Courgette Lasagne

I’ve been eating low carb for quite a while. Since I stopped gluten, it was the easiest way for me to manage my weight while still eating pretty much whatever I wanted (except I crave donuts on an hourly basis…). This is an easy meal to make in large quantities on a Sunday and then pack for the week ahead. This recipe is completely stolen from my dad, but sharing is caring, right??

What you’ll need:

– 500g ground beef
– 3 cloves garlic
– 1/2 onion
– 1 leek
– 1 tsp coconut oil
– 1 can crushed tomatoes
– 1/2 tsp dried oregano
– 1 swig of red wine
– 1 tbsp tomato paste
– 3 medium courgettes
– 2 tbsp grated parmesan
– 2tbsp grated cheddar cheese (I used extra mature)
– and other cheese you fancy!

First, slice the courgette length-wise and grill a few minutes on each side.

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While these cool, start the tomato sauce. Dice the onion, leek and garlic, slowly cook with some coconut oil until the onion starts to look a bit transparent. Set aside, increase the heat, and cook the beef until brown. Then add in the onion mix, the tomato, the red wine and the tomato paste. Leave to simmer for a couple hours if you can.

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Add a layer of the tomato sauce to the bottom of your dish, then add one layer of courgette on top. In a bowl, mix the egg and cheese, and add some cream if the texture is too thick. Put a thin layer of this onto the courgette. Repeat this until your dish is full.

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Add some more freshly grated cheese to the top of the lasagne. I used emmental cheese on this because I love how it melts! Cover it in foil, then pop into a gas mark 4 oven for 30 minutes. Take off the foil then cook for another 15-20 minutes – until golden on top!

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Here’s a picture of our dinner after it had been somewhat demolished:

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It was definitely a success 🙂

Neal’s Yard Almond Oil

I’ve been struggling with eczema for the past few years. It randomly started while I was at Uni, mostly under my eyes and then spread around them. That’s where it’s usually most painful, but it does pop up every once in a while on my hands or other places on my face.
My skin doctor prescribed me some of the usual steroid cream for it, and a sort of placebo cream so that I could wean myself off the steroid cream when the eczema stopped appearing. This worked for a little while but eventually I couldn’t go two or three days without the steroid cream before the eczema returned.
I’ve tried all sorts of sensitive skin creams, E45s, eye creams and even cream especially made for eczema and some would help prevent the eczema from getting worse but not for long.
Randomly, my mom recently when to our Belgian doctor for a skin irritation that she couldn’t get rid of. Weirdly enough, the doctor said that actually sweet almond oil, which is usually used as a massage oil, should be able to clear it up. She tried it, and the irritation was gone within days, and she immediately recommended I try it.
I’ve been a big fan of Neal’s Yard Remedies for years, and so on my search for almond oil, it was my first stop. The lady in the store was really helpful and showed me straight to the sweet almond oil, and even mentioned that her mother uses it as a makeup remover. It was ÂŁ9.50 but the bottle was quite big – 100ml – so I’m hoping it will last me a long time.IMG_8002

After putting my night cream on that evening, I added a little of the oil to a cotton pad and dabbed it around where the eczema usually appears. I was a bit reluctant at first because it’s a very thick, oily substance and it felt a bit heavy on my skin. However, it was really worth it. The next morning, the eczema had noticeably gone down, and my eyes were so much less itchy and dry for the whole day. I would very much recommend this to anyone suffering from eczema, or even dry skin. Supposedly Jennifer Aniston uses it as a body moisturiser!

Lush Favourites

Since I started working I’ve been finding lots of new ways to relax after a long day. My favourite so far: glass of wine, bubble bath, Scandal.

This is why I thought it might be time to walk you all through my must have Lush products.

I’ve been using Lush since I moved to Brighton in 2010 and have slowly found my favourite go to shopping basket.

They also have some really cool seasonal products that only come round at certain times of the year, like the Christmas Present I told you about over the holidays, so I’ll make sure to keep you updated about those when they come round!

 Karma Soap:

This was my first Lush love. It makes my whole bathroom smell amazing, and it even comes in a bubble bar which I always have crumbled somewhere at the bottom of my bath box! The Karma scent is so special, it always makes me feel like I’m that bit closer to an exotic holiday.

 Avobath Bomb:

This one is probably my favourite bath bomb that they sell. Although it’s not as fun as some of the ones with crazy shapes and colours, it smells so nice and fresh without being to citrus-y and turns the bath into a lovely light green. It also doesn’t dry out my skin which I’ve had with some bath products in the past so I would recommend this to any other eczema sufferers out there. This one really is perfect for my Shonda Rhimes evenings 🙂

 You’ve Been Mangoed Bath Melt:

Another great one for after a long day, this one also has one of my favourite scents, and leaves your skin feeling so smooth and soft. It’s full of mango butter and cocoa butter so it’s super hydrating. I sometimes break it in half – wouldn’t necessarily recommend this though, it’s honestly just because I want it to last as long as possible!

Sex Bomb:

I actually bought this one as a joke for my brother but ended up keeping it because it was so lovely! It smells like jasmine and is meant to ease stress and anxiety. A bath in general does that to me, to be honest, but a bright pink bath that smells heavenly – why not?

Twilight:

Pink pink pink! This adorable bath bomb is exactly what it says: twilight. A light pink outer shell dissolves and turns your bath darker and darker until it’s purple! So calming and relaxing, this is definitely one for before bed, or if you’re not feeling well. Meant to be full of essential oils too

Dragon’s Egg :

would recommend this one for a morning bath – it’s so fun and sizzly, with tons of colours inside so it’s really just a happy bath bomb J Perfect for a difficult wake up!

Test these out and let me know what you think! 🙂

Favourite Facial Products

Today I thought I would show you my go-to facial products. As you know, I can get pretty picky with this kind of thing because of my eczema, but these are my favourites that have been tried and tested again and again:

Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash
There’s nothing better than starting your day with a refreshing face wash! This one goes above and beyond because not only is it PINK and happy but it smells so fresh and has never let me down.
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No. 7 Essential Moisture
As moisturisers go, I get pretty picky because of my eczema. No. 7 products have really become a go-to for me because they’re hypo-allergenic without being those boring creams my dermatologist gives me. I use their Essential Moisture night and day creams and I’m really happy with them, only ÂŁ9 too!
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Nivea Creme
I don’t even know how to start with this one. It is no joke my life saver. My mom used to use this on my when I was little, and I now use it for everything, even as a makeup remover! I can’t even use normal makeup removers anymore because they just don’t work as well. Please please if you don’t already use this, TRY IT!
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Avène Lotion Micellaire
I’m happy with any Avène cleanser to be honest, but at the moment I’m using the micellar lotion cleanser, which is just so soft and calming and smells nice too. My mom recommended this one to me a few months back and I can’t see any time soon where I didn’t use this anymore.
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Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate
During the rough winter months, my skin really starts to dry out and play tricks on me. This is one of those miracle products that I use about once a week, and it just refreshes my skin overnight! You also have to use so little of it (I mix in a couple drops with my night cream) that it lasts forever!
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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo[+]
Finally, for those certain times of the month where your skin, along with everything else, hates you a little (if you didn’t get that: PMS) my go-to product is Effaclar Duo+. I found this at my pharmacy in Belgium and very quickly got hooked, so thank god they sell in at Boots! You have to be careful because it can dry out your skin if you use it too much, but for those times where pimples are just showing up everywhere and you might just be tempted to call in sick, try this!
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Review: The Windsor Castle Pub, Victoria

This place has an amazing feel to it the second you walk in. For starters, it’s very popular, and is always buzzing. On top of that, the pub is split into five sections by huge opaque glass walls, that lead the way to the back room which is full of sofas and an open fire.

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It’s a Sam Smiths pub so no music, no TVs, no WiFi, but the sound of people having a good time catching up is plenty.IMG_7414

My boyfriend had a couple great beers, I went for the white wine as usual, and we decided to share a plate of nachos. They kindly had a big sign above the bar that said the staff could help with any allergen information, but I have to admit, the nachos were thoroughly disappointing.

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For ÂŁ10, I was expecting a big plate of very cheesy nachos with tons of pulled pork and toppings. Instead, we got a healthy spoonful of pork, chopped tomatoes which were advertised as salsa, little pots of guacamole and sour cream, and barely any cheese on a small amount of nachos which pretty much crumbled each time we picked one up.

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I would really recommend someone at Sam Smiths take a good look into either the pricing of their nachos, or what’s on offer, because I won’t be ordering food there again. However, I will definitely be going back to the pub. Even though it was busy and probably understaffed, the bartenders were really friendly and the drinks were nice. The ambiance is also something that I haven’t found anywhere else in London to date.

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If you’re ever on the Pimlico side of Victoria, pop by and let me know if you agree!

The Windsor Castle
23 Francis Street
Victoria
W1P 1DN
RebeccaSophie

Morning Make-Up Routine

Even though I like trying new make-up pretty regularly, when it comes to my daily makeup favourites, it’s mostly the same thing I’ve been wearing since I was about 16.
Here’s a list of my all time favourites:

Pore Minimising SmashBox Primer
Let’s start with an exception! This is something I’ve only recently started using, but being a big fan of SmashBoxes primers, I made an exception that definitely paid off! This primer smoothes out your skin and minimises pores without drying your skin out. It also keeps your makeup looking fresh for much longer than usual, just as well as the normal SmashBox primer. I’m also a big fan of the Bare Minerals Prime Time primer but this one just goes above and beyond. Definitely a makeup essential.

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Bare Escentuals
Here’s an example of something I fell in love with at 16 and my love has never wavered. I’ve tried liquid foundations, different powder brands, even some that I regret spending so much money on. I still always go back to Bare Escentuals because it’s got such a natural finished look, brightens up your face, and I’ve never had any reactions to it which is surprising because I often get eczema under my eyes that’s very sensitive to what products I use.

I start with the Fairly Light Foundation, then add warmth under my cheeks, put the Mineral Veil on top and then add their ‘Amused Rouge’ blush at the end. During the summer when I get a (slight) tan, I often mix the fairly light with the medium which has a pinker undertone that I like.

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Benefit BrowZings
I’ve been using BrowZings since the day it came out, and it’s been my best friend ever since. Being a redhead, I have very blonde eyebrows and eyelashes so I basically have to paint them on completely while keeping it natural. The light BrowZings lets me choose the exact shade I want my eyebrows to be and comes with shaping wax so that you can smooth it out and it lasts all day. It even comes with a cute little pair of tweezers!

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Speed Brow
I don’t use this on a daily basis, but always have it in my handbag when I just need a little touchup. I always use the brush to lift all my eyebrow hairs up, then smooth them over and shape them. This gives them just enough colour to brighten up my makeup without making my eyebrows look cakey.

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Bourjois Ultra Black Eye Pencil

Another all time favourite that I’ve been using forever, the Bourjois eyeliner is easy to smudge and style while staying in place for the whole day. Also helps that it’s really easy to find at any pharmacy!

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Rimmel Scandal Eyes
This is my all time favourite mascara! Gives so much volume and length, I cannot recommend it enough. It also comes in an ‘extremely black’ shade then I pop out when going out after work. Must buy.

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Burt’s Bees Rose Tinted Lip Balm
Burt’s Bees is one of my favourite brands so I’ll probably blog about their products quite a bit. I use their basic chapstick all the time, and even love their hand creams and bath salts. I have two of these tinted lip balms, one with my makeup and one in my handbag. It’s red enough that you could wear it on a night out, but not too red that you look too dressed up for work. Give it a go, let me know what you think!

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Clinique Whole Lotta Honey Chubby Stick
Here’s my second lipstick option that I always have on me. It’s almost like a dark nude, and again, is right with any occasion. Ive been using this one for years and am completely obsessed. (all chubbys are amazing in my book)

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Finished look:

Michael and Elise-61

RebeccaSophie

Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is one of my favourite things to cook because it can make pretty much any boring meal a lot more fun and special. It’s also super easy to make so that doesn’t hurt 🙂

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In this picture I made the coconut rice with Hemsley & Hemsley‘s Chicken Curry which I’m sure I’ll blog about soon because it’s always a success!

Here’s a recipe that I use, that has pretty much been compiled over time from dozens of other recipes I’ve tried (some more successful than others…)

What you’ll need:
1 cup of rice
1 chicken stock cube dissolved into 1 cup of boiling water
1 small onion
1 can of coconut milk (preferably full fat)
1 tsp coconut oil

I use the organic Kallo chicken stock but feel free to keep it veggie if you prefer!

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How it’s made:
Dice the onions and cook in the coconut oil on a medium heat until soft
Add rice and mix in with onions

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Stir occasionally until rice begins to look almost transparent
Add coconut milk and chicken stock ( you should hear that amazing sizzling sound!)

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Put lid on pot and leave on low heat for +/- 10 minutes or until rice has used all the liquid.

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If you’d like an extra crunch, I often heat up some almond flakes in coconut oil then add them to the rice when it’s finished cooking 🙂

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RebeccaSophie

February Nail Polish Favourites

Full disclosure: I definitely have a weak spot for nail polish…

I’ve always had those really big white lines on my nails, and they just naturally look a little purple (I’m often a little anaemic) so ever since I was a teenager I feel a little naked without some paint on my nails.

Although it was pretty hard to choose, I thought I would show you guys my top picks for this ‘not so winter but not yet spring’ weather going on!

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Clockwise starting top left:

My definite favourite is the greyish Essie one called Chinchilly, it’s a perfect year-round shade and it’s super flattering for anyone who’s as pale as me!

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Oh, and before I forget, for those of you who struggle with doing your own nails, or, like me, get a perfect left hand and then mess up your entire right hand…. My secret is Sally Hansen’s Mega Shine top coat. You can get it at pretty much any Boots or large supermarket, and ever since I started using it people regularly ask me if I’m wearing shellac. It dries ridiculously quickly and is the shiniest top coat I’ve ever used. Recommended x 100!

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Let me know how you get on!

RebeccaSophie

American Style Gluten Free Pancakes

Honestly, this is not something I make often! This is very much a ‘I don’t want to get out of bed and I’m verging on depressed because the weekend’s almost over’ kind of meal. BUT – it is the easiest thing to do, and I pretty much always have the right ingredients somewhere in my kitchen, so it’s not something I have to particularly prepare for.

I’ve tried many gluten free pancakes with all sorts of flour substitutes. Sometimes they come out okay, but I often struggle with getting a similar texture to what I was used to before I became gluten free. With time, I’ve concluded that my all time favourite, for both crepes and american style pancakes is using simple recipes with Dove’s Gluten Free flour.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups milk (I use lactose free)
  • 2 tbsp room temperature butter
  • 3tsp vanilla

Optional:

  • BACON!!!

Just mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a big bowl then slowly add the rest, whisking until it all comes together. I make the pan pretty hot, but then lower the heat right when I start cooking, and usually use 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake. When bubbles come up to the surface, flip the pancake, and then it should be done a couple minutes later!

Bon Appétit 🙂

RebeccaSophie

Review: Stoke Place, Buckinghamshire

This was the first weekend away that I had fully organised on my own, so I did tons of research and found this adorable 17th century country house turned hotel, set just far enough out of London that it was the perfect escape.

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My boyfriend had just gotten back to London from a few months away and we were celebrating his birthday/Christmas/our first anniversary all at once so I wanted something as relaxing and exciting as possible while not breaking the bank. Luckily I came across Stoke Place on Secret Escapes, and because they’re pretty empty between Christmas and New Year, we got a really good deal.

When we arrived, I was honestly a little nervous – it was really the middle of nowhere, and the part of Slough that we drove down looked a little run down. But the second we got onto the property, we were both blown away. The house was absolutely beautiful and the estate is huge!

Only disappointment – the Christmas tree was not very happy… (it stayed that was for the whole visit)

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We were put in one of the newly refurbished cottages just by the front gate, and although it had less of a hotel feel, it was actually really nice being away from hustle and bustle.

Our room was great, and the bath was amazing (I think I took about 4 baths in 3 days..)

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PS: I was of course using Lush bath bombs, my favourite is Avobath but in this photo I was using their Christmas Present bomb which is a lot more fun 🙂

We were ridiculously excited when we noticed the bed in breakfast cards!! So there was no question about where we were going to spend our mornings…

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They even dropped off Love Actually on DVD so that we could watch it that evening!

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We didn’t try the hotel’s restaurant because it was pretty expensive and didn’t have the best reviews, so we went straight for burgers at the bar. Still pretty expensive but it was a nice burger! And we loved the atmosphere so went back the next morning for coffees and scrabble 🙂

IMG_6980Tip: great pub down the street called The Red Lion which was perfect for the cold winter night, great food and open fire! Sorry I didn’t take any photos!

On our last day we went into Windsor and spent a great time walking around the castle and the town.

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Overall, it was an amazing weekend (although I was maybe a little biased by the lovely company). The service was very kind and helpful, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a weekend away from the city.

Tip: Don’t forget the Llamas in the garden!!! (I’m not kidding.)

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RebeccaSophie