Monday, 31 July 2017

New beginnings

I just logged into my blog for the first time in ages and realised that it's been over a year since my last post. I have thought about giving it up as I never seem to find the time or motivation to write, but there's just so much going on at the moment that I think it'll be good for me to have an outlet. So I'm going to keep going for a little while longer, if only for the sake of my own mental health.

And talking of mental health, I gave up my job of 15 years last year. It was a massive relief at the time as I hadn't been happy there for a while, but now I've had a bit of time away from it all I do miss that structure to my week and contact with other staff in the office. I haven't been a lady of leisure for the past year though; I started a small ironing business which is doing well, and I love seeing my customers every week, but I am starting to feel a bit lonely.  My children are in school all day and it's just me and my iron. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of having my children at home to keep me company. When they go back to school I've decided that I need to look for another job to get me out of the house. Spending too much time alone with my own thoughts is getting a bit too much!

So, new job to find. I'm already dreading he process of it - applications, interviews (hopefully) and starting something completely new with people I don't know. It's a scary thought.

The next thing is we've sold our house! Now we've got to start packing up our lives. We've accumulated a lot of stuff since moving into our current house 14 years ago. Back then it was just me, my husband, and a cat. We've lost the cat but have acquired three children and a dog. They all come with their own stuff. To be honest, the thought of moving has been filling me with dread, and I've suffered from a few health problems because of it. I won't bore anyone with the details as it all really stems from anxiety. I have thought about stopping the sale more than a few times, but we've got our reasons for moving so I need to be a big girl and keep going. I just hope that the end result with be worth it.

So, new job and new house (hopefully).

Do things come in threes? I'm going to be forty this year, and as the saying goes, life begins at forty. Maybe that'll be it. I hope so. I don't think I could take any more changes.

I just wish I could go back to where I stayed on holiday in Cornwall last week. Cornwall takes all my worries away.

So that's it. Just a quick post to get started again. I think I may need this over the next few months.

Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, Cornwall

Friday, 15 July 2016

Beech's Chocolate Review

Anyone who knows me will know that I love a bit of chocolate, and I'm always happy to find something new.  A friend of mine recently gave me a box of Beech's Chocolates and I fell in love straight away.  They were Dark Chocolate Fruit Creams which consisted of orange, lime, raspberry and lemon centres all wrapped in a really high quality dark chocolate.  The orange ones were my favourite but they were all utterly divine.

I tweeted Beech's Chocolates to let them know how much I had enjoyed them and they offered to send me more of their chocolates to try.  There was no way I was turning that down.  A few days later I received a box containing a variety of goodies including Milk Chocolate Coconut Macaroons, Original Dark Chocolate Mint Creams, Original Milk Chocolate Coffee Creams, and Teddy Bears Picnic.

Mint must surely be one of the favourite flavours, and the combination of mint and dark chocolate must be one of the best.  These do not diasappoint.  They are a lovely size and have a deep filling of mint.  With 14 in a box they would be the perfect end to a dinner party.


 I'm probably in a minority when I say that coffee creams are one of my favourite flavours.  I have always loved them but have found it really hard to find a decent one recently, until now that is.  These are amazing.  They're not too strong, but have a beautifully creamy, smooth coffee flavour which is perfectly complemented by the milk chocolate.  Though a quick look at the website shows them with dark chocolate too, which are next on my list to try.
I love the box design!
Coconut has never been a favourite of mine.  I love the smell, but I'm not that keen on the texture so I find it hard to eat.  I got my friends to try this one for me and the consensus was that it's lovely. Great flavour and texture and a perfect gift.  Not for me but you can't like everything, right?

I do adore the family of teddy bears in the Teddy Bears Picnic box.  They are filled with a lovely, soft caramel, though the detail on them is so lovely they are almost too good to eat.  Almost.  My children loved them too.  I was given all of the Mama Bear ones to eat :-)

I am so happy I've discovered these lovely chocolates.  Beech's Fine Chocolates use 100% natural ingredients, all of their products are gluten free and many are suitable for Vegans.  They offer free first class delivery with a spend of over £12 and if you subscribe to their newsletter you'll get automatic entry into their free prize draws!  What are you waiting for?  Give them a try.  I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

I'm off to lie down now as I have eaten far too much chocolate.  Though before I do, I may just order the Creams Collection as there's an amazing offer on right now.  I'll need something to keep me going through the long school holidays.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

An amazing Tuscany Retreat

One of my friends is going to work at this fantastic retreat set in the Tuscan mountains this April.  It looks absolutely amazing so if you are interested just scroll down for more details. Get a 10% discount if you book before 20th February 2015.

A Healthy Holiday
relax, revitalise & reset 
Tuscany Retreat, April 12th - 18th 2015 

Spring is the season of new beginnings and no better time to recharge and replenish, which is why April is the perfect month to take a break from normal everyday life, allowing yourself time to relax and reset both your body and mind.

Come and join us for a 7 day cleansing retreat, a life-changing healthy holiday with yoga & meditation, holistic therapies, wellbeing talks, delicious fresh food picked from the farm's organic vegetable garden: fresh juices, vegetarian, vegan & raw food to energise you in breath-taking natural surroundings.

Le Pianore Villa & Organic Farm is cradled between the medieval hilltop towns of Montelaterone and Monticello Amiata, Tuscany. Surrounded by woodlands, vineyards, olive groves and mountain streams, it is a private haven.
The spectacular views & untouched landscapes will give you a sense of
freedom and relaxation as soon as you set foot there. 

Retreat yourself at Le Pianore for an ultimate
'me time' - you'll never have felt better!!!
The Retreat Includes
Pre Retreat guidance
Group transfer to/from airport to the villa
6 nights accommodation in the villa
Delicious daily fresh organic healthy food
Cleansing teas & supplements
Detox Tools & Demos
2 x daily yoga sessions
3 Wellbeing Talks
Guided hike through the Tuscan valleys
A 2h raw food workshop
1 x 30min Nutrition taster session
1 x 60min Massage 
1 x 30min NLP/Counselling
Post Retreat guidance

Our team will be available on site to provide plenty of additional holistic treatments including - massages, reiki, nutritional consultation,
shiatsu, divine healing, rebirth breath work, NLP/Counselling,
hypnotherapy and much more.
A Typical day... 

8:00 Yoga
9:00 Morning Juice
12:30 Light Lunch
13:30 Wellbeing Talk,
or Guided Hike, or Treatments
16:00 Afternoon Juice
18:00 Yoga/Meditation
19:30 Light Dinner

* A 2h Raw Food Workshop on Saturday 

Plenty of free time to relax, indulge in treatments, explore the
natural surroundings & nearby villages or take a swim in the pool.


Whether you have your own room or share it with your partner or friends,
we have a few options for you to choose from: 

Master room w/ balcony en suite 
Triple Shared: £895pp
Double Shared: £1.150pp

Double/Twin Rooms en suite 
Shared: £985pp

Small Twin rooms - shared bathroom
Shared: £625pp
Single occupancy: £765

* Prices per person. Single occupancy is possible with a 50% supplement fee.

We're looking forward to you joining us in Tuscany!

It's easy to secure your place, we just need a 50% deposit with
the remaining balance due by April 5th.

A month cancelation notice is required
for full deposit refund.

Please remember that we keep our retreats to a small group
to give you the space & attention you need. 
Places are limited & double rooms will go fast!

* We are offering 10% discount on early bird bookings
made before the 20th February. *

To book your place contact us here.

A few pics & testimonials from our Autumn Tuscany Retreat in 2014:
' Carolyne, the retreat in Tuscany was truly life changing, hard to express how much my diet and me myself changed after that week. Everyone - If you have a chance, you gotta got o Carolyne's retreat. That can be the best thing you've ever done for your body and soul! '  - Kristinjonas 
' Just after my detox week, I was handling in my notice and all my boss could focus on was the amount of weight I'd lost and how much younger and happier I looked. I talked through the whole experience with him. The compliments I've received today have been extremely uplifting, thank you all!!! ' - Mia, London

One week after the detox and I am feeling fantastic! Lots of energy, lots of positivity and a new outlook on life! Life-style changing! Have been confidently practicing raw food meals and deserts thanks to Stacey. ' - Julia, London 
' After months of feeling sluggish, stressed and bloated I embarked upon a detox with Carolyne Ji.....what a difference 7 days can make! I felt calmer, my skin glowed, I was full of energy and most importantly I'd kicked my habit of caffeine and sugary foods. I can't recommend the detox enough, its a fairly tough 7 days but the effects both physically and mentally are well worth it! ' - Laura, London 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A Taste of Cardiff: Welsh Lamb recipe

Baked rump of welsh lamb, sautéed potatoes, curly kale, Kasundi sauce and a mint yogurt dressing

I was recently asked to recreate a recipe created by Damien Pondevie - the chef at the Millennium Hotel Cardiff.

I love cooking, though am better at following a recipe than trying to come up with new ideas myself, so I thought this would be perfect to try and the ingredients sounded really tasty.  

The Kasundi sauce needed two hours to simmer so I started this first.  You need a really big saucepan for this as the recipe does make a large amount, but when you taste it you'll know why.  You'll want to eat it with every meal!  In fact, the following evening, we had a big bowl of the Kasundi sauce with vegetables. It is delicious.

Chopped onions, ginger, garlic and chillies

Fry the shallots before adding the potatoes and garlic
Next we boiled the potatoes then sautéed them with shallots and garlic.  I don't normally bother adding anything to sautéed potatoes but I will from now on.  The shallots and garlic added lots of flavour.

Sautéed potatoes

Welsh lamb
Beautiful Welsh lamb.  All it needs is a bit of seasoning.  I fried it off before finishing in the oven.  I didn't realise how quickly it cooks.  It doesn't take long at all.

Curly Kale
The curly kale was blanched before being pan fried.  Simple, delicious and healthy and added a beautiful colour to the plate.

Beautifully fresh mint yogurt dressing
I will never buy a shop bought dip again!  This was so quick to make, using only yogurt, lemon and fresh mint.  It tasted really fresh and would be a perfect dip as well as a dressing.

The finished result
I was really pleased with the end result.  There's lots of flavours that work really well together but we really enjoyed each component individually.  I particularly loved the sautéed potatoes with the Kasundi sauce and would happily eat that as a snack.  My husband thought he'd died and gone to heaven!  Every bit was devoured and loved.

I'd really recommend giving this recipe a go, especially if you want to impress.

If you want to see what it's supposed to look like check out the recipe here.

  • Welsh rump of lamb
  • 500g of seasonal new potatoes
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Vegetable oil
  • Chopped parsley
  • Curly kale
  • 15 - 20 fresh mint leaves
  • Greek yoghurt
  • ½ Lemon
  • Salt and pepper
Kasundi sauce ingredients
  • 400g Finely diced large onions                   
  • 50g Garlic (minced)                                                        
  • 80g Ginger (grated & chopped)                
  • 1 Red chilli (sliced)                                      
  • 30g Dark mustard seeds
  • 5g Turmeric
  • 4 Cloves
  • 160g Malt vinegar
  • 10g Ground cumin
  • 5g Coriander seeds
  • 5 tins chopped tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Lamb rump
  • Score then lamb and season it with salt and pepper.
  • Place it into a moderately hot oven safe pan, fat side down, for approximately 2 minutes.
  • Turn the lamb over and place the pan into the oven at 180C for 12 minutes.
  • Take the lamb out of the oven and allow it to rest in the pan (under a sheet of foil) for 3 minutes.
  • When ready to plate, cut the lamb into 3 or 4 slices and arrange on the plate.
Sautéed potatoes
  • Boil 500g of seasonal new potatoes until cooked (but not overcooked!), then cool and slice ready for sautéing.
  • Thinly slice 3 shallots and mince 1 Clove of garlic.
  • Heat a frying pan on a medium flame and add approximately 40 millilitres of vegetable oil.
  • Add the shallots and stir continuously until they start to colour.
  • Then add the potatoes and garlic turning the heat up a little, still stirring continuously.
  • When the potatoes are suitably coloured, finish with seasoning to taste and add a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
Curley kale
  • Clean the kale and then blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds.
  • Quickly pan fry with a wedge of butter and some seasoning for no more than 1 minute on a high flame.
Mint yogurt dressing
  • Pick and wash 15-20 fresh mint leaves and place into a bar blender with 150g of Greek yogurt, salt & pepper and the juice of ½ a Lemon.
  • Blend, ready to drizzle over the top of the finished dish.
Kasundi sauce
  • Fry off the onions, ginger, garlic and chillies with a little vegetable oil.
  • Add spices and then lightly fry with the onions.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, vinegar & sugar as well as 1 litre of water.
  • Allow to simmer for two hours adding water if it gets too dry.
  • When it is the desired consistency, season to taste.  

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Teksta T-Rex (Review)

I was recently offered a Teksta T-Rex to review and I jumped at the chance as one of my son's is dinosaur mad.

When he arrived I was very pleased to find that he was easy to remove from the box, and that there wasn't too much packaging.  Just a few ties to loosen and he was straight out.  I was excited to get started and see what he could do, so after a quick search for some batteries (he needs 4 x AA batteries which are not included), we soon had him working.

On / Off switch
Insert 2 x AA batteries into each foot

When we switched him on his eyes lit up and he made some roaring noises.  There are two modes - Conversation or Sing and Dance, and you use the buttons on the top of his head to switch between the two.

In conversation mode you can talk to him and he will respond, and in Sing and Dance mode he will dance along to the music that is played.  You just clap your hands to get him started and put your hand in front of his face to make him stop.  It's really clever.

He also comes with a bone that he will try to break when it's inserted into his mouth (he then jumps and burps which is very funny).
Easy to understand instructions
His bone

The sensors behind his dark glasses can sense your hands so when you put your hand in front of his eyes he will activate as the following video shows.

There is also a free app available to download for the T-Rex but I think you can only get this on a tablet - I was unable to find it on my phone.  Using this you can teach him new tricks, set an alarm, and even get him to roar along to a tune that you've created.

App Home Screen

The more we play with T-Rex the more we are learning.  I think this is an excellent toy that for children aged 4 - 8 years.  My children love him already and he fits right in.

"Teksta T-Rex the bone crushing dino. Just like his Teksta friends, T-Rex responds to your voice, lights and sounds with expressive eye patterns to share his feelings. Using cutting edge hand gesture technology command Teksta T-Rex to Walk, Move his hands, Tail and Stop. Stroke his face to hear him Roar and see him Snap just like a real T-Rex Dinosaur. When he’s hungry feed him with his dino bone to see his ultimate trick, watch him crunch, munch and launch it away, followed by an almighty burp. With over 100 physical and app-sized interactive play features. Includes bone accessory. For ages 5 and over. Requires 4 x AA batteries (not included)."