When I was invited to attend Valley Fest as a guest of Weleda I jumped at the chance. Valley Fest is based within the Chew Valley Lakes, Chew Magna to be exact, which is only a 30 minute drive from mine. It’s nice to be able to attend an event that’s a little more local to me, rather than having to spend half the day travelling. Valley Fest is a festival of “food, music and fun” – and really is in the most gorgeous location. When I saw the tents pitched up overlooking the Chew Magna Lake, it made me regret not camping. Just imagine waking up to these views. Absolutely breathtaking.

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We arrived at Valley Fest at 10am and made our way to the Weleda tents to say hello to the girls. I’d already met Naomi and Sophie at the Bristol Bloggers Meet so it was nice to see some familiar faces. I also met Carol who was going to be giving me my Weleda Skin Food Facial later that day.

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Before we did anything else, it was straight to Pukka for a cup of tea. They had so many on offer and they were so affordable. I know “it’s only tea” but Jess and I expected them to be around £3 each considering it was a festival yet they were only £1. They were also selling their eco-cups for £10 which included free tea for the entire weekend. I tried the Supreme Matcha Green Tea and fell in love and Jess had the Mint Refresh which is now a firm favourite of hers.

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There was so much going on when we looked around. Zumba at the “Lake Stage”, a Circus Workshop at “The Yard”, Chicken Run showing at “The Flicks” and a Baby Massage Class at Weleda. There was something for everyone. We had a wander around the various retail tents, selling everything from clothing, to incense, to handmade mosaic ornaments. But before we knew it, it was time to head back to Weleda for our Skin Food Facials.

Skin Food is Weleda’s signature product – it’s “a universal saviour of dry, rough skin” with “extracts of gentle viola tricolour, calendula and chamomile”. Skin Food is full of High Quality, Natural Ingredients. The facial was based around this product – starting with a aromatic rosemary compress to awaken my tired looking skin and moving on to a cleanse to remove any excess make-up. This was followed by a relaxing facial massage. I completely forgot that I was in a tent in the middle of a field, I could have been anywhere. The Skin Food was then used as a mask before the facial was finished with a lavender compress.

I’ve been using the Weleda Skin Food since the Bristol Bloggers Meet over a year ago – yet I’d never thought of using it as a mask. Which is definitely something I’m going to try at home with my sample that was given to me after the facial. My skin felt amazing immediately afterwards and I let the oils continue working their magic for the rest of the day. But more importantly I felt well and truly relaxed. And hungry of course, so it was time to find lunch.

Jess went for a Quesadilla from The Mexican Kitchen and I had a Vegetarian Curry from the Yeo Valley Canteen. For dessert we both had Eton Mess, again from the Yeo Valley Canteen. And I couldn’t resist one of their Gluten Free Brownies – divine. Again I was so impressed with the value of the food compared to other festivals. My curry was around £5 and it was a giant portion, the brownie was £1.5o and the Eton Mess £2.50. It was then time to head back to Pukka for a final cup of tea before leaving Valley Fest.

We had such a lovely day at the festival. We really didn’t want to leave. The atmosphere, the views, the food – everything was perfect. Not forgetting the wonderful facial from Weleda. That made the day for us. Thank you Weleda, and Valley Fest for having us.

Have you been to Valley Fest or anything like this before? I’d love to go again.

Until next time,

Ami Rose Blog Bristol Blogger Signature

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Collaborative post. As always, opinions are 100% my own. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

As you walk towards the busy Bristol Waterfront, opposite the fountains and the Bristol Hippodrome you will find Aluna. A Bar and Restaurant priding themselves on providing a truly unique experience. We headed to the Bar Entrance and were met with a thriving yet relaxed atmosphere. It seemed the perfect place to let off steam from a manic week.

We were shown through to our cosy table, tucked away in the corner of the restaurant. I honestly couldn’t get over the gorgeous, unusual design of Aluna. I was definitely taking tips for my own interiors. The velvet seats were so comfortable and the lighting was perfect, giving it that much needed relaxed atmosphere. The walls are filled with copper/golden mirrors and old-fashioned prints. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before so it’s hard to describe. You’ll just have to go and see for yourself.

Aluna Bristol Review

Aluna Bristol Review

Aluna Bristol Review

After reading through the extensive menu we settled on our first drinks. Sam had the Lava Lamp, an orange based cocktail and I went for the Raspberry Sling from the Mocktail menu. The mixologists really live up to their name of ‘Social Scientists’. Sam’s Lava Lamp cocktail arrived bubbling away, like its name would suggest, and stayed that way for a good 15 minutes. Absolutely fascinating to someone like me that doesn’t have a clue how these things work. My Raspberry Sling was divine, it was a sweet, but mildly bitter homemade lemonade.

Whilst we were enjoying our cocktails, we browsed the menu and decided on our food. There was a vast menu, with things from pasta dishes, to burgers, to Thai curry and Lobster to choose from. There was plenty of choice on the Asian and European inspired menu. Even for a fussy vegetarian like myself. I chose the Bruschetta Pomadoro to start and Sam had Nachos topped with chicken. Although I was tempted to ask for a vegetarian version of the Nachos which I’m sure they would have done but I always get Nachos so I thought I’d try something different. I was pleased I did, the Bruschetta was lovely, a perfect combination of flavours with the tomatoes, rocket and olive oil. But I must say the couple of Nachos I stole from Sam’s plate were pretty good too.

Aluna Bristol Review

Aluna Bristol Review

For our mains, I had a tough choice between the Thai Vegetable Curry and the Jerk Vegetable Wrap. I chose the latter but swapped my chips for sweet potato fries [of course]. Sam had the Aluna Burger but was tempted by the Lobster. My wrap was thoroughly enjoyable considering some of the fillings were those that I wouldn’t usually go for, such as courgettes and olives. The only thing I would say is that it wasn’t very spicy, which is ideal if you’re not too keen on spicy foods. But I would have liked a bit more of a kick to mine. The sweet potato fries were divine, they made the meal for me.

Aluna Bristol Review

Aluna Bristol Review

We were both absolutely stuffed, but in true us style, we couldn’t resist dessert. Especially where chocolate brownies and cheesecake are concerned. Sam and I are almost identical with our dessert choices which is strange considering we’re polar opposites when it comes to most other foods. Both cheesecake and chocolate brownie are our favourites so we just had to order both and go halves on each. And oh my they were gorgeous.  My mouth is watering thinking of that chocolate brownie, absolutely delicious, melt in the mouth, rich chocolate. But if I thought that was dreamy, the cheesecake was even better. A perfect creamy cheesecake, with the perfect crunchy base and a bittersweet mango topping.

It was time for one last cocktail before heading home. Sam wanted to try the Aluna Secret Concoction as he was told this one was set on fire. I had the Mixed Berry Mojito, again from the Mocktails menu. Honestly who needs alcohol when the mocktails taste this divine? The Aluna Secret Concoction lived up to expectations and filled the restaurant with fire as it was bought over to our table. I tried to get a photo but it all happened so quickly. This one smelt of roasted marshmallows and tasted like strawberry milkshake apparently. Different to any cocktail Sam had ever had before, he was really fond of this one.

One of the main things worth noting about Aluna is the price. Aluna has the looks and feels of quite a luxury restaurant. The atmosphere is wonderful – despite it being Saturday night, their busiest time of the week, we were really able to sit back and relax. And the staff were second to none. All of this considered, I was more than impressed with the prices at Aluna. My wrap was only £9.95 and Sam’s burger was £11.95. Desserts started from £4.95 and starters the same. They even have a 2-course lunch menu for just £9.95 so I’ll definitely be going back to try some of the other things on the menu.

Have you eaten at Aluna before? Would you pick any of the foods/drinks we tried?

Until next time,

Ami Rose Blog Bristol Blogger Signature

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Collaborative post. As always, opinions are 100% my own. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

The Blogging Blues - Where Have I Been?

I’ve been “blogging” for over 10 years now. Crazy crazy. And in that time, I’ve probably given myself around a year off. I blogged through secondary school, sixth form, university and now into my adult years. Definitely still not accepting adulthood quite yet though. My life, from age 14, has all been put online somewhere. The rebellious 14-year-old having her first taste of alcohol, the smitten 16-year-old when I met my now fiancé, the confused 18-year-old with not a clue what to do with her life, the 21-year-old graduate that’s probably never going to use her degree, the 24-year-old learning how to use a washing machine in her first house. It’s there, somewhere.

Blogging has been a massive part of my life, and even when I’m not posting consistently, behind the scenes I’m spending my days planning ideas and taking photos for future content.  I’ve even got a list on my phone of over 300 post ideas I want to write. I can never imagine blogging not being part of my life. Even when it becomes obsolete, I’ll still be here rambling away on my little place of the Internet. I’m sure of it.

2017 has been manic. You have no idea how relaxed I feel sitting down to write. I haven’t been able to do this in what seems like forever. But before I veer off in a tangent – in January Sam and I bought our first house together. A major renovation project because quite honestly, that’s all we could afford. For three months, we spent every spare second working on the house. Every. single. one. Whilst still working full time. It was hard, but we did it, and we’re now living in the house, finally. Although it’s still a building site and there’s still so so so much to do.

Sam and I work for ourselves and work has been crazy. I’m actually writing a post on ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Working For Yourself’ because I must get told I’m lucky almost daily. I am. But I don’t think people quite understand how much of a hard graft it is keeping a business running smoothly, especially as we now have a house to pay for. It’s stressful. It’s hard. But yes, it’s rewarding.

On top of a crazy crazy home life and a crazy crazy work life. My laptop decided to finally give up. And then the Internet. I’m still not used to this laptop, and I think I must be deleting more words than I’m writing as I don’t know where the keys are yet. I am absolutely useless with technology.

I’ve had a serious case of the “blogging blues”. I’ve been comparing myself to others, my writing, my photography, myself as a person. I’ve wanted to get back in to regularly posting for so long but every post I write just doesn’t seem good enough. I hate every photo I take. My posts are too short, too long, too chatty. There’s not enough photos, too many photos. I thought after 10 years of blogging I’d be over this by now?

I lost the love for blogging, I was writing because I felt I needed to, I was accepting products and collaborations for the sake of it. I was forcing myself to write when the creativity didn’t flow. I forgot why I started. I didn’t start for the freebies, the views, the followers. When I started, Facebook didn’t even exist, yet alone Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and all the other social medias that dishearten me when comparing myself to others. I wrote for me. Because I enjoyed writing.

I think I’ve been spending so much time worrying about what other people will like, what will make me look good, what will make me stand out, how to gain followers, how to improve my writing style, my photos, my content, that I’d forgotten what’s important. I’d forgotten why I started.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve taken time for me. To spend time with the people I love. To do the things I enjoy. To sort my life out. To start exercising instead of complaining about the stone I’ve put on. To have my hair done instead of moaning that I hate it. And most importantly, write. I was starting to hate the person I’d turned in to. I’d turned into one of those people moaning about life, whilst sitting on their arse and doing nothing whatsoever about it. That isn’t me.

800 words later I think I’ve managed to say what I wanted to say in this post. I’ve rambled a lot when all I really wanted to say is that I’m back. And as cliché as it sounds – I am going to be the best version of myself I can possibly be. I’ve declined collaborations that I either don’t have time for, or I don’t feel I’ll 100% love. And I’m going to really start focusing on the things I do love. Baking every sugar filled treat I can possibly think of. My Manicure Mondays. Exploring. Skincare. Pamper sessions. Because you can really tell the difference between the posts I love writing, and the ones I’ve struggled to find the words for. I’m going to take my blog back to something I enjoy spending my evenings doing. And I hope you start enjoying reading it again too.

I’m going to leave it there. I’ve already written way more than I intended and I’ll end up writing another 800 words if I’m not careful.

Have you ever hit a blogging slump like this? What did you do to get back on track?

Until next time,

Ami Rose Blog Bristol Blogger Signature

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And we’re on to part two of my Vegetarian Meal Ideas series. I’m literally [hate myself for using that word] going to take photos of everything I make and try to get all the recipes live for you. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m cooking so much more recently and really starting to enjoy it. Vegetarian Chilli is something I regularly order when I go out to eat, it’s one of my favourites. I thought I’d attempt my own version, and my gosh, as much as I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, it was the best one I’d ever had. I posted the photo on Twitter and so many of you asked for the recipe I though I just had to post it. Although I’m my own worst critic and hate this photo of it. I’m sure I’ll come back and change it soon enough.

Vegetarian Chilli Vegetarian Meal Ideas

Ingredients:

Serves 4

1 yellow pepper [diced]

1 large red onion [diced]

1 clove garlic [finely diced]

1 tin mixed bean salad [I buy this at Tesco]

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 red chilli [finely chopped]

1 green chilli [finely chopped]

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp cumin

Chilli powder to taste

Rice/grains to serve

Method:

Preparation: 10 minutes | Cooking: 

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Add the diced pepper and onion and simmer on a low heat for around 10 minutes until starting to soften.

2. Prepare and start to cook your rice/grains before continuing with the chilli. I accompanied my chilli with Tricolour Quinoa on this occasion.

3. Add the tinned tomatoes, beans, chilli, garlic, spices and everything else to the pan with the peppers and onions. Cook on a low heat for around 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce starts to thicken. You may need to add a little boiling water at this point if the sauce thickens too quickly.

4. Add any more spices/flavours/salt/pepper to taste. You may want to add chilli powder or extra herbs such as coriander.

Enjoy…

There really isn’t much to this recipe at all. I know cooking from scratch can seem a little daunting at first but it’s really a case of putting everything in a pan and hoping for the best. And a bit of trial and error of course. I’ve been told that dried/fresh coriander is a nice addition to this dish but I personally couldn’t think of anything worse. But it’s all down to personal preference. Depending on the strength of your chillies, this dish is already quite hot, but there’s the option of adding chilli powder if necessary. I usually add mine to my personal portion as I like a lot of spice. The paprika gives this a lovely smokey flavour, the cinnamon makes it sweet and chilli makes it hot, such a perfect combination. In my opinion anyway.

Please send me photos if you have a go at making this Vegetarian Chilli, I’d love to see them.

Until next time,

Ami Rose Blog Bristol Blogger Signature

Be sure to follow me on social media to keep up to date with my latest posts!

Since moving into my new house [I know I know, I still need to get the after photos live] I’ve been doing so much cooking. And really starting to enjoy it again. To begin with it felt like a bit of a chore, but now I’ve got into more of a routine, and my cupboards are usually fully stocked, I’m really loving it. I’m sure I have a similar recipe on my blog, but this Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry is one of my favourites. I posted this photo of it on Twitter and a couple of you asked for the recipe. So without further ado, here’s an easy, made from scratch, Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry. Of course you’re welcome to use the pre-made sauce jars to make it even easier.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry

Ingredients:

Serves 4

1 large red onion [finely chopped]

2 cloves of garlic

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 green chilli [finely chopped]

1/2 red chilli [finely chopped]

1/2 pint of water

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp cumin

A pinch of cinamon

1 yellow pepper [diced]

2 large sweet potatoes [diced]

1/2 can of chickpeas [drained]

A handful of chopped herbs

Rice/quinoa/grains to serve

Chilli powder to taste

Method:

Preparation: 10 minutes | Cooking: 30 minutes

1. Place diced sweet potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring it to the boil. Then leave to simmer and soften for around 10-15 minutes, whilst you’re preparing the sauce/other vegetables.

2. Whilst your sweet potatoes are cooking. Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a large pan. Then add your onions and peppers. Cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes until they start to soften.

3. Add your tinned tomatoes, garlic, chickpeas, chillies, and all other spices/herbs to your pan. You can be experimental with this bit. I don’t think I ever use the exact spices in any of my curries. Flavour to taste, adding chilli powder if you feel it needs an extra kick. It’ll all depend on the strength of the chillies (and how hot you like it). Drain the sweet potatoes and add them to the mixture.

4. Before you move onto the next step. Remember to start cooking your rice/grains so they’re ready at the same time as your curry. On this occasion I used long grain rice but I also accompany my curries/chillies with Tricolour Quinoa.

5. Cook on a low heat for around 15/20 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Adding the boiling water if required if you feel the sauce is thickening a little too much. I usually end up adding around 1/2 a pint of water in the cooking process. It makes the curry go further too.

Enjoy…

Cinnamon is one of my secret ingredients when it comes to hot curries/chilli etc. I find just adding a little [half a teaspoon] gives it that perfect initial sweetness. Ready for the spice from the chilli powder to kick in afterwards. Although I’ve marketed this curry as vegetarian as part of my vegetarian meal ideas series, it is also suitable for vegans. I sometimes add spinach to this curry which is a nice addition.

Have you made anything like this Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry before? Will you be giving this a go?

Until next time,

Ami Rose Blog Bristol Blogger Signature

Be sure to follow me on social media to keep up to date with my latest posts!