Friday, 17 April 2015

My Little Dream Box

Well, I did promise. Just yesterday, the next installment of 'My Little Box' arrived on my doorstep - and here, the very next day, is my post.

So, last month, I was pretty damn pleased with the box. (To be clear, it was last month's box - I appreciate I only did the review two days ago.) Could this month beat it? Well, in short, yes.

The theme this month is 'Dream' and that was always going to be a winner with me; I love my sleep. In my opinion, there's just nothing better than an early night. Obviously, this is post children - I used to love lie-ins, but that's not really something that happens anymore, so the only option to get my sleep is to head up to bed nice and early. I love it.

The magazine this month is really just a folded piece of paper with a slightly weird poster when you fold it all the way out. I'm not sure if anyone would put this up - probably there is someone. Not me, though. Still, it does feature an interview with the simply magnificent Caroline Hirons. So all is not lost. (If you don't know who Caroline Hirons is - why not? And 'how rude'. Check her out immediately.)

Beauty products first - and it's a goodie.

Cowshed Wild Cow Invigorating Body Lotion - err, yes please. This is natural ingredients in a bottle and smells fantastic - that will be the combination of lemongrass and ginger. It also packs shea butter - so you'll be all set for the summer. (All two days of them, in England at least.)

My Little Beauty Repairing Mask for Dry Ends - well, who doesn't need to give their hair just a little bit more love and attention? A mask with walnut oil and shea butter, I'm looking forward to giving this a whirl. Rinsing with cold water? Not so much. It's the price we pay. 

Lip Balm Loved By Lou Lesage - basically, a tinted lip balm. This is inspired by Lou Lesage - I've never heard of her, but apparently she's a French actress that looks like a babydoll and a rockstar simultaneously. Must be quite a woman. Either way, this looks pretty decent to me.

My Little Box always features a 'lifestyle' product; this month we got two treats. 

A 'Bonne Etoile' locket - not convinced I'd ever wear this as a necklace, but reckon it may serve as a bracelet if I cut the cord down. It was designed by Delphine Pariente. (I try not to think of Delphine Donkey from Peppa Pig as I say that. I failed.)

And finally, a stamp. Sounds ridiculous, but this is quite cool - it has 12 'messages' (some are very chic and in French) - but basically, they will spruce up any post or notes I make. It's on my desk as we speak.

So, all in all, another winner from MLB. You can sign up for yours here; it's £14.95 per month including p&p. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

My Little Superbox review

Yes, it's late. Sorry about that. But this month (or, in fact last month - but let's not get bogged down in detail), My LittleBox has 'knocked it out of the park' (one for our American friends). This box contains fewer products, but much better ones in my opinion.

Even the kids got a treat this month; those wonder woman stickers lasted about five seconds with the two girls, but they got way more pleasure from them that I would. I'm not sure what you'd do with them if you don't have kids - but maybe I'm just not cool enough? Stick them on your school books maybe? Who knows. I'd recommend giving them to someone with kids. It might look odd if you just randomly give them to a child you don't even loosely know.

In the last couple of boxes, we've had a pretty cheap looking sports bag (not yet been used) and a smart phone case that didn't fit my smart phone (so went in the bin). This month though - drum roll, please - a winner has been found. Hurrah. A Gat Rimon t-shirt - 100% cotton - that says 'I believe I can fly' (thank you R Kelly - ahh, the memories of the 90s). I think it only comes in one size though, so it's not going to be for everyone. I haven't photographed the t-shirt yet (apols) but it's rolled up in that brown roll in the photo above. Picture a grey crew neck t-shirt and you're pretty much there. I'll instagram a photo when I wear it.

Three products this month: Caudalie's Hand and Nail cream (a favourite already), Lait Cristal by Kerastase and Pencil Bluff by My Little Beauty.

I don't need to say much about the hand cream; I love it, I already use it, it's brilliant. It's not full size is about the only complaint I have (which, admittedly, is a bit unfair) - but it's still 30ml, so a good handbag size. Winner.

I'm still in two minds about the My Little Beauty products - they are good quality, but the colours aren't great for me. This little number, though, should be okay in the summer. For me, it will definitely be more of a cheek thing and less of a lip thing - but you can't complain at multi purpose products. I wouldn't buy it, but it's nice enough.

Without doubt, you cannot go wrong with any Kerastase product and I'm looking forward to trying this one. This is a lightweight conditioner that claims to leave hair looking luminous, soft and supple. I'll be the judge of that, but I'll let you know. But I have high hopes.

Also, I'd recommend checking out the postcard that accompanies the products; this month you also get 20% off Caudalie's products on their website and 20% off Kerastase one's on theirs. Definitely worth making the most of. Overall, this is the best box I've had yet - so I'm looking forward to the next one. And I promise the review won't be late next time.

You can sign up for My Little Box subscriptions here; it costs £11 per month, plus £3.95 p&p.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Chocolate granola

The first whiff of sunshine always refocuses the eating habits - the mere threat of having to actually wear short sleeve tops brings more clarity than scales ever could. (As an aside, I have recently discovered the 30 days of Yoga programme with Adriene - and despite not being your usual type of yoga bunny, I am loving it - but let's all get real: a bit of yoga is not going to make you bikini-ready. It's just not.)

I'm a regular of the 5:2 'diet' (it's not really a diet), but my 5 days have been a little bit indulgent of late. And, Easter has made it pretty difficult to pass on the chocolate.

I love chocolate.

This isn't the healthiest granola you're ever going to see, but at least you know what's in it, and it's a cinch to make. Plus, it makes the kitchen smell fantastic. Me, domestic goddess? But of course. Even - and this is a bit win - eldest Martini quite likes this - he feels it's a bit like chocolate porridge. Sort of. The 'chocolate' is a mix of cocoa powder and nutella. Obviously. Nutella truly is the food of the gods.

Coming from the wife of a French Canadian, I (of course) use maple syrup to sweeten the granola. Honey would probably work just as well, but I haven't tried it. Get the lightest (in colour) one you can - the lighter the colour, the better the quality. Oh, and make sure it's actually made from maples - apparently, its completely legal to mix it with all sorts of other things and still call it 'maple'. We got ours (we have quite the stash) the last time we were in Quebec, but this one will be just fine.

Anyway, if you're feeling that you can't quite give up the chocolate just yet, but you're looking in the mirror and thinking 'hmmm. Really should sort that out soon...' then this won't do you any harm. Only warning: you may eat the whole batch in one sitting. Which sort of defeats the point. But, I guess you can always start again tomorrow... Enjoy.

You'll need:

1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cocoa powder - the best quality you can get hold of
1/4 cup nutella
3 cups porridge oats (not instant)
1/4 cup shredded or desiccated coconut
1/4 cup of pecans, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped


- Preheat the oven to 170 (or 160 for fan-assisted). Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment or a silicon mat.

- In a saucepan, melt together the coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa powder and nutella over a low heat. Keep stirring until it's liquid gold. Try to resist eating with a spoon.

- Mix together all the dry ingredients. Don't be too worried about the amounts - apart from the oats - and if you don't like something, just leave it out and/or replace with something you prefer. Granola is pretty easy really.

- Add the melted ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Everything should be well coated - it takes longer than you think, so keep at it.

- Tip the whole mixture onto the prepared baking tray and spread as thinly and evenly as possible. Put onto the middle shelf of the oven.

- Cook for around 30 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure the top doesn't get burnt and the mix underneath is heated through. When you remove from the oven, leave to go cool without stirring - as it cools it will clump together, making for perfect granola!

- Store in an airtight container - it will keep for at least three weeks. Serve with milk, yogurt, berries - or just eat straight from the jar with a spoon. I won't tell if you don't.