hello fresh

hello fresh

So here’s the thing. My life just got a lot busier. I’ve just started a new job. In an office. In a field I haven’t worked in before. I just started work in a faculty student office at a university, during freshers’ week, so you can imagine just how deep the deep end was in which I was thrust. Let’s just say, my learning curve was almost vertical. 

The week before I started I was nervous. A tightly wound ball of nerves. Very excited, but with a lick of anxiety. I had a feeling it would all be fine, but when you’ve been a stay at home mum for eight years, the prospect of leaving your children to head back to work full time is a daunting one.

Getting this job has meant after school childcare, and being far more organised with my grocery shopping. It means supermarket deliveries, and the week before I started, it meant trying out HelloFresh, a food box delivered to your door, with recipe cards and everything included to whip up delicious meals the whole family will enjoy. 

So how have we found our trial of HelloFresh?

First things first, let’s talk about delivery. You get the option of Tuesdays or Thursdays and you aren’t given a time slot. Fine if you are at home, but trickier if no one is in to take delivery. I specified a safe place to leave the box if I wasn’t at home – which I wasn’t, so I don’t know what time my box arrived, but what I do know is that everything was still nicely cold when I arrived home. Delivery is free and the box was in good nick when I unpacked it. Nothing had been biffed around. Nothing was bruised. So far, so good. 

Next thing I need to talk about is the cost. A family box from HelloFresh is £64 for four meals, serving two adults and two children. I was sent my box for free for the purpose of this review, but would I spend that money every week? Probably not, to be honest. My usual weekly Tesco or Sainsbury’s delivery is around the £50 mark, and that’s all in. Inclusive of wine and cleaning products. One thing I’m good at is preparing nice meals on the cheap. I’m a shameless lover of a jacket potato, and I batch cook a lot, which drives down the price. Plus, with a supermarket shop you get the added benefits of Nectar or Clubcard points (which I turn into Air Miles). Four dinners still requires me to buy food for my daughter’s packed lunches, breakfasts for everyone, gin for me. You get the idea. As delicious as the food from HelloFresh is, and it really, really is, I’m not convinced it’s not just that little bit too pricey for me. Having said that, I realise there are families who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at spending that on a weekly basis.

But what about the food?

The quality of the produce in my HelloFresh box was by all accounts incredible. We received honey and mustard sausages, chicken thighs, tilapia, gnocchi. Packets of pancetta and chorizo. All the spices and sauces required in the recipes. Vegetables that, frankly, looked like they could be used in a photoshoot. Everything was fresh, everything was from really good suppliers and I liked that. The recipes are easy to follow, the results tasted amazing, and the portion sizes were perfect. The South Asian chicken curry was delicious, the gnocchi was quick and easy to whip up, and the sausage skewers gave what is essentially sausages and chips a whole new lease of life. By all accounts, we all ate well that week. HelloFresh is perfect for expanding your repertoire in the kitchen, and for building confidence in your cooking as well. I’ve never cooked tilapia before, but now that I have, it’s something I won’t necessarily overlook in the future. And I’m salivating just thinking about the gnocchi. 

Who would HelloFresh suit?

HelloFresh is perfect for busy people who want cooking dinner to be easy and delicious. If you can afford to eat out, but enjoy staying in and cooking, then this could be the perfect subscription for you costwise, as I think the price comes in somewhere between the two. If cost isn’t an issue and you want to broaden your culinary horizons then, again, HelloFresh could definitely be the answer. 

So would I use HelloFresh again?

All in all we very much enjoyed our HelloFresh week, so yes, if I had more money to throw at my food budget. I’m a sucker for a delivery and I really like the concept behind the boxes. You have the option to pause your deliveries, so it might well be something I dip in and out of when I’m feeling affluent or have a special occasion coming up, although this does mean keeping organised and on top of your account. Or maybe it’ll be something I consider for if the day ever comes that I am bored by the thought of a jacket potato when I get home from work.



Lavender Reed Diffuser and 15% off at Rooi.com

paddywax reed diffuser

paddywax reed diffuser

I have a deep and eternal appreciation for all things lavender. I like a lavender shortbread biscuit, and the contrast of the dark flecks amongst the white crystals in lavender sugar. On my dressing table, I have lavender hand cream and lavender deodorant. Pair it with the parma violet shampoo you can buy from Lush, and it’s beginning to smell a lot like fancy old ladies in here. I’m not really one for gardening, but I have plans to get someone to plant lavender all over my front garden. A good day out, in my opinion, would be a trip to the New Forest Lavender Farm. Or that place in Hitchin, except that’s a bit of a mission. 

Anyway, you get the idea. My love of those tiny purple flowers knows no bounds. 

So when Rooi.com sent me a Paddywax reed diffuser to review with a lavender and thyme fragrance. Well, let’s just say, I was excited. Happily, I didn’t have to wait long, it arrived the day after I got the dispatch email. Efficient service. Hoorah!

paddywax reed diffuser

The packaging is good and robust (and recycled), and inside, each element is separate, meaning you can put as much or as little of the oil in the bottle as takes your fancy. I half filled mine, so it should last longer and stay fresher. 

And what about the scent? Because that’s, by and large, what you care about in a room fragrance, non? It’s fragrant and aromatic, and very, very relaxing. A nice lavendery-thymey hit. Far more effective than the bunch of dried lavender I stuffed inside a china cat ornament I’ve had forever a while back. Far more pleasant than the white musk (White musk? What even is this? The Body Shop circa 1993?) reed diffuser I had previously.

paddywax reed diffuser

All in all, I really rate this diffuser. It really freshens up the room, and the bottle is cute enough to easily be repurposed after my diffuser is spent. A very nice product and one I’m happy to have in my home. 

Rooi.com have very kindly given me a code to share with my readers. Just enter 15BPROMO at the checkout for 15% off your order. New customers only! 

I was sent the Paddywax reed diffuser by Rooi.com for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. 

Lumie Arabica Light Box Review

lumie arabica SAD lamp

Just after Christmas I went a bit doolally.  The dark days took their miserable toll and I found myself balled up on the sofa howling because it was too dark, and I couldn’t do anything, and the kids were winding me up and Ross wasn’t around because he was still commuting to London every day, and there was nothing to do, and I wanted to go to the park and the kids wouldn’t put their sodding shoes on, and the pile of laundry was akin to Everest, and the thought of cooking dinner made me want to cry, and everything was just frankly, utterly hideous. 

Then I figured that if I switched on every single light in my house, I might feel better.  

Well, I didn’t feel any better, and my mum was beginning to worry (as you do, about the mentals).  So, she bought me the Lumie Arabica SAD lamp.  

lumie arabica SAD lamp

At 10,000 lux the Lumie Arabica is the brightest light I have ever owned.  It sits on the side in my dining room, and I have it on when I am working, or eating (It also masquerades as a photography light, so if you’ve noticed my food photos are looking brighter and sharper, well you have my SAD to thank for that)

It’s not the most inconspicuous of lamps; it doesn’t, for instance, blend in with the rest of my stuff.  There is no denying it’s a light box, and people have asked me what it is, and when I tell them it’s a SAD lamp, without fail the next question is, “does it work?”

And, well, yes it does.  Whilst typically, it arrived just as we got a few brighter days, they soon reverted back to the dull, heavy grey skies we’ve become accustomed to, the lamp has been used almost every day, and just sitting in front of it for 45 mins a day has certainly helped a lot.  The amount of daylight we get is said to have an effect on our circadian rhythms*, and even though the curtains in my bedroom are flimsy at best, thus waking me up early, when the days are short and dark I really notice a difference in my mood and general wellbeing.   Having the lamp on makes me feel generally happier.  I don’t feel like like sleeping all the time (partial though I am to a nap), I feel more inclined to get out of the house and do things.  Everything that seemed grey and dull and impossible, now feels brighter and lighter and achievable.  I feel capable again, and when you have two small children to care for, feeling capable is very important. 

lumie arabica SAD lamp

(I had to turn the exposure right up on this photo, hence all the noise – but I think it gives you an idea of how bright it really is)

I’m not saying it’s all down to my Lumie Arabica, regular readers will know I’ve started running which eases my stress levels – I never ever come home from the gym feeling low, rather I leave feeling badass.  But then I can’t help wondering if I was feeling as rubbish as I was before I got my Lumie Arabica, would I even be motivated enough to go for a run?  Knowing myself, I think it’s more likely I’d go and curl up somewhere whilst snarfing down a packet of biscuits. 

So if you are considering light therapy for SAD, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend this lamp.  It’s certainly not the cheapest on the market, but Lumie give you the VAT off if you are a SAD sufferer.  When you feel as low as I did, you have to take the perks where you can get them, am I right?

*Surely I can’t be the only person who thinks of Daysleeper by REM when anyone starts talking about circadian rhythms?