ruin me for the rest of the day, and I have to say the Skinny Chocolate Pearls really are a dream.

What’s amazing about these pearls of cake is the fact they really are, and you’re going to hate me for saying this word, so moist.

The combination of mega soft sponge and the yoghurty, creamy centre in the middle means you’re left with a dreamily soft cake. And that is something I wouldn’t have expected from a low calorie treat.

The flavour combinations are divine and to pick out one of my favourites it would have to be the Skinny Carrot Cake Pearls. Often with healthy snacks I feel there is a compromise on flavour, but these little pearls are bursting with tastes of cinnamon and sweetness.

For a super light choice, the Skinny Double Chocolate Meringue Cookies are perfect. They’re like eating a little chocolate cloud and there’s no chance of a chocolate induced bloat.

If I had to pick one of my least favourites, and believe me it’s not easy, I would probably say the Skinny Mini Gingerbread Men. Although they look bloody adorable, compared to the cake pearls I just didn’t taste as much flavour.

These treats are absolutely perfect if you’ve got an undeniable sweet treat but also want to eat carefully. You can eat a whole cake and only sacrifice 40 calories, which is pretty fab.

I’m so glad I got to try The Skinny Bakery products and would seriously recommend giving them a go if you’re looking for some healthy alternatives.

What are your favourite healthy snacks? I’d love to know!

Esther xo

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* P.S Just for your information, the lovely Kate from The Skinny Bakery invited me to try these treats in exchange for a blog review, however everything you read on my blog comes from the heart, and I would never promote anything I didn’t truly recommend.

** P.P.S Just FYI, I thought it was important to chat quickly about calorie counting. Whilst I know some people may not believe it’s a healthy way of watching what you eat, it’s something that’s always worked for me. As well as calorie counting, i’m also mindful of ensuring I give my body the correct nutrients therefore will also track that alongside calories.

I strongly believe that when it comes to losing weight, if it’s something you want to do you have to find what works best for your body, and whilst your choice may not work for everyone, if it’s healthy and it’s what works for you – go for it!

 

The breakfast edition: Fancy French Toast

Recently as you may already be aware (it’s pretty hard to miss if you follow me on any social channels), i’ve been a tiny bit obsessed with pancakes.

If i’ve been out anywhere for breakfast in the last few months and they’ve had pancakes on the menu it’s been a no brainer for me.

I’ve also been making quite a few batches at the weekends and even taking some to work. Fluffy American Pancakes as a treat and the weekend and Banana Pancakes during the week.

Basically it’s been a couple month pancake binge and I have loved every second of it.

This weekend however, I decided to branch out. At the moment we’re on a bit of a spending ban so as much as the inner breakfast lover in me wanted to venture out into Cambridge on another pancake expedition, I decided we’d stay in and cook something delicious at home.

I really enjoy cooking. It gives me the chance to experiment and of course, take 100’s of photos.

Being a very indecisive person can come with it’s difficulties when deciding on breakfast options, but when I spied this photo on Instagram my mind was made.

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By the way, if you don’t follow @sweetmondayblog on Instagram and you’re a fellow foodie or lifestyle lover you totally should.

My first experience of French Toast was actually when I was at guide camp as a little girl. I remember thinking the idea was a little strange…putting sugar on eggy bread surely couldn’t work?

Actually, it was simply delicious.

This weekend I made my own variation of eggy bread, or Fancy French Toast as i’m renaming it, which I think is a slight step up from the guide camp special.

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The Recipe

Serves Two

Ingredients:

  • One large egg
  • Four thick slices of soft white bread
  • 300ml of milk
  • 1tsp of vanilla essence
  • Butter to fry
  • For the topping: raspberries, blueberries, golden syrup, icing sugar

Method

  1. Whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla essence in a bowl big enough to dip your bread in.
  2. Cover each side of your slices of bread in the mixture. It works best if you dip the bread in on one side, then flip to over to coat the other. You want the bread to be soft but not too much so it falls apart.
  3. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan until sizzling.
  4. Fry each side of your slices of bread for five minutes a side, ensuring they’re golden brown and little crisp.
  5. Pile up, pour on your toppings and voila! Breakfast is served.

What I love about this recipe is the simplicity and affordability.

You’ll most likely be left with mixture left over, which is perfect because after the first batch I guarantee you’ll be wanting more.

What are your favourite toppings for French Toast? I definitely think i’ll be trying some more variations, so let me know!

Esther xo

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Five bloggers absolutely smashing it with Instagram stories

When it comes to Instagram, I absolutely love it. It’s always been my favourite social platform and even now with the dreaded algorithm making it so hard to grow, it’s something I still love.

Honestly one of the main things I love about being a blogger is creating the imagery to go with my posts, and that extends to Instagram as well. There’s nothing I love more than uploading the cosiest photo known to man knowing i’ve worked hard to get the perfect shot.

Even if that means a cold cup of tea and soggy piece of toast by the end of it – bloggers, we all know the struggle.

When Instagram first brought out their stories feature, I wasn’t overly excited. I’ve been a big user of Snapchat (RIP) but it wasn’t something I particularly felt like the platform needed, it already had an absolute humungous user base.

Oh how wrong I was.

Instagram stories has now topped 300 million users and it’s a feature that has caught on massively. As an avid Instagram user I have become completely invested in the story feature, and upload multiple times a day.

So although Instagram may not have ‘needed’ the feature, it has absolutely catapulted the platform in front of the others. And in doing so, pushed our poor old friend snapchat further back.

As well as uploading to my own Instagram stories, it has become an evening ritual of mine to get cosy into bed and catch up what everyone has been up to.

It’s almost like catching up on one of your favourite programmes, you’re just watching little clips from all around the world. I love it!

Although I feel there are less ‘rules’ when it comes to stories, I do think that if used well it can really help to grow your account. There are some bloggers I follow and I really look forward to seeing their stories and what they’ve been up to.

Here are a few of my faves absolutely smashing the story life.

@morganalicebeauty

Something I completely admire when it comes to Instagram stories is consistency. I think it’s amazing when bloggers stay in keeping with their theme even when it comes to uploading to their stories.

Colour is such a strong form of branding and I think Morgan Alice Beauty does this SO well. Her feed is a beautiful mix of pale pinks and pastels. From the items in her home to the clothes she wears, you can recognise her photos instantly.

 

And this doesn’t just stop at her feed. Her stories are always so colour coordinated and just look so pretty. I’ll admit a lot of the time I love watching them because the videos of her daughter Alice are just so frickin cute, but I also seriously admire the time and effort she puts in to making her stories so beautiful.

@themonicaway

Right first things first, this girl is absolutely hilarious.

Her stories often have me in stitches and she just brings so much life into my Instagram feed. See that photo above on the right? That’s her in Croatia when she was taking an outfit shot and suddenly got hit by a wave. She’s wearing her mums gilet BACK TO FRONT because her dress went see through.

No joke I laughed for a solid ten minutes.

I connect with bloggers so much more when they talk to the camera on Instagram stories, and this is something that Monica does so well. I love hearing what she’s up to each day, and it’s just so much fun getting to know her.

@hannahfgale

Hannah Gale is one of my all time favourite bloggers and an account I love to follow on Instagram. Her photos are beautiful and that gal knows a thing or two about successful self branding.

See the text overlays on her stories? That’s become so recognisable to me as Hannah’s style. She uploads to her stories daily and whether it’s an upload of her favourite fashion pics, a cute boomerang of her adorable son Atticus, or a quick run down of her food shop she ALWAYS keeps it interesting.

I’m always glued to her stories and I love the little insights into her day.

@abilourich

Abi is an absolute G E M. She’s such a supportive blogger and someone who I’ve really connected with in the bloggersphere. I often read her posts and they resonate with me so much, I wonder if we have the same mind.

Her Instagram account is fabulous and recently for a month or so she uploaded daily favourites to her stories. This is such a great way to share the love, and I often found a load of gorgeous accounts to follow from her recommendations.

Just a couple of days ago she did a before and after of one of her feed shots and honestly I am obsessed. Does anyone else just find it fascinating seeing the difference after editing?! I think it’s such a fab thing to share with your followers, and it clearly cements your editing style.

I’m already looking forward to more as I see she’s made before and after a highlight on her feed…YAY!

@bethsandland

You’ve probably heard or seen me rave about Beth somewhere on my social channels because I just absolutely love her. Her blog, her feed, her stories, she is just smashing it.

As I mentioned previously, I love it when bloggers chat to their followers via Instagram stories. It’s such a great way of connecting and I think it often has a lot more power than words written down.

Beth uploads videos to her story regularly, and what I like is the fact she talks about things that you really want to hear about. Like when she’s going to a proseco and knitting event, or a Cream Egg workshop. (A bloggers dream right?!)

She tells you about her favourite beauty products, or shows you the fabulous bits she’s been sent, but also keeps it real. If she’s having a down day or not feeling motivated she will come on and chat about it, and I think that’s something to be seriously admired. Being real on social media is something not a lot of us can honestly say we do, so I think it’s important to show some of these moments. (i’ve recently written a little post about being ‘real’ online, which you can find here)

Beth basically just gives you an all round insight into a bloggers life in an honest and fabulous way.

Wow, i’ve just realised i’ve already written over 1000 words. I told you i’m a big fan!

I don’t know about you, but i’m starting to get the feeling that everything is slowly moving over to Instagram. For one, i’m considering deleting Snapchat as I haven’t been on it for months, but also what about Youtube?

I’ve never been a huge Youtube watcher, but now we have Instagram stories I’m much more likely to watch someone vlogging on there rather than actively going onto Youtube.

I love that it’s all in one place.

If you want to know what I get up to on Instagram stories, you can find me here. I can promise a lot of foodie photos, blogger recommendations and videos of me chatting to the camera with my face covered in Sudocrem.

Living the dream.

Who are your favourite accounts for Instagram stories? Let me know!

Esther xo