Bringing Photographs to Life with BackdropsByLucy

As a blogger I am always trying to find ways to make my photographs look more appealing. First impressions are so important, and that means pictures need to stand out. If something doesn’t look enticing, no one is going to want to engage with it, be it food, or any other product.

I recently read an article which was all about the tricks that some food photographers use to make their food look perfect. I was gobsmacked to learn that often, what you think is beautifully edible food isn’t really at all! For example, fruit is sprayed with all sorts of varnishes to make it look shiny. Cereal doesn’t turn to a soggy splodge in a bowl of milk as it would normally, as it isn’t really milk in many photos; it is PVA glue! And did you know that often when you are looking at what you think is a scrumptious scoop of ice cream, it is really coloured mashed potato??? I prefer my photographs to be what they are actually meant to be. No substitutes. No tricks. But I was also aware that my photographs needed something extra, something to make them come alive.

With this in mind I was over the moon when I saw that BACKDROPSBYLUCY were looking for bloggers to try their new backdrops in their photography.

I already owned a backdrop from another company but it was so much of a hassle to set it up that I just managed without it. It was made out of material and was sent folded up in a bag as it was huge, and no matter how much I ironed it the creases from the folds just wouldn’t come out. The material was very thin and floppy, and had to be taped extensively to the wall to keep it in place. And god help you if you spilt anything on it! I used it once and felt so frustrated at the process of setting it up that I vowed I wouldn’t use it again!

The backdrop that BackdropsByLucy sent to me was poles apart from the one I already owned. It arrived rolled up in a thick cardboard tube, which is also then used to store it in when you don’t need it. As soon as I unrolled it I could tell it was fantastic quality.

All of their backdrops are made from thick PVC, which means they are completely waterproof, tearproof, and can be wiped clean very easily. As the PVC is so thick, when you unroll the backdrop it immediately lies flat. No creases, no upturned edges, no hassle. Lucy is a professional photographer, and all of the designs on the backdrops are actual photographs that she has taken herself. I love the range of designs she has. Wood, marble, suede, concrete, chalkboard… too many to list! If you CLICK HERE you can see the full range for yourself. Aren’t they wonderful?

Not counting my last couple of blog posts (which I used my new backdrop in) you will see that previous photographs in my posts featured my very plain magnolia wall background, or my kitchen worktop, or my table. The photographs were the best I thought I could do at that time. Since having my backdrop though the photography side of blogging fills me with a lot more excitement than it used to! I finally feel that my photographs look more professional and their colours are exploding against the backdrop! I have a long way to go still with my photography skills but Lucy’s website is full of tips and if you contact her for any advice she is super helpful. I have learnt so much already.

In fact I was so impressed with the backdrop and the difference it makes that I ordered another one. And I will definitely be ordering more! You can choose to have them in A1 or A2 size, and they have a matt finish so that you don’t get any glare from them. You can use one on it’s own or two together. In the photo below I laid one on my worktop and stood the other against the wall, securing it easily in place with just one bit of tape:

Antique Steel lying flat, Ash Cloud standing up

 

In the next picture, which is possibly my favourite so far, I just used one backdrop and leant it up the wall so it was half flat and half upright, and it didn’t matter that tomato juice dripped down on to the backdrop as it was so easy to clean:

Antique Steel

 

The dark backdrops really bring out the colours of the food! Here’s a selection of other photographs I took with these backdrops:

 

All of my photographs are taken using a smartphone camera, and I never thought I would get results with it that I would be proud of. BACKDROPSBYLUCY has given me a new-found confidence and lots of inspiration to take much better photographs with no tricks!

If you are a blogger, retailer, or photographer, I would highly recommend you start using these backdrops. Top quality at an affordable price. What more could you ask for?

 

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the Ash Cloud backdrop for free in exchange for a review. This in no way affects my opinions though. All of my views are 100% honest. The fact that I went on to order another one myself just shows how much I think of these backdrops! And you’ll see plenty more that I buy in future posts. 

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October Degustabox …. The Taste of Autumn

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I absolutely adore Degustabox. A monthly box of food and drink items and you have no idea what you are getting until the day it arrives…. what’s not to like? The October box had an Autumnal theme and it was one of my favourites to date! It featured some brands I was familiar with but also some I hadn’t seen or tried before. I get really excited about trying new products, and Degustabox has led me to some fantastic items I have gone on to buy regularly. So let’s see what was in this box…

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  • ROBINSONS SQUASH’D… I received the Orange flavour of this super concentrated squash. We are already a huge fan of these in our house. They come in a range of flavours but so far this is our favourite one. They are sugarfree and only have 3 calories per 250ml serving so they are a healthier soft drink to give to your children. What I particularly love about them too is the fact that you can carry them around in your bag if you want to. If you have a water fountain at your place of work but you find water boring, keep one of these in your bag. A quick squeeze into your water and you have a lovely refreshing flavoured drink. Perfect for picnics too if everyone likes different flavoured drinks. Rather than make up several bottles of more than one flavour of squash which would really weigh you down, just take a bottle of water and a couple of these and you have a happy family. The RRP of these is £2.49, which is great value as you only need a tiny amount per drink.

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  • IAM SOUPER… These soups are high in protein, which means you feel full for longer. They have no artificial nasties, and are low in fat so perfect for people on calorie-controlled diets. I received Pulled Pork and Jalapenos, and Supergreens flavours. They were so tasty! I had the Supergreens one and my partner took the Pulled Pork one to work for his lunch. He said it was delicious, as was the one I ate. Chunky and satisfying and full of flavour. I love the name of them too… what a fantastic affirmation “I am Super”. Well you are, and so is the soup. The RRP is £1.49.

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  • MAGGI FUSIAN NOODLES… I received Aromatic Spiced Curry, and Fiery Sweet Chilli flavours, but you can also get Classic Chow Mein. These are super quick and easy to prepare and can be eaten on their own as they are packed with flavour, or you can add them to a stir fry. These are different to other instant noodle brands as these have a sachet of infused oil, seasoning and vegetables which you make up first by mixing with water, and then you add the noodles. That makes the flavour much more authentic. I have to say I was really impressed with these and will be looking out for these in the shops. The RRP is £1.39.

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  • JIM JAMS… I can’t tell you how happy I was to see this in the box! My son let out a little excited squeal, as this is now a regular purchase in our house thanks to being introduced to it in a previous Degustabox. I received the Milk Chocolate Spread, but you can also get one with hazelnuts to make it taste more like another big brand of chocolate spread. The first time we ever tried this we were knocked out by how good it was. It has 83% less sugar than the other brand, and is gluten free and diabetic friendly. We did a blind taste test last time, as at the time I had the other brand in my cupboard so we could compare them. Jim Jams came out on top for flavour, creaminess, sweetness… in short I honestly think this is the best chocolate spread you can buy. As a parent it is great to know it won’t rot my son’s teeth and cause all manner of sugar-related health problems too. I buy this regularly with no guilt and the other brand hasn’t been seen in my house since first trying Jim Jams. Mix it with hot milk for a yummy hot chocolate, mix it in buttercream for the creamiest chocolate cake topping, spread it on toast, use it to sandwich 2 cakes together, dip breadsticks or strawberries in to it for a grown up Choc Dip, the possibilities are endless. The RRP is £2.59. It is available in Tesco and Holland and Barrett.

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  • PASQUIER PITCH CHOCO BARRE… This is a French snack now recently available in the UK. We LOVED these! They are little brioche buns with a miniature bar of milk chocolate in the middle. Not melted chocolate, but an actual bar! The brioche was so soft and sweet and delicious, and the chocolate was wonderfully creamy tasting. Put them both together and you have an amazing treat! You get 4 in the pack and each is individually wrapped to keep them fresh. I could easily have eaten all 4 in one go they were so yummy, but I was good and shared them 🙂 I will definitely be looking out for these in the shops. The RRP is £1.40 per pack of 4.

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  • HERSHEY’S COOKIES’N’CREME… This was a king sized bar of scrumptiousness! Creamy white chocolate with crushed up cookies mixed in. Imagine an Oreo biscuit but with the cream on the outside and the chocolate cookie bit in the middle…. that’s what this reminded me of. It was sweet and indulgent and impossible to resist. There’s not much else to say about it really except is was sooooooo good and I need to buy more! The RRP is £1.00.

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  • YUSHOI SNAPEA RICE STICKS… This Japanese inspired snack is made from baked green peas and rice. I received the Lightly Salted flavour and absolutely loved them! They look like pea pods with a crispy rice coating, and that’s what they are! They have no artificial colours or flavours and are high in fibre and a good source of protein. Each pack contains 5 servings (unless you are a pig like me) and each serving only has 91 calories. I am not a fan of salt and sometimes find that even lightly salted foods contain too much, but these had the perfect amount. Just enough to taste without overpowering the delicious flavour of the pea and rice. I have since bought more of these from Tesco, I enjoyed them that much. The RRP is £1.99.

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  • LEVI ROOTS SMOKEY BBQ COAT’N’COOK SAUCE… I love this type of sauce. Ideal for busy days when time is limited to prepare a meal from scratch. No need to marinade, it provides instant flavour. You just pour it over chicken, fish or ribs, and pop it in the oven. Easy! I used it on chicken and it was delicious. Many of this type of BBQ sauce are mild but this one had more of a kick from Scotch bonnet chillies. My son likes mild flavours so this was a bit too hot for him, but my partner and I loved it. It has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and the sauce is suitable for vegetarians and vegans (obviously not if used on meat though). The RRP is £1.00.

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  • BELOVED DATE FRUIT HEARTS… These very nutritious snacks are made from raw dates and other natural ingredients. You get 5 heart shaped pieces per pack, and they count as 1 of your 5 a day for fruit and vegetables. They are gluten free, high in fibre and low in fat, and have no added sugar. They come in 4 delicious flavours: Simply Divine Date (100% dates), Rich Cocoa Date (98% date, 2% cocoa powder), Cocoa and Berry Date(97.5% dates, 2% cocoa powder, 0.5% freeze dried raspberry powder), and Zesty Orange Date (dates with a hint of natural orange flavouring). They were all lovely, but I am a huge fan of dates so these were perfect. They are suitable for vegans, and one pack of 5 hearts only contains 105 calories. Guilt free snacking at it’s best. The RRP is 75p per pack.

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  • HEINZ… I received Minions dry pasta shapes, and smooth tomato pasta sauce. The pasta in particular caused much delight when my son found them in the box! Everyone loves the Minions so making pasta in their shapes was a stroke of genius. Although Luke liked inventing stories on his plate and moving the Minions around for a while acting out the stories! Eventually the Minions left the story for one reason or another so that was when he was able to eat them. He loved the shapes and he said the sauce tasted better than the sauce in tinned spaghetti. The pasta is made from half whole wheat and half durum wheat and is suitable for vegetarians. The sauce has no added salt or sugar, and no artificial colours or preservatives. Great fun for children to eat. The RRP of the sauce is £1.55 and the pasta is £1.19.

As you can see, this box had something for everyone! Familiar and unfamiliar products, sweet and savoury. Degustabox usually costs £12.99 which includes free delivery via DPD. That is already a bargain, as the products you receive are worth around double that. However, the wonderful people at Degustabox are so kind and generous they are giving you the opportunity to try your first box for just £5.99! That’s less than half the usual price!

To get this fantastic deal, click HERE to go to the website and enter the code IA7K4 at checkout. You can cancel at any time, although once you have experienced the excitement of having a mystery parcel of products, I am certain you won’t want it to stop!

 

DISCLAIMER: I received my box for free in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t affect my opinions though and all views are my own genuine thoughts. I believe in honesty in all reviews and I would never say something was good if I didn’t believe that to be a true statement. 

 

September Degustabox …. A Whole Day of Healthiness

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I’m sure regular readers of my blog will know all about Degustabox by now, but in case you don’t, here’s a quick rundown. Degustabox is a monthly surprise food and drink subscription box which costs just £12.99 per month including delivery via DPD couriers. The products you receive are worth much more than that so it is fantastic value for money. It is a brilliant way of discovering new products and brands and encouraging you to try new flavours and recipes using the products. As you have no idea what you will receive each month, the excitement when the box arrives is huge! I am always really impatient to open mine instantly, but my son loves us to take it in turns reaching in and picking out an item at a time, which means if it arrives while he’s at school, I have to use every scrap of willpower I have to leave it untouched!

The September Degustabox was yet again packed with delicious products for the whole family. There were items to cover every part of the day, from meals to snacks and drinks. Let me show you what it contained.

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  • TEISSEIRE SIROP… I’m starting with my favourite product this month. This is a French cordial type of drink. I received the Sugar-Free Raspberry and Cranberry flavour but you can also get Pink Grapefruit, Lemon, and Grenadine varieties in the sugar-free range. You only need a tiny bit of the syrup to make a truly delicious drink. You can add it to still or sparkling water, or to cocktails. The fruity flavours are perfect, smooth and naturally sweet. I loved the aluminium packaging too. It gave it a really luxurious appearance, as did the silky thickness of the syrup. We all loved this drink and will be definitely buying this regularly now! The RRP is £2.99.

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  • HARTLEY’S NO ADDED SUGAR JELLY POTS … There were 4 of these jelly pots in the box, much to my son’s delight! I had Raspberry, Strawberry, Orange, and Tropical flavours. I am really conscious of the amount of sugar in so many products aimed at children, so these jellies are wonderful as they have no added sugar, and a lovely fruity taste. They are just the right size to fit in lunchboxes, and are perfect as an after school snack. The RRP of these is 50p per pot.

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  • GET FRUITY … I received one of these bars in a previous box but in a different flavour. This time I had Marvellous Mango, but you can also get Juicy Apricot, Orange and Ginger Bar, Moist Mixed Berry Bar, Scrumptious Strawberry Bar, Tangy Pineapple, Coconut and Lime Bar, and Radiant Raspberry Bar. Each bar contains pieces of real fruit and juice so carries the flavour perfectly. The fruit and juices are combined with gluten free oats and Virgin coconut oil to make a delicious snack bar, ideal for lunchboxes or on the go. I had mine as a quick breakfast on a rushed morning! The oats make them satisfying and stop any hunger pangs. The RRP is £1.

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  • CHIA BIA … I received a packet of whole chia seeds and a packet of milled (ground) seeds. Chia seeds are super healthy, packed with omega 3, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are perfect for adding to smoothies, yoghurt, porridge, salads, and in baking. Last month’s Degustabox contained Bircher muesli which introduced me to the joys of overnight oats. I’ve continued to make that for breakfast and have been adding some of the whole seeds to that. When the seeds absorb moisture they swell and go jelly-like but with a slight crunch (sounds revolting but it really isn’t I promise). I’ve loved that texture with the oats. If you prefer you can sprinkle them on just before serving so they stay super crunchy. The RRP of these is £1 per pack.

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  • CIRIO BORLOTTI BEANS … I love the Cirio brand, but had only had their tomato based products before. I have to confess I had never eaten a Borlotti bean until receiving them in this Degustabox. I received 3 cans of them so plenty of chances to experiment. The beans are picked, shelled and steam-cooked in their cans to maintain a tender texture. They are a great source of fibre, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates. In last month’s box I received some delicious Tobasco Barbecue sauce which I had used to make a barbeue chicken dish. I decided to make it again but to add some Borlotti beans, onion and pepper to the chicken in the sauce. My partner loved the beans so much he had a second helping! I used another can in a chilli con carne, but replaced the red kidney beans with Borlotti beans instead. That was delicious! I still have one can left but I will probably use them in another chilli as that was so good. The RRP of these beans is £1.89 for a pack of 3 cans.

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  • METCALFE’S POPCORN THINS … I have had these before and love them! They are available in dark or milk chocolate varieties. I received the milk chocolate which pleased my son as that is his favourite. They are kind of like a rice cake, except they use corn instead of rice. They are covered in a thick layer of Italian chocolate, and as you can imagine they taste soooo good. There are 2 thins in a pack. Again, perfect for lunchboxes (if your child’s school allows chocolate in them) or as a tasty snack anytime. The RRP is £1.

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  • EMILY FRUIT CRISPS … I received a packet of Crunchy Banana fruit crisps. When I opened the packet I thought they just looked like slices of dried banana so wasn’t overly excited to try them. When I did taste one though I realised they are much nicer than ordinary dried banana! These have the crunchiness of a crisp, rather than being just hard and dry, and they retain the banana flavour perfectly! Really full of sweet flavour. They have nothing added whatsoever, except a tiny bit of oil. The crunchy texture made them perfect to crumble up over yoghurt. The RRP is £1.75.

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  • SAY YES TO NO … I received a pack of Sour Cream and Onion Bread Chips. I love this brand and what they stand for. Say Yes to No means no added nasties and artificial flavourings, no false promises, no photoshopped images, no advertising lies, but yes to delicious chips. What you see is what you get, and I love that! These bread chips were scrummy. They tasted natural and were bursting with flavour. Perfect to eat as they are or with a dip. Or crumble up over salad. The RRP is £1.49.

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  • CAPE DRINKS … I received 2 cans of fruity sparkling drinks, Peach and Lychee, and Pineapple and Passion Fruit. These were amazing! So refreshing and light and fruity. They are made from Rooibos Tea, fruit juices, ginseng, natural botanical extracts, and added vitamins, and are packed with anti-oxidants. the peach and lychee was my favourite but both were beautiful. They contain only natural ingredients and have no refined sugar. Perfect for a healthy diet. The RRP is £1.59 per can.

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  • MRS CRIMBLE’S GLUTEN FREE PASTA WITH SAUCE … I love Mrs Crimble’s products. They are a fantastic brand for gluten-intolerant diets. I received Fusilli with a Gourmet Mushroom and Cream sauce. Sadly though I hate mushrooms, so couldn’t try this. I gave it to a friend who said she had it for lunch one day and it was beautiful. She said the sauce was delicious and she has recommended it to a friend who has to have a gluten free diet. The RRP is £1.99.

 

If you would like to try a Degustabox for yourself, click HERE to go to their website and enter the code BLDEG15 at checkout. This will give you a whopping £7 off the price of your first box, so your first box will be just £5.99! Absolute bargain. I hope you enjoy it!

 

DISCLAIMER: I recieved my box in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own. 

August Degustabox….. It’s All About the Taste

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I was very lucky with the August Degustabox. It arrived in the school holiday (obviously) which meant I could open it as soon as it arrived rather than having to wait until Luke gets home from school! Having a box of mystery food and drink goodies arrive and then not be able to open it for hours is soooooo difficult. The urge to see what is inside is just too much for my lack of willpower. I have to say, most of this month’s box was things I had never seen before so it was even more exciting to try them.

This box was packed full of strong flavours. Here’s what was in the August box…

 

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  • DORSET CEREALS BIRCHER MUESLI… I am familiar with Dorset Cereals and I love their muesli and granola. I have to admit though I had never heard of Bircher muesli so I had to Google it to see what is different. It was originally created by a Swiss doctor as a way to get his patients to eat something more nutritious, containing fruit. He had jaundice as a child and was convinced that apples had cured him of it, so used fresh apples in the original Bircher muesli. What sets it apart from normal muesli is that Bircher muesli is soaked overnight in fruit juice. This makes it so much easier to eat if you are in a rush in the morning. Sometimes it can feel like you’re chewing normal muesli forever, but Bircher muesli is lovely and creamy so easier to digest. This one comes with raisins, raspberries, blackcurrants and apple in it, and soaking them overnight made them lovely and juicy. I mixed 50g of the muesli with 70ml of apple juice as advised on the box, covered it and left it overnight to soak. The next morning I added 50g of low-fat vanilla yoghurt, mixed it together and thoroughly enjoyed it! I have a lot of friends who are actively trying to lose weight and they all keep talking about the wonders of overnight oats. Now I can see why they all love this breakfast so much! It is creamy, full of flavour, and keeps you full for hours! And it is so handy being able to make it the night before. This is a breakfast I will definitely be continuing to have. The RRP of this box is £3.49.

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  • GET MORE DRINKS…. I had never heard of this brand before but will definitely be looking out for this again! Get More are a range of spring water drinks made with natural flavours, and fortified with vitamins and minerals to give your body everything it needs to stay healthy. There are 6 to choose from…. Get More Minerals is a still cranberry and pomegranate drink which gives you extra potassium, magnesium and calcium; Get More Vitamin A is a sparkling blackcurrant and blueberry drink which gives you 50% of your RDA of vitamin A per bottle; Get More Vitamin B is a still apple and raspberry drink which gives you 100% of your RDA of vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12; Get More Vitamin C is a sparkling orange drink that gives you 200% of your RDA of vitamin C, perfect for boosting your immune system; Get More Vitamin D is a still mango and passionfruit drink giving you 200% of your RDA of vitamin D and 15% of your calcium RDA, ideal for the winter months when you don’t absorb so much vitamin D from the sun; and finally Get More Multivitamins which is a sparkling lemon and lime drink that gives you 100% of your RDA of all the B and C vitamins and 25% of zinc and magnesium. This is the one that I had. I absolutely loved it! It tasted like lemonade rather than spring water and was extremely refreshing and delicious. These drinks have no added sugar and are made using natural flavours. They also do a range for children called A Little More Drinks. These are Vitamin D (mango, with 100% RDA), Vitamin C (orange, with 100% RDA), and Multivitamins (apple, with 60% RDA). A definite regular future purchase for my household! The RRP is £1.45.

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  • MAHOU CINCO ESTRELLAS…. My other half Del was very happy to see a bottle of lager in the box. This is a premium Spanish lager, first produced in 1891, and is now Spain’s number one beer brand. Del had enjoyed this lager before while on holiday so was keen to get it in the fridge quickly to chill it to perfect drinking temperature! I used to have a day job and an evening/weekend job, and my evening job was as a barmaid. I learnt what a perfect drink should look like (colour, depth of the head, how clear it should be etc) and this lager ticked all the boxes. Del said it was smooth with a perfect flavour, with an alcoholic volume of 5.5%.  The RRP is £1.20.

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  • FENTIMANS SPARKLING LIME AND JASMINE… I love Fentimans Drinks but had never seen this flavour before, so was really excited to try it. I love the little bottles these drinks come in. Everything about them says quality. I have to say though I personally wasn’t a huge fan of this flavour to begin with. It was absolutely jam-packed with lime which was so bitter it made my eyes water. After it had gone down though the aftertaste was really refreshing. I drank some more and Del laughed at the faces I pulled as I drank it, as the bitterness really is sharp! I gave the rest of it to him to finish, and after an initial eye twitch he gulped it down and thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the aftertaste but my tastebuds found the acidity too much as I drank it. I think most people would really enjoy it though and I know lots of people love sour/bitter products. The RRP is £1.20.

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  • TABASCO SWEET AND STICKY BARBECUE SAUCE AND MARINADE… This little beauty was my personal favourite product this month. The bottle suggests trying it on chicken wings or pizza. I usually only use barbecue sauce for pulled pork or ribs, but this time I tried something slightly different but extremely simple. I put 4 chicken breasts in an ovenproof dish and poured the contents of the bottle over them. I mixed them to make sure they were completely coated, put the lid on the dish and then left them to marinate for an hour. I cooked them in the oven at 170C for 30 minutes, then removed the lid, basted with the sauce and cooked for a further 15 minutes. I served them with a salad and spicy potato wedges and poured the leftover sauce over them. Stupidly I forgot to take a photo, but this was absolutely delicious. There was one chicken breast left over which I was going to slice up cold for a wrap for lunch next day, but Del enjoyed the meal so much he ate that one too!! This sauce is just perfect. It is mild but does have a very slight kick to it, which was fab! It is lovely and sweet and so full of flavour. I will definitely be buying this again! In fact Del said he could eat that chicken every day! I’m looking forward to getting more to try it in different ways too though. The RRP is £1.99.

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  • CLIPPER LIME AND GINGER GREEN TEA… I love everything about Clipper tea. The eye-catching packaging, the unbleached tea bags, the way they are foil-wrapped for freshness, the range of flavours, and the fact they are Fairtrade. I had never tried this flavour before though. I am conscious that I drink too much coffee so this was the perfect chance to try a new tea that would give me the energy boost I usually get from my caffeine fix. The instructions on the box said boil the water and let it pour over the tea bag while it is still boiling, then leave to brew for a few minutes. My kettle is one that lets you boil water at the perfect temperature for each type of hot drink, and the green tea setting is 80C, so that is what I did. I loved this tea! The flavours of lime and ginger were perfect, not too strong yet not too subtle, and I instantly felt refreshed and ready for the day. I will try more of the flavours that Clipper produce now too, as this was so good. The RRP is £1.59.

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  • NUTRIPOT…. I received 2 different pots to try, Moroccan Couscous, and Aromatic Thai Noodles. I didn’t try the noodles one as it contained mushrooms and I hate those with a passion! So Del had the noodles and I had the couscous. We both said they were very tasty, with lovely strong flavours. Apparently the noodles had a bit of a kick to them but not too much. These are ideal for people with little time to prepare lunch. Just add boiling water, stir and enjoy. What sets these apart from other dried noodle types of pots is the fact these contain 50% of all of the 28 vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. They contain no artificial nasties, no added sugar and are low in saturated fat. The RRP is £2.49 per pot.

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  • CAPSICANA CHILLI AND HONEY MEXICAN COOK SAUCE… I love Mexican food so was excited to see this sauce. Capsicana make a range of Latin American inspired flavoured sauces. You can also get Chilli and Garlic Mexican, Chilli and Lemon Peruvian, or Chilli and Coconut Brazilian. This chilli and honey one was gorgeous! I followed the recipe suggestion on the back of the packet, adding it to chopped onion, sliced green pepper and chicken strips, and then served it with tortillas and melted cheese. It has a slight kick to it but it is still mild. the flavours were just amazing. I will definitely buy this again too. It is perfect for people who don’t have hours to spare on cooking, as it only takes 20 minutes maximum, yet produces a really delicious satisfying meal. The RRP is £1.99.

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  • RAKUSENS SNACKERS… I received two packets of these mini crackers, one was plain and one was gluten-free. They looked really cute, with lovely little shapes, and they tasted just as you would expect a cracker to taste. We ate them with a range of different toppings including cream cheese and houmous, and we all enjoyed them. The gluten-free ones tasted no different to the plain, which was great. Each cracker has just 7 calories in, so you don’t need to feel guilty having a snack of a few of these. The RRP of the plain ones is £1.29 and the gluten-free are £1.49.

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  • GEETA’S…. I received 3 products from this brand, Tikka Curry Paste, Rogan Josh Curry Paste, and Premium Mango Chutney. Geeta’s is a well-known brand and I have tried these before. I always buy this mango chutney so I knew exactly what to expect with these. The curry pastes contain the perfect amount of spiciness and flavour, and are so easy to use, producing delicious curries very quickly. Del likes hot curries, so I just add a few extra spices for him. The mango chutney is lovely to use as a dip, and I use it when I make Coronation Chicken. The RRP of the pastes is £1 each, and the mango chutney is £1.39.

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  • OLOVES… I received a pack of Chili and Oregano natural green pitted olives. Unfortunately I can’t really comment on these as I detest olives. I gave them to a friend who adores them though and she said these were amazing. She loves them as a snack and she said she will definitely be buying these in the future. She said the flavours were beautiful. The RRP is £1 per pack.

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  • WILLY CHASE’S FIT CORN… The final item this month was this popcorn. I received the Salted Honey flavour which was absolutely scrumptious. You can also get Goats Cheese, Red Onion and Thyme, or Nearly Naked, or Chase Smoke Bloody Mary flavours. I’m glad I had the salted honey as it appeals to me most from this range. The blend of sweet and salty was perfect and the popcorn itself was beautifully light. They use honey from the bees in their own apple orchards and all other ingredients are locally sourced. I loved this and could easily have eaten the whole packet it one go, but luckily Luke helped me out by eating a huge amount too 🙂 The RRP is £2.19.

I really loved this month’s box. One of the biggest pleasures is trying new foods and drink, and Degustabox gives you lots of opportunities to do that. You can choose to not receive any alcohol if you prefer, and they will substitute it for another product. The normal price of this fantastic subscription box is £12.99 per month, and that price includes delivery via DPD. It really is incredible value for money, with the overall cost of the items you receive being worth around double the price you pay!

Just to show you how fantastic Degustabox is though, they are very kindly letting new subscribers try their first box for less than half price for just £5.99 including delivery! That’s a whopping saving of £7!

To get this wonderful offer, just go to their website HERE and enter the code BLDEG15 at the checkout, then sit back and wait for your first surprise box of yumminess to arrive. Enjoy!

Degustabox Review… A Savoury box

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My review of the October box is being typed on the day the November box is being delivered due to a problem with my laptop, now fixed. Phew!

September’s box had been a very sweet one, and the October one was by contrast rather savoury. But very yummy! There were a few items in this one that I had never heard of but will definitely be buying in future!

As I’m sure you know by now from my previous reviews, Degustabox is a fantastic monthly subscription box which delivers a surprise box full of delicious food and drink products, many of which you might not have tried before. It costs just £12.99 per month with DPD courier delivery included in the price, and the items generally add up to around double the cost of the box so you are getting an absolute bargain. They have very kindly given me a discount code for you to use to try them for yourself, but more about that later. First, let’s see what was in this box…

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  • 9 BAR …  I’m starting with my favourite. I had never seen these before and I had never tried carob either but I will definitely be getting these again. The packet contained 5 bars which were sooooooo tasty. They are high fibre seed bars covered in a carob topping. I actually really liked the carob, which is a chocolate alternative. These bars are brilliant for allergy sufferers as they are gluten, wheat, egg and yeast free. (They do contain soya and sesame though). They have an intriguing motto which is ‘Good Energy, Twice’. As well as providing the person who eats them with lots of energy, 9 Bar works closely with SolarAid who provide solar lights to families who would otherwise use dangerous kerosene lamps. Every 9 Bar that is sold gives a child in Africa a night of safe solar light. So as well as being good for you, you help someone less fortunate every time you buy one. Bonus! And did I mention how delicious they are? Amazing! The RRP is £ 2.49 for 5 bars.

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  • LORINA … Another new one for me. Lorina is a premium French lemonade which uses 100% natural ingredients, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. I received a coconut and lime flavour which was so refreshing. I drank most of the bottle chilled and really really enjoyed it. I thought it would also make a good mixer with a shot of rum, so tried that too (purely in the name of research of course… hic). It did. It has a beautiful taste, not too sweet like some lemonades can be. this might sound daft but you can taste the quality. Gorgeous, and another product I will be looking out for. The RRP is £1.49. Definitely worth every penny!

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  • CIRIO … There were 2 products to try from this brand, chopped tomatoes and passata. I buy the tomatoes regularly so knew exactly what they would be like. I must confess to not using passata much though. I used both in this tomato soup recipe and thoroughly enjoyed it. What I notice with Cirio chopped tomatoes compared to other brands is you don’t get so many of the hard stalky ends in there, which is great! Obviously these 2 items have a million and one recipes you can use them in, making them great store cupboard essentials. The RRP for both items together is £2.25.

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  • GEETA’S … Again, there were 2 products from this brand. A Korma curry paste and a lime and chilli chutney. We’re not huge lovers of korma in our house. We tend to find it a bit bland, so we weren’t greatly looking forward to trying this one. I have to confess though it was really tasty. It was very mild so my other half added a bit of heat to his, but I ate mine as it was and did enjoy it. The chutney, on the other hand, packs quite a punch! It does warn you on the jar that it is hot though. We ate some with poppadoms, and mixed some with a bit of salad dressing to spice up some salad leaves. Very tasty. The RRP for both products is £3.10.

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  • THE SNACK ORGANISATION … Another new brand for me, The Snack Organisation present a range of snack products. This was part of their rice cracker range. I received the Sweet Chilli crackers, but you can also get Lightly Salted or Teriyaki varieties. They had a nice little kick to them. Not enough to make your mouth numb but enough to warm your insides as you eat them. They are baked rather than fried, are gluten free and are suitable for vegetarians. They are the perfect snack for dipping, and I was really impressed with how many you get in the packet. Brilliant for when you have guests round. Equally impressive is the RRP of just £1, available in Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

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  • THE SNACK ORGANISATION…  I also received a product from their Freeze Dried Fruit range. I received the Apricot variety, but you can also get Strawberry, Apple or Pineapple. As you can see from the picture, the pieces are quite big, which was a nice surprise. What I most love about freeze dried fruit is the texture. It almost melts in your mouth after an initial crunch. I find normal dried apricots far too chewy but really enjoyed these. Freeze drying preserves all the nutrients and flavour too, making these a tasty healthy snack. There are no oils or artificial ingredients. In fact the ingredients list just says 100% apricot. They are perfect crumbled into porridge or yoghurt. They are gluten free and suitable for vegetarians, and 1 packet counts as one of your 5 a day portions. The RRP per pack is £1.
  • LIBERATION FOODS… I received Oven Baked Salted Cashews and Peanuts. Also available though are Oven Baked Chilli and Lime Cashews with Peanuts and Roasted Corn, or Oven Baked Mixed Peppercorn Peanuts with Cashews and Habas Fritas. Liberation Foods is a Fairtrade nut company which is largely owned by smallholder farmers in Africa, India and Latin America. Back to the product I received. I really don’t like salted nuts. I just don’t like salt, so these didn’t excite me too much. However my other half Del ate them and said they were delicious. They must have been judging by the speed he ate them!! I do feed him, honest! The RRP is £2.

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  • NUDIE SNACKS… These produce premium toasted coconut chips which are made from 100% natural ingredients. I received the Original and the Salt and Vinegar varieties, but you can also get Thai Sweet Chilli. I don’t know what I was expecting when I opened these. As they are snacks I was expecting bigger pieces. A lot of the pieces were tiny as they break so easily, so I’d say they are best used as an ingredient rather than as a snack. One of the packs does suggest trying in home baking, blending in smoothies, or sprinkling over cereal, fruit or desserts. The original variety was really delicious. Lovely and crunchy, with a beautiful strong coconut flavour. I was sad when the pack was finished. I feel bad saying this but the salt and vinegar one was just not nice. I really don’t think that flavour goes well with coconut. The recommendations for desserts etc were on that pack but I can’t see why anyone would put salt and vinegar products on a cake or cereal. None of us liked that pack so unfortunately it went in the bin. Don’t let that put you off trying the other flavours though. The original was very very good and I will be looking out for that again. And that one would be amazing in baking or sprinkled over fruit! The RRP per pack is £1.29.

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  • CHIP STRIPS… These were delicious! They are a newly launched product which gives long strips of potato snacks in a range of 10 flavours. They are the perfect shape for dipping or just eating as they are. I received 2 packs, Sweet Paprika and Sour Cream and Onion. They were both packed with flavour and very tasty. The other flavours are Simply Sea Salt, Cheese and Onion, Bacon and Onion, Smokey BBQ, Tangy Ketchup, Sea Salt and Vinegar, Chilli and Paprika, and Wasabi. I will definitely be looking out for these in store. The RRP is £1 per pack, which is great value as you get loads!

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  • PRÉSIDENT… As Degustabox does not store or send chilled products, they sent a full price voucher for this butter, which I used immediately in my local Tesco. I have used Président butter before and find it to be very light and fresh tasting. I used this one in cakes and found it easy to work with and made a lovely textured and tasting cake. It is important for me when baking that I use only the best ingredients, and this butter is up on that list. The RRP is £2.

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  • KABUTO NOODLES… Last but by no means least was this absolutely delicious pot of Chicken Ramen noodles. I thought it would be like a Pot Noodle (which I’m not a fan of) but then I saw the ingredients and thought it would be like a posh Pot Noodle. It had chicken, ginger, chilli, coriander and spring onion and lovely fine noodles. Lots of them! I added hot water and waited as the instructions told me to do, and the smell was mouth watering. It was a gorgeous warming lunch one cold day, and I will definitely be buying this in future. I’m a sucker for quirky advertising and packaging so loved the fact that the instructions are written for Samurai warriors with a nice touch of humour. I also liked the way the barcode was made to look like noodles on chopsticks. Little things like this please me 🙂 There are lots of other flavours available… Beef Pho, Miso Ramen, Chilli Chicken Ramen, Prawn Tom Yum, Chicken Laksa, Chicken Pho, Vegetable Laksa, Thai Red Vegetable Curry, and Thai Green Chicken Curry. The RRP is £1.99.

What a lovely box that was! The recommended total price of that box was almost £23, but they only charge £12.99 including postage! But as an extra bonus, they have given me a huge £6 discount code for you to use so you can try a box for only £6.99 including delivery!

To take advantage of this amazing offer, enter the code BLDEG15 at the checkout by clicking HERE to go to their site. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think of them. I’m sure you’ll be delighted 🙂

 

I was kindly sent this box to review. All opinions are my own and are honest throughout. 

Sweet Surprises… Degustabox – Review of September Box

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I was very lucky to again be sent a yummy Degustabox to review on my blog. I loved the one I had received in August so was very excited to see what would be in the September box. Well it was even better than the month before. I’m a bit late putting the review up… preparation for an operation I had recently left me behind on things, but I’ve caught up now 🙂

If you didn’t see last month’s review, Degustabox is a monthly subscription box full of food and drink surprises, many of which you might not normally come across on your weekly shopping trips. It usually costs £12.99 per month, but the very lovely people who create these amazing boxes have kindly given me an extra special treat for you all. More on that at the end. The products are worth more than the cost per month, and delivery via DPD is included in the price! Well worth trying!!

So what did I get in the September box? I’ll show you…

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  • REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS x 2… I have to admit I had never tried these before but have heard people say how yummy they are. I was sent 2 packs which each had 3 cups in. If you’ve never tried them, they are basically peanut butter covered with Hershey’s chocolate. I love peanut butter, I love chocolate, so I loved these! I even used them to make a peanut butter and jelly cheesecake which was AMAZING, even if I do say so myself. The RRP for these is 85p per pack. My verdict is 10/10.

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  • UP & GO x 2… Another new product for me. These are breakfast drinks very much like milkshakes, ideal for busy days when you don’t have time to sit down to eat breakfast. You can just grab one and drink it on your way out. One of these contains the same amount of protein, fibre and calcium as a bowl of bran flakes with milk, and is fortified with vitamins and minerals. They are low in fat and made with wholegrain oat flour, so you feel satisfied after drinking one. I was sent 2 flavours to try, chocolate and vanilla. The vanilla one is now a regular purchase for me, I loved it so much. They were both delicious but the vanilla one was my favourite. It tastes like custard! Mmmmmmmmm! The RRP of these is £1.39 each, although I did find them in Sainsburys for £1 each not long ago. Definitely a 10/10 from me.

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  • MALLOW AND MARSH… I received a pack of 3 huge fluffy raspberry marshmallows and these were the first things we tried from the box. There are 3 of us in our house so we agreed we would have one each. These are absolutely divine! They are the softest fluffiest marshmallows i have ever tasted, made with real raspberries so the taste was amazing. They are not overly sweet like some marshmallows can be as they are 100% natural. Just perfect. I would love to use these in some recipes, but then again they are too good to mess with. Gorgeous! RRP is £2. My verdict is a huge 10/10.

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  • MAYNARDS WINE GUMS… Carrying on the sweet theme this month with these wine gums. Everyone I know always goes for the red and black sweets in packets. The poor old yellow and green ones get left behind. Well Maynards have solved the problem by bringing out packs of just the blackcurrant and strawberry ones. Hooray! I tried a couple and loved them. The packet then disappeared into my Other Half’s work van, never to be seen again. The RRP is £1.50. My verdict is 9/10.
  • BASSETTS JELLY BABIES…. Like Maynards, Bassetts have realised most people prefer the berry flavours, so have brought out a packet containing just the blackcurrant, raspberry and strawberry ones. We love Jelly Babies in our house so these disappeared very quickly. I used some to make these cookies before they all went though. Another yummy idea to use these with is a lot more grown up. Place some in a bowl, cover with vodka, and leave for at least 12 hours. The Jelly Babies absorb the vodka and you are left with very boozy babies. That doesn’t sound at all right… I mean the jelly kind! They’re a bit fiddly to pick up as they go slippery, so grab a spoon and try one. Remember though, they are then full of alcohol and yes, you can get drunk on them!!! The RRP is £1.50. My verdict is 10/10.

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  • PORTLEBAY POPCORN… I was sent 2 flavours to try, cappuccino and sweet & salty. These are hand popped in Devon using rapeseed oil and unrefined raw cane sugar. I love popcorn so did enjoy these. There was just the right balance of flavour and the perfect amount of crunchiness. The sweet and salty was my favourite of these 2 flavours. Very tasty. The RRP is £1 per pack. My verdict is 8/10.

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  • TG GREEN TEA… I was sent 2 flavours of these to try; Ginseng, and Mandarin and Ginseng. With only 30 calories in a bottle these are great for people on calorie-controlled diets. They are low in sugar but high in flavour. I really enjoyed these. Extremely refreshing and I felt revitalised after drinking them. I will definitely be looking out for these in shops, especially the mandarin one. The RRP is £1.80 per bottle. My verdict is 10/10.
  • SWEET SALLY TEA… This Winter Spice flavour tea is absolutely delicious. It is perfect for these Autumn days. It is made using Ceylon black tea, Spanish oranges, Sicilian lemons, organic sugar, cinnamon and cloves. You can imagine from that list how good it smells too! Thoroughly enjoyed this. It would be great to use in tea loaf recipes too! The RRP is £2.40. My verdict is 10/10.

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  • THE GOOD CIDER OF SAN SEBASTIAN… I received 2 flavours to try, apple and pear. My Other Half was very excited to see these as he loves cider but had never heard of these ones. I had a sip of each while he drank the rest. I preferred the pear but he preferred the apple. These Craft Ciders are also available in peach, and wild berries flavours. Del said they were very refreshing with a perfect flavour. The RRP is £1.50 each. Our joint verdict is 10/10.

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  • COMPETE ENERGY BITES… I was a bit dubious about these at first. I’ve tried so-called energy drinks before and have felt no difference in energy levels, so was expecting the same from these. I tried one in the days leading up to my operation when I needed extra energy to keep me going while I was running round getting everything sorted for a stress-free recovery when I came home. I have to say, I was impressed! They are mocha flavoured square chocolates, and you get 6 in a pack. They are individually sealed so no worries about having to use them all within a set timeframe. There are 44 calories per chocolate, and one chocolate gives you the equivalent amount of caffeine as one large premium coffee, or 135mg of caffeine to be precise. The packet contains lots of advice about recommended use, and warns that these are not for children or pregnant women. They recommend 1 chocolate for moderate energy or 2 for maximum effect. I had one and I actually felt the benefit! It gave me the boost I needed to get everything done when I was starting to feel tired. The RRP is £4.49 per pack of 6. My verdict is 9/10.

As you can see from everything I received you get a lot of products for the price. £12.99 is very tempting for all of this isn’t it? Well as I said earlier, I have been given an amazing deal to offer to you. In last month’s review I was able to offer you a discount of £3 off your first box. The lovely Degustabox folk decided that they could go better than that too! So how does £6 off your first box sound??? Fantastic I know!

All you have to do to take advantage of this brilliant discount is click HERE to register, and enter the code BLDEG15 in the payment option section. You’ll then receive your first box for just £6.99 including delivery! What a bargain!!

I would love to hear what you think of it if you do sign up, so let me know 🙂