Vivid Matcha: 14 Day Brain Box Challenge

I am a Green Tea fanatic, I cannot function in the morning without Green Tea, in particular, Matcha Green Tea to be precise. If you’ve caught any of my previous tea posts you’ll know there’s a brand close to my heart.

Enter Vivid Matcha.

An innovative brand which was founded by Matcha fanatic James Shillcock this quirky but fantastic tea-on-the-go concept is perfect for those with a busy lifestyle. Having previously tried the Think Vivid challenge the iced tea cartons were a firm favourite of mine and accompanied me to the gym, to meetings and even to Turkey last year.

New for 2017 they’ve just launched the Brain Box which is a 14-day plan designed to limber your brain up to help you get the most out of the power of your mind. With 14 individual sachets of Matcha and a 14-day brain booklet bursting full of facts, puzzles and recipe ideas there’s plenty to keep your brain entertained. 

These individual servings are perfect for throwing in your bag if you’re always on the go or on the move like I am. The single sachets are no mess, no fuss. With your brain absorbing 20% of all your energy it’s important to fuel it well and with the amazing properties of Matcha, you’re certainly onto a winner with Vivid.

Matcha is a ceremonial tea originating from ancient China and contains natural caffeine, this improves cognition and L-theanine which is an amino acid. It’s absolutely essential to ensure you have a great level of L-theanine in your body as not only does it keep your mind relaxed yet alert it also is a slow-release energy boost. In addition to this, not many people know that it’s fantastic for post-gym workouts as it helps fuel muscle repair and in studies, it has been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer. It’s certainly super and these little sachets contain this all important amino acid!

Available from Holland & Barratt this brain box is not just for drinking. Recently I’ve had an obsession with a clean pancake breakfast which if you eat a gluten-free diet like I do or if you’re looking for a healthier alternative for breakfasts then this is a great wake-me-up.

These pancakes are easy to make and contain less than 150 cals per pancake. 

To make 1 pancake mash one banana with a fork, crack an egg and mix thoroughly when a thick paste add the sachet of Vivid Matcha and continue to mix. Heat a frying pan, oil with coconut oil and pour the mixture into the pan, allow it to spread like a pancake, flip it when cooked on one side and serve with fresh fruit. Enjoy

I've used the Brain Box for 14 days alongside completing the puzzles and I certainly feel that my mental alertness has vastly improved.

Disclaimer: This item was provided complimentary, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

What are you feeding your dog? Could it be harming them?

My first business was all about dogs. Dog food, dog collars, dog treats, dog clothing so it’s safe to say that this first business inspired by my Jack Russell, Ziggy has given me so much knowledge that I’m borderline dog food obsessed.

I am more bothered about what we feed 7-year-old Ziggy than we feed ourselves. He’s had a strict no grain diet ever since I can remember because although hardy, dog’s digestive systems aren’t designed to process and break down grain. Whilst I had my first business I did a lot of research into dog food and only sold holistic, clean and healthy brands such as Lily’s Kitchen, Natural Instinct, Barking Heads and Orijen and Acana in my store. 

These brands also don’t use meat and animal derivatives which are the parts of the animal that aren’t fit for human consumption and have no nutritional value. Why you’d feed your dog something with no nutritional value somewhat confuses me? Anyways. I can pick apart a dog food label like there’s no tomorrow. Anything with the word derivative such as milk or vegetable you should avoid like the plague. You also need to be careful with the fats they use to bind their food too as many brands who offer convenience (supermarket brands) use the fat and oils from the fish and chip shops from the deep fat fryers as it’s cheap to purchase. Again why would you feed your dog that trash?

I mean I’m not saying you shouldn’t as there are many factors that input into choosing a dog’s food including budget, availability and even sometimes lack of the ingredients due to the big manufacturers such as Mars, P&G and Colgate (yes they own all the supermarket brands, believe it or not!) putting so much money into their advertising to make the consumer or purchaser here (because I wouldn’t want to pop round to your house and be offered a dog biscuit with my tea) believe that the product is of high quality but at a great price.

I care about what I feed my dog and I’m not here to judge what you feed your dog but what I’m here to do is make you aware of what the marketing teams at these multi-million-pound organisations fail to tell you.

For years, ever since I can remember in fact, since my obsession with dog nutrition began we have fed Ziggy Lily’s Kitchen. It’s a great, hypoallergenic food which is rich in herbs and vitamins. The milk thistle settles stomachs, the dandelion root is great as a liver tonic and helps to remove toxins from the body via the kidneys. The meat is human grade, there’s no grain contained and since day one Ziggy has really thrived on this food.

It’s actually funny, he chose it himself after putting an assortment of about 15 food samples out in ramekins for him to choose, ignoring the rest he ate that pot and cried for more and more. He’s tried other foods over the years for a change, in fact, his first dog blog was about a change of food last year, but he didn’t stick to it.

I’m always looking for alternatives as a change now and again, I mean I wouldn’t want to eat the same thing every day of my life, so why would he? Yes, I know what you’re about to say…they don’t recommend switching your dog’s food about. Correct. However, when it’s of the same quality as in, highest quality possible then we don’t have an issue. It’s only and only when there’s and increase (or decrease?) in the quality of the food, where it’s too rich for their stomachs to cope.

After seeing various adverts and hearing friends talk about Tails.com I started researching into the ingredients and discovered it was a tailor-made programme with a resource bank of millions of different recipe combinations for your dog. A bespoke package for your dog based on the information that you provide about their weight, age, breed, activity, food preferences. They ask you questions about what you feed alongside the dry food (kibble) and their body type. This in-depth analysis takes about 5-10 minutes to complete and if you’re serious about feeding your dog well then it’s well worth your time.

Once you’ve submitted the information the site then gives you a run down of the food. The size of the bag that will last the month, how much you should be feeding them to the exact gram. If you look on other packets of dog food there’s a rough guide, this is specific. It tells you how many calories your dog should be consuming daily.

Unlike other bags of dog food which usually come in 2kg, 7kg and 15kg sizes Tails.com comes in a size suited to your dog. For Ziggy, 3.92kg is supposed to last him the month based on their calculations.

What_are_you_feeding_your_dog_Could_it_be_harming_them_pinterest_graphic_dog_food_dog_blog_tails.com_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.png

Upon ordering you are able to change, amend and stipulate the day you wish it to be sent, the payment taken and if you require the food more often or less often. You can also pause or cancel your delivery at any point.

The order is shipped out and delivered with efficiency. The bag comes personalised which is a great novel touch if you have a single dog, more than one dog? You see why they’ve done it now? To make your life easier! Alongside the food is a personalised scoop which weighs out the perfect amount for your dog.

In all honesty and I felt bad when the food arrived and we weighed out the food and then we noticed that we were underfeeding Ziggy with his previous food, however he is a grazer and eats a protein meal on a nighttime with whatever protein source we will be eating so is often fed on chicken, steak or fish for his evening meal. He isn’t a greedy dog so his kibble is left down for him and we often play games with him for him to eat more kibble.

What_are_you_feeding_your_dog_Could_it_be_harming_them_pinterest_graphic_dog_food_dog_blog_tails.com_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.png

He absolutely loves putting kibble in his Green Feeder too as it keeps him stimulated and entertained. Originally designed for greedy dogs and those who eat fast the grass like shape is designed to make your dog work for their food, however, with an extremely intelligent and a dog like Ziggy who likes to constantly be entertained this is perfect for him getting to eat his kibble.

green_interactive_feeder_the_Company_of_animals_What_are_you_feeding_your_dog_Could_it_be_harming_them_pinterest_graphic_dog_food_dog_blog_tails.com_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.png

We opened the bag after he sat looking, sniffing and then crying for it to be opened, threw one piece in the air to be caught and held our breath in anticipation. Was he going to eat it or spit it out? The world’s fussiest dog lives here and guess what he ate it, cried for some more, ate it all and cried for some more. I guess we have a convert here.

What_are_you_feeding_your_dog_Could_it_be_harming_them_pinterest_graphic_dog_food_dog_blog_tails.com_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.png

As for me, I’m happy the meat content is high, good quality human-grade meat with the carbohydrate used being sweet potato, a complex carbohydrate with a slow release for energy and not hard to digest grain. There is a gravy to bind the food instead of an unhealthy fat and high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin which are amazing for his arthritic knees alongside the addition of the seaweed in the mixture (this is used to also bind the food). It’s almost as if Tails.com is Ziggy’s own personal nutritionist. We asked and they delivered. 

He can’t eat turkey, I don’t like him eating grain, he doesn’t enjoy lamb and he requires extra vitamins and minerals for his arthritis. All of these questions asked have enabled us to find a personalised food that not only he enjoys but I am more than happy to feed him at the convenience of being delivered straight to my front door daily!

Want to get personalised great quality nutrition for your dog for only £1 delivery? Of course, you do! There’s no code to input just simply click here to feed your dog like the King or Queen they are!

Disclaimer: This item was provided complimentary, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

The Udder Guys, Formby: Milkshake & Waffles Dreams Are Made Of!

Yesterday we talked about the NEW Pizza Express in Formby, today Formby Desserts...

When the bell rang for half-term for my 14-year-old and 8-year-old cousins last week we headed straight to The Udder Guys in Formby for milkshakes and waffles. Having discovered the ‘Udder Guys’ on my favourite social media platform Instagram (did I mention I just hit 30k followers…go me!) I knew I had to go and try out their shakes.

Tucked in a row of shops, opposite The Grapes Pub and next to Uniformby this little shake shack is a perfect after-school treat for the kids, hangover cure after a big night out and post-gym treat (stick with us!).

Arriving after school and a slight bit of snow we were pleasantly surprised to not have to wait in a queue, after being advised by my older cousin of the two that there’s ALWAYS a massive queue as the shakes are just SO good. The younger cousin of the two he couldn’t contain his excitement for the waffle he was about to tackle.

This bright blue and green retail unit plays home to some serious milkshake art. With hundreds of combinations, it really is a milkshake lover’s heaven. After a few minutes deciding between us I opted for the Nutella Fella, a milkshake which contained my ultimate favourite, Nutella and Strawberries, covered in a strawberry sauce and topped with sprinkles and a flake. The youngest of my cousins opted for a Daim Bar milkshake with cream, marshmallows and sprinkles for topping. My other cousin chose a full blown Oreo milkshake which oozed chocolate sauce up the side of the cup, and was topped with cream, crushed oreos and marshmallows.

formby_shakes_the_udder_guys_milkshake_and_waffles_liverpool_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog

To accompany their milkshakes they ordered a Nutella and Milky Bar Waffle. 

As the fantastic and hilarious staff behind the counter began to make waffles and blend milkshakes talk turned to pronunciation and the whole store erupting into saying Whey Aye Man as they all laughed and joked about my Geordie accent. Little did they know the four Scousers all sounded more Welsh than a Geordie.

Talking about Whey, The Udder Guys offer protein shakes for post-gym workouts. Ideal for those who are bulking, shredding or just have a sweet tooth after a hard gym session there’s almond milk and coconut milk and any amounts of fruit to accompany the assorted whey they stock.

We laughed and joked and our milkshakes were served. With the smallest of the two making sure he had a big gulp of our shakes to check them out he really was quite the milkshake connoisseur but decided his milkshake was his favourite. Just as well because he wasn’t getting mine!

Their waffle was served and oh my goodness. This huge mound of gooey chocolatey goodness was served with ice cream and a branded wafer for that extra touch. Digging in their eyes lit up as the sugar hit their systems, both of them had chocolate around their faces as they smiled and nodded as I asked how their waffle was. Naively I thought these two hungry horses would be able to take on the waffle, but unfortunately, they were completely defeated. 

Not only do The Udder Guys serve up the best milkshakes and waffles but they’ve added a pick 'n' mix box to their selection of dessert goodies! What’s even better is they offer a local delivery service. Ideal for those who are yes you guessed it absolutely hungover after a big night out and can’t move from their beds! Because you know what? Milkshakes solve all your life problems!
 

Disclaimer: This food was complimentary, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Pizza Express, Formby: The Italian Riviera comes to Liverpool's Coast

In the Summer I spent two weeks in Formby which is a coastal ‘parish’ located approximately 15 miles from Liverpool City Centre, at my auntie and uncle’s home looking after their animals while they, with my cousins headed to Turkey for their Summer holiday. Fortunately for me, the tables were turned last week and as I, alongside my cousins headed to Tenerife for a week in the sunshine with our Grandparents. Leaving my auntie and uncle child-free for the week I sent them along to review the brand new Pizza Express in Formby which opened its doors on the 13th February. Being one of the first to sample the well know pizzeria chain’s newest restaurants I knew they’d enjoy what was being cooked up in the kitchen.

With a table booked for Thursday evening at 7 pm, they headed along to the main front street to the newly opened restaurant which is nautical themed to tie in with the gorgeous beach beyond the sand dunes which look out over to Ireland. With a rustic theme the Formby Pizza Express has a mixture of whitewash and green timber planks adoring the walls whilst the heritage of Formby is played out in the artwork on the walls which pay homage to Britain’s first lifeboat station which was launched in 1776, based nearby Formby Beach where the remains can be still seen today. The Pizzaiola counter is also covered in reclaimed timber to further compliment the nautical theme.

Upon being seated in the freshly decorated and newly opened pizzeria my uncle opted for a large bottle of Peroni (which at £9 he thought a little extravagant for a beer, I must have to admit I too agree) and my aunt opting for a large glass of Pinot Grigio, began to peruse the menu. 

Selecting for their starters the Pennette Formaggi, which is Pizza Express’ Winter special and their twist on Macaroni & Cheese. It consists of a creamy three cheese & mustard sauce, mozzarella and Gran Milano cheese baked with pennette pasta, garlic oil and black pepper and the Bruschetta Originale 'PizzaExpress’, which is dough brushed with garlic butter and topped with chopped fresh tomato, red onion, fresh basil and pesto, a fresh and light starter.

A post shared by PizzaExpress (@pizzaexpress) on

As they enjoyed the ambient atmosphere (and quite possibly the child-free dining) they enjoyed their drinks and took in their surroundings. Not having long to wait their starters were served and both commented on the ample portion size, the delicious flavour, although the pair did comment on their food being saltier than they usually have, however, this didn’t detract from their first course. With the Jennette Formaggi being rich and creamy and very flavoursome my uncle thoroughly enjoyed the twist on this hearty Winter favourite, whilst my Aunt, felt as if she had been transported to the heart of Italy with her fresh tomato and pesto blend which was served upon the iconic Pizza Express dough that food lovers up and down the country know as a Pizza Express distinct flavour.

IMG_0415.JPG

For his main course, my uncle had selected from the specials menu, the Etna Romana. A Pizza Express Classic adapted for their Winter menu. This Pizza is not for the faint hearted if you hadn’t guessed by its name. Topped with Pancetta, hot soft 'nduja sausage, Roquito pepper, mozzarella, tomato and Gran Milano cheese this pizza certainly packs a punch and my uncle, who’s a fan of spice certainly agreed. A large thin base, the Romana, which is one of my favourites, covered the large plate in front of him, as the heat intensified with each bite, it was, in his words, a great choice.

 sdr

My auntie opted for the Barbacoa Romana Pizza. Another Winter special, her pizza was topped with smoky, spicy and full-flavoured: pulled Barbacoa beef, spicy chipotle salsa, garlic oil, mozzarella and tomato with a fresh finish of tomato, red onion and coriander. A lover of pulled pork she thought that the topping was delicious, the pork melted in your mouth and although a sweeter taste it was extremely tasty. 

They both commented that the bases were cooked to perfection in their brand new pizza oven (if you want the pizza oven base at home why not check out the Pizza Steel we reviewed recently), and their food was served piping hot. With a generous helping of toppings, the pizzas at Pizza Express have always been a firm favourite, offering gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options too alongside an extensive children’s menu this really is a place for all the family and a great addition to Formby’s main drag.

My aunt & uncle finished their evening with an indulgent chocolate fondant with a generous dollop of ice cream and a Limoncello which was said to have been the most refreshing 230 calories that my uncle has had in a long time.

The staff were not only extremely attentive, for a newly opened restaurant their level of professionalism to ensure a smooth flowing meal was exceptional. Personally, as a fan of Pizza Express I cannot wait to visit the new Formby location as I know, it’ll be exceptional as are the other locations in there chain’s ever growing empire.

The opening hours of the Formby location are 11:30-23:00 daily apart from Sunday where they close at 22:00. With outdoor dining just in time for sipping a glass of nice cold white wine whilst grabbing a bite to eat over the warmer Summer months, this Pizza Express has not only a great location but also some great features. Disabled friendly with access, ramps and a toilet and also baby facilities the restaurant is extremely family friendly.

If you download the Pizza Express app to your smartphone you’ll periodically be sent voucher codes including 2-4-1 offers, birthday surprises and even freebies, it’s worth downloading as invariably there are some savings to be made. 

Pizza_Express_Formby_Review_The_Italian_Riviera_comes_to_Liverpool's_Coast_Elle_Blonde_Luxury_Lifestyle_Blog

Disclaimer: This meal was complimentary, all views are their own. Read more about disclosure here.

Cirque du Soleil: Varekai - 50 Shades of Circus

I have as most have seen snippets of Cirque du Soleil performances, so I was certainly looking forward to my evening at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena to see Varekai. Before going to the show I had read a few reviews which were slightly disappointing, however, I am always one who likes to make their own mind up so went ready to fully immerse myself in what was billed as a whimsical and enchanting forest tale. The story is one of Icarus flying too close to the sun who falls from the sky into a volcanic forest inhabited by strange creatures.

I can honestly say it was Absolutely Mesmerising! 

From the Slapstick comedy routine opening of the 'clowns' to the magnificent aerobatic, acrobatic, gymnastic finale the evening was thoroughly entertaining and far exceeded my expectations. I would tend to agree that the music didn't always match the performance but the actual magical circusness of it all was wonderful. The physicality, strength and execution of each and every routine was perfect professionalism. I have huge admiration for the dedication of each and every performer, they were superbly spectacular.

cirque_du_soleil_varekai_50_shades_of_las_vegas_performance_newcastle_metro_radio_arena_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog

You cannot help but be totally in awe of the jaw-dropping acrobatics of the performers and those that criticise probably couldn't even manage a forward roll! 

The costumes of the troupe were magical with a truly colourful opening reminiscent of a Star Wars bar scene full of curious creatures. The large stage although fairly minimalist contained secreted openings from which characters appeared and disappeared in and out of throughout the performance. The overhanging stairway scaffolding covered in forest greenery and lighting was put to optimum use with multiple breathtaking and eye-catching aerial acrobatics

It was certainly an energetic and great feat of athleticism with some outstandingly flexible and supple performances. The bodysuit costumes of the individual performers were designed to profile the preciseness of each manoeuvre executed and the absolute incredible beauty and wonder of what the human body can achieve when honed to perfection. My particular favourites were the 4 guys who gymnastically tumbled and bounced across the stage weaving in and out of each other without collision. The beautiful girl on the trapeze was outstanding and her strength, grace, elegance and poise was spectacular as she balanced high above the audience on just the nape of her neck.

cirque_du_soleil_varekai_50_shades_of_las_vegas_performance_newcastle_metro_radio_arena_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog

Most memorable were the alluring contortion of a fabulous female performer as she entranced the entire audience and the 'Icarus' character of the story with her controlled balance and bending of her body, pirouetting on slender stalks. She was truly outstanding. Another stand out performance came shortly after the intermission by two scantily leather-clad men suspended by single arm trapeze, they were almost hypnotic in their display of synchronicity and strength.

Although the story could have had more substance, as a truly modern circus event it was breathtaking so if you are looking for continuity in a storyline then this event is probably not for you. If you are looking to be entertained by stunning acrobatics then this certainly delivers. Think more of the performance being linked by themes rather than a storyline and you won't be disappointed. There are some amazing standalone performances and the minimalism of the props adds to the concentration and focus on the skills and abilities rather than the spectacle of the stage. 

The acrobatics were amazing, the clowning appears disjointed but is the reprise between the change of stage set and performances and in isolation is quite amusing in a very European way, overall I was thoroughly entertained. I am not one to over analyse after an event or necessarily draw a comparison against other events, I gauge my enjoyment at that time while I am in the moment and I did feel that I had a truly excellent evening.

I am off to Vegas later in the year and would certainly put another Cirque du Soleil show on my 'must see' list.

cirque_du_soleil_varekai_las_vegas_performers_review_newcastle_arena_pinterest_graphic_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog

Disclaimer: The event was complimentary, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Stagecoach App: #bloggersonthebus

On Wednesday Jalou played host to Stagecoaches #bloggeronthebus event. Sending our faithful tagger along (as we were sunning it up in Tenerife), she was pre-prepared having downloaded the new Stagecoach App, planned her route and took the bus because she knew she'd be in for a treat with all of the cocktails on offer at Jalou.

Having added her starting and ending destinations to the app and pressing go, her route was shown with a live bus timetable to allow her to plan her route and catch the correct bus that would get her to the event on time.

As she arrived she met up with some of the other bloggers attending the event including our favourites Katie Meehan, Alice from Zest of Alice, Gemma from Gemma's Little World just to name a few, who were all armed with a glass of prosecco. No change there then girls?

As the glasses quickly emptied and were inevitably replaced by Jalou's famous cocktails, our tagger for the evening enjoyed a bubblegum daiquiri and a frozen strawberry lemonade. If you’ve never seen Jalou’s famous cookie monster cocktail you need to check it out!

To celebrate the new Stagecoach app the #bloggersonthebus rabble were then let loose with spray paints, glitter, stickers and more crafty pieces to create their own Instagram-worthy phone cases.

Receiving multiple messages from not only herself but Katie too, about the glittering state of our tagger's case I couldn't help feel a little envious I wasn't there creating craft carnage too. As glitter was sprinkled, and paint was sprayed our tagger made an epic fail and forgot to remove the film from her case when spraying so take two and the pink glitter case was something that resembled Barbie's dream house! 

With an array of stations containing multiple different craft items the #bloggersonthebus mingled and enjoyed their evenings. From spray painting and glitter to marble creations there was fun to be had by everybody. With their cases, drying and the ladies and gents fuelled up on cocktails they used the new app to plan their route home. Heading for the bus home, from an evening enjoying cocktails the Stagecoach app is a perfect addition to ensuring you get home safely from A to B. 

New Stagecoach buses are all now equipped with super fast wifi and USB charging ports to stay connected online, they really are the best way to travel around the North East and further afield. Some people even ride around on the bus all day just for the wifi as it's faster than some people's home broadband!

Scent From Subscription Box: February Edition - Paris

On Sunday and Monday, we brought you Scent From Subscription Boxes from New York and The Alps. For February we’re bringing straight from IWOOT the destination which is the capital of Love and of course the perfect choice for all the lovers this month….Paris.

This rich pinks and red this month and if you’ve not already fallen in love with the Scent From collection then this month will make sure of it. As you close your eyes opening the large signature scent tin with the location coordinates upon the label, you’re instantly transported to standing with your lover staring up at the Eiffel Tower as the scent of freshly made chocolat truffles waves on by and the cork of a vintage bottle of the finest Champagne pops in your ear. Think rose petals as the scent of the jar candle from this month’s collection seduces you to lighting the wick and watching the flicker of the flame dancing the Moulin Rouge.

The signature tin candle this month smells sweet and delicate. The White Truffle & Cognac limited edition candle has a burn time of 40 hours, this soy wax candle burns slowly and fragrantly, this soft scent is different to other month’s scent is more feminine and gentle. It’s accompanied by a small pink vintage-inspired miniature glass jar candle in rose velvet. This hand-poured natural soy wax candle is completed with a twine tie and vintage wooden heart charm.

The delicate smell from the miniature is perfect for creating a calm and relaxing ambience in any room. The vintage-style fits both modern and of course vintage-inspired decor and is a fantastic addition to any room.

The Scent From Paris bespoke print mug is illustrated with this month’s Scent From design in the colour of choice, Valentine’s Pink. With the Parisian skyline in a solid continual line its the perfect gift to give the one you love this February, of course, you could become truly the best gift giver this month and accompany this amazing loved up box with a trip to the actual city of love itself Paris….just an idea?

Finally, the month of Valentine isn’t complete without heart shaped chocolates of course. These heart truffles in strawberry and raspberry are there to enjoy as the wax of the candles starts to melt. Enjoy your devilishly divine individually wrapped chocolates with the one you love….yourself!

If you’re already subscribed to the Scent From Subscription Box then you’ll already have some fabulous stamps on your candle passport from Marrakech to the Alps, Stockholm to New York and now Paris. Wonder where we’re heading next?

If you want to know where we’re heading next why not grab yourself a £5 discount with the code ELLE5 and shop the one month, three months, six months or twelve-month subscription box from IWOOT here.

pinterest_graphic_scent_from_Subscription_box_IWOOT_candle_flamingo_Candles_shearer_candles_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.png

Disclaimer: This item was provided complimentary, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Car Servicing Tips: Keeping Your Car Healthy

As a female, it sometimes surprises people when I pop open the bonnet (hood to my American readers) and get my head underneath to have a look. I am well versed in where the dipstick is and how to change the oil, fill up the windscreen washer fluid and I have a strange obsession about engine coolant - don’t ask! However, it amazes me just how little some people know about getting their car serviced or even keeping it healthy especially when carrying precious cargo such as their loved ones and family.

Here are our 5 top tips for saving money and lives when it comes to looking after your car.

Check the oil

The best way to check the oil is to remove the dipstick, wipe with kitchen roll or a cloth put it back in the hole and remove. Check to see the level is absolutely not below the minimum, but not above the maximum. Try and keep it as topped up as possible at all times using the highest grade oil that is suitable for both your car and budget. It’s important to keep an eye on oil levels as failure to do so can mean your car’s engine seizes which is a very expensive issue!

Flush the cooling system annually

Not many people I’ve spoken to know how important this is. By flushing the coolant system and replacing the coolant with 50/50 coolant and distilled water this prevents deposits and corrosion in the cooling system. If you’re not confident in how to do this yourself an annual service at your car dealership will include this (and a valet - that’s clearly my favourite part!). It’s also worth noting that in the winter months you can add anti-freeze to your coolant to stop it from freezing

Bleed brake fluid  

Here’s some science for you, brake fluid is hygroscopic meaning it is adept at attracting moisture. With moisture comes corrosion and this causes components to fail. It is recommended that you replace fluid and bleed the system annually, you’ll find that brake fluid is inexpensive whereas callipers, hoses and sensors are all extremely costly. Again if you take your car for a service your dealership will also carry out this service. 

Always top up washer fluid

This is not something that will damage your car if it’s not regularly topped up, however it will obstruct your viewing, especially in the Winter months if you neglect topping up your washer fluid. It’s important to keep your windscreen clear as this will allow you to see the road clearly. You can buy ready mixed washer fluid for as little as £1, although it is recommended during the colder months to opt for a fluid with anti-freeze in too to stop your fluid freezing.

Put 20p in your tyres

I was once advised that if you place a twenty pence piece in the tread of your tyres and you can see the rim of the coin showing your tyres require changed. Although expensive these are a legal requirement and if worn can cost you points on your license and a fine. A fully fit tyre helps your car to grip the road with the tread, which is essential for braking and steering.

These are just our top five tips, however, it is absolutely imperative that you look after your car’s health as well as your own. Cars can be fatal if faulty and although it may seem like resource burning both financially and time wise it really could save your life. If you’re not confident in servicing your car yourself, ask a friend to help you or do it for you. This is alongside a service from your car dealership, besides the stamp in your log book it is extremely important for making sure that a professional mechanic checks your car to make sure it’s all working correctly.  If you want reliable car servicing in Glenrothes or nearby areas, Fife Autocentre can help.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Scent From Subscription Box: January Edition - The Alps

For those who frequent this joint regularly you’ll know I adore subscription boxes, from my favourite Beauty Box, Little Known Box to the Scent From Boxes, which are filled full of the most deliciously scented candles, a ‘Scent From’ official scent and usually a candle by the fantastic Shearers Candles or Flamingo Candles, there’s also a beautiful little homeware item to keep which is carefully selected with precision to not only match the different theme of the box that is presented each month but to also fit seamlessly into your home.

I am a huge lover of candles, not only do they look great when dressing up your rooms but they can transport any home to far away destinations, evoke distant, warm and happy memories, they also have the power to take away the stresses of the day with one swoop of a match to their wick. There’s nothing more relaxing than a darkened room with your favourite smelling candle flickering in the background.

From faraway lands to city escapes every month Scent From transports you to different coordinates around the globe. This month: The Alps, and I must admit that this has been by far my favourite box yet!

As I opened the brown cardboard box, with the same excitement and anticipation that I feel each and every month when I see the coordinates branded box with the Scent From sticker emblazoned upon it, I was instantly hit with the fresh, clean scent of this month’s signature scent.

This month’s large signature tin candle sees a wintry windswept fresh scent to transport you to the peaks of Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, the fresh yet strong fir scent brings that warm winter smell indoors and makes you want to grab you Ski attire and head off piste.

This, accompanied by a warm spice Shearers Candle, the cinnamon spiced candle, which is complemented by clove and spiced apple has a burn time of 20 hours juxtaposes itself perfectly with the large tin candle, whilst transporting us to a large open wooden fire surrounded by timber and fur blankets. The rich cinnamon notes have you reaching for a large mug of cocoa by this roaring log fire, after a long day of skiing down the mountains.

The warm rich spices, gently dance around your nose, with an almost Christmas feel to this little number it’s perfect for those wet and windy Winter evenings that are still upon us. Accompanying the small tin candle is Shearer Candle’s warm spice hand lotion. This soft and sumptuous formula is devilishly creamy, thick and packed full of the rich aromas just like the deep blue cinnamon spiced candle.

Finally, the string ball battery operated lights are interjected in the box to symbolise the twinkling stars above in the crystal clear night sky. Perfect for hanging on your mirror, stringing from your bed or in my case carefully positioning them inside a glass bowl to create an expensive and impressive looking feature that sits perfectly upon my hall console table. The white woven balls offer a soft muted light which is perfect for the theme of relaxation which The Alps encapsulates in this enchanting month’s subscription box.

You can opt for a one-off order or a 3 month, 6 months or 12-month subscription to Scent From, the next box for February is from Paris, oh la la!

What’s even better is by using the code ELLE5 at the checkout you can save yourself £5 on your order. Buy yours now from IWOOT

Disclaimer: This item was provided complimentary, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Scent From Subscription Box: December Edition - New York

With New York Fashion Week in full swing, we’re throwing it back to December’s Scent From Subscription Box which, yes you guessed it. Is coming to you straight from the Big Apple, the melting pot. the home of the Bronx and Broadway and the shortest sentence in all of the world, d’jeet (did you eat? - in case you were wondering). 

Undoubtedly the most famous of all of the American cities, this sprawling metropolis is home to over 800 spoken languages, a rich history of prohibition and gangster crime, the greens of Central Park which is overlooked by climbing towers and skyscrapers. Sadly it is home to one of the most tragic modern day acts of terrorism but today we light a candle for New York with our favourite subscription box from IWOOT.

With not one but two large tin candles from Flamingo Candles, both with a 40 hour burn time we are in for a treat with this location. The festive themed Bah Humbug smells of the cleanest freshest mint to dance around your nose. This holiday favourite is adorned in stag print which looks totally Instagram-worthy. It’s almost too good a scent to burn, I could just sit and smell it forever.

A festive favourite in our family, the chocolate orange. The second tin candle is this gorgeous rich chocolaty scent with orange undertones. The geometric pattern allows for it to become a transitional all year round candle, which if you’re like us is great for if you’re on a diet. You can smell it and imagine you’re tapping and unwrapping your chocolate orange without the calorie intake!

The final candle related item in this NYC Scent From Box is the Flamingo Candle Cake Wax Melt in Vanilla. This little wax melt has a burn time of up to 20 hours and this organic soybean scent melt is a different way to explore their evocative fragrance collection. Simply place your wax melt in an oil or fragrance burner along with a tea light and as it melts let the scents transport you to far away destinations

Finally and a firm favourite of mine, a geometric candle holder, similar to the Marrakesh box at the end of last year this gorgeous sought after pastel pink tea light holder is absolutely perfect for dressing up on a side table or using as a feature on a sideboard. Simply add a tealight, light and watch the light create a geometric projection in your home.

bah_humbug_new_york_scent_from_official_iwoot_candle_subscription_box_shearers_candles_flamingo_candles_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.png

Every month, I genuinely await eagerly for the delivery of my Scent From Subscription Box. It’s undoubtedly one of my favourite deliveries and admittedly I must receive hundreds of deliveries a month. If you’re looking for a gift for the person who has everything, or a monthly treat to yourself or for your home then this is certainly the best choice. 

The next box is: The Alps

If you don’t want to subscribe you can purchase the box as a one off, or alternatively it comes in 3, 6 and 12-month subscriptions. You can save yourself £5 off your order with the code ELLE5 at the checkout and you can purchase it from IWOOT here.

new_york_pinterest_graphic_scent_from_official_iwoot_candle_subscription_box_shearers_candles_flamingo_candles_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.png

Disclaimer: This item was provided complimentary, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Summer Styling: What to pack this holiday season

The weather is getting warmer and the Summer season is getting closer, with holidays on the horizon it’s time to update your winter wardrobe and give it a new lease of life ready for sunning it by the pool or an evening out at your favourite holiday restaurant followed by a few drinks at the ‘local’ bar before. Perhaps you’re heading to one of the party capitals of the world and the club scene calls for some high fashion.

Fringing

This style is a popular season on season when it comes to holiday wear and a fringed waistcoat over a bikini teamed with a pair of wedges has become a holiday essential. With all age ranges being able to pull this look off it’s simple yet sophisticated. Add an oversized sun hat and big glasses for that bohemian 70s style Hollywood film star look.

A post shared by Bonmarché (@bonmarcheuk) on

This Bon Marche deep blue fringed waistcoat overlaying a brilliant white bikini will be a real head turner.

Harem Trousers

A great pair of harem trousers are equally as practical for day wear or night wear. When picking the perfect holiday getaway harem trousers for a tailored yet comfortable look a floral pattern always looks great with a plain vest or camisole, add an oversized necklace. For daywear throw on some flat sandals and to transition from day to evening wear then change your footwear to some Summer wedges. 

Swimwear

Whatever your shape there’s a swimwear style for everybody. From bikinis, monokinis, tankinis, swimsuits and more. If you’re wanting to look your best for poolside of for flaunting it at the beach then finding swimwear to suit your shape will help boost your body confidence with many swimwear brands offering a complimentary styling service and guides to finding swimwear for your shape. Choosing a style to flatter is one thing then finding patterns to your taste is another. Try block colouring in neutral and monotones for a capsule wardrobe in your suitcase and easy styling to compliment your beachwear.

A post shared by Bonmarché (@bonmarcheuk) on

Dresses

When you’re heading abroad sun searching it’s inevitable that evenings will be spent in great company with great food so of course, you want to be looking your best. Long line sleeveless dresses are a perfect evening choice. As the transition from the winter clothing to the summer clothing lines in the shops emerge like a caterpillar emerging from its chrysalis the trends for this season are high Sports Luxe and floral patterning. 

A post shared by Bonmarché (@bonmarcheuk) on

Wherever you go this Summer here at Elle Blonde we hope you have a fantastic holiday. Where’s your favourite Summer destination?

Exploitation of bloggers & inflencers 1 (22).png

 Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Up and coming trends for 2017!

It’s never easy knowing what trends are going to continue to be on trend into the new year and what’s going to be left behind in 2016. Lucky for you, we’ve done the research for you! Here’s a quick lowdown on the biggest expected trends for the year ahead…

Fresh Angles  

While you won’t have to let go of all your 'off-the-shoulder' tops that were everywhere in 2016 just yet, you should be prepared for some fresh angles. The key look will feature one-shoulder necklines and asymmetric shapes, which are set to be huge in the new year. The architectural lines are stunning on their own, but also offer limitless layering potential!

Black is the New Black  

You can literally never go wrong with black. 2017 is set to pay homage to this superbly timeless, slimming, and 100% trustworthy shade. This doesn’t necessarily mean we will see an influx of new LBD's hitting the high street, more literally all black everything. Let your inner 16-year-old ‘emo phase’ obsessed self out with ALL black outfits, accessories, and make-up. It's time to finally get around to perfecting that smoky eye, girls.  

Fresh Hoodies

Forget the scanty crop tops of the last couple of years - 2017 is all about the freshening it up and keeping warm. A classic white hoodie, for example, will be a staple of you 2017 wardrobe. We're loving this relaxed, street look - primarily because it's so comfortable! An out essential that you can sleep in AND then wear all day? Our prayers really have been answered.  

Skinny Joggers

Sticking to the comfy trend, this year we will see sports luxe outfits become high fashion. Skinny Joggers are the focal point of this trend, and they are set to keep growing in popularity 2017. Being able to look on trend and fashionable, while also been hugely comfortable and relaxed sound right up my street!  

Bright Yellow

One of the colours we often associate with the warmer months is yellow, and designers have chosen to create a variety of yellow outfits for us to wear once spring and summer come around. The best choices will probably be to wear a yellow dress, but however you choose to embrace the colour, it will be sure to liven up your outfit!

Pastel Prints

While pastel shades have been popular for the last few years, they have been focused around block colours and accessories. 2017 will, however, see the introduction of pastel prints all over the high street. You may assume that means floral prints but we will see more intricate graphic designs and pop-art inspired shapes which will be a staple of the summer outfit this year.  

To Conclude...

Feel like you're ready now to be fashion forward in 2017? The coming year is set to be a whirlwind of simple and modest, mixed in with someone off, stand out pieces. Our advice is to simply throw caution to the wind and if you like it? Wear it!

Spotlight on Swansea: Cwmshon Cottages, Pontardawe

It’s always great to take a few days off from the hustle and bustle of life and there’s nothing better than a staycation in the heart of the Welsh Valleys to take your mind off the fast pace of city life.

Arriving in Pontardawe, where Cwmshon Cottages are situated, was the welcome break that was needed last week. A pair of 5 star, award winning cottages are set back off the main road in this small but very amenable town about ten miles from Swansea city centre, 5 minutes from an adventure on the Brecon Beacons, a 10-minute drive into Neath and is the home town of international rugby star Gareth Edwards. The gorgeous stone cottages are owned by the ever so wonderful Fiona who believes when you stay away from home the cottage you choose should be comfortable and homely and she encapsulates this perfectly in her duo of extremely welcoming and cosy lets.

Situated just over a small bridge with a running stream underfoot the cottages are carved into the hill, both with ample sized enclosed gardens which are ideal for Summer BBQs and enjoying the last of the sun in privacy, the cottage to the left Nant Cottage, is completely allergy free and the right-hand cottage Craig Cottage is dog friendly meaning Cwmshon Cottages are ideal for everybody wherever their adventures may lead them.

Entering Craig Cottage the delightful scent of rural cottages hits you with that lovely wood burning smell which has obviously come from the large wood burner in the middle of the chimney breast wall in the open plan living and dining room area. This open plan space leads through to a well-equipped kitchen with utility, downstairs bathroom with shower. With all the essentials you could need in a home away from home Fiona has you feeling at ease with easy to use manuals for the cooker, dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer and wood burner. The kitchen cupboards are filled with everything from frying pans, to mixing bowls, dishwasher tablets to olive oil. The necessities that you’d probably forget to pack.

When we arrived at the cottage we were greeted with homemade Bara Brith which is a Welsh Tea Cake and clotted cream, Fiona also had put milk in the fridge too. It’s the little homely touches which make you realise why she, with her cottages, have won multiple awards. Of course, after our long journey, we enjoyed a slice of this cake before lighting the fire and relaxing in Welsh paradise ready for our adventures to begin the following day.

At the top of the stairs there's a large landing which hosts two bedrooms, a double and a twin room alongside a very spacious bathroom. The cottage is cute and compact but also ever so spacious and perfect for a family getaway or time spent with friends.

The white walls and wooden floors throughout are teamed with traditional pieces such as runners and large arm chairs with floral patterns which give the cottage a modern with a traditional Welsh twist. The dining table has been stripped of its varnishes and revarnished in bar wax, every single aspect of the cottage has been meticulously planned and executed with the visitors in mind.

Fiona came to welcome us and came armed with not only a gift of a beautiful beeswax candle but also countless books, maps and information on places to go and things to see. She is an absolutely lovely lady, who is extremely friendly and very personable. You can get lost in conversation with her, a host that you feel you’ve known your whole life even though you only met her five minutes ago. She told us all about the rich history of the Valleys, she showed us maps and told us all the secret gems of the local area which was not only fascinating but gave us a real great sense of adventure.

Learning that waterfalls are a plenty she told us how it was waterfall country and that her favourite waterfall was only a short distance away. We put that on our to-do list. Showing us her feature in the Welsh Rarebit brochure you could tell that she was super proud of her cottages (and rightly so!) but the passion for her properties and desire to help create the most fantastic Welsh memories for all of her guests was evident as she talked about her love of meeting people from all over the world who come to stay.

With Cwmshon Cottages being perfectly located for city, country and coastal living there really isn’t a better place to stay if you’re visiting the Valleys. Fiona told us that she gets people staying for up to three weeks at a time to explore all that this part of Wales has to offer, which when you know about the secret escapes and hidden gems in Gower, Porthcawl, The Swansea and the Brecon Valleys you can see how each day will be filled full of adventure, all within reasonable travelling distance so that you can return on an evening to a nice glass of fizz and a relax, reflection on the day's adventures. 

Cwmshon Cottages truly are the most magical cottages to stay in and if you’re planning a stay in South Wales then you really must make this your base as you certainly won’t be disappointed with your stay. With 3-night breaks starting at £271 they really are exceptional value for money for the high standard of home and 5-star quality. There’s so much to see and do and the location is so central for all the major towns, cities and adventures you really can’t find a better holiday cottage. 

Check Fiona's gorgeous cottages out and see availability here

Disclaimer: This stay was provided complimentary, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Why Being Single Could Be The Best Time Of Your Travel Life

Now that winter is nearing its end, we are starting to think about where to go on our holiday. After all, it’s great to book something soon so that we have something to head to for the summer months. But if you are single, it might leave you feeling blue when trying to book a holiday. After all, your friends might all be going away with their friends. And you are left either heading away on your own or with a family member. However, you might actually be the lucky one. Here are some reasons why being single could be the best time of your travel life.

You don’t have to worry about the other person’s finances

When you are going away on holiday with someone else, it can make things more complicated. After all, you don’t have to just worry about yourself affording the break, but you have to worry about your other half too. And if they don’t have money for the trip, you can wave goodbye to that amazing holiday this year. Therefore, when you are single, you only have to worry about your own funds. So if you can afford to go further afield, you will be able to without having to worry about your partner’s money. Therefore, you won’t miss out on a memorable trip down to your other half!

You can visit where exactly you want to go  

Choosing where to go on holiday with your other half can be tricky. After all, you might have different tastes and viewpoints on what makes the best holiday. For example, you might want to go somewhere that has a great beach where you can relax. While your other half might love to go on a holiday which is active and keeps you busy. Therefore, you might end up having to come to an agreement on a place that doesn’t float your boat. So if you are single, you can visit exactly where you want to go on holiday. You don’t have to worry about anyone else and can see and do whatever you fancy. Therefore, it can mean you don’t look back in years to come with regret that you didn’t travel to those bucket list destinations. And if you are going to travel on your own, you could always consider looking at singles tours. That way, you will be travelling alongside other people who fancy visiting their dream destination. And it’s a great way to make friends that are like minded in their travel dreams.

You can truly relax while you are on your travels

When you go away with your other half, it often leaves you having to spend the whole trip with them. And if they are not good at relaxing on the beach, you are not going to be able to sit and relax either. Therefore, you might go home just as stressed as you were before your travels! So you will enjoy your holiday while you are single as you can just do as you please while you are on your break. You can relax to your heart’s content and read your book the whole day if you want to!

And with Valentine’s Day tomorrow, here are some other reasons why you should be thankful to be single!

Sports Luxe at Silverlink Shopping Park

Think Yeezy, think oversized baggy hoodies. Think over-pleated longline metallic skirts. Sports Luxe is back this season and it's dropping in our well-known clothing chains that have become daily staples from this week.

Described by Fashion Voyeur herself Pixie Tenenbaum sports luxe is a mixture of gym wear with a luxury twist, comfortable activewear that looks high end. It isn't necessarily for the gym and can be worn as day wear. 

On Thursday morning I headed to the Silverlink Shopping Park for some last minute bits before heading to Liverpool and onto Tenerife for the week for a little bit of well-deserved sunshine. I made the five-minute journey to the retail park from my home to see what reader favourites River Island, Outfit, H&M and New Look had in store. I checked out the brand new Next which has taken residence in the newly opened section of the retail park and of course M&S for their surprisingly on-trend collections.

With the new season collection drops hitting stores this week I was in for a treat. My first stop was New Look which offers fast fashion at affordable prices. With blush, khaki, grey and black being the Huey tones that swept the bottom floor I couldn't help but fall in love with the oversized boyfriend fit hoodies. Of course, the soft nude blush colour drew me in, and luckily it was aplenty. 

With heavy celebrity influences from the Kardashians, Gigi Hadid, Rihanna and many more. A more neutral colour palette is becoming the vogue choice and again this is notable this season. Team that oversized hoody with these mock crock slip ons in a gorgeous rose gold to add a little bit of luxe to your sporty style.

With heavy floral embellishments appearing on tops, jumpers, jackets and even trousers team these pieces with your oversized hoodies to add a softer more feminine look whilst staying right on trend.

Sports Luxe is a great take on loungewear with a softer more feminine twist, and I absolutely adore this dress. With the illusion of a sweater and flowing skirt this Topshop piece from the fashion hub that is Outfit is perfect to dress down with a pair of pumps for that everyday Sports Luxe or dress it up with a pair of heels for casual glam styling for an afternoon drinking cocktails.

Release your inner Flashdance with this low V one piece, team it with these soft blush paper bag trousers and mix high sheen textiles with softer more delicate materials which are great transitional pieces to take you through to Summer.

For those cooler evenings or to add depth through layering to your look, the bomber jackets which we saw through both seasons last year have stayed around and are making their presence well known again this season. Again high sheen is in and the four main colours are very prominent in H&M's collection. 

With slogans and embellishments on these jackets they're a statement in their own right dressed with a basic black tee and ripped black jeans, throw in a pair of Adidas All-Stars and a gorgeous black cap with faux fur Pom Poms on from River Island and you're Sport Luxe ready, they can also be dressed with a lightweight camisole and a full-length metallic skirt.

The Silverlink Shopping Park, which is located just off the A19,  and the stores it plays home to is constantly regenerating itself and bringing the hottest fashion to the retail park for the masses. Over the past few years, it's really become a one-stop place for replicating the ultimate catwalk styles at a fraction of the costs and it doesn't fail to deliver with this trend!

A photo posted by Topshop (@topshop) on

sports_luxe_styling_silverlink_retail_park_elle_blonde

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, all views are my own. Read more about disclosure here.

Guest Post: How to Dress Your Pup in Cute Dog Clothes

No matter what type of dog you have, dressing him up in a cute outfit is often irresistible. However, before you decide to get your pup its new favourite clothes, there are a few things to consider first. Read on for tips on how to dress your pup in cute dog clothes.

Seasons

You always want your pup to be comfortable, so pay attention to the season and temperature, and don’t overdress your doggie.

Warm & Hot Weather

If you live in a hot part of the country or you’re suffering through the dog days of August in a normally mild part of the country, choose lightweight outfits for your dog. Just as you wouldn’t wear a wool suit during the summer, don’t overdress your pup.

Try a cotton t-shirt material. It will help keep the sun off, but won’t hold in too much heat.

Chilly & Cold Weather

The colder weather will give you more options for dressing your dog. Try a hand knit wool sweater or a fleece-lined jacket. And don’t forget a raincoat!

Hairless Dogs

For hairless breeds (including Chinese Crested and Xoloitzcuintli), you may find yourself dressing your dog in sweaters all year round. These dogs may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, so even air conditioning can be too cool. Find a great lightweight cotton sweater in a bright color. The cheerfulness will make you smile.

Shaking Breeds

Some breeds shake even when it doesn’t seem cold to you. Smaller breeds, like chihuahuas, have less fat and are more sensitive to the slightest chill. Make sure you have some go-to sweaters for every occasion to keep your little guy comfortable.

Experiment with Colours

Just like humans, some colours look better on some breeds. Try a deep red on your tricolour hound or a bright yellow on your black French bulldog.

Messaging

Whether it’s your alma mater or your local football team, involve your pup. Remember that any writing on your dog’s outfit likely brings on a conversation, so be ready to defend your school’s football team or your political choices if you advertise them on your dog’s clothes.

Costumes

Superhero or otherwise, costumes are fun. And there’s nothing more amusing than dressing a dachshund as a hot dog or a pug as Winston Churchill. Also, try dressing your dog as a different animal, like a shark or a bunny.

Sizing

Make sure you buy the right size for your dog. You don’t want a piece that is too loose because the sleeves or collar might get caught on a piece of furniture. The same goes for too-small pieces. You want your dog to be comfortable. If your dog isn’t comfortable wearing the clothing, then it won’t be fun for either of you.

Also, make sure you check out your store’s return policy, just in case your dog prefers life as a nudist.

Baby Steps

If you’re not sure that you want a whole outfit for your doggy, try a cool collar or bandana. You’ll have a lot of options: girly, macho, high-fashion, dainty, etc. As a bonus, collars and bandanas are less expensive than whole outfits, so you can try out several styles before you commit.

Matchy-Matchy

You can match your dog or you can get all your dogs to match. This can help if you have several dogs and you let them loose at the dog park. Just like with toddlers, they’ll be easier to pick out of a crowd if they are wearing matching colours.

Juxtaposition

Does your Rottweiler look ferocious? Are strangers afraid of your pit bull? You know that your doggie is a sweetheart, so why not dress him accordingly. Who can resist a pit bull in a tutu or a Rottweiler wearing a tiara? At the very least, it will encourage conversation, and you might even convert a few people to the breed that you love.

Remember to dress your dog in dog clothes, not baby clothes. Onesies that are designed for humans aren’t dog-friendly, especially since it is not designed with an opening for him to go to the bathroom. Speciality dog clothes shops like WholeWoof feature made-for-dog outfits that are safe for your best pal.

Whether you’re dressing your pup for a fun costume event or are looking for a stylish way to lounge around the world, it’s always a good idea to have a few outfits in store. Have fun and consider this just another way that you’re demonstrating your love for your furry family member.

Author Bio:

Carl Turner is a freelance writer and dog owner from Los Angeles, California. When he is not busy researching or writing new informative articles for his avid readers around the world, he enjoys running along the beach with his two German Shepherds, Max and Casey.

Preparing For Your First Ski Holiday

If you’ve never been on a skiing holiday before, then here’s the first thing you should know: They’re super, super fun. Spending your days carving the mountain snow, lazy afternoons recovering from the intense morning session, and evening drinks with friends and family around a roaring fire. What, I dare you to answer, could possibly be better than that? 

However, a skiing holiday isn’t like a regular holiday. There are some things you need to think about it before you hit the mountains to ensure you’re kept safe and can have the best skiing experience possible. Check out our tips below.

Before You Go

In the weeks before you go skiing, you’ll want to build up your endurance. While skiing isn’t the most physically taxing sport you can do, it can still take it out of you - and will if you’re not sufficiently prepared. This means going into light training so that you have a good level of fitness and are flexible enough to comfortably handle the muscle tweaks and the like that come from falling down (spoiler: you’ll definitely fall down). 

Additionally, make sure you have all the clothing you need to enjoy a trip to the mountains, which can be chillier than you’d expect. You’ll likely be renting your equipment from the ski area, but having proper ski gloves, thermals, hats and so on will ensure you’re kept warm even when you’re not skiing. 

The Journey

It’s advisable to make your journey as comfortable and straightforward as possible. Why? Because a long journey will leave you tired, both physically and mentally, and you’ll want to get onto the slopes as soon as you arrive. You can’t do that safely if you’re drained from the journey. That means getting a good night’s sleep before the flight, booking British airport transfers for you and your travel companions, getting picked up from the airport to the ski area, and being well rested for a night before skiing. This way you’ll be fresh and raring to go when you finally snap into your skis, and will be refreshed enough to challenge the slopes safely.

When You’re There

Did you know that the most dangerous moment for skiing is during the last run? You’re tired inside and out and concentration isn’t quite what it used to be. When you feel yourself getting tired, call it a day - or at least take a long break. The mountains aren’t going anywhere and it’s much better to go out on top rather than staying out there longer than you should and risking injury. 

Remember What Skiing Is All About

All going well, you’ll have an amazing time on your first skiing holiday. This type of getaway is about much more than just the skiing; it’s about sharing great times with friends and family, being outdoors and active, and pushing yourself to do more. So during your trip, take the time to appreciate all the other fun benefits of a ski holiday - especially with the people you travel with!

Where To Eat On Your Staycation

When you need a break, what do you often decide to do? Whether you fancy booking a short city break, or a week in the sun, it’s often tempting to go down the overseas route - because it’s what we’ve come to know. However, you might benefit from a staycation, by saying right on your doorstep. With a staycation, you can take all of your travel essentials, without the worry of your baggage being overweight. And, what's more, you get to enjoy some of our country's finest foods and eating houses!

The Coast

Maybe the Coast is calling your name? Whether you live in a city, or the country, you can often feel as if you need to visit the coast, to take in the fresh air and relive your childhood memories. Sometimes, that calming coastal vibe is all you need to feel refreshed. Oh, and the food, of course. There’s nothing quite like eating on the coast. Whether you pop into beachfront fish and chip shop and enjoy your salt and vinegar dunked delights straight out of the paper, or head to a fancy restaurant, you have to eat our nation's most loved dish when you visit the coast.

Your Hometown

If you’re the kind of person that travels a lot and always heads to the furthest corner of the globe when it comes to holidays, then you might benefit by staying in your hometown. There’s probably a lot that you haven’t explored, including incredible places to eat. Perhaps there’s a nice restaurant in your town that you’ve always wanted to try, but have never gotten around to? Well now’s the time to do it!

The City

When you visit a local city, like London, you can be spoilt for choice when it comes to food. So, you’re going to want to plan this one out wisely. Consider your options and draw up a list of what you’d like to eat the most. Whether it’s international cuisine, or even a gastropub, like The Driver, you know you’re in for a treat, so it’s best to get your bookings in quick and work your way through that list.

The Countryside

If you live in a big city, then sometimes the countryside is the perfect retreat for you. Regardless of which part of the country you choose to head to, you will find a wealth of culinary delights is available to you. Although you’ll find much of the same as where you’re from, you won’t be the kinds of home cooking you can find in the country. So on your peaceful retreat, indulge in Great British classics, just like your Grandmother made.

Across The Border

Sometimes, all you need to do is hop over the border, and you’ve got yourself the break away of dreams. Although you may have visited a few places across the country, you might want to think about nipping over to Wales. Throughout its beautiful lands, Wales has a wealth of insanely incredible restaurants, comprising of a range of cuisines, that can also guide you through Wales.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Miller & Carter Newcastle: A steak lover's heaven

I don't know if I've mentioned it (I probably have, you know because it's pretty much a big deal) but after 20 years and a gluten intolerance later I stopped being a vegetarian in favour of steaks and chicken.

It happened almost overnight and I've literally spent the last few months wondering why I deprived myself of meat for so long. I've also noticed a massive improvement in my health since starting to eat meat. Anyway, I'm probably preaching to the converted anyway!

A few weeks ago we decided to try our Miller & Carter, Newcastle. As we were heading to pick my Grandma & Granda up from the airport we decided to call in for lunch before collecting them.

Arriving into the steakhouse, which was formally The Lodge for those of you not familiar where Miller & Carter is ( we overheard in conversation on the next table that Ant & Dec used to own it before Miller & Carter took over).

The rich reds and gorgeous lighting teamed with dark wood were sophisticated and boutique like but with the feel of a more relaxed atmosphere. As we took a seat in one of the booths we perished the lunch menu which was a bargain at two courses for £10.95 or 3 courses for 13.95.

I had decided on calamari and steak hash, my dinner date, calamari followed by a steak and cheese baguette was their combination of choice.

As we chatted and laughed with the waitress, and then amongst ourselves, our starters arrived virtually within minutes. The service was certainly speedy.

With light batter and delicious tender squid, we both enjoyed our portion of Calamari as we dipped it into our garlic sauce. The starter was fresh, piping hot and a real hit.

We finished our starters and continued to chat over a glass of wine, the restaurant had a constant flow of people coming in for lunch, however, it wasn't manic which added to the ambience. As music filled the empty pauses and the silences of all the diners.

Not long after our plates had been cleared our mains arrived. As a massive fan of Huevos Rancheros (a Mexican egg and beans dish), I can only compare my steak to that. With a tender and juicy medium cooked steak set upon crispy baby potatoes, avocado, black turtle bean salsa and an egg the flavours were totally divine. Again super fresh the blend of the different textures were so tasty and the steak was cooked to perfection.

The Steak & Monterey Jack Ciabatta looked every bit as delicious - served with onions and fries this was a perfect lunch time grab and go menu which catered for all.

The food was great, the staff were friendly, the restaurant was clean and it was exceptional value for money. Miller & Carter, thank you, we'll be back.