Monday, 29 September 2014

Quick and Easy Pasta Carbonara (Gluten & Dairy Free).

A few weeks back I mentioned I was joining in with the Provamel #NosugarsNolimits campaign (here) and introduced you to Promavel as a brand. Today I wanted to show off my quick and easy recipe using Provamel's Zero Sugar Soya Yoghurt. I'm a huge fan of pasta dishes, especially this time of year. They are the perfect warming, comfort food and great for a wintery evening meal.

Here's the recipe for my take on Pasta Carbonara (serves 2-3):

2 Cups Gluten Free Pasta
1 Small Pack of Pancetta
1 Cup Mushrooms
1/2 Cup Sliced Onion
3/4 Cup Provamel Zero Sugar Soya Yoghurt
Salt and Pepper to taste

Fry off the onions, mushrooms and pancetta in one pan, whilst boiling the pan of pasta. Brown off the ingredients and add the yoghurt and heat until starts bubbling (keep a close eye on it, burnt yoghurt won't be nice!). Add any salt or pepper to taste and dish up on your pasta. I also added a little grated Parmesan too.

So there we have it, a super quick tea for when you're feeling a little lazy as the nights start to get darker. I'm weirdly looking forward to the days getting shorter so I can have more comfort food like this!

Katie xx


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics Palette.

Welcome to review 5014853 of the Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics Palette. It's no secret I'm a huge fan of eyeshadow, in particular UD. I have a complete obsession with my Naked 2 Palette and when I set my eyes on the Naked 2 Basics, I knew I needed it in my life. So the second it arrived on Cohorted at a bargain price I was first in line to buy it.

I owned the original Basics palette some time ago, but for some reason it didn't get a great deal of use. I felt like the colours were just a little too dark for me and I ended up selling it. However, when I saw the Naked 2 Basics came without a black I knew it had to be mine. I adore all the shades in this palette and it's perfect for days where you just want a little brush of colour on your lids. I've been particularly obsessed with Frisk all over my lid and Cover in the crease. 

As always the quality of UD eyeshadow never fails to impress. These are just as buttery and pigmented as all the other palettes which makes them so easy to blend, even for an amateur like me. This is the perfect palette for that 'no-make up' look but versatile enough to give a dramatic smokey-eye. I love the compactness of this too, it fits perfectly in my make up bag - I really couldn't be without it. 

If you're looking for some gorgeous nudes that aren't too scary, this is the palette for you.

Katie xx

Thursday, 25 September 2014

My Workout Wardrobe.

Since going back to uni a few weeks ago I'm trying to be good. By that I mean that I'm finally taking advantage of my free gym membership. I've been popping to the gym for a hour after lectures, which is working out really well and I'm actually enjoying it. I really love the feeling after the gym, despite being sweaty, I always feel a little bit proud of myself for actually going. Plus I de-stress completely and feel much more chilled out after an hour working out.

A huge thing for me is comfort at the gym. I'm completely in love and obsessed with my Nike Roshe Run trainers and they are without a doubt the comfiest trainers I've ever owned. I actually feel as if I'm walking on air when I wear these - plus the colour is amazing. 

Next are the ultimate joggers from Your Dreamcatcher*. These are THE comfiest joggers ever. They are a super thick and soft material and are amazing for working out or lounging in. I'm actually sat in a hoodie and my joggers keeping cosy. These are absolutely perfect for gym times and lazy days.

Finally and probably most important part of my workout attire - my trusty water bottle. I can't remember if I've raved about my Aladdin water bottle in the past, but I've had this for around 6 months now and I adore it. I will ALWAYS have this bottle in my bag, especially on workout days.

What do you like to workout in?

Katie xx

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Budget Beauty Buys Under £5.

Recently I've bee tightening the purse strings and trying to spend less. So far so good. If you're like me and you're trying to save a few pennies or you're getting ready for the big spend at Christmas, here a few of my favourite budget beauty buys.

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer (£4.19) - This is probably the most talked about concealer in the blogasphere. I imagine this isn't a surprise to any one, but this is my go-to concealer on a day-to-day basis. I love the formula and the price tag is pretty amazing too.

Asda Coconut and Macadamia Shower Gel (75p) - This is currently my favourite shower gel. Not only does it smell incredible but it also does a really good job of foaming up. This is my second bottle of Asda's shower gels, the first being Rhubarb and Custard scented (which was amazing), I've yet to come across a product to beat this for value.

Superdrug Colour Effect (£1.49) - I've blogged about this in the past, but in my eyes this is one of the most affordable toners on the highstreet. This is a really deep purple toner that you use after shampooing your hair. This leaves my blonde super bright and get rid of any brassiness. Plus there are tonnes of colours in the range so even if you're brunette, there is one for everyone.

Barry M Nail Polishes (From £2.99) - This polish represents the entire Barry M range. In my opinion no nail varnish brand comes close in terms of colour selection and wear time. My nails chip really easily but I tend to get around five days from Barry M. This beats the likes of Nails Inc and Butter London hands down.

Lush 9-5 Cleansing Lotion (From £4.95) - This is my current cleanser and i'm really enjoying using it. This was a total desperate purchase and finding my last cleanser was totally stripping my skin and making my face super sore. This has resolved the problem quickly and really does a great job at removing my make up. This is even gentle enough to use around my sensitive eyes - a good all-rounder.

What are you're favourite budget buys?

Katie xx

Friday, 19 September 2014

Reasons To Love September.

For as long as I can remember September has been my favourite month. For me it's the perfect time of year. There is something I love about coming to the end of summer and moving into a new season. So here's a few reasons why I adore this month.

A Fresh Start - There is something weirdly nice and nostalgic about beginning a new academic year. Whether that be at school, college or uni, or even if you've just gone back to work after having a few weeks off. I always loved going into a new class and picking my seat at school. And now going back to uni for my final year, I look forward to catching up and finding out what people did over the summer.

The Perfect Weather - For the last few years the weather in September has been amazing. I always predict an Indian Summer and this year I think the UK a has had just that. The temperature right now is so lovely and it means I can put off buying a winter coat for a few more weeks. I love that I can still wear light clothes but I'm not horribly uncomfortable from the heat.

Autumnal Changes - It's this time of year the leaves begin to change and the countryside looks a little more colourful. I love that I can still wander about and pick blackberries that are super sweet. I love it even more when the leaves start to fall and we get that amazing crunchy sound. As a child I used to put on my wellies and run through the leaves - perfect.

Make Up and Fashion - It's time to move from the summer subtle lip to a super bold lip. I'm talking MAC Rebel and Morange. I love that I can wear a slightly heavier eye shadow and know it won't slide off my face in the heat. As the mornings and evenings get cooler it's time to get out those cute jackets to keep us warm. And I can finally wear a lovely ankle boots without my feet getting too sweaty!

What do you love about this time of year?

Katie xx


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Yummy Yogurt Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free).

When Provamel got in touch and asked if I'd be interested in joining their No Sugars, No Limits challenge I was super excited to find out a little more. The challenge was to create two recipes using the Provamel Plain Sweetened with Agave Soya Yogurt and a recipe using their Natural Sugars-Free Soya Yogurt as an alternative to other products. I really enjoy alternatives to yogurt so I was really interested to see how the yogurt compared. 

My first recipe came half from Nigella and half from me. I made a twist on Nigella's yogurt cake and created this gorgeously moist ginger cake. Here's what I used:

1 Cup Provamel Plain Sweetened with Agave Soya Yoghurt
2 Cups Sugar
3 Cups Gluten-Free Flour
1/2 Cup of Oil
3 Eggs
2 Tbsp of Ground Ginger

This recipe couldn't be simpler, you pop all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Then pour the mixture into a 10-Inch tin and pop into the oven on 180 degrees. My cake took around a 45 minutes to cook through, although I kept an eye on it from 35 minutes so it didn't burn.

This cake was so delicious and the yogurt really gave it an extra something. Not only was the cake much more moist, it kept preserved for a week after baking. I love the idea of using yogurt instead of butter and the soya alternative was a perfect addition to this yummy cake.

You can check out other people's recipes by following the hashtag #nosugarsnolimits on Twitter and Instagram. My other recipe will be up next week!

Katie xx

*Sponsored post, all opinions are my own

Sunday, 14 September 2014

eBay Wishlist: Winter Coats.

Untitled #70


The most exciting thing about moving in to Autumn for me, is finding my Winter coat. I've looked at hundreds online and in the shops but they are all way too far out of my price range. In the past I've waited until the sales to pick up a bargain, but last year's coat is on it's last legs so I'm hunting for the perfect coat to replace it. That's where eBay comes in super handy, I've found all of these coats for so much cheaper. Plus the good thing about ordering from Asia, is the sizing tends to be smaller. I adore the over sized look but even a size 6 in this country looks ridiculous on me. I can't wait to order a coat (or two) and start of my Winter wardrobe.

Have you seen any coats you like?

Katie xx

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Combating Mental Health: Counselling & CBT.

Image from Google

I got an amazingly positive response after writing this post a few weeks back about mental health, that I felt I wanted to write a little more about my experience. I feel now I'm in a better place to discuss it a little more and slightly less nervous of the response. 

Today I'd like to discuss a little thing called counselling. After going to my GP early this year I was immediately advised to seek some counselling, along side my medication. I'm sure there are others out there that feel like talking to a stranger is the last thing they want to do, but after a few months I finally bit the bullet. There are options to gain counselling on the NHS but I chose to find a private counselor because I thought this was the right thing for me. It also means I get a choice over when my sessions are and also let me find a counselor that specialised in what I thought I needed.

Around 6 weeks ago I went for my first session and since I've been for three more. I was hugely skeptical about whether it was the right step for me to take but I am so glad I did it. Of course I was very anxious before my first session and didn't sleep much the night before, but once I arrived I quickly settle. I am surprisingly open with my counselor and feel like talking to a stranger really helps. The fact that she knows nothing about my life other than what I tell her, makes me feel a little less vulnerable.

My lovely counselor also incorporates cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) into sessions which is all about changing the way we think. This has been the biggest thing for me and I would without a doubt recommend it to anyone that needs a little help. I've been given homework weekly that generally is all about my thinking patterns and turning negative thoughts into more positive ones. The few exercises I've been given really keep me focused until my next session and over the weeks I've noticed that I'm doing it without thinking. 

I've only made small changes but I can feel that the more I change my thinking the more positive I feel about life. I know I can't change a habit of a lifetime overnight but I'm certainly becoming a more positive and less anxious person as a result. My counselor actually said this week 'who are you, and what have you done with Katie?' after I'd achieved a lot of goals from the previous week.

I hope this is a little helpful for anyone questioning whether to go for counselling. I won't promise that it's easy but I do promise it will be worth it.

Katie xx


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

My Ultimate Face Masks.

I've always been a huge fan of face masks. Even when I was in my teens I would by packet masks from Superdrug and pamper myself with my friends. As I've grown older I prefer a good old tube mask so I thought what better opportunity than now, to share my favourites. 

As a teen and into my twenties I always had acne prone skin. Luckily I now only get the odd pimple every now and again but that doesn't stop me from using a trusty mask I've sworn by for years. Una Brennan's Tea Flower Deep Clean Pore Purifying Clay Mask (and breathe...) despite having the longest name in the world, is probably one of the best face masks I've ever tried. If I'm having a particularly oily day or it's coming up to the time of the month, I know this mask will solve all of my problems. If I apply this for 20-30 minutes and remove before bed, my skin will be left super soft and any cheeky pimples will be dried up for the morning. An absolute lifesaver.

I love the texture of clay masks and that's why my next one is also from the clay-based family. The Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque* is slightly more sophisticated version of the Una Brennan offering. This is a really thick, gooey, lovely clay mask that can be applied to damp and dry skin to leave you as soft as a baby's bottom. I adore the texture of this mask, hence the reason I needed a close up - this is the ultimate luxury clay mask, that I wouldn't be without.

Last but certainly not least is Origins Drink Up 10 Minute Mask. This is slowly making it's way back into my routine as the weather is getting cooler. I sometimes apply this as an overnight treatment (as someone in Origins explained it's the same as the overnight version just slightly lighter) this leaves my skin plump, hydrated and banishes any dry patches. It also smells like peaches which is always a plus.

What are your favourite face masks?

Katie xx

Monday, 8 September 2014

OOTD: Casual Country.

Shirt - H&M (Kids)
Jeans - Miss Selfridge via House of Fraser*
Shoes - Topshop

So apparently the sun has come back out to play. Me and the hubby took advantage of the lovely weather over the weekend and headed to a local country park for a picnic and to check out the vintage fair. We didn't spot anything for the house but we did have the most delicious tray bake. I then persuaded Jonathan to play photographer and get a few pics of my new jeans.

These skinny jeans are the softest things I've ever felt. This pair is actually from the petite section so they're the perfect length for my stumpy legs. They are a jegging-type jean but still with pockets and zip/button to do them up. They also have extra material so they can be rolled up, which is perfect for moving into autumn. This is also the other shirt I picked up from H&M kids section - this was a tiny £5.99, which is an absolute steal.

What have you been up to this weekend?

Katie xx 


Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Most Relaxing Day Ever.

When the lovely ladies at South Beach asked if I'd like to join them for a spa day, I jumped at the chance. As I'd never been to a spa before I was a little nervous but super excited to chill all day. We were whisked away to the gorgeous Hale Country Club & Spa for a complete day of relaxation and it was total bliss. We started the day with mocktails and checking out the new ranges from South Beach (which are incredible) an getting to know each other. 

After chatting for a little while and enjoying a lovely cupcake (or in my case, some yummy icing), we were given some exciting goodie bags and went to get changed. South Beach kindly allowed us to choose a bikini before the event, so I was really excited to try on my new swimwear. I was actually told I'd picked the SB best seller for this year, which is pretty perfect. After changing into my new bikini and my super soft South Beach robe we headed to the pool. 

The indoor pool was amazing but not as amazing as the outdoor pool. We swam through and chilled in the outdoor pool for a while until we spotted the Jacuzzi was free. We all commented about how perfect the location was and I felt as if I was on holiday not ten miles from the hustle of Manchester city centre. The weather was mild too, so it felt like we'd been taken away somewhere special.

After chilling in the Jacuzzi and playing with the underwater cameras and beach ball, we headed upstairs to grab some lunch. I chose halloumi and chicken and mango skewers which were delicious - my new favourite thing is chicken and mango, mmmm. After finishing up lunch we headed into the spa to chill out in the steam rooms and sauna. I forgot how much I love sitting in the steam room, it was just the perfect way to let my lunch settle before spending some time in the outdoor infinity pool. 

Finally my day was complete with a very relaxing OPI Pedicure. My toes have really never looked as good and I couldn't have asked for a better finish to a perfect day. Well apart from drying my toes sat on a heated bed and having the most incredible shower using the complimentary Malin + Goetz shampoo...

A HUGE thank you to South Beach and Hale County Club & Spa for the most relaxing day I've ever had.

Katie xx

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Luna Update #2.

Since my last Luna update, bunny and I have been doing some more bonding. Luna has been spending time outside and although she's still a little apprehensive she is getting more daring. At the moment Luna is obsessing over baby gem lettuce and spinach and I can coax her into her cage with either. She's also full of kisses and loves nudging my face and snuggling. Luna is probably one of the most laid back rabbits I've ever come across and has the patience of a saint when I'm trying to give her lots of cuddles.

That's about it at the moment, enjoy the photos!

Katie xx

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

New Gluten-Free Goodies.

Since going gluten free over two years ago I'm always on the look out for new products to try. Over the last 26 months I've seen the free-from world change and gradually this country is finally acknowledging the free from community. Supermarkets are starting to up their game and instead of stocking a tiny selection of cardboard-like bread, there is some choice now.

 Udi's is a brand I spoke about around Christmas time, they specialise in creating yummy gluten-free products that actually taste like the 'real' thing. Udi's kindly sent me a selection of their new products to try out. I've always been a huge fan of this brand since spotting it in my local supermarket last year and I', so excited to hear they are extending the range even further.

Udi's bagels are to die for. Last year I lived off them whilst I was placement, nothing can beat a warm bagel with proper butter. I actually like to warm mine up in the microwave so they turn lovely and soft and then smother in butter. Another product I'd tried before was the breakfast bars. I've had these in strawberry in the past and they certainly resemble a Nutri-grain bar. I find these are really handy to pop in my bag and eat on the way to work.

My sweet tooth was very pleased to see some treats in my sample pack. The blueberry muffins are amazing. These are so soft and moist and taste exactly like a good blueberry muffin should. Something else I should note is Udi's products don't do that annoying 'crumbly' thing that a lot of GF products do.

Finally my favourite product of them all. Chocolate wafers! I've not has wafers in so long and these reminded me of eating Kit-Kats back in my gluten-eating days. I will be picking up some more of these ASAP.

Katie xx

P.S. Luna really enjoyed the delivery too and had a whale of a time chewing the box!

*These products were kindly sent to me to review, as always, my opinion is my own.
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