Friday, 30 October 2015

Pawsomebox October (and 25% Discount!)

Making sure Saffy gets plenty of treats while I'm away at university has been no trouble thanks to the team at Pawsomebox. They got in touch again to ask if I would like to have a Pawsomebox* delivered for my Jack Russell, and I was only too happy to say yes!

If you haven't already heard of it (where have you been?!), Pawsomebox is a subscription box for dogs. Each month they pick out a mixture of products, all matched to your dog's age and size, for you to try out at home. Boxes come with treats, toys, grooming items and useful bits and pieces... and delivered straight to your door.

As usual, I was at university when the box arrived, so I delegated the task of photography to my sister. But then I also had a spontaneous trip home a few days later and managed to get a few more, so the pictures are from both of us.

 First up is this Nilaqua no-rinse shampoo. Saffy isn't especially keen on being dunked into a tub of water, so a no-rinse shampoo is quick and easy to use for keeping her clean. The shampoo is specially formulated to pour on, massage in and towel off... ideal for an active dog who doesn't want to waste a moment of potential playtime!

I was told that Saffy still did her usual post-bath dashing around the dining room activity with this product, but at least she wasn't soaking wet and dripping all over the carpet!

There were two toys in the box this month - a squeaky doggie biscuit chew toy, and a crinkly cow toy. Remarkably, both toys were still in one piece when I got home a few days after the box arrived - seems like Saffy's decided to look after these ones! 

Personally I think the treats are the best bit about each box. Saffy gets through a lot of treats, so it's nice to be able to vary them a bit. This month she tried out Pet Munchies in chicken flavour, Captain Jack's Salmon Bites and a Good Boy lollipop.

The Munchies are small, square shaped treats - perfect for using for any training you're doing with your dog. I like to use these to refresh Saffy's memory for tricks like 'shake paw' and 'stand up'. Oh, and they're also low fat and wheat, gluten and soya free - so if your dog has a special diet, these should be suitable. I accidentally left this packet out on a side table though and later caught Saffy tearing it up in order to get every last treat out. Obviously these were a winner with her!

 The salmon bites smell really strong of fish... not something I love, but they went down very well with Saffy! They're bigger treats and she likes to take them off to chew in secret... 

The lollipop is very cute, and not something I've seen before. We try not to buy too many of the artificially coloured treats like these, but had no problems from this one. Except for the fact Saffy chewed it the 'wrong' way round!

Finally, we received a few rolls of dog bags - something you can never have enough of!

If you fancy trying out some new products for your pampered pet(s), you can subscribe to Pawsomebox. And as a little extra encouragement, if you use the code 'blg5k1qz', you'll get 25% off your first box!

Even better, if you fancy treating your pet to their very own selection of Christmas goodies, then you can order a Special Edition Christmas box. This is available for order until the 1st December, and comes with free delivery! You'll get 6 specially selected items, and it's guaranteed to arrive before the 25th December, so your pet(s) will have their own presents waiting under the tree.

Thank you to Pawsomebox for sending me and Saffy a free box for review. My review is 100% my honest opinion on these products and I was not paid by Pawsomebox to do so. If I didn't genuinely like the box, I wouldn't post about it!


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Tag: The 11 Things

One of my favourite bloggers, Hannah from Pull Yourself Together, tagged me to complete this post by answering a few questions. I think it's nice to have a few 'get to know me' posts in amongst everything else, so I was only too happy to have a go...

What was your last tweet?

University Challenge used to be way over my head, but nowadays I can usually get at least one or two questions correct (after over four years of university, you'd hope I'd gained some knowledge!). This tweet refers to this week when I got 3/3 of questions about American horse breeds... specialist knowledge right there.

What is your greatest achievement so far?
Making it to the final year of medicine feels like a pretty major achievement!

If you were on Come Dine With Me, what would you make?
I'd probably spend a long time considering whether I could serve three desserts, before deciding that's probably not a wise idea - I'd definitely be aiming to win! I'm really enjoying Greek and Middle Eastern style dishes at the moment, so I'd probably do a menu based on this style of cuisine.

What is your middle name?

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I'd be a dog. I think I'd probably be my dog actually. Saffy lives a pretty good life and is thoroughly spoiled.

Out of all the blog posts you have written, which is your favourite?
"Do you mind if the medical student sits in?" has sat at the top of my most popular posts list ever since I wrote it, and I quite like this piece. It's all about how much medical students gain from being present in patients' consultations and I've had a really good response to it from people on both sides of the experience.

What one thing can you not leave the house without?
Probably my phone. I use it for everything - my diary, maps, checking buses, entertaining myself with Twitter and Instagram.

Any guilty pleasures?
Nothing that springs to mind... how boring of me!

Do you have a party trick?
Again, not really... perhaps it's time I got one!

Which is your favourite season, and why?
Whichever season I happen to be in. Autumn is lovely while everything is crisp, and I enjoy the festivities of winter, but I always appreciate spring and summer coming round again!

What is your first memory as a child?
So I have this very vague memory of eating After Eights behind the sofa... I expect it's probably a slightly mixed up memory, but it is one of my first.

Thank you Hannah for the questions! You can find Hannah's post here, and see who else was tagged to answers these.



Tuesday, 20 October 2015

9 Things I Gained From Attending a Blogging Event (Besides the Freebies!)

How I benefited from attending a blog event

Recently I attended my first blogging event, a South West meet up organised by the girls behind Pretty Lovely Bloggers events. It was a lovely afternoon and I wrote a post shortly afterwards, all about the event itself.

I've never organised something on this scale beforehand, but it doesn't take much to figure out that the organisers must go to a lot of work to put it together, and for that I'm really grateful!

I came across this post on Annie Writes Beauty, about bloggers attending events just for the freebies. I don't know how many bloggers this really represents, although I'm inclined to believe that it's probably the minority rather than the majority. Many of the blogs I read feature posts about blogging events, full of praise for the organisers and plenty of mentions for the brands who give samples and free products. However, it's a shame if there are people who think the only thing worth going to events for is a selection of freebies - they're missing out on all the other benefits!

Pile of canvas bags of blogging samplesI personally feel that there is a lot more to gain from attending blog events than a big bag of freebies,and here are just some of the things I've gained from attending a small event...

Benefits of attending a blogging event

1. An increase in page views. 
Since attending the PLBSW Meet, my page views have had a bit of a boost. At first I thought it might have been the people I met going through my archives or something, but actually my new posts seem to have consistently been popular reads. 

2. New blogs to read.
I think I only read the blogs of about two of the bloggers from the event beforehand. I sometimes find that there are 'blogging circles' of people all connecting with the same people, so getting to an event is a great way to find people who write and share blogs from a totally new area of the internet.

3. New Bloglovin' followers.
Just as I found new blogs to read, some of the girls I met seemed to like my blog too. It was only a small event (in terms of numbers of people), so it hasn't rocketed my following, but it's brought me a few steps closer to my next milestone.

4. New Twitter followers.
Thanks to the handy #PLBSWMeet hashtag, we were all able to find each other before the event and follow one-another. Tweeting about the event also increased my reach, and bloggers who were following the hashtag without necessarily attending the event were also able to find me.

5. A afternoon out.
Going to an event is just that - an event! Having somewhere to be filled up some time in an otherwise quiet weekend. When friends and family are busy, sometimes it's nice to be able to have a reason to go out.

6. Finding somewhere new nearby.
The event I went to was held at Cosy Club, Bristol, somewhere I hadn't been before. It's a little bit out of my usual way, so it's not somewhere I would necessarily have thought to go with friends from uni.

7. A reason to bring up my blog with friends.
I maintain that my blog isn't a 'secret' - I've always promoted it on my Twitter account, it just happens that most of my friends don't use Twitter! However, I've never really known how to bring up the subject of my blog in conversation - so having to explain why I was going out, and why I might come back with a few goodies was a good excuse to mention it!

8. Supporting a charity.
The PLBSW meet also involved a raffle, where money raised went to the mental health charity, Mind. I think lots of events do similar things and it's a super-easy way to give money to causes you want to support.

9. Non-medical conversation.
I'm a fifth year medical student. The majority of my university friends are fifth year medical students. It's just the way it works with this kind of course, and I don't have an issue with it because we just get what we all go through. And when you spend all week in hospital, and a chunk of weekend working on the portfolios and revision the course requires, it's only natural that medicine now dominates a lot of conversation (although we do have plenty of other topics too!!). But it was so nice to meet a group of girls from all different backgrounds - some working, some studying and all with different interests.

Bloggers at Pretty Lovely Bloggers South West Meet
Photo courtesy of Adele Smith

So, there you go. While I am enjoying working my way through the products I received and am very grateful to the brands who were kind enough to give them, I have gained far more from the event than just freebies!

What I gained from attending a blog event, how blog events can benefit your blog


Monday, 19 October 2015

11 Reasons to Buy Flowers

There are few things in life nicer to arrive home to than a beautiful bouquet of flowers (a waggy-tailed canine ranks slightly higher). After a long week of hospital placement, getting back to a gorgeous 'Hot Toddy' bouquet* from Appleyard London was just the thing to put a smile on my face.

And 'just because' is a completely valid excuse for a fancy floral bunch. But just in case you still need a reason to send flowers to a loved one, or yourself, here are a few more ideas...

1. To celebrate the end of the week.

2. To celebrate the start of the week.

3.  To say thank you - for something specific, or simply for being a great friend/ parent/ sibling...

4. To make use of an expensive vase - if you've got it, you may as well use it rather than fill it with rubbish!

5. To say 'Congratulations' - on exams, new jobs, engagements or a smaller, but still significant, achievement.

6. To decorate - flowers are perfect for brightening up a living room, bedroom or kitchen. Especially good for rented properties when you're avoid permanent fixtures!

7. For a tea or dinner party - whether as guest or host, a bunch of flowers will always be appreciated.

8. To say 'Welcome Home'

9. Because you've had a tough day/ week/ month. Flowers are a lovely way to cheer yourself up.

10. To inspire - whether that's to be creative and paint them, to act as a blogging prop or simply to work out a colour scheme for a project.

11. And finally, because you can have a 33% discount on luxury bouquets from Appleyard London, using the code BLOG33. What better excuse than that?!

Appleyard London are a boutique florists who provide a flower delivery service across the UK. They have a fabulous selection of stunning flowers, all fresh and hand picked. The 'Hot Toddy' bouquet I picked from their season flowers have beautiful autumnal colours with deep reds and purples.The bouquet arrived on the date I chose, in perfect condition - it couldn't have been simpler to receive. 

If you simply can't wait to receive or send flowers, (or are living a little last minute!) you can also get next day flowers from Appleyard London. Just click the link and order.

Having in fresh flowers has quickly become one of my favourites ways to treat myself and brighten up the flat - and I'm sure you know plenty of people who'd also love some!

Let me know what you think - will you be ordering flowers for anyone soon?


*Appleyard London sent me a free Hot Toddy luxury bouquet in order for me to review their service. I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own, honest thoughts. If I don't genuinely like a product, I won't recommend it!


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Little Things I've Loved This Week #9

Red sky and sunrise over city

Another speedy week has gone by - I cannot believe that we are halfway through October already! It's been a great week, being productive during my time in the hospital and having my sister come to visit Friday and Saturday was lovely. Here are the little things that I've especially enjoyed this week...

Homemade raspberry and apricot jam tarts

Homemade jam tarts. I forgot how good they are! They've been the perfect sweet treat for putting in my lunch each day, or as an end-of-the-day pick me up. Between two of us, we'd devoured the whole lot by Friday...

The Londoner's Pumpkin & Sage Courgetti recipe (minus the sage...). This was delicious. Definitely one to try again, and an excellent autumn dinner.

Porridge in saucepan

Bowl of porridge with slices of banana

Porridge on the hob. I don't currently have a microwave, so have been making my porridge in a pan each morning this week. I'm convinced it tastes much better!

Three plums in hand

Free plums with my fruit and veg shop. The man at the greengrocers this week threw in a couple of handfuls of soft plums with my shopping. They were absolutely delicious, and not just because they didn't cost anything!

Looking good with a random guess being exactly the right diagnosis in bedside teaching. (Obviously in real life, diagnoses aren't just stab-in-dark guesses!)

Almost crying with laughter at what turned out to be a very confusing dessert order on Friday night. Apologies to the poor waiter who we had to send away and ask to come back! Turns out you were right about the chocolate fondant...

Red fire engine coat for dogs

This fire engine outfit for dogs. Not sure Saffy would love it quite so much, so unfortunately I had to leave it on the shelf.

What have you enjoyed this week?


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The PLB South West Bloggers Meet

One of the things I've enjoyed so far about blogging is all the interaction with other bloggers. Until now, that's been through comments, Twitter and the odd email, but last weekend I got to meet a few bloggers in real life!

Group photo of bloggers
Photo courtesy of Adele

Adele and Kirsty organised an excellent event at the lovely Cosy Club, Bristol. 

It was really nice to meet a totally new group of people, and the venue was perfect for getting a chance to chat to everyone. This was my first blogging event, but some of the other girls commented on how the small group felt much more relaxed and sociable than bigger events - sounds like I started with a good one!

We also had food and drink while we were busy chatting - I went for a Berry Cooler soft drink, and then a vanilla milkshake with my halloumi panini. The food was delicious, and I would have taken photos but was so busy eating and talking that I totally forgot!

Glass of berry cooler drink

There were a couple of brands at the event - Sass, a line of feminine care products, and Dry U who have created a range of affordable waterproof bags perfect for anyone doing watersports, travelling, camping - or just swimming at the beach! We each got one of the bags to take away, so I'm going to give mine a bit of a roadtest then maybe write up what I think.

The girls also held a raffle in aid of Mind, a charity I'm more than happy to support, and there were enough prizes that everyone got at least one. I won a pair of tealight holders and a box of deliciously scented candles from Partylite - which I started trying out the same evening!

Heart shaped tea light holders

A bit of a running joke since the event has been the plentiful supply of Rachel's Organic yoghurt pots. There were so many that we all ended up taking loads - I just about managed to cram six into my bag, and I'm sure some of the others had even more! Luckily these yoghurts are delicious and it will probably take no time at all for me and my housemate to work our way through them.

Organic yoghurt pots

Six pots of Rachel's Organic yoghurts

Finally, we finished the event with huge goody bags each, filled with various products to try out. I had actually walked to the event, but there was no way I would have been able to get all the stuff home without a taxi!

Pile of canvas bags

Pot of pink melts, marshmallows and life tonics bottles

Eye shadow, purple candle and sample products in tubes

Chocolate products, marshmallow, packets of food

Mixture of beauty and skincare items

It was a lovely event and I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Huge thanks to Adele and Kirsty for arranging everything!

Pretty Lovely Bloggers @PrettyLBloggers


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Little Things I've Loved This Week #8

Purple flowers, magazines and photographs

This week seems to have flown by - it was probably the mid-week TV mega-finale of GBBO and Dr Foster that made Wednesday night come around super quick, and the rest of the week disappeared similarly fast. I also had a lovely time yesterday at the #PLBSWMeet organised by Adele and Kirsty

Here are some of the other things I've enjoyed the past seven days...

Flowers that turn out to be beautiful. I bought a small bunch of flowers for £3 last weekend, not really knowing how they would look once they opened. Safe to say, I think I made a good choice.

Magazines, framed photos and purple flowers on table

Watching South Africa beat USA in the World Cup. With England being out already, I've had to make an early switch of allegiance for the rest of the tournament, and I've decided to go with South Africa as my chosen team. Certainly felt like the right choice after an excellent game this week.

Cute snapchats of Saffy. I miss my lovely little Jack Russell while I'm at university, so it always makes me smile to get pictures of her. Especially when she's got a new jumper!

Winding down the week gradually. I had a busy start, Monday to Wednesday where I got loads done and had evening teaching one night, so staying home on Thursday to just work from the comfort of my living room was a nice rest. And a half day Friday wasn't too taxing either.

Burning Just Desserts candles by PartyLite. I won these in the raffle at the  blogger meet up yesterday and wasted no time in taking two out to burn while watching TV last night. They smell delicious - even just having the box in the room was like passing a candle shop!

Pink and green candles in heart shaped holders

Hope you've all had a lovely week!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Recipe | Roasted Cauliflower and Dhal Pilaff


I've been collecting the Waitrose recipe cards since way back in 2006. Ok, I've missed a fair few months (and probably entire years), but I have built up a pretty good collection of free recipes. I flick through them regularly, and have played around with arranging them by type or date, but something I've not been very good at is actually cooking any of them! 

So, I decided it's about time I actually started trying some of the recipes and picked out this curry recipe from last year. I changed the method ever so slightly to make it possible to freeze some portions - cooking a single portion of rice separately and only roasting enough vegetables for a single meal, but if cooking a meal for more than one then you can follow the recipe as below.

Something that can put me off cooking curries at university is the cost of spices - I don't cook often enough to make it worth spending money on lots of jars of spices I'll probably only use a few spoonfuls of in the year. However, my route home from placement at the moment takes me past a couple of shops where I can buy things like spices, pulses, flour and sugar by weight. This way, I'm only buying exactly what I need and it works out far cheaper.

To make six portions: 
1 cauliflower
3 carrots
1/2tsp ground tumeric
1tsp cumin seeds
Zest and juice of a lemon
2 onions
2tbsp curry paste
150g red split lentils
1 vegetable stock cube
300g long grain rice
Coriander leaves

(Recipe from Waitrose)

1. Preheat oven to 200°c. Chop the cauliflower into small florets and dice the carrots. Put the cauliflower and carrots into a large bowl and add the tumeric, cumin seeds, lemon juice and zest and 1tbsp of oil. Toss everything together and tip out onto a baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes.

2. While the vegetables are roasting, dice the onions. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan, then add the onion and cook for about five minutes to soften. Boil 1L of water (I do it quickly with a kettle) and pour over the stock cube in a large jug. 

3. Add the stock, curry paste and lentils to the onions and stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the rice then cover and keep cooking for about 10-12 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.

4. Spoon the dhal pilaff into bowls, top with the roasted vegetables and coriander leaves to serve. Enjoy!

This makes a delicious, vegetarian meal - great for cooking up a batch to serve a group. What really makes this is the lemon juice over the roast vegetables - the sharpness is perfect. I actually forgot to buy any coriander, but I know this will go well with the lemon and curry flavours to give a really fresh taste.
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