Beauty, Makeup, Product Reviews

Mermaids vs Unicorns Make-up Palette – Makeup Revolution

So  I woke up one Sunday and decided that it was reasonable to put on a full face of make-up (including lashes) to go and visit my friend and her family…

Not sure it was my best decision as her nephew asked why “all that stuff” was on my face… after contemplating explaining to him that it increased my confidence and psychologically made me feel better about myself, I decided that at 4 simple was best and told him it was face paint, which he automatically accepted.

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Escape Room Games, Judging Harshly, Uncategorized

Judging Harshly – Dungeon of Doom, Clue HQ Warrington

Another review for a Clue HQ Warrington escacpe room – this time for the Dungeon of Doom.

 

Time for us to do the last room that we hadn’t done at Clue HQ Warrington – until they open up the new one later this month that is!

From the Clue HQ website:

Your friend has been wrongly accused of murder, and sentenced to death. They are locked in the confines of a medieval dungeon and it’s up to you to break in and save them. Can you free your friend and escape the dungeon together before the guard patrols the area again. You’ve got 60 minutes or you’ll all be sentenced to the same fate.

One person is blindfolded and taken to a jail cell, and the other members of the group are trying to free them. We used an app to decide who would be the “murderer”, which ended up being me. As I was blindfolded and led away, I did wonder if the rest of the group would try to save me, or if they would just leave me to rot in my jail cell and go home!

Thankfully they decided to stay and help. As usual, I won’t give too much away, but it was slightly infuriating being able to hear the rest of the group discussing what they were doing but being unable to see or help them in any way. There was one point in the game when I wondered if I’d be stuck there for the whole 60minutes!

The puzzles were good, a nice variety. To keep with the dungeon theme, nothing was overly high tech, which I prefer. It means that less can go wrong, and they have to think a bit more about the puzzles. There was one particular puzzle that we argued over a little bit, but managed to solve it in the end.

 

Dungeon of Doom escape

I have to say, escaping this room felt very anti-climatic. Several of us were trying to solve a puzzle when a message appeared on the screen to say we were free, which confused us all. Turns out that one of the team had accidentally opened the lock we were trying to get the combination for and had solved the final puzzle! We were close to the end anyway, but that did make our escape much quicker. I think we would have perhaps only been another 5 minutes at most.

So, in summary – a good game, some quite good puzzles but nothing that stood out in particular. Slightly let down by flukey lock and accidental early escape. I’d still recommend it.

 

 

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Cakes, Chocolate, Food

Double Chocolate Brownies

It’s been a while since I’ve made brownies, and I’ve managed to misplace my “go to” brownie recipe which I loved. I don’t like nuts in my brownies so was delighted to come across a simple double chocolate brownie recipe with no nuts in sight. These were a massive hit with friends that visited, and I’ve had to make them another couple of times since then.

 

Ingredients:

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 115g butter/margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Pinch of salt
  • 115g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 140g plain flour
  • 100g white chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 170 deg C

Start off by putting the butter/margarine and broken up chocolate into a pan and heating until the butter and chocolate have melted. Allow this to cool.

While cooling, weigh out sugar and vanilla essence. Add this to the melted mixture and stir in.

Add the eggs (one at a time is probably best) to the mixture, ensuring they are fully combined. If mixture is too hot at this point then the eggs will cook – I have a feeling that brownies with scrambled egg is not a pleasant delicacy…

Once the eggs have been mixed in with the chocolate/sugar/butter mix, begin adding the flour and cocoa powder and stir in gradually. If you stir too quickly then flour goes everywhere and you have to clean up. Trust me, I’ve made this error so that you don’t have to.

The final thing to go into the mix is the white chocolate chips (or plain, or milk, or a mixture. It’s completely up to you). Give it a quick stir, and voila! The mix is done and it just needs cooking.

Pour the mixture into a greased or lined tin. I used foil backed parchment paper because it was all I had to hand, but if you grease the tin before you pour you should be ok. Hopefully your oven should be nice and warm by now, ready for the brownie mix. It needs to cook for about 35-40 minutes. The top should be just starting to crack a little bit.

Let it cool, then remove from tin and cut into individual pieces (or don’t, we won’t judge you).

The first and third time I made this, I added a topping before cutting it up. All I did was melt some white chocolate, and spread it over the top of the brownie before melting some dark chocolate and putting that over the white chocolate in lines. I just used a spoon, and melting too much dark chocolate in this version. Looks messy, tasted great.Brownies 8 topping

 

 

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Escape Room Games, Judging Harshly, Uncategorized

Judging Harshly – The Vault, Clue HQ Warrington

Another escape room review! This time The Vault room at Clue HQ Warrington. The location of this company is really handy, as it’s just around the corner from Warrington Central train station, and there’s parking nearby. We went on a Sunday and had no problem parking, though I’m not sure if that’s the case midweek.

Most escape rooms require no prior information. Everything you need to escape the room is inside the room. The Vault is a little bit different, as you are not only trying to escape, you’re trying to escape with as many casino chips as possible.

From the Clue HQ website:

You and your friends recently visited a casino owned by The National Bank of Money. Accusations have been made that their machines are fixed to give the house a higher advantage. They stole your money, and you’re going to get it back!

All of the casino’s chips are stored in the vault at The National Bank of Money. Your heist appears to be going smoothly until the security system comes back on! You’ve got 60 minutes to grab as much cash (in casino chips) as you can and escape!

To escape with all of the jackpot, you need to check out the website and do a bit of research before turning up. Everyone on our team checked out the website, and we managed to gleam some useful information.

The room was set up really well, and there were plenty of puzzles to keep us busy, including a few red herrings and a couple of well placed puns in the room that made us giggle. Overall, a pretty good room in my opinion. Everything seemed to work, which is always a plus!

 

But did we escape? We sure did! But sadly not with the jackpot. We had a quick look at the leaderboard before we left, and at the time of going, only one team had managed to get the jackpot. We all really enjoyed the room and it was fun trying to collect the chips.

 

Vault escape room

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Health, Judging Harshly, Product Reviews

Judging Harshly – Misfit Shine

Judging Harshly – Misfit Shine

I vowed that this year would be the year I became fitter. I’d been looking at activity monitors (aka overpriced pedometers) and had it narrowed down to a couple. I finally decided to get the Misfit Shine, because it was waterproof and I could go swimming with it. It also seemed very versatile as it can be worn on the wrist like a watch, or hooked onto socks/shoes (for cycling/running) or even worn as a necklace. I’d read lots of reviews and most of them were positive.

Before I purchased, I did some online research trying to get a decent price. It was retailing for about £75 on Amazon, around £55-60 on eBay (new) and £55 from Blacks. I ended up getting it for £49 from Tesco online and was able to pick it up the next day.

I excitedly opened up my new device. I liked the packaging of everything, although it could have been condensed. I felt like the instructions that came with the device were clear but not very in depth, and ended up looking for a manual online. I was really surprised at how lightweight the Shine was – I knew it wasn’t heavy, but I had expected something a little bit more substantial!

The first task was to open up the Shine device and put the battery in, which was simple enough. The next task was to sync up the device with the app. I have an android phone which is coming up to 2 years old. I looked for the app. It wasn’t there. A little bit of online digging showed that my phone wasn’t compatible with the Shine (it wasn’t easy to find this information out!) Luckily, my android tablet is slightly newer and I was able to download the app. Panic over, I hadn’t just spent £49 on something I wasn’t going to be able to use properly. Phew!

The final task was using it. The Shine measures your steps and lets you know how close you are to completing your daily goal (which is set up using the app). It has 12 lights around the edge of the Shine which light up. Normally, the lights are off, unless the device is ‘double tapped’. If 1/12 light up then you still have a long way to go, if 11/12 light up, then you’ve almost completed the goal for the day. These 12 lights also let you tell the time, which can take a bit of getting used to. Another feature of the Shine is that it can tell you how long you’ve slept, and how much of your sleep is ‘deep sleep’. When the Shine is synced up to the app you can get this information, along with detailed information of how many steps you’ve taken and distance traveled. If you go swimming or cycling with the Shine, you can tell the app, and it recalculates your calories and how close you are to your daily goal. I love that if I go for a swim in the morning before work then I’ve often nearly reached my daily goal! Since getting the device the activity options have increased and now also include tennis, soccer and basketball.

People have noticed the Shine on my wrist and commented on it, asking ‘what is it?’ It doesn’t look particularly watch-like, but seeing their amazement when it lights up to show the time is fun. All in all, it’s a handy little device and it’s interesting to see how far I’ve walked each day, and how many calories it thinks I’ve burned (which seems very high, but it takes into account the calories you burn naturally by just ‘being’ – so even if you spent the day sat completely still and the only activity you did was breathing it would still show you as having burned calories)

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. It’s nice and light, and doesn’t look out of place on your wrist. It’s a great sense of achievement when you hit the daily goal and can encourage you to walk a bit more.

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Events, Health, Manchester, Passing Judgement

Color Run Manchester 2015

It seems like aaaaages ago when we signed up for the Manchester Color Run. Don’t panic, I’ve not gone all American, that’s the way they spell it, even in the UK!

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Having never done anything like this, neither of us knew what to expect. We’d seen the pictures and videos and it all looked fun – but could it really be as fun as it looked? Or had they hired some fantastic actors for the videos and promo shots?

The actual event was so much more fun than I had expected. It’s amazing how quickly 5km goes when you’re getting covered in paint every so often.

The idea is pretty simple – a 5km route to walk/run/roll/hoop around (yes, we saw somebody hooping the course!) with 4 stations of colour in powdered form. Volunteers at each of the four stations throw paint at people as they pass through, covering the runners/walkers/rollers/hoopers in colour. At the end of the course the participants can stay for the afterparty, and get covered in even more coloured powder. The event raises money for charity, with the 2015 charity being NSPCC.

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A couple of weeks before the event we were sent our entry packs, which contained a white Tshirt, a headband, some temporary tattoo transfers, running number and safety pins and some vouchers from the sponsors, Ocean Spray and Original Source. The packs were also supposed to contain glittery face paint, but neither mine nor Emma’s packs did, which was a bit disappointing. We didn’t let it stop us though, and Emma’s face makeup was particularly stunning!

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We walked to the event, and were met with lots of other people wearing the white Color Run T-shirts. I was amazed at how many people were there, and recognised a few familiar faces. We lined up near the starting area, and after a little bit of waiting, we were off!

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The first paint area seemed to come along very quickly, and we enjoyed getting covered in yellow paint. It was a bit longer to the next area, which was blue, followed by pink and finally orange near the finish line. Water was distributed about halfway round the course which was great as it was quite a warm day. We may have stopped for a quick selfie after each of the colour stations… #don’tjudgeus!

IMG_4428At the finish line we were handed some more water and a packet of paint. There was a stage with loads of people bouncing around to the music so we headed in that direction, waiting for the fabled Color Burst from the stage, when everyone opens their paint packets and gets even more colourful! After this, we wandered around a bit more, and found the Original Source and Ocean Spray tents which were handing out free samples. After a delicious cranberry juice we found the metro tent who were taking photos and printing them out, which was a lovely souvenir.

They say the Colour Run is the happiest 5k on the planet – it certainly was a fun experience! I’d probably have to try another few 5ks before I could say for sure if it’s the happiest on the planet or not though. I had a great time and came away saying that I wanted to sign up for next year. Definitely an experience I would recommend to others – there’s no pressure to run it, lots of people take their time and go at their own pace. Everyone seems cheerful, and the paint makes the course seem to go quickly!

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Where’s the finish line?!

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Finished!!!

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Food, Health, Meal Planning, Passing Judgement, Product Reviews

Yoghurt maker review

I recently bought a yoghurt maker from Lakelands. It cost £19.99 and since I got it, I’ve used it about 10 times and it’s great.

You only need two teaspoons of yoghurt as a catalyst to make a whole litre so if you keep some back at the end of every batch you never have to buy yoghurt again.

You do need milk though. Any milk can be used but the easiest option is Uht milk as it has been pasturised already (heated and cooled in a specific way to eliminate bacteria) otherwise you have to do this yourself and it time consuming and (to me) more complicated than its worth.

I’ve also purchased some muslin cloth to strain the yoghurt. This makes it thicker and more the consistency of total yoghurt that the runnier natural or Greek style yoghurts you get in the supermarket.

There were a few options I found when looking for this yoghurt maker, including a £10 option from Wilkos. I ruled this one out because although the machine was cheaper, they advised you to use sachets of powder with milk to make the yoghurt and the packets were £2.50 each (plus milk) so overall it wasn’t as cost effective.

There were also other options that for example had several jars that you incubated at once however for me space is an issue so I wanted something more compact (and I got 4 smaller but ideally sized Tupperware tubs from wilkos to store the yoghurt in).

Admittedly I don’t eat flavoured yoghurt, I tend to eat plain yoghurt with fruit and honey or make my version of a yoghurt salad as a savoury option which I enjoy with spicy foods. So I can’t say weather this would be the right product for you if you’re looking to make flavoured yoghurt.

It’s definitely a good option for me though as its got no added sugars at all and I can make it to whatever texture I require using muslin cloth.

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