Swindon Designer Outlet Part 2

Swindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas Shopping

If you have read Swindon Designer Outlet Part 1, you will know that a couple of Saturday’s ago, myself and Jo went wild in the aisles and shopped until we dropped at McArthurGlen Swindon. And by dropped I mean, we both spent far too much money and promptly fell asleep on the train home. Our mission as part of The Gift Hunter Challenge was to find Christmas presents for three of our nearest and dearest. With the promise of The Cadbury Store, blogger (and personal!) favourite Yankee Candle and Ed’s Diner, and an eggnog latte or two, it sounded less like a challenge, and more like the perfectly indulgent girly afternoon out!

To fully embrace the Christmas spirit, I wore my snowflake jumper from Matalan* and subtly festive beret from Gallic Rooster*.

Swindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas ShoppingSwindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas ShoppingSwindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas Shopping

After a few hours browsing and admiring all of the lovely things, we made the difficult executive decision to head to Wagamama to have an in-depth discussion about Strictly Come Dancing what we wanted to purchase. Here are the items that are now patiently waiting under the tree.

Swindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas Shopping

The store I spent the most time and money in, and I’m not ashamed to say this, was Hornby. I am so ridiculously pleased with what I bought from the store and also, with the incredible customer service I received whilst there. Following advice from the very knowledgeable manager, James, I decided on what I wanted to buy for my dad, a life long model train fan. He often gets somewhat forgotten about at Christmas, his annual gift of a box of Liquorice Allsorts from every member of the family being hilarious to everyone but him, so I wanted to give the old boy something special this year. As soppy as it sounds, being able to give my dad the above gifts will be the highlight of my Christmas Day, especially as I am back to work on Boxing Day! I did blow over half of my budget in Hornby, but I don’t think any of the other recipients will mind.

Swindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas ShoppingSwindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas Shopping

My favourite auntie really loves Christmas and makes the whole family a small stocking every year full to the brim with small but uniquely personal gifts, which we open just before our Christmas dinner. It’s probably my favourite of our family traditions. To say thank you, I decided to put together a rather special stocking of treats just for her, including a gorgeous Bobbi Brown set from Cosmetic Company Store.

Swindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas Shopping Swindon Designer Outlet | McArthurGlen | Christmas Shopping

These two gifts are for one of my BFF’s. Although there are several specialist bag shops at the outlet, including Osprey London, Antler, Radley and Fiorelli, it was this gorgeous blue French Connection bag that caught my eye. I think it will make a perfectly casual but fun day bag. My friend has been super supportive this year, and as she is a fellow Yankee Candle obsessive, I couldn’t leave without popping in to purchase my last perfect present! I spent far too long choosing the most festive Yankee Candle from their vast selection, and I really hope I made the right choice. Just another 23 days to find out!

If all these goodies have got you in the mood for a little festive shopping, as a little Christmas gift from me to you, to get an extra 10% off during your trip to McArthurGlen, just click here!

Vx

Ask Her Friends November Panel

Ask Her Friends | She and Hem | November Panel

As members of the Ask Her Friends panel, every month we will be picking our favourite pieces from the Ask Her Friends website. This month we went a bit kitchen crazy and selected our items around a super sushi making experience, as we had such a blast at the workshop we went to. We had lots of fun searching and chatting about the perfect  pieces, so do let us know what you think!

Ask Her Friends are running a competition to win three different prizes this month. All you have to do is vote for your favourite panelist’s choices. It’s almost as easy as Deal or No Deal. Also on offer is £10 off if you spend more than £30 by adding sheandhem10 and a further £20 off if you spend more than £50 by adding sheandhem20. We promise we’re not trying to bribe you…

V&J

Beer52

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | LifestyleShe and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

One of the many areas in which Bristol excels, alongside balloon fiestas, harbour festivals and street art, is craft beer. New establishments are popping up everywhere, showcasing the weirdest, wackiest and, most importantly, tastiest brews from near and far. Some have been critical of this upswing, but it is 100% fine by me. You can be a fan of traditional pubs and these new fangled craft beer hang outs. I know this, because I am one, and many others are too! Furthermore, as a budding connoisseur of all things hop, and a keen fan of having all my food and drink arrive on my doormat, when I saw that Beer52 were looking for people to review their beer delivery service, I was more than happy to volunteer. The opportunity to have 8 different craft beers delivered to my front door was too good to pass up, and having previously given a beer subscription as a Christmas present (Beer52 offer this service here) I was really keen to try it out for myself!

I was flipping excited when they arrived, so much so that I spent several hours days researching and meticulously planning and pairing the beers with the perfect food accompaniments to really make the most of the review experience. I roped my OH in to help with the cooking by promising to share of all the beers, and having prepped a little 4 course menu to spread over the day, here is how we got on.

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

After some extensive background work looking through all the beers, researching the styles and earnestly discussing food pairings, we chose the beer with a pig on the label. Because, pig. Setting aside the excellent, porcine themed label design, this is “Cerdos Voladores” from the Barcelona Craft Beer brewery, a zesty, fruity IPA of a style very much at the vanguard of the craft beer movement. As a fan of the city, I was keen to keep in the spirit of our Catalan chums and pair this with something typically Spanish. Hence, gambas et ajillo! That’s garlic prawns to me and Google Translate. From my admittedly limited knowledge of beer and food pairings, I know that your typical IPA is said to best be accompanied by a spicy dish, and so we went for this chilli infused creation. I can confirm that the taste makers don’t lie – the punchy, lemon-y flavours of the beer took the edge off the heat, whilst enhancing the sweetness of the dish. A light and refreshing lunch, especially when paired with a simple salad.

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | LifestyleShe and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

From such big flavours, there was really only one direction to go; bigger. The second beer we chose (and not just for the equally excellent label art) was “Ascendancy” from the Panda Frog Project, an experimental offshoot brewery of North Tyneside’s Mordue. As a girl normally into her chocolate stouts, and one known to get a bit giddy at just the thought of a second round, I was a bit nervous about this higher ABV beast of a beer! Especially one described as a “Belgian Double IPA Weizen Hybrid”, I had no idea what to expect! After being assured by the OH that it would be a good ‘un, we dove on in, pairing this big flavoured brew with an equally big flavoured Teriyaki Chicken stir fry (with home made teriyaki sauce and garlic paste of course). I can confirm that the floral, tropical kick of the DIPA side of the beer was present and correct, a lovely thirst quencher after the spicy, marinaded chicken, and an appealing accompaniment to fresh crunchy peppers, bean sprouts, pak choi and red peppers. The “weizen” element (a traditionally German style of hazy wheat beer, brew fans) gave the beer more body than I was expecting, and helped to soften the impact of that big tropical tartness. Unusual, but highly recommended.

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | LifestyleShe and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

And now we’re back in my comfort zone. For afters, we naturally opted for my go to sweet food of choice, the prince of puddings, the don of desserts, the sultan of sweets, the chocolate brownie. Paired, most appropriately, with the delicious coffee-infused Toasted Porter from Iceland’s Einstok brewery, a brewery from which I’ve tried and enjoyed beer from before when visiting Iceland. It was a satisfying and waist expandingly indulgent way to end a satisfying and waist expandingly indulgent day. As keen coffee fans (who, us?), we even added a little local flavour to the brownie, sticking some of Extract Coffee RoastersKiangoi in the batter. The porter was smooth and rich, and unlike a lot of similar beers, neither too heavy nor overpowering. As we head into winter, I can imagine settling down in front of a Christmas box set or two with a bottle of this, idly sipping over the course of a few hours.

She and Hem | Beer52 Review | LifestyleShe and Hem | Beer52 Review | Lifestyle

Oh sorry, you didn’t think we were done did you? All that eating really made us work up an appetite, so a little more research later, and we found that you simply can’t enjoy an Oatmeal Stout without a good chunk of aged cheddar. So naturally, we followed this advice and opted for a simple, paired down snack of cheese and beer, using the Belhaven Brewery’s Scottish Oat Stout. The oatcakes, crackers, apple, pickles and chutneys just forced themselves on us, ok? Again, the tastemakers are on it with this – the velvet-y, silky texture of the stout was a nice base for the strong cheese. As a person not normally into such cheese, I was surprised and impressed! This was another delicious beer from the darker end of the scale, perfect for warming one’s cockles by the fire candle on a cold night.

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Thanks Beer52 for expanding my beery horizons and for giving me a good excuse to get creative in the kitchen! If you fancy having a little tasting session yourself and want a cheeky discount code, just pop SHEANDHEM10 into the ‘got a special code’ box on the Beer52 website for £10 off of your order. Also, if you would like any of the recipes for the food items in this post, please get in touch!

Vx

Hem and Away: Cup North

Hem and Away : Cup North

As a coffee lover, pun appreciator and willing frequenter of The North, I was pretty excited when a Kickstarter page for the spectacularly named Cup North was put under my nose a few months ago. A two day extravaganza of coffee you say? I’m IN. Thankfully I wasn’t alone in this caffeinated enthusiasm and so it was that last weekend that I went on a pilgrimage up the M6 to indulge in the very best the coffee industry has to offer (and visit the family but they don’t get their own blog post. Soz guys).

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This party for the fully awake was held at ArtWork, a fantastic arts production hub which was the perfect space to host the individual coffee stands. It was amazing, and slightly weird, to see so many of my fellow Bristolians in attendance with the wonderful Extract Coffee, Full Court Press and Clifton Coffee all flying the flag. GO TEAM! Naturally I homed straight in on them, firstly because I am a hideous creature of habit and, because seriously, that’s some damn good Bristol coffee. Observe how happy I am!

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I did manage to break out of my comfort zone and ventured to nearly all of the stands for a chat,  sample and the occasional cheeky purchase. It was all excellent fun and I may have even ended up with something that isn’t coffee (SOUND THE ALARM) in the form of the dreamiest hot chocolate I have ever tasted from Kokoa Collection!

Hem and Away : Cup North Hem and Away : Cup North

The highlight for me was probably watching Howey Gill of Counter Roastery demonstrate how to make their experimental “pearled coffee”. He gave such a fascinating talk and watching him create his little jelly balls of coffee was pretty darn cool. The result was described as a deconstructed latte and tasted incredible! He also showed us how to make our own coffee filled balloons. PARTAY.

Jx

Champagne Super Nola

She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle

As we are both lightweights very responsible drinkers, sometimes we know that gin is not the answer to every boozy question. Although we got the moves like Jäger at the weekend, if we fancy a weeknight drink, it needs to be lighter, so we were pretty excited when the postman delivered this huge box of delights from Nola. We saw this magical delivery as a fine excuse to invite our favourite ladies over for a good old catch up and to sample some sweet sweet spritz.

She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle

Hidden inside the Nola box was a cocktail of delicious accompaniments to enjoy with the drinks, including delicious mini meringues from Meringue Girls and tip top popcorn from Propercorn. Nothing corny about that! Many laughs were had dancing around the dinner table, sipping from teacups and discussing our plans for Halloween. We wore our fun Emily and Fin dresses and thankfully felt more pickled than plastered at the end of our girly powwow.

She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle She and Hem | Nola Vodka Spritz | Lifestyle

Have a great week Hemsters!

V&J

Tequila Mockingbird

Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle

Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle

Happy Friday everyone! Most Fridays upon finishing work we head to an all night disco party home, put our pyjamas on and drink all of the gin. Sometimes with friends, but usually alone with our cats. Luckily, when we can persuade our pals (they do exist, honest!) to hang out with us, they all love a simple G&T too. Very fortunate, as we can be predictably lazy when it comes to the art of mixology. However, last weekend we decided to step out of our boozy comfort zone and hit the hard stuff. Fruity pink cocktails! When excitedly hitting the supermarket, we quickly realised that neither of us really knew how to make anything other than a snowball, so we had a little helping hand from the experts at thebar.com.

Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle

Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle

Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle

Luckily for us, thebar.com is really simple to use, with a handy search function on the main page, you just type in a spirit that you like (it doesn’t have to be gin!) or a cocktail you would like to try and hundreds of tasty recipes will pop up in seconds. As most have been sent in by members of the site, there are lots of fun ideas with suitably charming names, and well, they just all look so pretty. As a gift to you our loyal readers, we decided to try and throw ourselves a She and Hem style cocktail party. With added massive birthday cake. No, it wasn’t anyone’s birthday, we just like massive cakes, ok?

Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | LifestyleTequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle

I’m pretty partial to a Prosecco (not that I like to wine on about it…), so I was very keen to try a French 21. Oh là là indeed! For some of the cocktails, we went a wee bit rouge with the ingredients to suit our tastes, but with the French 21, the only switch we made was using a lemon peel spiral rather than lime spiral. These were used a lot elsewhere, and we didn’t want them hogging all of the limelight…

Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | LifestyleTequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle

After lining up our top three cocktails from the evening, there was no clutching at straws and, in a strong field of creatively named confections, the clear winner was the decidedly more Ronseal Archers Peach Schnapps & Cranberry Juice. Easy to make, refreshing and fun. It was sodalicious!

Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | LifestyleTequila Mockingbird Cocktails | She and Hem | Lifestyle

Cheers!

V&J

Couscous me if you can

Cous me if you can | She and Hem | Food and Drink

Let’s raise a slice of toast as we are happy to announce that we are having a baby now part of the Sainsbury’s Food Blogger Community. As food fanatics and big baking buffs (See Sushi! Cakes! Cheese!), we are pretty excited by this! To celebrate, we thought we would share our perfect lunch with you. Warning, this post will make you ravenous for giant couscous.

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This is the usually the part where you would find a detailed recipe and step by step instructions of how to create the masterpiece you see below, but that’s not really how we work here at She and Hem (but please do contact us if you would like tips!). We favour the ‘throw everything you like to eat into the trolley, twice if it’s on offer’ kind of cuisine. So instead of working from a list, we grabbed the ingredients that we thought would taste delicious with the couscous, such as halloumi, pomegranate seeds, avocado and some awesome little salad sprinkles and headed to the kitchen.
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The results were scrumptious. So much so that we took the leftovers to enjoy at a picnic the next day, and they tasted just as good! We have definitely caught the foodie bug and can’t wait for one of our favourite dates in any star bakers calender, next month’s Stir-Up Sunday.

Cous me if you can | She and Hem | Food and DrinkCous me if you can | She and Hem | Food and Drink

Pasta la vista Hemsters!

V&J

Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box

Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box | She and Hem | Bristol

Are those chopsticks in your pocket or are you just happy sashimi?

Last month we managed to snap up the last two tickets to an awesome event run by one of our favourite places in Bristol, The Watershed. There are always good vibes and interesting, fun activities going on there, but their ‘Studio Ghibli Forever’ season was particularly eye catching, a month long celebration of the legendary Japanese animation studio, featuring screenings, workshops and all manner of unique events inspired by Mr Miyazaki’s colourful, captivating back catalogue. It was the ‘Build Your Own Bento Box’ that was most alluring to us, as huge fans of both the Studio’s beautiful films and all Japanese food ever. Although neither of us have a natural flair for hands-on practical activities, we enjoyed learning about the culture of Japanese food and the history behind the Bento Box whilst sipping on some green tea. We certainly excelled at tasting all of the ingredients. Just look how pleased we were with our finished tasty boxes!

Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box | She and Hem | Bristol
Photo by Clare Leczycki

Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box | She and Hem | Bristol Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box | She and Hem | Bristol Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box | She and Hem | Bristol

After some excellent instruction from special guest chef Kiyoko from Your Sushi, we reached the point of nori-turn and it was our time to make some delicious edible art. It was roe much fun! We were pleasantly surprised with our creations and as we got to keep the bento boxes, we’ll definitely be trying to recreate the fun at home. Fish us luck!

Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box | She and Hem | Bristol
Victoria wears floral dress from Primark and glasses from Glasses Direct | Jo wears Stop Thief dress from Cath Kidston | Photo by Clare Leczycki

Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box | She and Hem | Bristol Studio Ghibli Forever: Build A Bento Box | She and Hem | Bristol

Thank you Watershed for treating the good people of Bristol to Studio Ghibli Forever, and thanks also to Clare from Watershed for the action shots of us.

Time to gyoza!

V&Jx

Hem and Away: Gin Bop

Hem and Away : Gin Bop

Last Friday, after hanging out with some giant perfume bottles, we made our way to the real reason we were in London….Gin Bop! As big lovers of both gin AND bopping, we knew this going to be our sort of time! Held at the Rivington Grill in Greenwich, Gin Bop was a ticketed event which granted you access to an evening of live jazz, gin based games (!), a hog roast and, of course, gin!

Hem and Away : Gin BopHem and Away : Gin BopHem and Away : Gin BopHem and Away : Gin Bop

Experts from Hendrick’s, Beefeater, Tanqueray, Langley’s No.8 and Bombay Sapphire were all on hand to whisk up delicious cocktails from their respective bars (or buses, in Hendrick’s case). Being Hendrick’s girls at heart, we headed straight for their station which was parked up alongside the hog roast. A dream combination if ever there was one. Their delightful bartender served us two yummy Flora Doras in teacups which we then took onto their bus with us. Sadly the bus was candle lit and our already struggling camera simply couldn’t cope so you’ll have to take our word for it that it was pretty darn great.

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Jo is wearing a dress from Topshop (bought in the January sales) with M&S shoes. Victoria is wearing a dress from Primark with a belt from New Look and Topshop shoes.

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We then headed upstairs to Tanqueray who had a lovely sofa filled area all to themselves! We had a good chat with their bar men about the cocktails on offer (all the stations had a menu of three) but, in all honesty, we knew the moment we saw the slush machine what was going to happen! Behold, the Tanqueray Frozen Aviation, the most grown up slush puppie you will ever see. It was delicious!

Hem and Away : Gin BopHem and Away : Gin BopHem and Away : Gin Bop Hem and Away : Gin BopHem and Away : Gin Bop

We were already feeling a little bit squiffy after two cocktails but we persevered onwards to both Langley’s and Beefeater (Soz Bombay Sapphire). Unfortunately, neither of us were big fans of our Langley’s cocktails (a No.8 Fizz and a New Orleans G&T) so we decided to leave them (I know!) and instead headed to Beefeater who lured us in with talk of Earl Grey. Thankfully this cocktail more than made up for the disappointment of our previous drink and we ended the night on a high…and a hic.

J&V

A big thanks to Hendrick’s for the tickets! You delicious people.

Nurture Juices Cleanse and Detox Review

And now for something slightly different! Regular readers will know I have a keen appreciation for the sweeter things in life, but while even a fleeting glance at this here blog may suggest otherwise, I do eat things other than cake. In fact, I actually do like to try and eat healthily. That said, I could definitely do with some help and guidance from a professional, and so jumped (off the sofa) at the chance to sample one of Nuture’s delicious sounding “10 of your 5 a day” detox programmes. The programme provides a veritable buffet of tasty treats, designed to form the basis of a wholesome, nutritious diet, or to complement a healthy, active lifestyle. I was pleasantly surprised when this colourful bunch arrived.

Nurture Juices Review | Cleanse Detox | She and Hem

18 bottles of juice, 7 probiotic mixes and 5 servings of raspberry protein! Not being particularly (or at all) familiar with such a diet, I was a bit overwhelmed initially. Fortunately, Nurture provide some helpful guidance on their website on how best to integrate all of this into your lifestyle, whatever you are trying to achieve. For me, I felt options 3 and 4 were the most appropriate. Not, as you might have guessed, because of my “athletic training” regime, but because as I often find myself in need of a pick me up when at work and with little time (or willpower) to choose the healthy option! As Nurture say, the juices are a great grab and go solution, nutrient rich, filling yet low calorie. Sounds perfect!  

In the spirit of the Nurture way, I sampled all of the juices as part of a relatively active daily lifestyle, and some after a spot of light exercise. Without further ado, let me take you on a raw, unpasteurised tour of the juices…

Nurture Juices Review | Cleanse Detox | She and Hem

First up, Re-energise. This had what I would call a typically juice-y, sweet smell. The texture was smooth, with passion fruit the dominant flavour, and a slight tartness that lingered after I’d finished. Not bad at all.  

Nurture Juices Review | Cleanse Detox | She and Hem

Rehydrate certainly felt healthier than the first! The (so hip right now) coconut water and grapefruit was fresh, pleasingly bitter and decidedly un-sugary. This one is packed with electrolytes, ideal for replenishing the body after a run. I won’t claim I was out running marathons when I drank this, but after a day on my feet, this was a welcome refreshment. Very nice indeed, but then…

Nurture Juices Review | Cleanse Detox | She and Hem

That colour can only mean one thing – my friend and yours, the beetroot, champion of anti-oxidants. Revive was my favourite so far, the earthy beetroot flavour most prominent on the nose and tongue, with the blueberry and pear coming through after. Rather delicious, and with a more robust texture than the previous two. Given my love of beetroot, I expected no other juice to hold a candle to this. However…

Nurture Juices Review | Cleanse Detox | She and Hem

The best of the bunch! With the body provided by the kiwi puree and watercress, this certainly felt the most substantial and filling of the juices. The apple provided a delicate sweetness, while the mint and cucumber was fresh and distinctive. And I don’t even like mint! The only downside was that the ginger wasn’t as prominent as I would have liked. A bit more of that, and this would have been even better! If you’re into your anti-ageing B-complex vitamins (and who isn’t?), Refresh is the one for you.

Nurture Juices Review | Cleanse Detox | She and Hem

The last of the juices I tried, and I was already pining for Refresh. I needn’t have worried though, as Replenish more than made up for the end of programme blues. Similarly substantial, with the spinach, celery and cucumber doing the nutritional legwork and the apple and orange doing the rest. Tasty stuff, and apparently a wonder for skin.

If you’d like a whopping half price discount on the Nurture Juices, just enter the code ‘sheandhem’!

Victoria