Whats for dinner…? HelloFresh!

I’m the one in charge of our food shopping at home but I have to say my shopping list is quite dull. As I always order from the same supermarket online, so now just saved a ‘regulars’ list, so usually I end up ordering all the same stuff, with my narrow repertoire of homemade dinners just go round on a cycle. I keep looking at things on Pinterest and thinking ‘I’ll make that one day‘ but it never happens and before I know it, there is another Old El Paso Fajita kit in my online shopping basket and we are back to square one. That is why I’ve absolutely been loving a new food home delivery service called HelloFresh.

WHAT IS HELLOFRESH?

HelloFresh works by delivering you a box of fresh ingredients for you to cook three different recipes each week. There are three box options, Classic, Veggie and Family, so you can cater it to your dietary requirements and the size of your family as each box comes with enough food for either 2 adults or 4 adults. Each box contains the exact ingredients to make up the recipes which are carefully explained on easy to follow recipe cards (which include pictures and everything, perfect if you are a rubbish cook like me!) All of the ingredients, (even the little things like herbs and spices) are measured into exactly the right amount, so there is absolutely no measuring involved, you just throw the ingredients together. FAB. Also, of note all the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, I noticed nearly all of our fresh veg were British grown and organic.

The box is then delivered to your door in clever packaging to keep everything cool, so even if you are out, it’ll be ok on your doorstep for a while with everything keeping super fresh.

We were offered a two week trial, so I chose the Veggie box, plus we opted for the 4 adult package as we were still hosting foreign students at this point (and being teenagers they LOVE to eat). Here is how we got on during our first week:

MEAL ONE: HOMEMADE VEGETABLE PACKED CALZONE

Our first meal was the Homemade Italian Vegetable Packed Calzone, I think this was probably my favourite dish of the week too! With this one I was so impressed with how fresh the vegetables were, the tomatoes inside the Calzone, just burst with flavour. Plus, I’ve never made a Calzone before so it was a learning curve putting it all together, but I absolutely loved the fresh dough, it was absolutely delicious! This one was great as I felt like I was eating something slightly ‘naughty’ being a pizza, but with the fresh veg it was actually pretty healthy….. Winner!

MEAL TWO: VIETNAMESE PHO WITH CAVOLO NERO AND CASHEWS

Our second meal was the Vietnamese Pho with Cavolo Nero and Cashews. I was lucky enough to have V cook this one, she described making it as ‘dead easy‘ even though we don’t actually usually cook dishes like this at home. Even with new flavours and ingredients, the recipe card was just so simple to follow, you can’t go wrong. This was as tasty as a dish at Wagamamas, but cooked at home! We had so much of this dish we were still eating it two days later, there was so much to go around.

MEAL THREE: GREEK AUBERGINE RAGU WITH BASIL COUSCOUS AND FETA

Our last meal of the week was the Greek Aubergine Ragu with Basil Couscous and Feta. On the first glance of this recipe, this was the one that excited me the least, but I have to say I was totally surprised. The Ragu was so much tastier than I imagined, I think it was the addition of the olives gave the dish such a rich, fresh taste I was pleasantly surprised. Again, we had so much of this recipe, I had both a dinner and lunch the following day too, the portion sizes are just huge. Another hit!

OVERALL

We really enjoyed our first week of HelloFresh and went on to get another 2 boxes as we loved it so much. As Vee works shifts and we are not home together all the time, we don’t think we need a subscription every week, but plan to dip and and out (you can cancel any time) so when we have time together in the week so we can make sure we truly enjoy the boxes. We have also talked about getting the boxes when the baby first arrives as we will be super busy so it will be great to have some healthy food dropped round each week, or I think we might just end up living off pizzas! We have kept the recipe cards so will use them again too, it’s been really fun to try new foods and flavours and spice up our usual dinner cycle.

If you fancy a go at HelloFresh you can work out which box is right for you and see the prices here, plus if you fancy some money off you can use this referral code U5P66H £25 off first box (plus I get a little bit off my next too, so we all win – woohoo!).

 

I was sent a trial of HelloFresh boxes in return for an honest review – all words, opinions and photographs are my own. 

Review: Las Iguanas Brighton Marina

You might be noticing a pattern here, if you are thinking I appear to be working my way around all of the new restaurants in Brighton Marina, well, you would be right! Today’s review is on the brand new Las Iguanas that has opened right at the end of the new development and is another addition to the selection of eateries down at the marina.

Mexican food is my very favourite cuisine, so I have to say I am quite picky when it comes to choosing the right place to eat. I’m a Wahaca girl at heart and plus I love the lovely independent Mexican restaurants in Brighton too (like La Choza and Carillto Burrito). If I’m totally honest, I’m not 100% sure if I’d choose Las Iguanas as my first choice, however  – that said, Las Iguanas are now mixing up the Latin vibe with a Brazilian section of the menu and various iconic flavours from round South America, giving us lots more choice, plus they have a full vegetarian menu and now with a restaurant on the marina, it is handy for a quick bite before a movie, there is free parking and beautiful sea views, so there are other elements in the equation worth weighing up too. With that in mind, let’s carry onto the review…

Inside the restaurant, the space is large, bright and airy with large glass windows allowing for the perfect marina view. The inside is decorated with bright, colourful decor with South American music playing to set the scene. When we visited the restaurant was absolutely packed with a real buzz to it, so it’s most definitely a popular new addition to the Marina.

One of the things that makes Las Iguanas so popular is their famous 2-4-1 cocktail menu. I remember back in the day when we’d have nights out in Brighton, quite often we’d start the evening with cocktails at Las Iguanas, they have some great choices and happy hour meant the cocktails were a great price too. This time I was a little more sensible and had to go for a mocktail Piña Coloda (sad times) which was just as delicious but not 2-4-1 sadly, which is a shame they didn’t make the deal a little more inclusive as I’m sure mocktails must cost less to make too, but without being in happy hour – you end up spending more!

One of the great things about Las Iguanas, is that their food menus ARE super inclusive. Impressively, they have an separate menu for vegetarians/vegans, plus a gluten free menu! Which I feel is just amazing and one of the only places I’ve been where I’ve actually been given an additional Vegetarian menu. This made choosing a meal so much easier as you can just scan the whole menu, rather than look out for the veggie symbol – there was also plenty of choice too! For our starters I went for the Nachos with black bean, which is a classic and always one of my favourite ways to start a Mexican meal and Vee tried the Empanadas (filled with Brie, Mango and sweet chilli sauce). The great thing about this kind of food is that it’s perfect for sharing, so we just put both dishes in the middle and tucked in. Of course, we played the Nacho game (if you pick up a chip attached to loads of others, it counts as one!)

For my main course, I went for the Mexican Classic Burrito which came stuffed with Sweet potato, butternut squash and chickpea chilli with a generous portion of salad, soured cream & garlicky chipotle sauce on the side. I also ordered a side order of Sweet Plantain which is one of my favourites so I always order plantain if I see it on the menu!

Vee went for the Halloumi Churrasco Skewers, which were a bit of a disappointment to be honest. The menu describes them as ‘Flame-grilled honey-glazed halloumi, beetroot, artichoke, red onion & pepper skewers‘ – however if you see the picture, I’m not sure they’d been near a flame! They were warm at the most, some parts (like the onion pieces) were just raw. We nearly sent them back but the restaurant was so busy in the end, we ended up just sharing my burrito and the cassava fries which came served with the skewers. This was actually plenty for us as the starters were really filling anyway! I’m not sure if this was just a mistake on the day or whether they are always cooked like this, but they weren’t our favourite to be honest, but could be better with a whizz on the grill and maybe some marinade?

Lastly, stuffed from our feast we shared a pudding – we went for the Aztec Chocolate Fudge Cake, which is ‘Warm spiced chocolate orange sponge cake, with vanilla ice cream’.  This has got to be the best bit of the meal, it was SO GOOD, so rich, chocolately and just perfect. I absolutely loved the zing of orange and hint of spice, it was almost a bit Christmassy!

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal at Las Iguanas, I loved all of my food choices, I was 100% impressed with the vegetarian, vegan AND gluten free menu’s and came away feeling very full! We had a couple of niggles – the lack of mocktails in the 2-4-1 menu and the uncooked skewers, but thats about it. It wouldn’t stop us going back there.

Have you tried the new Las Iguanas in Brighton Marina? If not – give it a go! You can book a table online here.

I was offered a complimentary meal at Las Iguanas in return for this honest review – all words, opinions and photographs are my own. 

My Pregnancy Must-Haves

Bedding: Sainsbury’s Homeware |  Maternity Pinafore Dress: ASOS

I’m by no means a pregnancy expert. Being a first time Mum-to-be has meant every ache, pain, twinge and tweak is new to me so I’m constantly googling things or checking with other Mummy friends – it’s such a rollercoaster. However, as I’m now firmly into the second trimester, I feel like I’m getting into the swing of things. It’s also meant I’ve had plenty of time for trial and error about what has worked for me and what hasn’t in my quest to keep my ever-changing body comfortable. So, this post is all about the things I have LOVED over the last 4-5 months – everything here has been tried, tested and approved by me. So, if you are newly pregnant maybe this will save you some time in finding the good stuff and maybe if you’ve had a baby before there might be something new here for you too! Onto the list…

#1 A GOOD PREGNANCY PILLOW

This is one of my top products! I started sleeping with an extra pillow between my legs really early on – As I had IVF and had to recover from my operation but I just couldn’t be without it, even from the start. I’ve now upgraded to the Theraline Maternity pillow, which is just the most amazing comfiest thing in the world. It’s a long sausage shape you can lay next to and cuddle into, it’s also stuffed with a ‘bean bag’ type filling, meaning you can squish the beans into the bits you want to make softer/harder to really help it mould into your body shape. Plus, when the baby is born you can wrap it around you and use it as a nursing cushion too, it’s so versatile and such a comfy product I’m sure I’ll continue to use it whether I’m pregnant or not!

#2 NATURAL SICKNESS REMEDY

I’m a big fan of Seabands, I remember using them when I was a little girl for travel sickness and now I’ve got an adult pair for both morning sickness and motion sickness in pregnancy. They are a natural way of helping with nausea/sickness as they use acupressure points around your wrist, so it saves taking unnecessary drugs. I have just used them going to/from Malta and on a couple of boat trips and I think they really helped. I felt really sick during one car journey and put them on and within 5 minutes I was feeling better.

#3 BUMP SUPPORT AND NOURISHMENT

I’ve been doing my best to avoid stretch marks and even though it’s early days I haven’t got any yet. The Preggo Support Tank is fab as it’s made from ‘Wonderweave‘ fabric that locks moisture in, so you can apply moisturiser/oil to your bump then pop the top on for all day moisture. As well as being soft and comfy, the tank also has support panels to give added support to your bump too. They’ve thought of everything!

#4 A COMFY BRA

I’ve been lucky enough to be sent two Maternity/Nursing bras from Bravado, the Body Silk Seamless Yoga Nursing Bra and the Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra. Both are super soft and comfy, a good test of this is that I wasn’t dying to take it off after a long day! A good bra is absolutely essential as my chest was hurting so much and growing too. I can definitely say I’ve ditched the underwire for the time being and am firmly into the ‘Mummy Bra’ section. Luckily, the Bravado collection isn’t frumpy either and both bras are suitable for nursing too, so I’ll be wearing them for a long while yet.

#5: MILESTONE CARDS

These are a must-have for any pregnancy as documenting each stage is so much fun! I love watching my body change and grow and with these cards I’ll remember each date forever. I have also bought the newborn set to document babies growth too, can’t wait to use them!

#6 MATERNITY JEANS

Everyone in the pregnancy forums seems to fight the urge to get into maternity jeans, but I caved and changed into them by 10 weeks and I am SO GLAD I DID as they are the comfiest thing, EVER. Why be uncomfortable when you don’t need to? I absolutely love my maternity jeans from George at Asda, they were super cheap and are mega comfy. I’d also recommend over-bump as appose to under-bump. I have both and the under-bump jeans just fall down all the time, annoying! I might keep my maternity jeans as you never know, they’ll come in handy for big Christmas dinners and such in the future!

#7 STRETCH MARK PREVENTION

Bio Oil is the holy grail of stretch mark oils and I’ve been using original Bio Oil and also Body Care Oil which is Lloyds Pharmacy own brand, which I’ve found just as good and much cheaper! I use my oil every night before bed and so far, it’s all looking good but I’ll report back on that one. They say stretch marks are genetic so it might not be possible to totally stop them but I want to do everything I can to at least help. I have also been using this oil with my home-doppler, it doubles up as a great ultrasound jelly too!

#8 BOOKS AND PREGNANCY APPS

Pregnancy brings SO MANY QUESTIONS for every woman. I’m not sure where I would be without a good supply of ‘What to expect’ books and apps to answer my every query. I also absolutely love Mondays as it’s ‘bump day’ – my apps have lots of new information about the new week and it’s time to find out the babies size (which is usually compared to a vegetable or a ‘weird but cute animal’.) As for books I’ve loved ‘What to Expect when you are Expecting‘ (a classic but you can’t fault it) and Truly Happy Baby by Holly Willoughby. The apps I’ve loved are Ovia, Pregnancy+ and BabyCentre’s Preg & Baby. If you want to make cute Instagram pictures with sweet labels and milestones, Baby Story is the best baby/pregnancy focused photo editing app.

#9 PAMPERING PRODUCTS

When I have been feeling rough sometimes the only thing that made me feel better was a good pampering session. I also felt I needed to spend a bit more time on self-care as I found both my skin and hair type massively changed too. One of the most magical products I’ve tried since being pregnant is the Olverum Bath Oil, it’s just the most luxurious, spa like scent and it so calming for the mind, body and soul, it’s just heaven! I’ve enjoyed many warm (never hot!) baths with this in the last couple of months. The only thing I’d say about Olverum is due to the high levels of essential oils, double check with your midwife before use as the skin is extra sensitive during pregnancy. Luckily I’ve been ok, but it’s best to check! 🙂

#10 ALL OF THE FOOD!

Ok, so this one is a bit of a joke for the last point but ENJOY eating for two! If you are craving a piece of cake, just enjoy it and don’t feel too bad about it. Your body is doing amazing things, treat yourself.

Right, so thats my wonderful list! Alongside this post, over the next few weeks head over to my Instagram as I’ll be posting a picture of each item in action with a few more pregnancy tips along the way too!

What are your top pregnancy products? I’d love to hear in the comments below 🙂 

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This post contains collaborative links however all thoughts and opinions are my own

Travel reminiscing (including some seriously old/embarrassing holiday snaps!)

When your life is going to change in a big way, I guess it’s only natural to start thinking about past experiences and how things are going to change for the future. Obviously, I’m over the moon that baby peaches is on the way, but sometimes I can’t help but think about how one of my biggest passions is going to change in a big way. That passion is, adventure travel! Travel has always been something deeply etched into my being, I travelled as a baby, a child and a teenager and continued to travel into my adult life. I then turned my passion into a career as I worked as cabin crew for 2 years, then as a travel agent for 8 years. So, my passion for travelling the world really has been with me a long time.  I’m sure we will travel with baby peaches, however, I know from experience of booking family holidays that things will change as a party of 3! My love for travelling doesn’t have to stop, it’s just going to be different that’s all. Instead of trekking in South America, I’ll be going on a luxury Iglu Cruise or booking an all-inclusive beach holiday – however, I know it’ll still be amazing and I can’t wait to show our little girl the world. So, while I’m reminiscing, I thought I’d share some of my favourite travel destinations, some funny stories and a few dodgy old holiday snaps. Here are my best bits:

INDIA

I was lucky enough to visit Delhi in India in 2007 for a work trip. Yes, that’s me with the brown hair (not sure what I was thinking there!) I remember it was an amazingly overwhelming culture shock, the sights, the smells, the endless heat, but I loved every moment of it. India will always be one of my favourite places in the world, it is absolutely crazy, busy and smelly at times but it’s so beautiful. We were lucky enough to visit places like the Taj Mahal, although I remember being torn by the fact there was a 5 star hotel (in the bottom right picture) that was right next to a slum. As well as visiting the posh hotel we also played with the children of the slums, and as I was so young, this gave me so much to think about to see such poverty. This was one of my big life lessons that totally put my life into perspective and made me realise how lucky I am. The heat was also incredible, it reached 46 degrees during our trip, crazy! I think if I went back, I’d be a little older and wiser now and I’d be a little more prepared!

RIO DE JANEIRO

In 2008, I was lucky enough to travel for work to Rio De Janeiro. The trip feels like an utter blur, I remember being so tired from the flight I can barely remember half of it! We were lucky enough to see some of the top sights, like Copacabana Beach and the Corcovado. After seeing Rio in so many pictures I had to pinch myself I was actually there! We then went into the Amazon where we got to meet a tribe that still live within the rainforest, I remember being horrified when a man just wearing nothing but a very skimpy leaf pulled me up to dance with him. I flew all over the dance floor to the sound of their panpipes and drums as he spun me round!

AUSTRALIA

My next adventure was to Australia. Look how young I look in these pictures! It was a whirlwind tour, visiting 3 different places, Melbourne, Ayers Rock (Uluru) and Sydney, all within the space of 10 days. I’m not sure I’d have coped with that sort of itinerary these days, but back then I was in my element! (Remember those days when we didn’t need sleep!?). I remember worrying about all the creepy crawlies and checking my shoes/bedding/toilet seat for spiders at every opportunity. We slept one night under the stars by Ayers Rock and I was such I was going to be eaten by something! My favourite memory was watching the sunrise come up over Ayers Rock, as the light changed, so did the colour of the rock, it was magical!

BORNEO

A couple of years later, I travelled to Borneo and got the once in a lifetime change to meet the orangutans of Sepilok Rescue Centre, which was an absolute dream! We also stayed in a really lovely hotel and somehow I managed to get upgraded into a room with a huge jacuzzi on the balcony, which I had all to myself, I couldn’t believe it! My favourite moment from Borneo was getting up in the middle of the night to watch a turtle laying her eggs on the beach, I can still remember our guide running through the ‘hotel’ (which was just basic beach huts to be honest) shouting ‘it’s turtle time!!‘ to wake everyone up for the moment.

PERU

My most recent adventure and if you’ve been reading my blog for a few years, you’ll have read all about this already! Both V and I travelled to Peru a couple of years ago and it was one of the most amazing but hardest trips I’ve ever done. I was really affected by the altitude, but we managed to do the Inca Trail, even though my lips went blue and I was out of breath with every step. It really was a spiritual, life changing experience, with a lot of funny moments along the way, such as when V drunk a frog milkshake (that literally had a frog blended into it) and don’t even get me started on the quest for a clean toilet on the Inca Trail (spoiler: it doesn’t exist). Peru was just so amazing, I’d go back again in a second!

 

Ahh, so many amazing memories. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me! I’d love to hear some of your travel stories, either before or after babies, please do tweet me, or share them in the comments below! 

 

Post contains some collaborative links, however all words, opinions and travel stories are my own

 

Sometimes it’s okay to ask for help

I didn’t actually realise how much of a ‘perfectionist of life’ I was until my body forced me to slow down the pace. I’ve always been a super busy person and that’s just the way I am. I find it really hard to say no to things, ask for help from others, or to just sit down and do nothing, it feels so alien to me. Although just recently, I’ve realised sometimes my body just needs to rest.

So, What keeps me so busy?

There is my full time job, then of course my blog which I run as both a hobby and a business now. That comes hand-in-hand with the torrents of blog content and social media posts that I need to keep on top of, not to mention my overflowing email inbox too. I always try to make time to see my friends in between work and my blog and lastly, as if I didn’t do enough…. I’m a bit of a clean freak when it comes to my home and I find it hard to relax if things aren’t the way I like them at home. PHEW, that is a lot.

Basically, I just never sit still. Every moment in my day is taken up, right up until the last minute when I fall into bed exhausted, ready to wake up the next day and do it all again.

I’ve found as over the years, living this kind of ‘full on’ lifestyle has lead to a few burn outs along the way, but me being me, I can’t just switch off and think ‘Screw it, I’m just going to watch Netflix‘, usually it takes me to leave the country and get totally away from my surroundings to unwind and leave my fast paced life behind.

The classic ‘Sausage Legs’ holiday snap, but being on the beach is great thinking time 🙂

Learning to change

This was all until this year when we began the IVF process I suddenly realised that IVF/Pregnancy doesn’t go hand-in -hand with life in the fast lane – something is going to have to give. As we investigated the IVF process I realised I was going to need to rest and look after my body and with this V began to worry about me burning out, so we talked about what areas of my life I could slow down.

Obviously my blog is my pride and joy, so that had to stay – it makes me happy and is my creative outlet. I couldn’t give up my full time job (I wish! 😉 ) so the area I had to sacrifice first was looking after my home. I’m not sure why, but this realisation of letting go of responsibility of something was quite hard for me, maybe I’m just super house-proud, or a bit of a control freak, but it felt weird to hand over the reigns to someone else and stop doing the tasks I have done for my whole adult life.

My initial thoughts were ‘what if they do everything differently to me?’ or ‘What if they move all my things into different places‘, it sort of felt like it wouldn’t be my home anymore. I also felt strange having someone else run around after me and clean up my mess and I felt guilty by not doing it myself.

Trust

Ultimately, I had to listen to my body and put my trust in someone else, sometimes thats the hardest thing to do. Luckily, V knew a lovely lady called Cath. She chatted to her about coming over to help us with some of the bits around the house and since then she’s been coming over weekly to help us. It’s removed so much pressure of keeping on top of household bits and she is brilliant – I don’t know why I had doubts about asking for help from someone else. I can’t thank her enough.

So, I guess where I’m going with this is that sometimes you just can’t manage everything, and it really doesn’t mean you are failing at life, it just means that your priorities are different at the moment. Maybe your house is a mess, but your blog photography rules. Or you are growing a human but fell asleep in a meeting. These things happen, trust me – I’ve learned if you spread yourself too thinly, then something has to give.

To Summarise….

  • It’s TOTALLY ok to ask other people for support if you need to, you haven’t failed in life – just because one area is slipping, it is probably because one area is growing.
  • Don’t feel embarrassed to reach out to people,  usually we’ve all been there at some point and good friends/family will understand where you are coming from.
  • Ask someone you trust to help you – I’m so glad we found Cath as I trust her in our home and she does a fab job, so I feel totally comfortable handing things over to her. Trust is a really important thing when you are feeling vulnerable, so speak to someone you can trust, and if it’s cleaning help you need, try this.
  • Don’t try and spread yourself to thinly – focus on the one/few things you can do, and do it really well. Forget about the rest.
  • Fall back on the blogging community – I know each of our blogs are our little babies, but we are all in the same boat and feeling the pressure. Usually bloggers are more than happy to help each other out, you just have to ask.

Basically:

Post written in collaboration with Hassle.com, however all words, opinions and control freak tendencies are my own