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NutriBullet

Hands up if you’ve heard about the power of juicing? (yup) Hands up if you’ve tried to follow a juice only diet for 3 or more days? (yup) Hands up if you thought it was practically impossible and you just gave up on the whole thing? (both hands up) You know me, I’ve tried most diet plans out there, anything for a quick fix! But, surprise surprise, just like your mum told you, you don’t get results by trying to cut corners.

I’ve had my Vitamix for a while now and I love it, but it’s just *so* big and takes a fair bit of cleaning, when you want to blast a quick juice in the morning, it’s not the most simplest of gadgets, which is why I was really interested in trying out the NutriBullet.

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The beauty of this is just how easy it is to use. It’s literally just a case of filling it with your fruit and veg, adding some liquid and blasting it. When it comes to washing it all goes in the dishwasher and you even get cups with lids so you can make one and leg it out the door screaming at the kids to hurry up if you want to. (What? It’s not just me that does that!)

I’ve been using mine for a week and a bit now, and I’ve got to be honest, I was worried about using greens in my juice. I know they’re a super food and amazing for you, but after having some really bad tasting veg juices I think I was scarred for life! I put the 50% spinach in the tall cup, added my pineapple, strawberries and blueberries and prayed it wouldn’t taste anything like spinach, and thank god it didn’t! It wasn’t fully green by any stretch of the imagination, but the book you get tells you to start yourself off slowly, I won’t be drinking sprout and cabbage juice anytime soon. I’ve gone for ease so far, using frozen fruit with my fresh spinach, which means my juices are like smoothies and that suits me. I’ve slowly found the right balance of water, the first few were a bit thick, but now I’ve got it down to a fine art.

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I haven’t tried adding a banana or avocado to the mixes yet, they’re meant to make it smoother and I’m tempted, but I’m not sure how avocado would work in a juice and I can’t stand banana in anything other than actual whole banana form. I have issues I know.

I love the size of the NutriBullet. I don’t have the biggest kitchen and counter space is limited so anything that stays out all the time has to take up as little room as possible and be something I use every single day. Compared to the Vitamix this is miniscule. I can leave the base out all the time, and if the large cup isn’t on it, it’s in the dishwasher, so it’s the perfect size.

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As well as smoothies, the NutriBullet can also make amazing soups, pasta sauces, dressings, dips and they come with a milling blade that can mill brown rice into flour, almonds into almond butter, and so much more. I want to make almond butter asap.

Even though it comes with a recipe book, I’ve been pretty much making it up as I go along, sticking with fruits I know I like, and using the spinach as the greens. I’m getting more fruit and veg in each day than I usually do and it’s a better breakfast than anything else I can make in that amount of time so it’s win win for me.

The NutriBullet costs £99 and is available here. I’ve got to say it’s a bloody good gadget and I would have bought one myself if I hadn’t been lucky enough to be sent one. I know I’ll use it every day, the kids are getting interested in having juices, which can only be a good thing so it’s already paid for itself in my eyes. When you think about the cost of the Vitamix, this is practically a bargain!

I’m in love with this little baby, and if you have a look at my Instagram page you’ll probably spot a new recipe each day!

I was sent a NutriBullet for the purpose of this review but all views are my own obviously! 

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Afternoon Tea with Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley. Not usually my kind of brand, because of the preconceived idea I had about it all being flowery and chintzy.

Wrong!

If you read my iPhone post last week, you’ll know I was invited along to their Manor Hotel in Elstree – no, I didn’t know they had their own hotel either! And I pretty much had to eat my words.

After meeting up with my partners in crime friends Kate & Kelly for a quick Costa, we made our way to the PR’s offices, ready to hop onto a vintage bus for the ride over to Elstree. Now, I’m early 30’s and I have two noisy kids but when you have a bunch of (mostly) fashion and beauty bloggers on a metal bus for almost an hour, your ears do start to really hurt by the end of it. I’m so glad I sat at the front…!

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Elstree isn’t too far out (is it? My geography skills are useless) but it felt far out enough to be away from the bustle of London, and as we turned into the driveway, it was like entering a piece of the countryside reserved just for Laura Ashley!

Stepping off the bus, we were met with a huge, stunning building, black timber beams, gorgeous. It was bought by Laura Ashley in 2012 and had a full makeover to give it the style they wanted. Inside was painted to add light and space to the original features, keeping some amazing pieces, the fireplace was absolutely stunning, as I’ve got older (gah, I keep going on about getting older!) I’ve found myself really getting into history and the stories behind things, especially old buildings.

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We made our way into the dining hall which was beautiful, if you’re going to have afternoon tea, which I think we should all have at least once a month, then this is the place you want to have it. Katie from Modern Mummy had managed to get an amazing window seat, we were there on quite a warm day but I could imagine sitting there on a cold winters day watching the world outside. The tea, as you’d exepct from a brand like Laura Ashley was delish! Teapots & cake stands galore! I may not like chintz but I do want a teapot and a cake stand for my kitchen! We were treated to cucumber, salmon and egg finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam (which order do you do yours? I’m Cream then jam which is Devon style apparently!) plus a selection of cakes, and can you believe we couldn’t even finish them there were so many yummy things to pick from. I could have quite happily sat there for the afternoon!

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Next up was a tour of the hotel (the real reason we were there obviously!) The Manor is surprisingly big, much bigger than it appeared from the outside. All the rooms were decorated in particular styles to compliment everything in there. Most of the rooms had stunning views, including the giant chess board outside in the garden, which gave some of the bloggers hours of photographic opportunity! Each room had something special to make you feel like you were able to switch off and relax completely, the Mayfair room was one of my favourites, but every time I said I liked a room the most, I was shown another!

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If I were having a weekend away from the kids where it was just about relaxing and reading a book, walking around the grounds and really taking time out, The Manor would be amazing, it just has the whole ‘switch off’ vibe that you want from somewhere like that.

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Big thank you to Laura Ashley Elstree for inviting me along and for the lovely afternoon!

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iPhone Life #Instagram

Can I just start this post by saying –  HOW the hell is it November already? It doesn’t seem like 2 days ago we were counting down the weeks until we were on our way to Spain and now we’ve almost been back a week. I know everyone says it, but this year has just flown by. It’ll be Xmas before we know it.

Anyway. As always, I’m obsessed with Instagram. I love scrolling through my timeline looking at all the photos, I love being able to nose through peoples homes, wardrobes and lives. I get really annoyed when I get to the end of the scrolling and it won’t let me go back any further….! I thought I would do a little October catch up, you know, if I was one of those organised bloggers I would commit to doing this each month, but we know what I’m like so I’m making no promises!

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I can’t for the life of me remember what happened at the very beginning of the month (apologies if it was something really good…) but my camera roll starts with GG’s 12th birthday. Twelve. Can you believe that? This time next year I’ll have a teenager on my hands. When I still feel 16 in my head, I’m not sure how that’s going to play out, but luckily she’s a bloody good kid! We spent the day in Brighton, her doing some serious retail therapy and us following her around, we had a good day despite the weather and the Boy feeling poorly and it was lovely spending it together. One of her pressies was having her hair done, she’s been desperate to get it ombre’d for ages, but we didn’t know if it would be allowed at senior school, so I gave her the chance to find out & get permission, and if it was ok, then she could have it done. It looks bloody brilliant!

I was invited along to the Laura Ashley Hotel in Elstree to have a look round at the stunning grounds and the gorgeous rooms, all completely decked out in Laura Ashley products. I’ve never really considered myself a fan, but being in the hotel quickly got rid of any misconceptions I had, there were a couple of rooms I would have happily lived in myself, not a flowery print in site! Aside from the amazing rooms & hotel, I was also treated to afternoon tea and a glass of bubbles and the chance to chat to some of my favourite bloggers, Kate, Katy & Kelly and met the gorgeous Trusha who had the most amazing skirt on! We had a good laugh and it was good to get back into an event, it’s been a while!

Beauty goodies galore in October! My Little Box – from Paris! Is my favourite beauty box ever! I’m 2 boxes in and I can’t see me ever getting bored of what they send out! Clarins, as always, come up trumps. Instant Smooth is *the* best invention ever. I’ve given foundation the boot since I’ve been sent this and I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to face the world (or the school run) at 8am knowing I don’t look half dead. Obviously I’m still a make up addict and I’m never going to get rid of my bases forever, but giving my face a break every once in a while is a treat.

Then we have the biggie. The event taking up almost all of my camera roll. Espana! Oh it was a long time coming but we finally got all four of us on a plane, out of the rain and into the sun. 7 days of pure blue skies, sandy beaches, warm water and no emails, traffic, school runs, commutes, it was *just* what the doctor ordered. TB had never been on a plane and as we were taking off he turned to look at me and said, and I quote “I will remember this forever” I mean, heart melting or what?! They swam with fishes, body boarded, we covered ourselves in mud, ate squid & octopus, played on a beach for entire days and just generally had an amazing week. It’s given me a serious travel bug now, I’ve always known visiting other countries can teach kids things, but until you see with your own eyes how it can open up the world for them, it can teach them so much. There are a whole list of countries I want to visit, with the kids and without. Even a quick (dirty) weekend livens up the life and takes date night to the new extreme!

As we flew back into a very foggy (and a crazily bumpy landing) halloween, we had to do the last minute shopping dash, which resulted in two sorry looking  pumpkins but we did our best. Next year I am going to buy 2 (maybe 3!) giant pumpkins and I am getting my craft on. Ours weren’t too bad but when we went trick or treating they looked pathetic next to some! Face painting is my new favourite hobby! Can people get jobs as face painters?! If they can, then I want to join in! Pretty damn pleased with the Sugar Skulls and skeletons on my babes!

In contrast to the hot weather of last week, we’re now back to rain and grey skies, TB has yet another chest infection so I’m watching him like a hawk to make sure it doesn’t turn into pneumonia again, I’ve got the obligatory plane cold so I spent Sunday evening curled up on the sofa doing a bit of ASOS browsing and last but not least, we have the pooch home, and we think he’s happy to be back, even around TB, they snuggled up to watch The Simpsons Movie together last night!

If you’re on Instagram, come and follow me, I’m @kateag I love getting new followers & inspiration!

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Beauty Addict

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I’ve written about how I need to get our bathrooms into a decent, ship shape plenty of times, and we’re finally get somewhere with it now since we bought some shelves and did a little style up, but they’re still not quite right. Since having this blog I have been able to test out some of the best products out there, and now my bedroom and bathrooms are groaning under the weight of beauty. I watched a Sali Hughes video the other day & was literally (yes, literally) drooling over the bathroom furniture she has! Shelves and shelves all dedicated to products she loves, needs to trial, family stuff, there was just room for everything. Of course, her bathroom is three times the size of mine, so I need to be more creative with space, I can’t just whack a huge apothecary in there, as much as I *really* want to.

For the downstairs loo, it just needs to be something small and compact, ideally under the sink but it’s like a midget sink in there, if you’re a borrower you might find the size suitable, so wall units it is! Upstairs however….! The ‘family’ bathroom as we like to call it (sounds so much posher than it really is!) needs something tall and skinny to just fit in the space without overpowering it, obviously, in white. This wall unit is perfect and I love the little space in between the cupboards for displaying something fancy! It would fit really well just next to the bath and it would mean we could hide away some of the cleaning products that annoy me!

In our shower room though, I want (and probably need to be fair!) lots and lots of storage! Under the skink would be a great place to start, again, for the cleaning stuff (listen to me, anyone would think I like to clean – I don’t) and spare loo rolls etc, nothing fancy, just proper storage, hidden out of view. Then on top of the sink, dum dum duuuum, I am in *love* with illuminated cabinets! Just picture the old style dressing table mirrors – perfect! We have no windows in the upstairs bathrooms so when I do my make up I have to pray for some sunlight in the bedroom, with this, well! Killing two birds with one stone – storage AND lighting.

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Never let it be said I’m not economic.

I’m picturing all my products stacked up in clear boxes, clearly labeled so I can just grab and go, the (huge!) sink clear of clutter and a place to really zone out in. And then, the shelves I have in the bathroom become free to fill up with more goodies…..!

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Do you meditate?

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Those who know me know how much of a highly strung, tightly wound, ball of stress I am. It’s not something I actively try to achieve, it’s just who I am. I’d love to be a calmer, un-stressed version of myself, and since starting this blog I’ve been shown so many ways that could help, but I think I’m the kind of person who needs to do something daily, rather than weekly or monthly.

One of my favourite places in London, Anamaya, have created a meditation app because so many of their clients wanted to take some time out to meditate but couldn’t manage to fit in a meditation class. It has over 360 guided meditations, with mindfulness exercises, visualisations and learning resources covering the science and psychology of meditation.

While we all love, and are addicted to our high-tech, mobile world, it’s actually causing us more stress than it cures, we’re all constantly switched “on”. The Anamaya app is designed to help people sit still and listen, to think about their mental state.

The course is divided into 11 focuses to allow the user to develop meditation skills to suit them, it has General Meditation, Relax, Loud Brain (this is mine!) Concentrate, Worry, Anxiety, Stress, Anger, Pain, Pregnancy and Sport to choose from, with the levels being split into 4 sections. The user can track the amount of time spent meditating and it records that, as well as how regularly you do it, showing you the statistics, telling you when you need to meditate more!

It’s available from the App Store for £15, which is an annual subscription – less than a tenth of the price of a course of meditation classes in London. It was launched on the 1st September this year, and is set to be a huge success. I really want to get back into yoga and pilates, for the health benefits but also for the switch off time, so I would look at doing this as well, something that I could keep using in between exercise classes, to keep that calm feeling that only a yoga class can give you, going. Which can only be beneficial to me, and my poor family who have to put up with me when I’m in stress mode.

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5* Sparkles

I’ll hold my hands up and admit that cleaning is not really top of my favourite things to do. I like the finished job once it’s done, but sometimes it’s a lot of effort so anything that makes it a bit quicker is a good thing in my opinion. When the lovely people at Viakal asked me if I wanted to try their products and a 5* kit to make my bathroom a little slice of luxury & relaxation, I obviously accepted. I mean, I’m not one to turn down luxury!

I don’t have a ‘before’ photo to show you because, we’re still working on the bathrooms, yes, they’re still in need of some paint – we’ve been here a year now and I’m yet to get the paintbrush out, it’s a new record for me! So I can’t really show you a huge difference as the walls are still the same, non-descript, creamy colour, which is the most boring colour in the world. In fact, the whole house is the same colour, they must have got a job lot! But, with the help of the Viakal goodies, I was able to attack the taps, sinks, shower screen and bath to get them all sparkling like they’d been hit with a dollop of fairy dust.

According to a recent survey by Viakal, gleaming taps and watermark free showers are considered such a high cleaning benchmark that 79% of cleaners religiously apply this to their own bathrooms. You’ll also find Housekeepers will always go the extra mile, with 57% providing their own visitors fluffy towels and a quarter putting out nice cosmetics and soaps at home.

The survey, revealed that some boast such a passion for cleaning the bathroom, that one fifth (21%) actively enjoy the chore, with 42% going onto reveal that removing limescale from the taps gives them the most job satisfaction. Not only that, but a perverse 2% admitted to actually enjoying declogging the plug! – That’s some serious dedication to the cause right there!

Onto the After! Despite being a serious product junkie, my bathrooms had no storage or shelves at all, so what happened was everything would end up round the edge of the bath, which is fine for a few things but it ended up being a balancing act and I couldn’t even contemplate putting my feet up in the bath, because I’d knock half of it off (I know, first world problems right there) so we grabbed a picture ledge from ikea and got creative with it’s usage. It was meant to be a nail varnish shelf but it was too long, it was, however, spot on for the family bathroom, so it went above the tiles and all my goodies now have a home. There is even room for the *gorgeous* Diptyque candle that came in the hamper! I haven’t had the heart to light it yet, I’m saving it for a special occasion!

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Obviously, white is the colour of the day in my house, so the fluffy white towels from The White Company took pride of place on the once empty double towel rail. We moved it so now it sits next to the bath. Perfect.

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My shiny taps & sink are home to the Diptyque soap, I’m torn between putting it in the downstairs toilet so all my visitors can use it and hiding it away in our bathroom so only I use it!

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And there we have it, my 5* bathroom is almost complete. With the little luxuries added I almost don’t mind the lack of paint in there, once the lights are out, the bath is run, candles lit & a good book on my iPad I’m not even going to notice the walls am I?

Thanks to Viakal for sending my the products & goodies for the purpose of this post. 

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