Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Health/ Food: Homemade Guacamole.

I really hope you guys don't mind these quick and easy recipes that I have been posting lately; in a bid to cut out down on the amount of processed crap in my diet, I have been turning to some of my old, clean favourites and I thought they might be good to share :)
Avocados are one of my favourite foods; I like throwing them in salads or having them mashed on wholemeal toast with a little salt & pepper and a poached egg on top, but I most of all I love whipping them up in to a super flavourful guacamole and treating myself to some Friday night nachos or having it with my lunch in a mexican-style chicken wrap with spinach, hot sauce and a little bit of low-fat cottage cheese.
The benefits of avocados, you ask? They are packed full of good, monounsaturated fats which are vital for healthy weight loss (believe it or not) and for maintaining your blood cholesterol levels for a healthy heart. They are also an excellent source of brain-boosting potassium, as well as being packed full of vitamins B, E and K which keep you looking and feeling young and beautiful.

You will need (serves 4):
- 2 large, ripe avocados
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 medium tomato
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 chilli pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you would like your guacamole to be)
- 1 lime
- Salt, pepper & fresh coriander to taste

Guacamole is super quick and easy to make and it beats the store-bought stuff by miles. Half the avocados and scoop out the flesh with a spoon before mashing it to your desired texture with the back of a fork (I prefer to leave a few lumps). Finely chop the onion, tomato, garlic and chilli and stir it in to the avocado before squeezing in the juice of one lime and finishing with a few sprigs of coriander and a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
You can cover your guacamole with cling film and leave it in the fridge for an hour to let all the ingredients mingle and enhance the flavours, otherwise guacamole is best eaten fresh since avocados have a tendency to brown rather quickly. However, if you want to make a batch to last you for the next couple of days, then the acidity of the lime juice should preserve the freshness for a little longer, as will keeping the stone from the avocado and placing it in the middle of your guacamole before using cling film.
Let me know if you try this! What are your favourite ways to eat avocados?
Frances x
Sunday, 28 September 2014

Event: AX Paris AW14 Press Day.

It had felt like ages since I last visited Manchester so it was quite nice to hop on an easterly-heading train for a change of scenery to check out AX Paris' AW14 collection. After a little confusion over which of Manchester's many Black Dog Ballrooms the event was being held, we finally arrived at the correct and rather trendy-looking venue to be greeted with a fashion blogger's favourite things; cocktails, cupcakes and lots and lots of clothes. With an 'AX Paris Floozy' in hand, one of my first stops (after the cupcakes) was over to the henna tattoo lady who painted a beautiful design on my hand which I later managed to smudge on my best white blazer (can't take me anywhere), before heading over to the photobooth and surpising myself with my ability to ruin a perfectly good set of photos with some beautiful fellow bloggers with the ridiculous faces I can pull. That's enough floozies, Frances.

It looks like AX Paris are getting us ready for party season with new collections full of jewel tones, sequins, lace and embellishments. I may have fallen a little head over heels with the rose print dress and the cosy-looking fur coat pictured above, neither of which I really need (woe is me). However, if you would like to purchase them for me or for yourself they will be winging their way to the AX Paris website soon!
My attention was momentarily averted from my fur coat-lust when I finally reached the food table which was laiden with enough sliders, pizzas and fries to feed a small army (of fashion bloggers). AX Paris, you know the way to a hungry girl's heart ;)

Thank you to AX Paris for a great afternoon and for sending us away with an amazingly generous goodie bag! It was lovely to catch up with some of my favourite Manchester ladies as well as chat to a few new faces! Leaving some blog love below <3

Rachel (Lost in Lipstick)
Callie Rose (Callie Rose)
Kayleigh (CoutureGirl)
Nada (Nada Adelle)
Lily (Lily Kitten)
Katie (The Quick Red Fox)

Are you excited for all the AW14 collections?

Frances x


Friday, 26 September 2014

Health/ Food: Clean and Healthy Chocolate Milkshake.


With the colder weather fast approaching (even though we do seem to have been blessed with an Indian summer at the moment), it's going to be easy to want to treat yourself to lots of rich, soul-warming foods (I'll admit that I may have already done a bit of damage to a box of Celebrations this past week!). Unfortunately, too many bitesize Bounty bars aren't very good for the skin, the waistline or our overall well-being, so I have resorted to turning to this old friend to satisfy my chocolate craving sweet tooth- A clean and healthy chocolate milkshake.

You will need (serves 2):
- 3 super ripe, frozen bananas
- 2 TBSP cocoa powder (preferably unsweetened, 100% cacao- I picked up this one at Holland & Barrett).
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or any milk you prefer) to start with; you can add more if needed

Optional ingredients:
- 3 medjool dates
- 1 TBSP almond/peanut butter (Meridian is my favourite- it has no added nasties!)
- Porridge oats
- Chocolate or vanilla protein powder

The key to this recipe (apart from the cocoa powder, of course) is a perfectly ripe banana. Don't be afraid of those rather sad-looking, brown bananas that have been left unloved in the fruit bowl for a little too long- those are the best ones. These will add the sweetness and creaminess to your milkshake, and you'll want to cut them up and freeze them prior to throwing them in the blender for a nice, cold drink- Don't add ice to this recipe as it will result in a runny, watery milkshake- Not the dream.
After blending the three main ingredients in a food processor, it's up to you to modify your milkshake to your preferred taste. If it is still a little too bitter for your liking, medjool dates are a fantastic, completely natural way to sweeten it up a little (alternatively, you could add another 1/2 banana). If you are an almond butter fanatic like myself, then throw a spoonful in for a nutty taste. Also, if you want to enjoy this chocolatey treat for breakfast, adding some porridge oats to the mix is a great way to make it a little heartier, add fibre and keep you going all morning!
Whilst this recipe isn't always going to be low calorie depending on what ingredients you add (so don't think you should go drowning yourself in chocolate milkshakes!), it is a sweet-tooth satisfying, decadent beverage that is completely natural with no added refined sugars (did I mention that bananas will give you energy and cacao is packed with anti-oxidants?). Treat yourself- Your body will thank you for it ;)

Let me know if you try it! :)

Frances x

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Outfit: #FRESHERBABES Liverpool. My Fresher Experience.

Photo Credit: Deni Vev
Jumpsuit: C/O Oh My Love* | Bracelet: Fashion Union (old) | Shoes: C/O F&F* (old) | Belt: River Island | Sunglasses: C/O Firmoo* (old)

With a new academic year starting, university fresher's weeks are well under way up and down the country. Oh My Love are currently touring some of the country's top student cities and today they have landed in Liverpool, so if you're around then look out for the Oh My Love #FRESHERBABES who are out and about in city centre giving out free student goodie bags (they will also be visiting Cardiff and Bristol on Thursday and Friday respectively)! As alumni of Liverpool John Moores University, Oh My Love asked if I would write a freshers guide for students who are new to the city. As I have already written a city guide recently (read it here), I decided to take a visit to Liverpool's main nightlife location, Concert Square, to shoot in my Oh My Love garms and reminisce upon my own freshers experience to share with you (I actually can't believe it has been four years since I was a fresher- way to make me feel old!).


Moving to a new city can be scary for some, but the idea of living with people my own age and being able to sit in my own mess without my parents nagging me to tidy my room was bliss to me. Plus Liverpool is literally a twenty-five minute train journey from home so I could still do a weekly laundry run visit everyone at the weekend. In the weeks prior to moving out I posted my future flat number on my halls of residence's dedicated Facebook page (Opal Court represent) and was fortunate enough to track down all but one of the four people I was going to be living with for the next nine months, which eased the nerves of meeting them for the first time. That was until I was unpacking my final pair of socks, when the receptionist knocked on my door and told me that they had accidently placed me in to an all-male flat, meaning I had the choice of living with four smelly boys for a year (ew.) or moving all my things in to an all-girls flat (too bitchy?). Luckily, we managed to convince them to swap the one remaining flat mate who hadn't moved in yet for another girl.

Naturally, we decided the best way to bond would be showing each other our best dance moves over a jaegerbomb or three, and after a game of Ring of Fire with the flat next door we headed out with our student loans (that's what it's for, right?) to check out the Liverpool nightlife. Same for the next night. And the night after that. And probably the night after that, too. Needless to say, after a week of making utter fools of ourselves during drinking games and taking it in turns to share our oven-cook chicken nuggets and pizzas at 4AM, we were drunkenly telling each other how much we loved each other and what great flatmates we were going to be. Fast forward two weeks and we were at each other's necks over whose turn it was to take the over-flowing bin out, who had stolen whose milk and whose pot noodle was clogging up the sink. It's natural, guys; you'll get through it.

During the day time, after feasting on cheesy beans on toast and a couple of pints of water to take away the headache from the night before, we would spend a few hours exploring city centre together and checking out the fresher's fairs to see what the societies had to offer and of course, to take advantage of the freebies (free pizza vouchers for Dominos, which was just across the road from my accommodation? This student stuff was great). I didn't join any of the societies during my three years at University, although I kind of wish I had signed up for freestyle dance as I had just quit my hobby of fourteen years prior to my big move. I would urge anybody who is new to University to get involved in the clubs and societies; it's a great way to make new friends and I have only heard good things from people who have been a part of them.

Now, with the excitement of Fresher's Week, it's easy to forget what you are really there for; to study. I found the first day of my course significantly more daunting than my move-in day, starting with a stressful bus journey to my building which was conveniently (/endsarcasm) based a good fifteen minute ride away from city centre (this has since been rectified and the media faculty now has a shiny new building which is in walking distance). It really wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, however; I was on a pretty small course of around twenty students, and after a few sessions of those ice-breaker activities that we all hate know and love, we were close as ever, texting each other to ask when our deadlines were and hoping that everyone else was just as screwed for leaving it too late.

The best advice I can give to freshers is to just enjoy every minute of it because it really does fly by, especially your first year. Don't worry about making new friends, settling in to your course and finding your way around a huge new place. If you did it in high school, you sure as hell can do it here; it's just up to you to decide how much of your dignity you throw away and how fast. Also, it's fine if baked beans and super noodles are your thing, but it's really not that hard to make a spaghetti bolognese from scratch. It's not always going to be fun and games; not to scare you, but before you know it I can guarantee you will be crying in the library whilst staring at a blank word document which will soon be a 10,000 word dissertation, but it will all be worth it when you are wearing that cap & gown and you have a bunch of fancy letters after your name, a group of coursemates who are like family to share the moment with and a head full of amazing memories to take away with you. And if you have moved to Liverpool for university or you plan to, then be prepared to fall in love with the city and never want to leave. If you are new to Liverpool, don't forget that I wrote a quick city guide listing some of my favourite places to visit, which you can read here.

Are you a fresher this year? Where are you studying?

Frances x

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Review: Havana Club Summer Party @ Aloha Bar, Liverpool.

Even though I can usually be a bit of a homebody and I enjoy the simple pleasures of being tucked up in my bed with an episode of Orange Is the New Black, it's no secret that I love a catch up with good friends over a mojito or three in Liverpool every once in a while. So upon hearing that Aloha Bar were hosting a cuban cocktail-themed Havana Club Summer Party*, I gathered my buddies and donning our gladrags we headed down the steps into Liverpool's best Tiki Bar for a cuban-themed, rum-filled adventure.

Greeted by super friendly shipmates with Havana Club straw hats, tiki mugs and leis to take home with us, we were led to our cuban flag decorated table and handed a shot of I-don't-know-what to get the evening started as we browsed through the menu of Aloha's exotic drinks. Naturally, we decided to start with their signature Pina Colada; a rummy, pineappley, coconutty concoction served fittingly in a hollowed-out pineapple complete with paper parasols and fruit garnishings- I could almost feel the heat of the Cuban beaches at this point. Or maybe that was the heat of people dancing and the candles that were dimly lighting our table. The perfect thing about booking a booth at Aloha is that they offer table service throughout your evening, meaning that you don't have to get up and battle against the crowds to order a drink at the bar; instead you can sit back, relax and enjoy the luxury of having your drinks brought over to you. 
 The girls and I decided that, since this was a rare occasion, it was only right that we experienced one of Aloha's Deadman's (fitting name) Chests. Served up in a treasure chest with a healthy dose of dry ice, this £50 bad boy is certainly a show stopper in more ways than one. Sipping on a deliciously sweet cocktail packed with a generous helping of Havana rum and exotic fruit juices, it's hard to gauge at what point I went from 'a little bit tipsy' to busting out my best dance moves and almost setting fire to things. Didn't stop us from trying out a special Havana Iced Tea from their event-exclusive menu though. I'm glad to say that I don't get hangovers but the other girls were certainly paying for it this morning :P

Unfortunately we arrived a little too late in the evening to enjoy Havana's live Cuban band, CubaVIDA, but we still managed to catch a little reggae and soul before the DJs had us singing and dancing away to some of our Friday night favourites.
Havana are always hosting events to show off their finest rums in authentic-mojito-style, so check their website to see if they will be bringing a touch of Cuba to your city.

Have you tried Havana Club rum? Ever visited Aloha?

Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: I was kindly offered this evening for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own.
Friday, 19 September 2014

Giveaway: Sugarhill Boutique.

If you love yourself an extra special cutesy print, a cosy jumper or an effortlessly cool skater dress, I have a treat for you today! My favourites over at Sugarhill Boutique are offering my readers the opportunity to win a £50 voucher to spend on their website. With a lovely range of Autumn/Winter perfect pieces winging their way online, of course I wasn't going to deny you lovely ladies the chance! Above are a few of my current favourite pieces from Sugarhill (you can see me sporting that fabulous unicorn print dress here), all under £50, so if any of them take your fancy then they could be yours to own if you enter below to be in with a chance of winning!
-This giveaway is open worldwide, yay! :)
-Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. There are plenty of options for extra entries!
- The giveaway will run for five days, and will end at 11:59PM GMT on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
-The winner will be picked at random and contacted via email and/or Twitter and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is picked.

Good luck ladies! Take a look on the Sugarhill Boutique website and let me know what you would spend your voucher on! :)
Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: The prize for this giveaway is kindly being provided by Sugarhill Boutique and etail PR.