Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Lifestyle // The Glam Clam Meat Slam - the Perfect Blogger's ChristmasParty

As I wrote the other week, my favourite thing about Christmas is getting together with friends and family. Santander also believe it's the best time of year for a good catch up, so offered to help me and nine blogger babe friends get together for a festive night of fun. Organising a big night out can be pretty tricky gathering everyone's money etc so they asked us to try out their new KiTTi app, which aims to take the faff out of the fun, so we could have the best night possible at our #GlamClamMeatSlam partay. And woah nelly did we have fun... 

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KiTTi works just like a traditional cash kitty but with a modern twist which aims to make pooling money as easy as possible. Everyone simply transfers their portion of money into the account and once the desired total is reached, Santander send out a bank card loaded with that amount of money to the group leader. Just use the card to pay throughout the evening and monitor the spending via the KiTTi app and no one has to worry about being the one stuck paying for the round of cocktails when everyone else bought a round of beers. Already wishing you'd used the app for your last girls night out aren't you?!


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We started our night with dinner at Q Grill in Camden where we got stuck straight into the cockatails - obvs! I loved the Plum + Lychee Smash - Beefeater gin, plum jam, lychee, lemon and cranberry juice; and the Georgia Cobbler - Beefeater gin, Belsathar White, peach, lemon and soda - SO GOOD! For my food I chose the Southern Fried Squid with Harissa Mayo to start which was absolutely incredible and actually pretty spicy. Tempted by the Southern Fried Chicken with Conbread Waffles and Spicy Maple Syrup for my main course, I finally decided on the Buttermilk Chicken with Blue Cheese Sauce and FRIED PICKLES! (I couldn't not really could I?!) Again it was really nice and the blue cheese sauce was delicious - if I could have taken a vat home with me, I would have. Far too full for dessert, and running late for our next destination, we handed over our KiTTi card to pay and walked on up to The Glam Clam.

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Such babes! Clockwise from front left: Me, Tasha, Angela, KatyAshleigh, Charlie, Claire, Erica, Milly and Charley
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The Glam Clam is North London's hottest new pop up - the fabulous love child of Gizzi Erskine and Sink The Pink. Think drag queens, sequins, bearded ladies, big tunes and a five course fish menu. Obviously we'd just eaten ALL THE MEAT so didn't indulge in Gizzi's menu as well (we did get stuck into the wine though!) but the food looked absolutely incredible and even included a lobster course. We had an amazing time dancing along with the Queens to some classics - Shirley Bassey, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner - you name the diva, we danced to her! I'm not sure I'll ever get "I'm Every Woman" out of my head, but am totally ok with that! We also stormed the stage at one point for a photo in front of the big gold clam on stage (which matched Charley's handbag perfectly!) and had a little can-can session with the Queens. They were absolutely incredible and so entertaining, coming around the tables stopping for a chat (and in one man's case a lap dance!) and we're thrilled, and a little surprised, to hear that we all knew each other from the Internet. #GoTeamBlogger 

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I had such an amazing night with the girls - it really was the perfect blogger's Christmas party! Thanks so much Santander for helping us out with some cash in our KiTTi. Thanks also to my #GlamClamMeatSlam-mers Tasha, Angela, Katy, Ashleigh, Charlie, Claire, Erica, Milly and Charley for an awesome time (and for sharing the photo love in this post!) I can't wait for more fun and frollicks with these lovelies in 2016 - it just goes to show, you really can meet some amazing people on the internet! 



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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Lifestyle // Murder Mystery Night - #GamesOnTheBGO

I absolutely LOVE a murder mystery night! My friends and I have done the at-home dinner party evenings, stayed at hotels for murder mystery weekends and taken part in several London based detective activities too. Joe Blogs recently invited me to a murder mystery evening with a group of other bloggers and Agent November so I couldn't wait to put my Sherlock hat on again!

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After filling out a disclaimer / waiver form (this was a pretend murder mystery right?!) and being given a detectives fedora hat to make me look the part, I sat down to meet my team and have a quick drink and some nibbles. We were then whisked upstairs to investigate our crime scene! 

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All contained in one room, Agent November poured us all a glass of wine, give us a quick pep talk and then told us that it appeared our wine had also been spiked with the deadly poison which had killed the poor victim. Yikes! With just one hour left to live we had to find clues, discover who had links to the victim, work out any potential motives, solve the crime and drink the antidote to save ourselves. Easy right?! Whilst there were a few moments when we thought we'd never succeed, we actually did really well - finding hidden objects, working out riddles and cracking clues (turns out I'm great at deciphering morse code!) and we actually solved the mystery and drank the antidote (more wine) with 5 minutes to spare hurrah!  We had to be careful about taking photos in the room, to help prevent any one reading this post from seeing sneaky spoilers which could ruin the experience for them, so there aren't many to show in this post I'm afraid!

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Whilst we waited for the other team to finish (who were in the room next door and weren't progressing quite as successfully as we did!) we all had a play on some of BGO's online games, which can be played for fun or for money. The other team (now sadly officially dead in terms of the game as they didn't get to the antidote in time!) came in and we all had some delicious food and drinks and swapped tactics of how we'd all gotten on in the task.

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It was a really fun night and a great alternative way to spend an evening with friends. It was also a really fun team building / ice breaking activity and although I'd never met anyone on my team before we soon got into the groove of working things out I together. I'm hoping to bring my team from work here for an away day activity too. Thanks for a great night BGO, Joe Blogs and Agent November!


Have you done any similar murder mystery activities?


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Monday, 21 December 2015

Lifestyle // Free-From Baking with GBBO's Ugne & Holland and Barrett

2015 seems to have been the year of GBBO blogging for me! I met John, Louis, Brendan and Beca at The Cake and Bake Show, went for dinner with Flora, baked Christmas goodies with Edd and then last Sunday spent the day baking free-from cakes with Ugne! I've not ventured much into the world of gluten free, dairy free and egg free baking (other than the amazing spelt flour focaccia I made last year - which was also a recipe taken from GBBO!) so I was mega excited when Holland and Barrett invited me to join them for the occasion. Ugne was famous on The Great British Bake Off for experimenting with free-from recipes so who better to introduce me to some super easy and really tasty baking?

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Rather excitingly the event was held at the Cactus Kitchens in Clapham, home to the Michael Roux Jr cookery school and Saturday Kitchen studios! So of course we all had a good nose around the set and posed behind the benches. We got very excited to see the Omelette Challenge Board which was really cool (though Queen Mez Bez is actually sitting rather near the bottom of the league!) After lots of hellos and cups of teas we went upstairs to the Michael Roux Jr cooking studio where named work stations were all laid out for us ready to get our bake on with the recipe for Apple, Pear and Cranberry Cake. Ugne wished us luck and with and a ready, set, BAKE we were off! 

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Conscious of the fact we only had one hour I didn't really stop to take many photos, just concentrated on getting through the recipe in time! My boyfriend always jokes that I am a good baker but take absolutely forever to do anything so I was very nervous of falling behind! I seemed to do all right though and my cake went in the oven about the same time as everyone else's. Phew! I only had a couple of minor disasters, including nearly losing a finger whilst trying to peel an apple, finding all my mixture turned into a ball rather than lovely light fluid batter in the processor, and finding I still had half of it left over once the cake tin was filled! Ever resourceful (read: greedy) I decided to make little muffins with the left overs too. 

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Whilst our cakes were all in the oven we gathered round to watch Ugne bake her own Apricot, Chestnut and Coffee Cake recipe - which she made look so easy, and was designed to be very simple and quick to make. Ugne told us passionately about her love of baking and particularly for using free-from recipes as she says they are much healthier and natural for you (though apparently this doesn't mean you can eat twice as much ;P) Ugne has many amazing "not so naughty" free-from recipes on her website which you can find here.

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Once Ugne's cake was in the oven, and ours were taken out we all went back downstairs for a beautiful lunch which again was totally gluten free. It really did feel like Christmas with a feast of ham, vegetarian cheese, quinoa, avocado and butter been salad and gluten free bread. YUM! 

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A quick dash upstairs to finish decorating our cakes (I went for drizzled over dairy-free chocolate melted with coconut oil, and some chopped pecans and cranberries) we plated them up and then took them up to the bench for Ugne to blind taste test. Mine was first in line and Ugne said that although it was slightly underbaked it was very tasty, so I was pretty happy with that! It was so cool to see how we each had the same brief and recipe but how differently the cakes had come out and how inventively everyone had decorated them. B was crowned the winner and was awarded with an adorable star baker rolling pin and it was time to tuck in and have a try of everyone's bakes. Delicious! 

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Ugne's cake was out the oven by now and I watched in awe as she effortlessly made it look like an absolute masterpiece with orange and sugar glaze, flaked almond and chopped apricots and chestnut. Whilst it looked too good to eat, we soon devoured it with cups of tea and lots of lovely food blogger chat.

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I had such a lovely day with everyone, thanks for having me Holland and Barrett! It was such a pleasure to meet Ugne, who really was as fun and lovely as she appeared on the show. I loved discovering some new recipes and can't wait to raid the shelves of Holland and Barrett to pick out some new ingredients and start experimenting with free-from recipes. Watch this space!


Do you do much free-from baking? 

Please leave me links to your favourite recipes below!


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Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas // Gift Guide - For Her

Hands up who hasn't finished their Christmas shopping! Yep me either! But I have got a selection of awesome present ideas for the ladies in your life here to help you on your way. I've picked out some fab gifts that would make any girl happy and also suits a variety of buyers' budgets.

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Everyone needs a good coat and I think they make really lovely presents as every time the recipient wears it they'll think of you! Monsoon has a really beautiful collection and all at a great price for such good quality. This camel coloured Sabella Swing Coat is just gorgeous and so timeless, which would see them through many seasons. It also comes in red which is super festive.

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Watches are among my favourite accessories and, because they're so practical, they make great gifts too. The Michael Kors rose gold metal strapped boyfriend style watches have been huge news the last couple of years but I really like a leather strapped watch with a large metal face. Olivia Burton does some beautiful higher end watches in this style but you can get some absolute bargain ones on ASOS for a snip of the price. This beautiful nude and rose gold one is just £20 and is so classic it would suit every outfit and occasion.

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Gucci Bamboo Gift Set - £68*

What woman doesn't love perfume?! Perfume gift sets are a really decadent and luxurious way to show someone you care, but are also pretty fail safe as everyone likes them. The Perfume Shop is always my go-to place to shop for fragrance as they always have an amazing selection and I adore this Gucci Bamboo set. Containing a 50ml bottle of perfume in a really beautiful bottle as well as 100ml of scented body lotion anyone would be thrilled to find this under their tree this Christmas. It's a really feminine floral scent with deep woody notes, making it gorgeous for wearing on a night out. The actual box itself is also super pretty and would be great for storing bits and pieces in too.

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Alphabet Make Up Bag - £4

How cute are these make up bags?! Just £4 from Matalan they're a fab size and can be enjoyed all year round. Everyone loves something personalised and these are great quality for such a teeny tiny price tag.

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HD Brows Eye Shadow Palettes - £29.99*

2015 has been the year of the eye shadow palette! If you're looking for an alternative to the popular Urban Decay Naked Palettes how about trying the HD Brows Palettes instead? Each include gorgeous sleek black packaging enclosing 5 beautiful and highly pigmented shades and a lovely big mirror. Two gorgeous Palettes are 003 Vamp- which contains 5 pretty pink / purple shades and 001 Bombshell which has beautiful earthy shades.

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A couple of weeks ago I blogged about these beautiful photo squares from Cheerz and I think they'd make the most awesome gift. You can choose a selection of your photographs and have them beautifully printed and framed which make a really thoughtful present. You can get £4 off your order over £8 with the code EMM7ZA too.

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The Girl on the Train Book - £6

I included this book in my November Favourites post but my goodness it's AMAZING! Everyone should have this nestled on their bookcase and I've bought it for three people already this Christmas!

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Lulu Guiness Grace Glitter 'Lipstick Never Hurts' Black Pouch Clutch - £95

This glittery Lulu Guiness clutch is absolutely perfect for parties and would be amazing for New Year's Eve. I love the bold slogan, lip shaped zipper and ALL THE SPARKLES! It also comes in more muted black and red leather versions too for a more classic, subtle statement.

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Thorntons Chocolate

Chocolate and Christmas go hand in hand and Thorntons always has an amazing selection, including many that can be personalised too, to make your gift that extra bit more special. This year Thorntons have created their Amazingly Choctastic Christmas Gift Finder which helps you pick out the perfect gift for your loved ones. It's super fun to use and will get you right in the festive spirit!

Have you finished all your Christmas shopping yet?



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*This post contains sponsored content and PR samples. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Lifestyle // A Night at the Movies...at home!

The thing I love most about Christmas is that it's the time of year when people make more effort to see their friends and family. I love to get together with my family and one of the things my dad and I really like to do is get together for a film night and a catch up. Some of my favourite memories as a child are going to the cinema with my parents - it was always a real treat, a big deal, and I always enjoyed chatting about the film afterwards as much as I did watching it in the first place. Gracewell Care Homes are also really passionate about movies and their power for bringing people together so sent me a box of goodies to help get my loved ones together this Christmas.

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Gracewell believe that movie nights are a great way to keep generations in contact and a fun way to socialise all together. Movie nights are a regular event at their care homes and residents and their families are encouraged to come along and spend some quality time together.

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When asked if there was a particular film I would like to view, there was one clear choice for me - Jurassic World! My parents took me to see Jurassic Park at the cinema when I was 7 and I was absolutely entranced! We were living in Hong Kong at the time so were surrounded with the types of lush greenery I'd just seen on the big screen and I went to bed that night listening to a palm tree bang on my bedroom window convinced there was a pack of raptors stalking around outside! (Which I found thrilling rather than terrifying!) I watched it everyday when it came out on video and went to see The Lost World and Jurassic Park III at the cinema with my family when they came out too, and had movie nights with my Grandad so he could enjoy them all at home as well. Unfortunately we weren't able to get to the cinema all together to watch Jurassic World (though I still managed to make it on my own twice!) so it was great to be able to get us together to watch it at home (and yes, over 20 years later my mum still hides behind her hands when the raptors are on screen!)

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What's a movie night without snacks eh?! Ever one for sticking with a theme I bought us a Chicago Town promotional Jurassic World pizza (didn't win a dinosaur though sadly!) and for some sweet treats Gracewell sent us some yummy Joe & Seph's Caramel Popcorn (which is super sweet and decadent) as well as some fun retro sweets like Fizz Wiz and Refreshers yum! As it's nearly Christmas I also picked up some mince pies as they're my dads faves, some Christmas chocolates, candy canes and also a couple of festive cupcakes from Greggs - how cute are they?! 

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We all had a great evening, enjoying the film and food, as well as getting together and having a good old chat (and finding out what everyone wants for Christmas!) Film nights are such a fun, easy way to bring people together this Christmas and are really cheap and easy to organise, as well as being really all inclusive and fun for all generations.


How do you and your family like to socialise all together?


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*Thanks so much to Gracewell for inviting me to join in their "A Night at the Movies" campaign. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

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