Infused Ice Cubes ft Junip Organics (*)

If you’re a gin enthusiast like me then you’ll be just as excited about what I’m about to introduce you to. See the thing is, when you start collecting gin and creating cocktails you begin to realise that garnishes can make a huge impact on bringing out the flavours of the botanicals in the spirit.

So when I recently stumbled across on Instagram account for natural fruit infusers I jumped at the chance to work with them.

Junip Organics launched  this year (2017) creating a product that (I think) fills a gap in the market. Their all-natural and organic fruit infusers add a squeeze of flavour into your glass of water, a hint of extract into baked goodies or for me an extra little something in my G&T. Made from hand-picked fruit, herbs and spices there are no additives, no added sugar, no artificial or unhealthy ingredients. Their products simply add a squeeze of nature into whatever you wish.

The Junip Organics infusers range from berries to herbs to wild plants and classic flavours like vanilla and strawberry.

Of course I chose flavours that I’d typically use as garnishes in gin because think about it… I can add the flavour of a garnish without having to pop to the shops. So when I’m wanting a spontaneous cocktail or a simple G&T (although garnishes look pretty) I can ‘pimp it up’ by adding a few drops of the Junip Organics infuser and voila!

My next thought after choosing those flavours was creating ‘Infused Ice Cubes’. Something fun or what some people would call ‘Pinterest worthy’ that can look pretty in your G&T, add a little something extra to glass of water or spice up a jug of punch.  For me I wanted to add fruit, citrus and herbs that not only matched the flavours but complimented them. So with the Basil infuser I added strawberries and basil leaves, with the Rosemary I added rosemary and lemon peel and with the blueberry I added just the berries.

The flavours of the infusers are intense yet soft and natural. They pack enough punch to infuse but not over power so I only added half water, half infuser to the ice cube tray.

Once popped into a G&T (or any other drink) the ice slowly melts, releasing a subtle flavour and dispersing the garnishes. It’s almost too pretty to drink!

Beki Xo

(*) Disclaimer: As part of this review I was gifted the Junip Organics infusers however all opinions are my own

The Battle Of The Purple Shampoos
(Photo above is Fudge Clean Violet Toning Shampoo)

There are a serious amount of purple/violet shampoos on the market, some with better results than others and some with not any results at all. But after scouring the internet to find the best, these are the 3 products that consistently popped up.

Pro:Voke Touch Of Silver Brightening Shampoo


KEY INFO: This is probably one of the most popular, well known products on the purple shampoo shelf. The formula itself is sheer lilac with a medium gel like consistency. The purple tones of this shampoo are more diluted than the ‘twice a week treatment’ as it is for daily use and colour care. However the product can aid in maintaining blonde hair in between deep toning treatments.

TREATMENT: The shampoo foams up nicely upon application however I do find that it strips the moisture from my hair and after rinsing it out my hair feels coarse and dehydrated. After slathering on a conditioner and rinses it out my hair feels back to its silky smooth self. I just wonder what damage the shampoo could be causing by drying my hair out beforehand.

RESULTS: The effects of this shampoo are evident after blow drying as it looks to of neutralised some brassy tones. However, for me my hair doesn’t appear any brighter or more toned but that could be because the daily shampoo is more diluted.

VERDICT: This product did dry my hair out after application however it did recover and regain hydration after I slathered on the conditioner. The effects of the purple shampoo were noticeable after blow dry however it didn’t have a great impact on the tone and brightness of my hair even though it did aid in ridding some orange tones. For a budget purple shampoo under £4 I’d definitely recommend the brand Pro:Voke however I’d opt for their normal shampoo/ conditioner and not the colour care range.  

REVIEW: Not the best purple shampoo from the Pro:Voke range, would recommend their normal brightening shampoo and not the colour care as it is quite drying.

Charles Worthington Colour Enhancer Violet Shampoo


KEY INFO: This product is aimed towards cool blonde tones that need extra care to stay vibrant. Before I picked up this shampoo I read mixed reviews on the result but thought I’d give it a go. The formula itself is quite weak with a very pastel lilac shade (for those who don’t know the darker the purple pigment the greater the neutralising results) but I couldn’t see this until I’d purchased the product which retails at £5.99.

TREATMENT: The shampoo foams up nicely and contains guarana (seed of South African tree containing caffeine) which helped to hydrate my hair and make it feel incredibly soft. So much so it felt as though I could have easily skipped the conditioning stage but being an inbuilt routine I didn’t!

FINISH: Of course as the purple/ violet tones in the shampoo were quite weak the formula didn’t really make a great impact on my brassy tones. It did slightly help to cool them down but wasn’t able to brighten, tone or completely rid any warm tones.

VERDICT: This product may not be the best for those who are in desperate need to tone their hair and instantly remove brassiness. However due to its hydrating properties and milky violet tones it would make a great daily shampoo to use in between deep toning treatments such as the Fudge Clean Violet Shampoo below!

REVIEW: Formula is too milky for a strong purple/ violet shampoo, doesn’t tone or really remove any brassiness however would be perfect for daily use in between deep purple shampoo treatments as formula leaves hair incredibly soft.

Fudge Clean Blonde Violet Toning Shampoo


KEY INFO: This is one of my favourite purple/violet toning shampoos. It is a little more expensive than your high street brands at £10-£13 however the deep purple pigment and the strength of this toning shampoo means a little goes a long way and you only need to use it every other to every third wash. So you’re basically paying extra for the strength and concentrate of the product.

TREATMENT: You only need small amount of this product and be careful not to flick it all over your bathroom wall as you massage it in as the purple can sometimes stain. But the thick, deep purple shampoo foams up nicely and once massaged in you can leave this on for around 10 minutes (as advised). However I have previously left it on for longer to get a brighter more white tone too my hair, but if your hair is already a very light blonde be careful not to leave it on too long as it could take in too much product and have a purple hue (which personally I think looks great!).

FINISH: After using this treatment alongside a regular colour care conditioner my hair feels really soft and it is evident even when damp that the pigment has removed any brassy tones and left a brighter, cooler blonde. The only negative I found with the Fudge shampoo is as it’s quite concentrated the shampoo took to my darker roots and did lighten them so I now only use it from the mid-section down.

VERDICT: This shampoo is basically a fully loaded salon quality toner. It removes all traces of brassiness from the hair, leaves a cooler more ash tone and works its magic in just under 10 minutes. If you’re looking for some serious results and want a deep treatment to give you that then definitely opt for the Fudge Clean Blonde Violet Toning Shampoo.

REVIEW: The perfect toning shampoo to remove any/all brassy tones leaving a silky smooth, cool blonde salon quality finish. A little goes a long way so this shampoo will last you a while as only required in between washes to every third wash.

Beki Xo
Strawberry & Basil G&T Ice Lollies

I’ve probably got a 4 hour window to post this before the weather turns to shit but who needs the sun as an excuse to have G&T ice lollies?!

Although a simple cucumber gin and tonic is pretty refreshing on a hot day, cocktail season is here and something sweet, tart, earthy and alcoholic (being the main thing) creates the perfect twist on your usual strawberry ice pop.

Making the ice lollies is pretty simple as long as you don’t go to town on the alcohol bit (which I’ve had to restrain myself from doing) because we all know alcohol doesn’t freeze.  If you do pop a bottle of gin in the freezer and it goes slushy it’s because the water in it has frozen but the alcohol hasn’t…

So what do you need? Aside from ice lolly moulds…

Strawberry and Basil G&T Ice Lollies (per lolly)
25ml gin (single shot)
1-2 basil leaves
2-3 strawberries  (1 for garnish)
Top with tonic

How to make it? (Multiply the below by how many moulds you have)

Add 25ml of gin to a cocktail shaker
Pop in 4 strawberry halves and 1-2 basil leaves depending on their size
Use a muddler to bash the ingredients together and release the flavours
Shake the cocktail shaker and strain into the ice lolly mould
Add a slice of strawberry and a tiny sprig of basil
Top with tonic

And it’s as simple as that! To make your classic G&T ice lolly it’s even easier. Pop in 25ml of gin into the mould, add a slice of cucumber and top with tonic!


Beki Xo

 
Talking Interiors: The Woman Cave (*) Photo Credit: desire.inspire.net

Everyone has heard of a 'man cave' (n) 
a room or other area in a home that is primarily a male sanctuary, designed and furnished to accommodate the man's recreational activities, hobbies, etc but what about a 'woman cave'?


It's not a term that crops up very often but imagine having your own personal hide out. A place you can go to get away from everything, enjoy your own company and just relax without any interruptions. Or if you prefer it could be somewhere to bring the girls, have a fun evening catching up and getting pampered over a couple bottles of prosecco.


Personally I'd love it and if I had an extra room in my house to fill I'd totally do it. I mean with the ideas I have it would have to be a large room but then again who says it has to be a room? It could be a 'woman shed' at the end of the garden.

If money was no option and there was no limit on space I'd have a large white painted room with black wooden (heated) floors, floor to ceiling windows and one large bi folding door to open up the space. 

In one corner I'd have my own gin cocktail making bar with a high table, stools and a huge collection of gin, freshly grown garnishes and mixers.

In another I'd have a large indoor swinging chair, loaded with fluffy cushions and surrounded by dozens and dozens of  plants to create a indoor/outdoor feel. A sort of mini corner green house that you'd relax in, read a book or simply meditate. Propped against the wall would sit a floor standing mirror made of reclaimed wood and draped with fairy lights.

In the centre of the room would lay a huge grey thick faux fur or shagpile rug and on top of that would be a large stand alone black jacuzzi bath that would look onto a projector screen so you can watch movies in the tub! Of course if you're watching movies you'd need a small fridge to contain goodies and keep your gin or prosecco cold!

The whole space would be filled with mood lighting, fairy lights and candles because... hygge.

I've actually created a 'woman cave ideas' mood board so if you're interested in creating your own head on over for some ideas.


Beki Xo


(*) This blog post was in collaboration with Taskers Online
Lidl Hortus Limited Edition Summer Gin Review

With a collection of 20+ gins (to date) I soon learnt that it’s not always about cost. You don’t ‘get what you pay for’ when it comes to gin, it’s more about personal preference and I soon learnt this after working with smaller distilleries.

I’ve always been one to root for the smaller brands however after coming across an article about Lidl’s new version of their ‘award-winning’ Hotrus gin I was both intrigued and sceptical. I’ve always thought of budget supermarkets watering down their gin BUT I also know that bigger brands repackage their products to sell for less as supermarkets own brand… so I had to try it.

The gin itself cost around £15.99 and has been compared to the likes of SipSmith’s London Dry Gin. The packaging is far from looking like a cheap alternative and comparing it to some of the gins I own it does look more of a luxury spirit.


It contains botanicals such as; Juniper, English coriander, Cubebs, Hibiscus, Rosehip, Bergamot and orange which all create their Hortus Limited Edition Summer Gin. Sipped straight it has a smooth floral note with and citrus kick. I like my gins to have a strong herbal, floral or fresh taste and this surprisingly (for a supermarket brand) packs a punch and fits the bill. 

Served with a slice of cucumber, a few cubes of ice and topped with Fevertree Tonic it’s the perfect G&T that does rival some well-known brands. Equally the botanicals will pull through more ingredients so it's the perfect fit for a Tom Collins, Negroni, Martini or a Singapore Sling... well done Lidl!

Beki Xo
Going Vegan: 3 Month Update & My Top 5 Documentaries

It's been 3 months since my last blog post "I Went Vegan For One Week and This Is What I Learned" and yes, I'm still eating plant based... 99% of the time.

99% Vegan?

I say 99% because eating items that are meat free is easy but dairy/ egg free is a whole different story. Sometimes it's hidden in packaged products you thought were vegan, sometimes you're given a plate in a restaurant you didn't know contained dairy or egg. Then there's pushing it upon other people as I don't expect anyone to cater separately for me. I can't physically eat meat after being educated but if someone hands me a Quorn dish (for example - which isn't always vegan) or the bread around my plant based filling contains milk, it's okay. It's okay because it's a small quantity and I know that the rest of the time I don't consume meat or dairy and there for I'm making an impact. Not only to the environment, not only to my personal heath but to the BIGGEST impact... the lives of animals. 

Hypocritical Animal Lover?
I previously favored the life of a cow or a pig over a dog or a cat. Why? Pigs are equally (if not more) intelligent than dogs, they know what's going on when they're going to slaughter, they can hear it, see it, smell it, feel it. Do we choose to eat pigs over dogs because they're cuter? Pigs can be domesticated pets too? As a BIG lover of animals I turned a blind eye to farmed animals as society says 'this is how it's meant to be' and I'm disappointed in myself for doing so. But since going vegan it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I no longer feel like a hypocritical or guilty.

Veganism Isn't A Religion
Funny thing is, I still cringe when I have to use the term 'vegan' and I'm continuously trying to find different terms to use. Meat and dairy free? Plant based? Herbivore? Cruelty free?

It's because when I mention the term 'vegan' people immediately treat it likes it's either a strict religion or a 'diet'. And quite frankly it's neither. Veganism simply acts on the idea that we should not exploit and harm animals. I didn't convert to anything, it's common sense for someone who loves animals not to want to intentionally take part in unnecessary animal cruelty and that includes eating it.

Society Is Fooling Us 
As a previous meat eater I never associated the plastic wrapped decaying flesh in my fridge with previously being a living, breathing animal. I would block out the cruelty (I imagined) went on in slaughter houses and I was forced (like we all are) by society into thinking 'free-range' meant animals could roam in open fields (this is far from the truth) so I guess it cleared my conscience into believing it was kinder and therefor eating meat was still okay.

However, after reading more into the meat and dairy industry, educating myself on how much society puts a blanket of bullsh*t over things to cover the truth and watching a handful of documentaries on why it's better for the environment, our health and the lives of animals, It all makes sense.

I'll hold my hands up now because I'm not one to preach that everyone needs to adopt the vegan lifestyle however I do like to educate the people who ask questions like "Where do you get your protein?", "What do you even eat?", "Aren't we supposed to eat meat otherwise the word will be over run?". Funny enough I was one of those people 3 months ago. I just wish people would accept that I have my views and you have yours.


Cows Eat Plants To Get Protein
I've noticed that a lot of people (those who he meat in particular) turn into professional nutritionists and get deep into conversation about protein, I mean where the f**k did the craze about getting protein even come from?! Yes animal tissue contains protein but do animals make it from thin air? Nope, they take it from the amino acids (the building block of protein) from plants. Plants are the only living thing that can create their own essential protein from scratch. Think about it, the biggest and strongest mammals on this earth are herbivores; elephants and gorillas. 

Don't get me wrong I was happily filling my gut with animal produce, unaware of the true reality because the nutritional society has made it seem 'normal' and thought of to be a ' healthy necessity' to consume meat for protein and dairy for calcium (calcium? Hah). And before you even blink I know what you're thinking; "We've eaten meat and dairy for years and years, veganism is a new diet...". Veganism has been around for years and years too it's just taken people to shout loud enough about it and for there to be evidential studies that prove why we shouldn't be consuming animal produce.

Top 5 Documentaries To Watch
But I'm not going to tell you what to believe in and what to eat. Instead I've rounded up my Top 5 videos, NOT to push you to become vegan but to educate yourself on what you're actually eating because we need to start giving a f*ck about what we eat:











Beki Xo
Rose Gin Fizz Cocktail ft House of Elrick Gin

House of Elrick gin is a spirit that originates from Aberdeenshire in the Scottish Highlands.
Being the only spirit made with the freshest water from the Lock Ness it contains 8 handpicked botanicals to create a fresh and floral yet earthy profile.

Botanicals such as; juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, citrus peel, built around a core of heather, pink peppercorns, sweet fennel and rose petals.

The creators of House of Elrick gin believe quality over quantity and there for the gin is distilled by hand in batches of 600 bottles per run which means they can maintain the control of every bottle that leaves their distillery.

When creating a cocktail for this gin I wanted something that would complement the aromatic and fresh profile and embrace those bold infusions of flavours.
After tasting the gin neat and testing numerous garnishes to see which would work best to create a summer cocktail I instantly fell for a floral and fresh taste creating… the Rose Gin Fizz cocktail.

Rose Gin Fizz Cocktail Recipe

50ml House of Elrick gin
25ml Rose Syrup
2 Ice cubes
1 Lemon (garnish)
Top with Prosecco or Champagne

Add 50ml of House of Elrick Gin and 25ml of rose syrup into a cocktail shaker

Pop in 2 ice cubes and shake until the cocktail shaker turns misty

Pour into a flute glass and top with prosecco or champagne


Add lemon peel to garnish and serve

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this review I was gifted the Colombo Gin however all opinions and the recipe itself are my own
Does activated charcoal really whiten teeth? 

I’ve always known activated charcoal (also known as activated carbon) is more porous than normal charcoal and is there for heavily used to aid in the removal of materials. More commonly it’s used to absorb poisons and other substances from the body that have been consumed, poisons that are organic chemicals such as the chemical created from food poisoning. However it’s more recently become very popular in the beauty industry and is being used as an ingredient that can draw out impurities (from the skin) and help remove unwanted particles and stains (from the teeth).


There are so many varieties of tooth whitening charcoal but the Laila London Activated Teeth Whitening Powder interested me the most with it's added ingredients, packaging and high reviews (I picked it up off of Amazon.co.uk) as well as the fact it is available in Boots!

The coconut based charcoal tooth whitening powder has added ingredients that change the PH levels in the mouth used to kill bacterial and prevent decay. It contains peppermint and lemon to soothe gums, cloves and cinnamon to not only add taste but also contain natural antibacterial properties as well as calcium carbonate to help strengthen sensitive teeth. 


But does it really work?

I’ve used the Laila London Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Powder for a week now and have noticed that it has made a difference. Although my teeth weren’t particularly stained beforehand and did appear quite white I had noticed they weren’t as ‘bright’ as usual and realised that’s probably due to those pesky coffee stains.

The product itself can be a little messy. It does advise to use purely the charcoal and no other toothpaste as apparently the glycerine in your average toothpaste can help prevent the natural process of strengthening and whitening your teeth (but you’d have to search that one!). I did try their recommended way of applying the powder to the toothbrush but preferred adding it to my toothpaste by dipping the toothbrush into the powder with a pea sized amount of paste attached. This made the application a little less messy.


The taste of the powder itself is like a sweet, fresh and very slightly spiced flavour which means you don’t get that usual chalky, mud like taste you get from plain old activated charcoal. The powder doesn’t foam up (if you’re using it alone) and you don’t get that satisfying feeling that your teeth have been cleaned to the core (even though they are!). This is another reason why I chose to add it to my toothpaste however it’s really just something that will take some getting used to. 


Another slight negative about the charcoal powder is that although it only suggested brushing your teeth with just water for the last part of your routine (to rid the powder fully) some particles do still stick around and I preferred to use mouth wash to rid those away.

However after using this for 1 week I was surprised to notice a difference. My teeth where whiter and brighter (especially between teeth) but you need to bear in mind that it’s a natural product and not a bleach, so it will only make your teeth as white as they can naturally be. Another positive to it being a natural whitening product is that it’s less harmful than strips, so it won’t strip the enamel or create sensitivity.

Will I continue to use this? Hell yeah. I tend to use it every other day as it’s really helping to rid those coffee stains that can build up daily in between teeth.  

Beki Xo


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