Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The best recipe book of 2019

I’m sat on the sofa with a rum and Diet Pepsi (OI OI), wondering why it has taken me so long to slap this blog post together with it being at the top of my ‘must write about’ topics.

If you spend an unnecessary amount of time in Waterstones like I do, you will know of the book I’m referring to. It’s the hardback with the teal front cover and the yellow binder, positioned at the front of the store, currently at half price. Yes, that’s it - Pinch of Nom by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone.

I’m not exaggerating when I say Pinch of Nom is more of a bible than a recipe book in our household. I mean, just look at me smiling into the Tuna Pasta Bake

I hear you non-Pinch-of-Nommers, “what’s so bloody special about this recipe book?”

Well, it’s diet food that isn’t diet food. I can eat a guilt-free tuna pasta bake, for example, that tastes out of this world. Also, because it tastes so good, the loved ones you’re cooking for are unable to tell that it's a healthier alternative. There are chips, burgers, pizzas and even KEBABS in this revolutionary recipe book because the trick is how you cook them.

The release of the Pinch of Nom book was a long time coming. Prior to the release, Kate and Kay posted their recipes on a blog called, *drum roll*… Pinch of Nom. I was initially recommended the blog and Facebook group (Pinch of Nom - Slimming Recipes & Support) by my best friend who was using the recipes as part of the Slimming World plan, so I followed her advice and selected a recipe to kick-start my Slimming World journey - the Diet Cola Chicken... I never looked back.

Although the Pinch of Nom blog is great, I always prefer a physical book to an electronic source for my recipes (Kindle-phobe). Not to mention, I was keen to try the new recipes that aren’t featured on the blog and work my way through the 100 beautiful choices by turning the pages and gawking at the pictures. In no particular order, here are my favourite recipes:
  • Diet Cola Chicken (page 72)
  • Campfire Stew (page 126)
  • Bacon, Onion and Potato Bake (page 162)
  • Chicken, Ham and Leek Pie (page 178)
  • Tuna Pasta Bake (page 180)
  • Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (page 196)
The main reason I love this book is because it allows me to eat more s**t. There’s nothing I hate more than feeling deprived of my lovely Guylian. In fact, I feel offended when I’m told that I can’t eat any, and in history, I have responded by eating a whole box in defiance. The recipes on the Pinch of Nom blog include the Slimming World syns, Weight Watchers points and calorie information, so whatever plan you’re following, the recipes won’t cost you umpteen syns, points or calories per meal (giving you more room for chocolate). It’s worth noting that the book doesn't contain the syn or point values for copyright reasons, but it’s easy enough to work them out.

Thanks for listening to me ramble on about food. Are you obsessed with this recipe book, too? What are your favourite recipes?

Disclaimer: Although this might look like sponsored content, I can assure you, it’s not! I just love the book.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Books I definitely should have read before I reached 25

I’ve been getting back into the swing of reading nightly after a few months off and it feels damn good to be back (even though I’m that far behind on my reading challenge this year that it sickens me). I have a habit of choosing feel good chick-lit novels every single time I want a new book, but following a conversation I had at a family barbecue last weekend, it dawned on me just how little of the world’s literary favourites I’ve read. I’ve also noticed that I completely ignore book recommendations that aren’t chick-lit (obsessed), but I’m ready to break this cycle.

My lack of ambition to read those ‘everyone has read it’ novels has inspired me to introduce a new area for my blog - the Reading Corner. Here, you can expect a book review every month. I want to expand my literary horizons (in between chick-lit, of course!) and cross those famous books and recommendations off my list. So, here’s what’s on the cards…

The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins

I clearly haven’t excelled myself in the world of YA fiction as I have never as much as held the first book from The Hunger Games trilogy. My family are gobsmacked that I still haven’t binge-read these books. In fact, my cousin said that she read the entire trilogy in one weekend - like, are these books that good? I guess I just never thought the storyline would be my bag, but I must be missing out if all of my family are buzzed.

Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling

Potterheads, turn away! I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. Why? Because the wizardry world of Harry Potter has never enticed me. I have only seen the first three films, and even then, I couldn’t tell you what happened in the Prisoner of Azkaban. I’m curious to see what the fuss is about and whether I will enjoy the depths of J.K. Rowling’s imagination.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

This book was recommended to me by a family member last year and it has been sitting on my ‘to-read’ list ever since. According to the blurb, there is a religious element to the novel which isn’t a subject I’d usually gravitate towards in fiction, but nonetheless, I’m willing to give it a whirl.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

I’m throwing it out there… I think this trilogy will be far too much for me (too dark and scary), but I’m willing to at least give it a try with the first book having an estimated 150 million book sales. I saw the films many moons ago and have next to no memory of them… other than fancying Frodo (let’s all laugh together).

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

I studied Wuthering Heights at school and loved it, so I disgust myself that I am yet to read Jane Eyre. It was thanks to my current book, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, that I was reminded that this book even existed. Like, what is, “Reader, I married him” all about? I’m desperate to find out.

Agatha Christie… (gah, there are so many!)

So, I had the opportunity to read Hercule Poirot's Christmas as part of my former bookclub at work, but I changed my job and subsequently left the bookclub, meaning that I still have the unread paperback in my possession. I’d be lying if I said I’m excited to read it, but as an Agatha Christie book owner (hey, look at me!), it would be rude not to at least try it out. I’m going to save this one for Christmas… obviously.

A Dark-Adapted Eye, Barbara Vine

A much lesser-known book according to Goodreads, but it’s a novel my mum loves and so, it’s definitely one that I ought to read. The last recommendation my mum gave me was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and let me tell you, it was out of this world. I trust her.

There we have it - the books I have completely neglected. How many of these have you read? Are any of them your favourite? I’m interested to hear what I’m letting myself in for…

Speak soon,

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

My Slimming World journey and why I’m leaving group

I feel like this is a weird post to write… I should be telling you about how happy I am with my Slimming World accomplishments and preaching to you all about why you should sign up immediately!

But truth is, I’m leaving, and with good reason (I think, anyway), so hear me out…

My history of eating everything

I have never considered myself fat, but I have definitely been unhappy with the way I am. You see, I’m a recovering binge eater. I’ve typically eaten out of boredom, sadness, happiness, guilt, frustration - you name it, I ate it. The worst bit was that I would attempt to undo the damage by taking up a fad diet, which would obviously only last a short period of time until I crashed and burned and ended up at square one for the millionth time… it was a vicious circle.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2019 and my best friend was raving about how much weight she’d lost at Slimming World. I was curious and read tons of positive reviews online, so I thought, “f**k it” and joined my local group in the February. So far, I’ve managed to lose a mighty 12.5lb, and the best bit? I’ve kept it off, which is something I’ve never managed before.

Why I’m leaving group

I suppose you’re wondering why on earth I’m writing a post about leaving Slimming World when I’m so God damn happy about my results thus far. So, here goes…

This is the best I’ve felt in YEARS

This will sound lame, but I look in the mirror and feel happy with what I see for the first time in a long time (*violin playing*). So, the initial compulsion to get to my target weight by August and not cheating under absolutely any circumstances (!!!) just isn’t there any more. I’m still following the basic principles of the plan to eventually get to target, but I’m happy to have the odd treat here and there, and counting every single dash of milk won’t be necessary.

I feel ready to go it alone

I can hear my inner devil laughing at how ridiculous it sounds that I think I’m able to restrict my binge eating without the help of a diet plan (hahaha)… but I feel ready. Slimming World has taught me how to maintain a good, healthy diet without depriving myself. What’s more, I have been cooking (you heard - cooking!!!) nutritious, healthy meals and swapping artificially sweetened snacks for fruit and healthy extras by choice.

Confession… I don’t even go to group

I obviously started off going to group and found it invaluable at the beginning of my journey when I was finding my bearings and gathering ideas (my group liked the crustless quiche, by the way). However, I moved to the other side of town and swapped my group to the one down the road which I just didn’t like. Going to group became such a chore, especially when I was h-angry and waiting until 7pm to go. Also, I never won the raffle… did anyone?

It costs £4.95 to stand on the scales when I can do that in my own bathroom

Like I said, I don’t stay for group because I don’t receive any benefit from it… so, am I flushing money down the toilet every week when I hand over my £4.95 to stand on a set of scales at the local church? Absolutely. Let’s take into account the £70+ healthy food shop I do a week, too!

There we have it - I’m leaving, and it feels sort of… liberating!!! I want to hear other people’s stories about leaving group, whether on Slimming World or a similar plan. Have you gone it alone? Do you think I’m making a terrible mistake? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


*Disclaimer* I think Slimming World is a great plan to follow. This post is only an account of my personal experience.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil review

Why I chose the NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil

I have never been one to switch up my foundation from season to season. In fact, I have been of the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ mentality for much of my life and as a result, have rotated the same few foundations year-on-year.

However, a few weeks ago it dawned on me just how dehydrated my skin was looking and feeling, especially when the sun made a shock appearance. Last year, I actually stopped wearing foundation completely in the summer months, which bizarrely, made me feel tons better about my complexion and encouraged me to step away from the high coverage foundation for this year’s summer purchase.

I was browsing online for some recommendations and found a few contenders, but as if by magic, a post appeared on my Instagram feed by NYX Professional advertising their new Bare With Me range which included the Tinted Skin Veil. The product looked to be exactly what I wanted for my skin (more of a tinted moisturiser than a foundation), so I thought I’d give it a whirl!

The shades

More often than not, picking the right shade for my skin tone is the biggest issue when it comes to shopping for foundation on the High Street, but bizarrely, the first shade I swatched in Boots was the right match. Out of the 12 shades, I was number five on the chart – Beige Camel. Initially, I wondered whether it was a big enough range of shades, but upon reflection, the light consistency of the formula must mean it’s adaptable to more skin tones (I repeat, this is not a foundation!).

My experience

The Tinted Skin Veil is described as a “weightless formula” which provides a “light, breathable coverage with a seamless and satiny finish”. When I first applied it on a sunny weekend, I was pleasantly surprised. It covered the redness of my natural complexion and made my skin look brighter and more radiant. My boyf agreed that it looked great, so I was over the moon!

Without makeup
Wearing NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil
…until Monday morning. It was a miserable day, but nonetheless, I buffed my amazing new formula into my skin and went about my working day. It wasn’t until I popped into the ladies toilets at work and looked in the mirror to notice that I had an orange moustache!!! Yep, the little hint of colour in the product got stuck to my upper lip. It wasn’t unbearable, but it sure as hell wasn’t what I was expecting.

I tried the formula again the following day in hope that it was an application error, but no… it did exactly the same thing. I also noticed a build-up of colour around drier areas of my face, hinting that my combination skin isn’t well suited to the product on a day-to-day basis.

Final verdict

2.5/5 stars

I’ve been left a little stunned by the whirlwind experience I’ve had with the NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil and it has got me wondering how it went so wrong. Like, why did it look great in the sun and rubbish in the gloom? Why did it give me an actual moustache?! If I find out the answer, I’ll be sure to update you.

It’s fair to say that I will only be picking this product up again when the sun is out… and that will be its final chance.

Have you used the NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil? I would love to hear your experience with it, along with the rest of the Bare With Me range!

Speak soon,

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The day-fest guide

For the last five years, festival season has been a vital couple of months in my social calendar. I go mad for a boogie with my pals, a pint of Strongbow (yup, I’m in the one per cent of the population who drinks it by choice) and of course, live music.

If you are new to the festival world, I recommend that you try a day-fest out to see for yourself what bloody great fun it is! It’s the perfect taster into the adventures of a camping festival without having to rough it up on a five-day stint of bad hygiene and warm cans of beer.

To kick-start festival season, here’s my experience from All Points East to give you an insight into what a day-fest is like. I’ve also included ten tips on how to boss your first day-fest this summer…

All Points East | Friday 31 May 2019

I couldn’t believe my luck when I scored two free tickets from Vodafone to see Bring Me The Horizon (BMTH) at All Points East. I’ve been digging BMTH since their release of That’s The Spirit in 2015, so it’s safe to say that I have belted my heart out to every song on that album, as well as their latest release, Amo, which I equally gushed over for weeks on end.

My boyf and I jumped on a morning train and dumped our bags at our hotel before heading up to the festival. We got off at Mile End underground station, grabbed a little bottle of wine from the nearby off-licence for the walk to Victoria Park, and strolled down the long stretch of road with the crowd. There were stewards at every road junction, litter bags attached to the railings at the side of the path and plenty of toilet stops for the brave people who had been drinking from the get-go.

Crop top: Boohoo | Culottes, jumper, bum bag, necklace: Pretty Little Thing | Trainers: Vans

Getting into the ground was a breeze and I had a cold pint of Strongbow in my hand within a matter of minutes. We stumbled upon Yonaka at the North stage who weren’t really my bag, before moving over to watch Idles on the East stage (they were jokes by the way - Mark Bowen was in his pants). We spent the next few hours flitting between stages to see Sleeping With Sirens, Nothing But Thieves and Run The Jewels.

We grabbed some cheesy chips to share from a food stall and after chomping them down, jumped on the overpriced fairground ride which swung us round the park during the While She Sleeps performance.

BMTH were last up and let me tell you… they blew my f*****g mind. Mosh pits opened up either side of us as they stormed on stage and played MANTRA amidst a big bang of purple confetti. They played their old, new and in-between tracks with intervals of dance performances and costume changes. At the heart of the show, Oli Sykes gave a touching speech about mental health to the audience and moments later, came into the crowd to sing alongside us fans!!! They ended the gig with Throne and Drown - my two favourite BMTH songs. It was a performance that I’ll never forget.

Ten tips to boss a day-fest

1. Dress comfortably
Sure, the mesh cat suit with the black nipple covers and leather boots will look fierce on Instagram, but is it practical? Probably not. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes (I wear trainers) with an outfit that you can freely move around in. Check the weather forecast on the morning of departure to see if you will need to bring a raincoat and no matter what the weather is, bring a jumper – it gets chilly at night!
2. Eat before you go
If you don’t eat before you go, you risk being drunk and h-angry in the festival queues. I have queued for two hours to get into a day-fest before, so do your stomach a favour and grab a Pret A Manger on the way.
3. Enjoy a pre-drink, but don’t get smashed before you arrive
Again, the queues could be endless and toilets could be limited. Plus, you don’t want to be dozing off during your precious hours at the festival (sounds silly, but we saw people do this on Friday).
4. Book accommodation for the night
Clock-watching all evening won’t be fun and missing your last train home certainly won’t be fun either. We saw a group of girls panicking about missing their train on the way out of All Points East and I had a selfish wave of relief that we had a hotel booked for the night. Save yourself the hassle and book accommodation locally - you won’t regret it.
5. Bring cash
The cash or card dilemma is an interesting debate. All Points East preferred festival-goers to pay using contactless to speed up the waiting times at the bar. However, I find it easier to take cash out in advance so I know exactly how much I’m spending.
6. Bring tissues
I can’t express how important it is to bring a packet of tissues… or ten. Hell, I carry them everywhere with me anyway, but the toilet situation isn’t pretty by the evening and you shouldn’t expect luxuries like toilet roll at a festival.
7. Plan who you’re going to see
You don’t want to miss the act that you paid good money to see because you got carried away playing the game at the Tinder stall. Save yourself the drama by checking what time your favourite acts will be on well in advance and set an alarm on your phone - sorted.
8. Travel light
Keep your baggage to a minimum. For security reasons, most festivals only allow bags of a certain size into the ground. I took a bum bag to All Points East and dropped a small backpack off at the hotel so that I could explore London the next day with little luggage in tow.
9. Share food
Festival food can be expensive and sometimes there’s too much choice (like, do I want halloumi fries or Pad Thai?). Grab a couple of meals with your pals or fella to get more bang for your buck.
10. Go crazy
Let your crazy side flourish and do something you wouldn’t usually do. The great thing about a day-fest is that you have this weird sense of freedom for a short period of time and get to see those acts that you’ve been dying to see forever. What’s that lyric? “I’m here for a good time, not a long time” - let your hair down, girl!

I hope you find this guide useful for your upcoming shenanigans! Which festival are you heading to this summer?


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Summer clothing haul - Primark and Pretty Little Thing

I thought I was ready for summer… until I looked in my wardrobe and let out a big “oh s**t” the other week when I realised that I didn’t own any sandals. I noticed that my favourite summer dress was tied together at the shoulder to secure a strap that had ripped… a year ago, perhaps? To top it off, I tried on my reliable denim skirt of 2018 to witness that it now resembles a potato sack.

Somehow, I managed to get through the majority of last year with little spend in the fashion retail department. I rotated the same few outfits every weekend in order to fund four adventures abroad, and although the trips were worth it, I was wearing my favourite summer dress with the makeshift shoulder repair on three of the four occasions.

I decided that it was about time that I revamped my decaying summer wardrobe, and what better way to mark the occasion than with a blog post, right?

Knotted tie-up nude sandals | £14
OK… I had mentally purchased these bad boys before I had even made my way into Primark after seeing them in a haul video. They are at the top end of the Primark price bracket at a whopping £14 (say what?), but there was no question about my decision to buy them.

Jute bow mules | £6
It pains me to say that I have completely missed out on the sliders trend (I don’t know where I’ve been either), but these mules are a great compromise at only half the price of a Nandos.

Black infinity belt | £4
I was being a real sheep about this one because everyone seems to be wearing this style of belt and I wanted nothing more than to hop on the bandwagon. A quick scan of the belt stand in Primark took me by pleasant surprise when I found this baby at the bargain price of £4 - life made.

Vintage rolled up mom jeans | £13
Mom jeans are the only fit in the denim department that suit my silly legs, so it was an honour to spot that Primark had relaunched the mom jeans in a variety of styles. In the winter, I couldn’t find the mom fit anywhere on the High Street and I became extremely concerned that I would never be able to wear jeans again - what a relief for their return, eh?

Yellow satin plain knot headband | £2.50
Primark - thank you for introducing a wrap-around headband that does not wrap around my entire head. I can now wear this yellow beauty and not have to untangle knots of hair at the nape of my neck from wearing the real deal.

Mustard oversized check shirt dress | £20 (with 20 per cent off)
It’s me all over and I will probably wear it everywhere.

Black Luna tie-dye oversized t-shirt dress | £14.40 (with 20 per cent off)
An oversized t-shirt dress with an astronomical design containing a sun and stars? Duh… I’m thinking of wearing this dress to one of my upcoming festivals.

Rust lens gold frame round retro sunglasses | £8 (with 20 per cent off)
I have been searching high and low for an affordable pair of sunglasses in this particular shape and style for a little while, so there was no denying my happiness when I came across this pair for under a tenner.

Gold metallic bum bag | £8 (with 20 per cent off)
My old bum bag is getting tired from years of festival abuse, but this gold replacement is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Gold multi coin and ring pendant necklace | £4 (sale)
…because I needed a new chain of *bling bling*.

Grey Washington Olympia slogan oversized sweater | £15 (sale)
I’ve been tempted to buy a grey sweater all year, so with festival season coming up, I thought the time was right to make the small investment to protect me from the evening chills.

Red side tape check culottes | £17 (sale)
These culottes were too close to tartan for me to reject.

Caprice black faux suede lace up sandals - £20 (with 20 per cent off)
A summer twist on the classic chunky platform boots will make my life easy as f**k this summer.

P.S. I haven't provided hyperlinks to the items because the links will become out of date over time and my OCD won't allow it to happen. Drop me a message if you need help to find a specific item mentioned in this haul!


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

First post

Hello, I’m Lucie… welcome to my shiny new blog!

Coat: Zara, Dress: Primark, Bag: Calvin Klein

Starting a blog has been on my to-do list for the last few years, but lo and behold, I’m a nightmare at biting the bullet and doing stuff, so other than a half-hearted attempt a couple of years ago, it has remained a ‘good idea’ on my list of long-term goals (right next to getting my dissertation professionally bound as I simply can’t find the time… *cough*). Anyway, I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago with a burning desire to write, and as cheesy as that sounds, it’s how I knew the time was right to get cracking.

There is no particular theme to my blog because I am super changeable. One week I’m reading back-to-back chick lit in bed with my pyjamas on (Jane Costello was my latest binge) and the next, I have a calendar of social events that I can’t manage - I can never seem to find the balance, you know? I have decided that I will save the consistency for the posting schedule by uploading a new blog post every week. I want to incorporate a mixture of tips, reviews and random blabber into my posts about pretty much anything that’s fun and/or girly…

To help you get to know me better, here are ten facts about me:

1. Star is my favourite name and shape
Yep, that’s the deal behind the blog name! I’m not sure if it’s a direct correlation, but I’m also a big fan of gold and the words ‘twinkle’ and ‘sparkle’.
2. My personality has been described as ‘turbulent’
I’m literally all over the place.
3. I’m a Slimming World member
…and I love it! I’m out of control without a plan and I have a tendency to eat my feelings. Plus, the plan has given me much more confidence in the kitchen and instilled good principles into my daily routine.
4. I love cats
Just OMG.
5. I feel comfortable in my own skin when I’m wearing fake tan
If you know, you know.
6. I work in communications
It’s cool - the job is varied which suits my changeable personality.
7. I get ‘wine drunk’ on occasion and it tends to be humiliating
I did this one on Saturday night.
8. I’m a Pisces
…just in case you wanted to check that our horoscopes are compatible before reading my content further.
9. I can eat a box of Guylian in under 10 minutes
It’s my favourite and everyone knows it.
10. I have a degree in journalism
I graduated in 2015 which feels like forever ago now, but going to university was the best decision I ever made.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my first post - it means the world! I am super excited to have set the wheels in motion and look forward to getting settled into my new blogging routine. Feel free to pop back next week with a mug of tea and a box of Guylian. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter if it makes things easier, and I'm always happy to chat:

Speak soon,