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AD/PR Sample | Making A Chocolate Hazelnut Sundae With Valsoia Ice Cream From Ciao Gusto

I'm always open to trying new food items as I love discovering new products. I was recently contacted about trying out a Valsoia product from the new Ciao Gusto range. They offer a collection of all your favourite authentic Italian food and drink items that can now be bought on Ocado to make shopping for them super easy. There is a Ciao Gusto Shop area on Ocado where you can search through ingredients and products from over 30 of Italy's most popular brands such as Ponti, Barilla, Valsoia, Lavazza, and more which can be easily added to your basket when ordering. I picked up the Valsoia Chocolate & Cream Soya Ice Cream to make something exciting while trying out one of their new Italian products. Regular dairy ice cream doesn't tend to sit well with me and I've found that I don't get a reaction when having a dairy-free ice alternative so I will tend to choose this option when it's available. Since turning vegetarian just over a year ago I've found that there is a whole new world filled with different products to try out and this product is no exception.

The Valsoia ice cream is dairy-free Italian Gelato that is naturally lactose-free, gluten-free, and 100% plant-based which also makes the product vegan. It is half chocolate and half vanilla which is perfect if you want to have a bit of each. My partner has always been a big fan of ice cream sundaes and will always choose this as a dessert in restaurants even though dairy doesn't tend to sit well with him either. I thought making one of these would be a perfect combination for both of us to enjoy. We've tried a variety of non-dairy ice creams before and some haven't been the best as there was just something missing compared to your normal dairy ice cream. To create this sundae dessert, I started by adding a generous scoop of melted hazelnut white chocolate spread at the bottom of the glass and a good squeeze of Belgian chocolate sauce. I then added alternating chocolate and vanilla scoops of the Valsoia Chocolate & Cream Soya Ice Cream to fill up the glass and then finished it off with more Belgian chocolate sauce and a Kinder Bueno bar.

You can see the result above and I have to say I was really impressed with how it tasted. This ice cream was so nice and creamy I would not have thought it was a dairy-free version. I know it is gelato which is a bit different from ice cream but I would have never guessed it would taste this nice, and I am a bit shocked, to be honest. So many dairy-free products have a lingering taste of coconut which I dislike, but trust me when I say this, the fact that I can have gelato and it be kind to my stomach is never a sentence I ever thought I would type.  I would definitely buy this again and would recommend trying this even if you don't normally go for dairy-free ice cream. The flavour was great and it was perfect to use for making a sundae and would also be good to enjoy on its own or added to the side of other desserts. With the ingredients, I used it was a vegetarian dessert, but you could swap out the additions if you wanted to make it vegan. I did also pick up the Valsoia Soya Drink too in case I felt like making a milkshake, which you could do if you're not a sundae person. If you'd like to check out more about the Ciao Gusto product range, you can find it on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest pages. 

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AD/PR Sample | Birthday Gifts From Moonpig

Birthdays have been a little different this year for a lot of people so we've not been spending them the way we normally may do. I've recently celebrated my own birthday and had to think about what I'd like to do, as I am limited due to shielding at the moment. It was a nice surprise when I was contacted by Moonpig who wanted to send me some goodies to help with enjoying my birthday. Moonpig allows you to order cards for many occasions and these can also be personalised to the recipient, whether this is photo cards where you can upload your own images, or personalise the design of the card already created. They also offer a range of unique gifts as well as flowers, so you should be able to find something suitable. These items can be ordered at the same time as any card, and you can choose to have them delivered to yourself to give to someone in person or have them delivered directly to the recipient, which could be particularly useful with the current situation we find ourselves in.

To start my birthday celebrations this year I went pumpkin picking with some of my family which I absolutely loved. I've always enjoyed Halloween so being able to go and pick my own pumpkins has started to become a little tradition around my birthday. Last year I went on my actual birthday but this year we went slightly earlier as the sun was shining, and when you are wandering around a big field it helps if it's not raining! I also wanted to go when it was a little quieter given the current pandemic. After bringing back the wheelbarrow full of pumpkins I have been arranging them and deciding where to pop them in the house to decorate and I ended up creating a Halloween themed spread on my living room coffee table which turned out great in time for my birthday. On the day we ordered some pizza and had a film night with the family in my household, and yes it was a Halloween film.

The first item I received from Moonpig was the Rainbow Cake Kit (£12.00) that looks like it's going to create an amazingly bright and colourful cake. It gives you almost everything you'll need to bake the cake, all you need to get is some eggs, butter and milk to add. I've not baked the cake yet as I need to swap out the food colouring for some vegetarian safe ones, but once I've got these it's going to be a fun activity to do and I'm sure my little sister will enjoy baking this with me, and she will no doubt enjoy eating it too. The second item I received was the Chocolate Indulgence Wicker Tray (£25.00) that contained a selection of chocolatey goodies. My tray contained Honeyrose Bakery Organic Triple Chocolate Cookies, Divine Cocoa - which would be perfect for hot chocolates or baking, Ritter Sport Butter Biscuit and Lily O' Brien's Petit Indulgence Collection. If you enjoy chocolate then one of these trays are perfect. 

It's not just food items that Moonpig offer, as I also received a Miss Patisserie 'Happy Birthday' Gift Set (£15.00) which contains four good-sized fizzing bath bombs and are 100% vegan and part of the Moonpig vegan range. I love their colours and glittery effect and can't wait to see what they look like in the bath. The last item I received was The Red Anthurium Plant (£24.00) which is a nice household plant that is easy to care for can brighten up your room. It comes in a white plant pot so it ready to pop wherever you desire. That's it for my Moonpig birthday gifts. As I mentioned earlier it was a lovely surprise to receive these in the post to help celebrate my birthday this year. They have so many options to choose from that whatever the event, you should be able to choose ideal cards, gifts or flowers to give to your loved ones or friends. 

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AD/PR Sample | Maybelline Color Strike Eyeshadow Pen

Maybelline New York is the number one global cosmetics brand that has products available in almost 130 countries across the world. They have been creating makeup products for many, many years, and were the company that introduced the first daily-use modern mascara back in 1917. I've used Maybelline's Total Temptation Mascara for years now and I swear by it, so I know that they already produce good quality eye products.

They have recently launched a new eyeshadow with a bit of a difference. There's no palette or brush in sight, as this one comes in a pen with a precise cushion tip. It's smaller than my mascara so could easily be thrown into a small bag to take out. I can see this coming in really handy, as being able to have a product to top up my eyeshadow if I was out on a particularly long day would be great, particularly given that I have oily eyelids so I'm more prone to needing to touch them up, regardless of which eye product I'm using. 

The eyeshadow is a cream-to-powder pen that can give you up to 12 hours of wear with only one easy strike without having any fallout due to the way the cushion tip glides across your eyelid to apply. It's also smudge, crease, and fade resistant to give you a long-wearing eyeshadow that has a 'bold color impact'. Several matte and metallic shades are available including Tempt, Spark, Chase, Hustle, Ace, Crave, Charm among others, to give plenty of choices to suit your style. I received the Spark and Rally shades Spark is my favourite of the two as it's more of an everyday shade for me. You could wear them alone or with other eyeshadows depending on the look, and the lighter shades could double as an inner eye and below the brow highlighter too.

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AD/PR Sample | Learning British Sign Language (BSL) with Red Letter Days

I've always been interested in learning new things, whether this is a back when I was learning Spanish as a child, honing my cooking skills over the years, or how to do digital illustrations which I've been doing more recently. I will continue to enjoy expanding my knowledge and ability in a range of areas - there's just something I love about learning. September is the annual Festival of Learning, a month-long period that celebrates and highlights the benefits of learning as well as encouraging people to try something new. You might have something you'd love to give a go but don't seem to have the time or feel like it wouldn't fit in with your current commitments. Red Letter Days offer a range of online experience courses that allow you to learn something new in your own time and at your own pace so that it can fit around your lifestyle. They recently got in touch to see if I wanted to try out one of these courses. 

I had a browse through their website and noticed that you could learn some British Sign Language (BSL) which really interested me. Due to my own health conditions, I sometimes have trouble with my hearing. I've wanted to learn BSL for a while now as I'd like to be able to use it to communicate if I have problems with my hearing as it can be really frustrating when I can't hear properly. I also think it's a really useful skill to have as you never know when it could help someone when you were out and about. My partner is also learning with me so he'll be able to understand and help me when I'm having difficulty with my hearing. Deafness is a spectrum that means some people are hard of hearing or have sensory processing issues and others can be completely deaf. Remember that BSL is a language so it's great for anyone to learn it as a whole range of people can and may need to use it at some point.

The BSL course I completed consisted of 18 modules that cover a variety of signs for common and useful things. There are a couple of introduction modules, and the rest covers things such as letters, numbers, people, time, greetings among others to give you good coverage of signs that you would need to know. They are split into levels, starting at Foundation and moving through Basic and finishing with Expansion. Even though I had never done any BSL before, apart from learning how to sign my own name many years ago, I found the videos super easy to follow. 

Each one demonstrates the sign while the word appears on screen at the same time so you can begin to associate the sign with the word. Even when doing the Expansion modules I still found this okay to follow. For all of the sign videos, they show it from different angles which I found really helpful as it can sometimes be hard to understand which way you should be doing and with which hands if you are looking straight on and trying to mirror. The other great thing is that you can replay the video as many times as you like to practice until you feel confident with it. I went back on another day to revisit some of the modules I wanted to do again. 

Once you had completed all of the modules you are given a multiple-choice test at the end. You can take this as many times as you need to so that you achieve the pass mark and once you get there, you'll be able to download your diploma certificate as proof that you have passed the course. Overall I really enjoyed learning British Sign Language with this online course from Red Letter Days. I found the process really easy to get set up, as once you purchased the course and received your e-voucher from Red Letter Days, you were sent clear instructions on how to redeem it and within 5 minutes I was ready to start my first module. 

The only thing I would say for the course I did is that it could have been slightly improved if the first two introductory videos had subtitles. As this course is designed to help people learn sign language, and the first two videos involved someone speaking to introduce things before it got into demonstrating the different signs, it could be a little difficult for those hard of hearing or deaf to understand these first two. Apart from that, I thought the course was very informative and helped me start my BSL journey. There any many other online courses available on Red Letter Days which I'd recommend having a look through to find one to suit you.

BSL course from Red Letter Days gifted in exchange for an honest review post

AD/PR Sample | My Glossier Summer Picks

It's been a couple of months since I picked up some of Glossier's bits for spring. I had a browse on their website recently and chose three products to try out. The first thing I ever heard about Glossier was their balms, and although I've had the chance to try out a couple of them previously, I fancied testing out their birthday balm this time around so that was on my list to pick up. Glossier offers both makeup and skincare products, along with a few body and fragrance items too. They have their own beauty website called Into The Gloss which allows people to share the products they love which help to drive the ideas for the new items they bring out which ensure they are designed around what people actually want and need. 

The Pro Tip Brush Point Liquid Eyeliner (£15) is a black liquid eyeliner that will allow you to get "a smooth, precise line every time". The smudge-resistant formula and incredibly fine tip will make getting that perfect line achievable. It has flexible fibers that will curve along the lash line to make it nice and easy when applying. The quick-drying time helps you to build this product up to create the look you are going for which can last for up to 12 hours, although as it's a densely pigmented product, you shouldn't need to apply too much each time you wear it. With certain products, they tend to get decreasingly effective over time, but the Pro Tip has an internal ball shaker that means the formula can move around evenly inside the product to ensure you get that smooth line each time you use it without it dragging on application. I've found it easier to achieve a good line with this product as the fine tip makes it much easier to apply exactly where you want it. 

The second product that I picked up was the Wowder Weightless Finishing Powder (£18). Glossier say that it will give you the "perfect matte-not-flat finish" as it is designed to reduce shine, set your makeup along with softening the appearance of your pores. You can apply this across any area of your face where you want to reduce the shine and it won't leave a film on your skin. It also won't show up when taking photos with flash which I'm really happy about as this is something I've experienced before with other products and it can be super annoying. Another bonus of this powder is that it doesn't get stuck in your fine lines which can sometimes be a problem with certain powders I've used in the past which then affected the overall appearance on my makeup. This Wowder should enhance your makeup rather than giving a cakey layer over the top while still helping to tackle oily skin. I'm excited to keep using this as I'm impressed so far.

As I mentioned earlier, I was lucky enough to test out some of the Glossier balms previously, but the one I've been looking forward to most is the Balm Dotcom (£10) in the Birthday flavour. Not only will this hydrate, but the natural emollients and antioxidants also help dry skin to improve the condition of your lips. It combines Beeswax, Caster Oil and Lanolin to boost and seal in moisture without making your lips shiny. Not only do I adore the packaging of the birthday flavour balm, because who doesn't like something sparkly and glittery, but I also love the subtle shimmer it gives when you wear it along with the vanilla cake flavour. I love funfetti cake and I've had birthday cake pancakes before so anytime I see something like this I am drawn to it for its appearance and flavour. It's perfect if you don't feel like wearing lipstick or lipgloss but want something a bit more than a clear lip balm to still give your lips that little pop. 

I've loved trying some other Glossier bits again. I've been really impressed by what I've had so far as you can tell they have really thought about the products they create. They don't overcomplicate things, just produce quality products that work well for what they are designed without having a big price tag. I'd definitely recommend having a browse on their website and see for yourself what products you like.

Post contains press samples

AD/PR Sample | Celebrating Father's Day With Moonpig

With everything going on at the minute, celebrating Father's Day will be a little different this year. Many of us won't have seen our beloved Dads in person for quite a while and may have been restricted to video calls for catch-ups. Even though we can't celebrate in the same way as we normally would, you'll still be wanting to give your dad something nice so they know how much you value them. You might be wondering how to go about getting something for your Dad while things are normal at the moment, so I've teamed up with Moonpig to help you find all the things you'll need this year. They have a great selection of cards and gifts all in one place to make things much easier to find the perfect items. Moonpig has even picked out some of their favourite cards and gifts that you can buy your Dad this Father's Day. 

You might wonder how to celebrate this year while not being able to physically see your Dad, but there are a number of ways you could do this. Hosting a quiz on video call is a fun way to catch up, and if your dads are anything like mine and Andy's they love being able to recall loads of random facts. You can make a quiz up yourself using facts from the internet or visit websites like Sporcle, or for interactive game using Kahoot. My Dad is currently a primary school teacher and Andy's Dad is a retired primary school teacher so this might have something to do with their curiosity and memory recall so we know that they would love to do a quiz or two on Father's Day this year. Other ideas are for you and your Dad to each get takeaways and virtually watch a movie or TV show together. If you each set the film going and get on a video call you can chat about it together just as if you were in the same room. I know that we'll definitely be doing some quizzing on Father's Day and I've been busy putting together a selection of questions to test their knowledge and might have to get a Chinese takeaway which my family loved doing together before lockdown hit.

Andy and I celebrate Father's Day by giving gifts and cards jointly to each of our Dads. Since I met Andy's dad and he met mine 7 years ago (although Andy's Dad will argue it's technically 8 years since I met him before I met Andy when he helped move Andy into our University halls in first year), we have always treated them as Father-in-law's, I mean technically we should have been married by now and they would have been officially Father-in-law's but nevertheless, we have always thought of them that way. In this post, I've featured cards and gifts for both Dads and the choice that Moonpig offer meant that we could easily tailor to both. When picking a card I always tend to go for pretty ones with nice messages. I love moons and stars and my Dad likes all things space and astronomy so this card seemed a perfect fit. It also contains a slight humorous message which I think he will like. Andy on the other hand always tries to find a funny and jokey type card. He's always been the cheeky member of the family and likes to reflect this in the cards he gets, and already knows that his Dad will find this one hilarious. The great thing about Moonpig is that they offer a whole range of cards including personalised and photo upload ones while catering for cards for Dads, Grandads and Stepdads alike.

When it comes to gifts, finding some you know they will like is going to be important. Luckily for you, Moonpig has made this process much easier with different sections for the various types of presents you can get so you can find the one that is just right for your Dad. They offer gifts including; gift sets, chocolate, alcohol, games and music/tv/film-themed items. For my Dad, the first gift I picked out was the Duvel Degustation Box which contains two different types of Duvel beer and a distinctive Tulip glass to enjoy them from. It's a great little set with some nice premium Belgium beer. Other beers and lagers are also available so you should be able to find one to match your Dad's favourite tipple. The other item I chose was the 'I Love You' Toblerone. My Dad isn't much of a chocolate person but can't resist a bar of this. I thought the message along the bar was really cute and added a nice touch to a gift that I know he will love. 

Andy decided to choose the Cartwright & Butler Triple Choc Chunk Biscuits because his Dad loves absolutely anything chocolatey so these were the perfect fit. They come in a nice tin that can be reused afterwards to store other items or more biscuits for that matter. They can be perfect to pop on the side in your kitchen to store things that you want to be handy. With it only being a week until Father's Day, it will be worth having a look on Moonpig for gifts and cards that you would like to give your Dad. The great thing about ordering from them is that you can choose to either get it delivered to you if you live with your father or want to wrap it yourself and drop it on their doorstep, or alternatively you can have it sent straight to them. I hope you all manage to celebrate Father's Day this year, whether you are doing this remotely via a video call or are able to see them in person.

Post contains press samples from Moonpig

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