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    Friday, 23 June 2017

    SHAKE UP YOUR FRIDAYS WITH FUNKIN COCKTAILS [+ GIVEAWAY]

    Do you remember a few weeks ago, I introduced you guys to the new Funkin Cocktail Shakers? You know these ones:

    Well if you live in London Zones 1 or 2, I have a really exciting competition to tell you about, where you could WIN everything you need for your very own cocktail party!

    Yep. Funkin Cocktails has teamed up with alcohol delivery service, Bevy Butler and Made in Chelsea’s Alex Mytton to bring the party to your after-work drinks, girly nights in and house parties in June.
    The trio are giving away free ‘party packs’ every Friday, bursting with everything you need to make delicious, bar-quality cocktails quickly and easily whatever the location.

    To enter all you need to do is is upload an image on Instagram of an event that needs shaking up using the hashtag #MAKEITSHAKE and tag @funkincocktails and @bevybutlers. The entries will then be judged on originality, humour and the sheer scale of boredom witnessed within each photograph.
    There will be 10 lucky winners each week who'll receive their very own party pack containing the new Funkin Cocktail’s cocktail shakers, a bottle of booze and a bag of ice delivered straight to their door. So you have EVERYTHING you need to make bar quality cocktails in the comfort of your own home.

    What's more, the lovely Funkin Cocktails team have also given me a special pack to giveaway to my London based followers. For your chance to win simply follow @ElleBloggs on Twitter or Instagram and RT this tweet here. Good luck!
    * This post was sponsored by Funkin Cocktails
    Always drink responsibly

    Tuesday, 20 June 2017

    HOW TO HAVE THE ULTIMATE GIRLY NIGHT IN

    You know you're getting old when you prefer 'nights in' with your friends to a night out on the town, right?

    Don't get me wrong - I love getting dressed up and going out with my gal-pals BUT I also really, really like staying in and not having to do my hair or make-up. PLUS staying in means you actually get a chance to catch up (and download all the juicy gossip).

    To make the most of your next girls night in, I've teamed up with SPAR wines to bring you my top tips for the ultimate girly catch up!

    SNUGGLY BLANKETS
    First up you need to build the perfect setting.

    It seems a bit weird saying to get the blankets out when it's about 30 degrees outside BUT there's nothing quite like getting in your PJs and snuggling up in front of the TV to gossip (amiright?)
    BOTTOMLESS BUBBLES 
    If your girls are anything like mine, you'll know that friends and prosecco are the perfect blend.

    Spar has a great new range of Prosecco's on offer which are also super affordable meaning you don't need to break the bank to have some bubbles with your besties.
    The SPAR Extra Dry DOC Prosecco is priced £9 and the SPAR Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco is £12. Both are incredibly fresh and crisp plus super high quality so make sure you have a few bottles on tap to really get the gossip flowing.
    TOP ENTERTAINMENT 
    Once you're done dissecting the people you used to go to school with's lives via their Facebook statuses AND caught up on what's happening in each other's lives, you'll need to stick on a box set (which you'll prob just talk over anyway)

    Some of my favourites on Netflix at the moment include: 13 Reasons Why, Orange is the New Black (hello new series!) and my guilty pleasure Once Upon a Time. I'm always on the look out for new shows though so hit me up with suggestions in the comment box!

    TASTY SNACKS
    Probably the most important part. So of course, you'll need cheese - remember these babies?

    So make sure you whip some of those up BUT you'll also need chocolate and sweeties and crisps. and did I even mention pizza yet? Just order it all, because let's face it - calories don't count amongst friends.
    What more could you want for a night in with your girls hey? I'd love to hear your favourite ways to spend time with your mates below!

    * This post was sponsored by SPAR Wines

    Thursday, 8 June 2017

    GIFT IDEAS FOR EVERY KIND OF DAD THIS FATHER’S DAY (+GIVEAWAY)

    *This post has been sponsored by Braun. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
    How on earth are we in June already?

    This month is a bit of a mad one for me. I’ve got holidays and hen-dos, birthdays and parties and I’ve also got the one date in the calendar which I look at with mixed emotions: Father’s Day.

    I’m really lucky because I’ve had the privilege of having two dads in my life. My dad Graham, who has now sadly passed away, and also my incredible step-dad Mark, who has been a part of my life for the last 16 years.

    I think it’s so important to always mark Father’s Day – to celebrate the memory of my dad but also to give thanks for in the incredible relationship I have with my step-dad.

    SO, I’ve rounded up some great Father’s Day ideas so you can make the most of the day with your old man, whatever type of dad he might be!
    The Sporty Dad
    If your dad is sports mad, could you buy him tickets to a game? A rugby match that you could go to together or even just a kick around in the park with your brothers and sisters.

    Some of my best memories growing up revolve around the huge five-a-side games we used to have with my step-brothers and step-dad…I just won’t mention the time our cousin’s arm got broken.

    The Well-Groomed Dad
    If your dad is super sharp (or a bit dishevelled and you just want to drop a hint) you could treat him to some new grooming products.

    My boyfriend swears by his Braun beard trimmer which would make the ideal present for my step-dad. It comes with six different fittings depending on the look and style you want to achieve, plus it’s also so easy to use, you just charge it and it’s ready to go.
    Braun also has a great Wet and Dry Shaver if your dad is more clean-cut and prefers a traditional shave. It’s such a handy bit of kit as it cuts in straight lines, minimising irritation and can even go in the shower.

    The Dad No Longer Here
    It’s really easy to shy away from doing anything on Father’s Day when your dad is no longer here but I really do think it’s so important – and a big step in helping you come to terms with the loss.

    We mark Father’s Day for my dad by taking flowers to his grave, writing out a card and sharing stories to keep his memory alive.

    The Foodie Dad
    The best bit about any occasion like Father’s Day or Mother’s Day is getting to spend more time with your parents.

    You should never take for granted that little bit of quality time you spend together which is why I love buying experiences for people.

     If your dad is a big foodie, you could book to take him out to somewhere like The Soho Sanctum hotel, which offers a gent’s afternoon tea (serving scotch eggs and mini burgers rather than your traditional scones and sandwiches) or you could just get a date in the diary and cook for him. Make his favourite dinner and use the time to catch-up – little things like that often go down better than lavish nights out!

    I hope that’s given you some inspiration! Let me know how you’ll be celebrating Father’s Day with your dad this year. If you'd like to win a Braun Electric Shaver as a gift, enter the giveaway below 

    Saturday, 20 May 2017

    THE NEW BRUNCH MENU AT OBICA

    When an email drops in your inbox inviting you to an Italian style brunch, it's rude not to bite their hand off, right?

    Obicà have just launched their new ‘Food to Share’ weekend Brunch Menu so I couldn't wait to get down there to try it and tell you guys.

    You might have heard of Obica before, and if you haven't - you need to get to know as it's the world's first Mozzerella bar and the food is incredible. 

    The new weekend brunch showcases Obicà’s signature Mozzarella di Bufala DOP in dishes designed for sharing, celebrating the owner's passion for authentic Italian cuisine.
    You can order individual dishes from the menu or make the most of their fantastic value set menu. For £22 you'll get a main dish and side salad plus dessert and unlimited filter coffee or tea (which for South Kensington is an absolute steal!)

    We went to town on the menu, starting with the Fried Mozzarella sandwich

    A heavy, comforting dish (which oddly also tastes a little sweet) - it's super rich so order one between you
    Quinoa and lamb’s lettuce salad topped with Mozzarella, avocado, baked tomatoes and blueberries

    As tasty as it is pretty...
    Perfectly poached eggs were a favourite piled high with proscuitto, creamy burrata & roasted artichokes
    Served alongside a curly kale salad topped with ricotta, pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts & baked tomatoes

    Light and simple to really showcase the creamy flavour of the ricotta.
    Make sure you save a little room for pud.

    You could order the fruit salad but when there are homemade Italian doughnuts on offer, why would you?

    Go for the taster platter so you get one of each flavour. All topped with Ricotta and decorated with mixed berries, chocolate and honey & orange.
    Simple, delicious and SO affordable. A big thumbs up from me. 

    The new brunch menu is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am until 3pm at the South Kensington, Charlotte Street, St Paul’s and Poland Street restaurants. Get booking now!

     Obica
    96 Draycott Ave, Chelsea, London 
    SW3 3AD

    * We were invited to Obica. Our food was complimentary 
    Opinions are all honest
    Obicà Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Thursday, 18 May 2017

    REVEALED: THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE PERFECT SUMMER READ

    At the start of 2017, I set myself some goals. Some of them I've smashed (taking up a weekly exercise class - tick) but others (like reading a new book each month) - not so much...

    Which is actually really annoying because it's the one I wanted to do the most. A big part of the problem is time. I drive to work so there's no chance for reading on my commute and I just can't seem to dedicate my evenings to reading when I'm trying to juggle emails, blog-post writing and photo editing. All whilst trying to maintain some form of social life (but that's another story...)

    The main problem though is trying to find the right kind of book to read. Sometimes I'll pick something I think I'll like but then I just can't seem to get into it...and it turns out that's actually now been backed up by science!

    To celebrate the launch of The Obsession, the latest release from number one best-selling author Nora Roberts, The Little Brown Book company conducted a study to see if there's a difference between the books people think they enjoy and those that actually produce a positive physiological reactions.

    How did they do it?
    So they invited 50 participants down to London and asked each person to read excerpts from a range of genres (including crime thrillers and romance) all whilst their body language, pulse and arousal responses were measured by a psychologist.

    Each participant also completed a five-point questionnaire about how the books made them feel and the results were measured and scrutinised by the expert researchers.

    And the results?
    Well, it turns out the body and the brain do react differently. Books which people report to be really into actually performed worse when it came to the physical emotions they conveyed when reading them.

    Take Fifty Shades for example - despite selling over 100 million copies, it came out bottom in the tests...even a bloody Jamie Oliver cookbook got pulses racing quicker!

    So what exactly is the winning formula?
    Romantic Suspense. This style of book is meant to keep readers interested and immersed with elements of surprise, whilst softening any last feelings of anxiety with moments of passion and romance...which is exactly what The Obsession delivers.

    I've just started reading it and I'm hooked already. The dialogue is snappy, the characters are complex and the story-line has the right balance of tension and intrigued. I had planned to take it on holiday with me but I think I'll be finished by the end of the week! It's in stores now and well worth the read (and that's a scientific fact!)
    * This post was sponsored by the Little Brown Book Group

    Friday, 12 May 2017

    CAN PRE-MIXED COCKTAILS STAND UP AGAINST THE REAL DEAL?

    I'm just going to get straight down to it - the answer is yes. yes they can. BUT I'm not talking about Pina Colada in a can here, I've discovered something wayyy better and I can't wait to tell you guys about it!

    Let me introduce you to the new Funkin Cocktails 'Funkin Shakers' (try saying that after a few martinis).

    You might have come across the Funkin Cocktail range before. They create high-quality cocktail purees, juices and mixers which are ideal bases for making cocktails at home (you know the ones I mean right?) I'd only have seen them in pouches or cartons but they've gone one step better and launched this new range which is set to revolutionise the way you make cocktails at home!

    Each shaker contains enough ingredients to make four cocktails and they come in three delicious flavours: Skinny Mojito, Passionfruit Martini and Strawberry Daiquiri.

    The base of the drinks are all pre-mixed so you don't need to worry about measuring anything out or investing in strange ingredients you'll never use again (I'm talking to you Angostura Bitters). All you do is top up the right spirit (usually vodka or rum), add some ice...
    Give it a good shake (the best bit of cocktail making)...
    And then you're ready to go! They are SO quick and easy to use, plus you don't have to do any washing up #TheDream.
    So far, Passion Fruit Martini has been my favourite because I ADORE Pornstar Martinis BUT I've been massively impressed with the skinny cocktail range too. The Skinny Mojito only contains 100 calories including the rum but still tastes just as good as a regular one. All that, plus you can pick them up from your local Tesco for just £4 - so what are you waiting for! 

    * This post was sponsored by Funkin Cocktails
    Always Drink Responsibly 

    Tuesday, 2 May 2017

    THE ONLY COCKTAIL YOU'LL BE DRINKING THIS SPRING: STRAWBERRY FROSE

    You can always rely on the good old British Bank Holiday weather to throw a spanner in your blog post schedule, can't you?

    Because I really wanted it to be sunny when I shared this one with you. I really really did. Because somehow this recipe doesn't really work with the rain lashing down outside as I write it. It only really works if you're imagining hot, summer BBQ weather...so unless the sun shows up when this post goes live, I'm going to have to ask you guys to *imagine* it - okay?

    Imagine it's hot and sunny and you want the perfect cocktail to cool yourself down with. Well guys, I have it: Strawberry Frose.

    I stumbled across the idea of 'Frose' (Frozen Rose, duh!) last year and I've been kind of obsessed with it ever since. 

    It's changed my opinion of rose, elevating it from the tacky 'fiver a bottle' stuff that I used to drink when I was 19 into this effortlessly cool, delicious summery drink.

    I've experimented with a few different recipes but THIS one is my absolute fav. It uses a splash of gin to give it a kick, a twist of lemon for sharpness and a hit of sugar syrup to sweeten.

    All that plus a good helping of fresh strawberries to really move it up a gear. We're SO lucky that we have access to great-tasting strawberries for most of the year here in the UK. The ones in supermarkets at the moment likely come from Morocco or Spain and they're packed with flavour and perfect to use ahead of the British berry season!
    What you'll need
    - 1 bottle of Rose wine
    - 8-10 fresh strawberries
    - 50ml Molin sugar syrup
    -  50ml Strawberry Gin (you can use unflavoured too!)
    - Juice of 1/2 Lemon

    What you'll need to do
    1. Pour your rose into an ice cube tray or baking try and pop in the freezer overnight. Don't worry - it won't freeze solid because of the alcohol content!
    2. When you’re ready to make the cocktail, hull and roughly slice your strawberries. 
    3. Add the strawberries, rose, sugar syrup, lemon juice and gin into a blender and blitz for a couple of seconds 
    4. Pour into martini glasses, top with lemon zest and enjoy!
    It's super refreshing and it totally embodies everything I love about Spring!...now we just have to wait for the sun to show up - cheers!
    * This post was sponsored by Seasonal Berries
    Always drink responsibly 

    Monday, 24 April 2017

    THE DISHES YOU HAVE TO ORDER AT THE DINER

    There are certain restaurants I could go back to, time and time again. Reliable ones where you know you're pretty much guaranteed a good time. Places like The Diner.

    You know where you stand with The Diner. All their restaurants have the same laid-back atmosphere, killer drinks menu and you know the food is going to be good.

    I've shared my love for the Diner with you guys before - in fact it wasn't actually that long ago that I showed you around The Diner in Soho. BUT the Islington branch has just got a face-lift so I couldn't resist heading back down there and letting you in on my go-to dishes for every visit.
    Let's talk starters!
    Freakshow Chicken
    I'm a HUGE fan of the chicken wings at the Diner but for something different, you can't go wrong with the Freakshow Chicken. They're huge boneless buttermilk chicken strips which come with a hot, tangy buffalo sauce and a wedge of lime. The meat is tender and the coating is lovely and crisp.
    Super Queso
    A must order for nacho fans. You're served a skillet filled with hot molten cheese loaded with beef chili, salsa, sour cream, guacamole & jalapeños. The clever thing with the Diner's nachos is that the tortilla chips are stuck into the sauce rather than as a base meaning you can scoop up all the delicious toppings and each chip gets an even coating!
    Moving on to main courses....

    Burgers
    You can't really go to the Diner and not order one of their burgers. There's eight on the menu to choose from, including the The DCB chicken burger and the pulled pork topped Juicy Lucy. I'm a big fan of the Diablo though. The patty is made from high quality Speyside Highland beef which is freshly ground and shaped then topped with cheese, bacon, pickles and special Diner Burger sauce. 

    Taco Salad 
    For something a bit different, I'd recommend you go for the Taco Salad. It's not your typical salad - partly for the fact it comes served in a giant taco shell and also the fact it's not exactly healthy either. BUT it's got all your favourite burrito ingredients in, with the tortilla fashioned into an edible bowl. You've got shredded lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, cheese and generous spoonfuls of sour cream, salsa and guacamole. Dreamy.
    AND Finally....Chilli Cheese Fries
    Don't even bother going if you don't order a portion of these. Obviously you could order regular fries but when you've got the option of chips topped with chilli and cheese, that would be a little silly right? Don't think of the calories, just enjoy. 

    The Diner is open 10am-10pm Sunday - Thursday and 9am till Midnight at the weekends. Oh and they take reservations!

    21 Essex Rd, London N1 2SA

    * We were guests of The Diner
    Our food was complimentary but opinions are 100% honest

    Thursday, 13 April 2017

    THE DIRTIEST BRUNCH IN TOWN: DIRTY BONES, SHOREDITCH

    Once upon a time, Dirty Bones invited me to take part in an epic eating challenge for this blog along with one of my favourite bloggers Katy. We embarrassed ourselves with a feeble attempt at their 'Mac Attack challenge' and I'm pretty sure I've spent the last year and a half trying to work off all the food we devoured that night. 

    While our effort was a little poor, the food at Dirty Bones was EPIC so when I heard they were doing brunch, I knew I HAD to go back. 
    They've now got three sites across London (soon to be four) so we headed to the Shoreditch branch, just around the corner from BoxPark and next door to Beach Blanket Babylon. It's an old stone building with high ceilings, neon lights and loud buzzy music - setting the perfect scene for a Saturday afternoon brunch. 

    Now I'll get to the food in a minute (and it's amazing I promise) but you can't talk about brunch without drinks right? Rather than operating your standard 'Bottomless Brunch' with free-flowing prosecco, Dirty Bones offer a 'Boozy flight' which is brilliant value and WAY better for your dignity by the end of the meal! For £19 per person, you can have up to four cocktails from their killer drinks menu (I recommend the Uptown Spritz) and given cocktails are usually £9 a pop, you're basically getting two drinks free right...you do the math!Food-wise, Dirty Bones more than lives up to it's rep with the Dirty Brunch. If there's one thing the guys at Dirty Bones know how to do, it's comfort food. Real roll your sleeves up grub.  You HAVE to start with the short-rib crumpets (£8.50). It's essentially Eggs Benedict except they use crumpets instead of english muffins (which in my opinion is a stroke of pure genius). There's two in a portion meaning it's perfect for sharing as a "starter" and you get the choice of salmon, avocado or (you'd be mad to order anything else) these short-rib beauties. 

    Each toasted crumpet is piled up with 14 hour slow-cooked short rib meat and caramelised shallots then topped with a perfectly cooked poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Food porn at its finest!For the mains, there's plenty of choice from fried chicken and hot dogs through to waffles and pancakes. Tom went for the infamous Mac Daddy burger (£11) which we'd seen ALL over Instagram and sadly I have to admit it didn't quite live up to the hype.

    Don't get me wrong - it looks AMAZING. It's a burger topped with pulled short-rib and a whole LOAD of Mac & Cheese for gods sake! It just lacked that salty, charred taste that I love in a good burger. All the flavours sort of blurred together and felt a little under seasoned for us!
    The baked skillet though (£9) - this was one hell of a dish. Two eggs baked in a rich tomato sauce with avocado, melted taleggio cheese and a dreamy parmesan crumb - ready to be scooped up with toasted sour-dough. Definitely one of my favourites.
    We also shared a round of Breakfast fries (£5) which came in the form of skinny fries topped with two fried egg and smokey tomato ketchup. Despite looking the part for the picture, I actually could have done without the eggs on top BUT the fries themselves were perfect. Super crisp and perfectly seasoned.
    Just look at THAT spread!
    I know by this point you'll be feeling full but save room for pudding! You really don't want to miss the Banana Toblerone-Tella Waffles (£7).  IS there anything better than a baked waffle, topped with a caramelised banana, blueberry jam and salted peanut butter gelato?! Like really?
    Oh and the "coffee and doughnuts" (£6) is also a winner. A warm sugar doughnut served with a shot glass full of coffee gelato - the ideal way to take the edge of a heavy meal!
    Overall the Dirty Brunch gets a BIG thumbs up from me. Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday at all four restaurants (Kensington is currently closed for a refurb) and booking is essential! 

    Dirty Bones
    1 Club Row
    Shoreditch, E1 6JX
    * We were guests of  Dirty Bones
    Our food & drinks were complimentary but all brunch love is honest
    Dirty Bones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato