#ad – complimentary event at which I received PR gifted items


#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day
Flowers and personalised card from Moonpig

I’m incredibly lucky to have a mum in my life that I know will always be there for me if I pick up the phone, no matter how long we go in between calls. It seems only right to show my gratitude in some small way on Mother’s Day.

This year Moonpig decided to help a bunch of us to celebrate the mother figures in our lives. They invited us to their London headquarters to spend an afternoon hanging out with them, with lots of activities organised to keep us entertained!

Moonpig HQ

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

Arriving at Moonpig HQ, Mum and I grabbed a delicious mocktail and went off to explore. The office is modern, colourful and spacious, a truly inspiring space for creative minds. The highlight for me was (of course) the bar and kitchen area, kitted out with just about every appliance you could dream of owning. Imagine arriving at your office and being able to whip up a fresh smoothie to start the day!

Moonpig’s brand guru gave us a sneak peek of their new Mother’s Day advert, then helped us to get to know the company a little better. Did you know that they produce 300 orders every minute, and send 16 million cards a year?

At the heart of it Moonpig want to help us to create meaningful connections. We can show that we care through the simple act of sending a card with a heartfelt message inside, or picking out the perfect gift to uplift someone’s day. I know first hand how lovely it feels to receive a beautiful card and a handwritten note out of the blue, thanks to my lovely friend Pippa who surprises me like this on a regular basis.

Mums get it done!

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

To start off our afternoon of fun we had a crack at cocktail making! After watching a professional do it, we set about recreating a fairground themed creation. Mum was soon measuring out shots and working with dry ice like she’d been bartending for years. This is one of the things I have always loved about my mum. She just gets in there and gets any job done; no muss no fuss!

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

The cocktails we created were sweet, syrupy and delicious but my mum wasn’t at all sure about the ‘trendy’ vessel it was served in. “It’s supposed to be a goldfish in a bag Mum.” I explained as she held hers dubiously. “How do I put it down?” She asked. Clearly my mum isn’t one for chugging a cocktail in one go with a straw. (I’m not either mum. Obviously. Cough.)

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day
#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

Personalised Mother’s Day Cards

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

Next we made our way to the laptop stations to create our own personalised Mother’s Day card on the Moonpig website. It’s really easy to do. You simply select your design (with or without your own photo), customise the text and you’re done! The card can either be sent directly to the recipient, or to yourself with an extra envelope so that you can sign it and send it on after.

We ordered our card that Sunday and it arrived at my door the following Tuesday, so don’t panic, you still have plenty of time to buy a Mother’s Day card in time for the weekend!

Time for tea

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day
#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

Everything stops for tea and the Moonpig team had put on a lovely spread for us to enjoy. I was even treated to a gorgeous selection of vegan treats – what a lovely touch.

Moonpig Gifts and Flowers

I had vaguely known that Moonpig offered flowers and gifts in addition to cards, but for some reason I’d never really considered using them for that service before.

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day
#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

Seeing their beautiful blooms and collection of gifts in person made me realise I’ve been missing a trick. From pampering treats to indulgent food hampers and more than a few gin themed care packages, they have a huge range to choose from and everything is beautifully presented.

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day
#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day
#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day
#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

After a good browse we were introduced to the creative team responsible for sourcing and designing Moonpig’s flower arrangements. My past attempts at unwrapping flowers and rearranging them into vases has been pitiful so it was really useful to get some tips straight from their florist experts.

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

The best bit of advice was something so obvious that I could kick myself for never having thought of it before! Bunches of flowers tend to arrive pre-arranged. Don’t spoil this by taking the elastic band off too soon. Instead, trim the stems whilst they’re still tied together and only remove the band once you’re ready to put them into the vase. Hey presto – no re-arranging required.

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

Very generously, Moonpig gave us each our own bunch of flowers to take home. Mine survived the two hour tube, train and car journey in their sturdy box and lasted for well over a week and a half at home. I’m super impressed with the quality of them and wouldn’t hesitate to order from them now.

#lovestartswithmum Moonpig Mothers Day

As if we hadn’t been spoiled enough, Moonpig had one last trick up their sleeve. On our way out, we were each given a goody bag containing a selection of gifts available from their site. Mine contained Vegan Friendly Unicorn Dust Bath Crumble which smells divine, a fabulous flamingo mug in hot pink and perhaps the sassiest cocktail book I’ve ever flicked through!

Thanks Moonpig!

I must say a huge thank you to Moonpig for hosting such a thoughtful event and for giving me plenty of fresh present ideas.

We left the event feeling very spoiled, but the best gift of all was getting to spend a fun day together creating memories!

LovedByLaura

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#ad (meal gifted as part of press preview evening)


A Night at The Brampton Mill - pineapple tart tatin dessert

You know when you pull up to a place and immediately know that you’re going to love your time there? Well The Brampton Mill in Huntingdon is that kind of pub.

They have just completed an extensive refurbishment and we were delighted to be invited to the press preview evening ahead of the grand reopening.

A Night at The Brampton Mill - entrance sign

The countryside pub sits along the River Ouse with views out across the water. In summer, you might spot black swans and kingfishers on your short walk from the car to the entrance, but we made do with a clear night sky and the moon sparkling off ripples in the water. It’s one of those locations that instantly relaxes you.

A Night at The Brampton Mill - the working mill

Outside, the 500 year old pub has kept with tradition and maintains an impressive fully functioning mill wheel. (Here’s a picture of it in daylight because my night time shot in ‘auto mode’ did not do it justice!)

A Night at The Brampton Mill - the bar

Inside, the pub is now open plan with a spacious entrance and sweeping bar. For one night only they’d set up a gin station…

A Night at The Brampton Mill - the bar
A Night at The Brampton Mill - the bar

…but I’m a cocktail girl at heart! The bartender was happy to oblige and put on a show with plenty of flourishes and tricks. I was presented with a tropical number. It went down very easily, I must say!

The new decor is modern and contemporary and each area has its own distinct look and feel. One level features eclectic velvet seats decorated with winged monkeys and vines on one side and plush pink on the other.

A Night at The Brampton Mill - the plush seating area
A Night at The Brampton Mill - the plush seating area

The uppermost floor is set in the eaves with a contemporary palette of golds, tan and blue. Meanwhile downstairs, the bar area is adorned with lush leafy plants, opulent wallpaper and polished marble.

A Night at The Brampton Mill - the downstairs seating area

This is all very well but obviously I was most interested in the food! In addition to a new range of health conscious, high protein options under 700 calories, The Brampton Mill have also launched a new improved vegan menu – yay for me!

I chose garlicky pan fried mushrooms to start which came served with a delicious soy, lime and ginger dip as well as a melt in the mouth rice-paper cracker.

A Night at The Brampton Mill - vegan starter of mushrooms

Oliver also went for a vegan option too, soup of the day.

A Night at The Brampton Mill - vegan starter of soup of the day

For his main Oliver stuck to a pub classic whilst I was a little more adventurous.

A Night at The Brampton Mill - non vegan main for my boyfriend - steak
A Night at The Brampton Mill - vegan main of spiced coconut curry

My Spiced Coconut Curry was a really satisfying plate of food. I found it warming but not too spicy, with a rich creaminess thanks to the coconut milk. The miso sesame aubergine added unami flavour and sticky jasmine rice finished it all off nicely.

By this point Oliver was completely full. However with an impressive five vegan desserts to choose from it would have been a travesty not to try one.

A Night at The Brampton Mill - vegan pineapple tart tatin dessert

The pineapple tart tatin defeated me in the end but I still ate far more than I should have. It was refreshing and decadent which are two words I don’t often use to describe vegan desserts. Thank you The Brampton Mill!

A Night at The Brampton Mill - the wine cube full of bottles of prosseco

There was a fantastic atmosphere in the place, all around us we could hear the clink of glasses, laughter and good conversation. The dishes were thoughtful with something on there to suit every taste. From our table we could see out across the third floor, and wandering down to the lower floors we were able to view the mill in action too.

All too soon it was time to head home, but I know we’ll be paying a return visit during Summer to try and spot those swans! The Brampton Mill has now reopened and I highly recommend a trip if you’re in the area.

LovedByLaura
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Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers - title shot

Okay hands up, who else is struggling with what to get the men in your life for Christmas? When I asked Oliver what he wanted he just shrugged and said “surprise me”, the two words that strike fear into my life. I even put out an SOS on Twitter earlier this month asking for people to link me up with their gift guides for men. There was nothing but tumbleweed. It seems that no one else has a bloody clue either.

Men, this is why you always end up with socks, Calvin K’s or an electric shaver!

One thing that I know that Oliver does always appreciate is a good gin so when Drinks By The Dram offered to send me one of their Gin Festive Crackers * to review, I was intrigued! Could this be the answer to my shopping woes?

The gift set arrived attractively packaged in festive green, gold and red.

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers front of the box
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers back of packaging

The crackers sit neatly inside festooned with gold bows.

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers birdseye view of open box
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers reveal of cracker with gold bows

I was slightly worried about pulling the cracker and immediately sending a bottle of gin smashing to the floor. I found the bottle wrapped up safely inside a joke and a party hat though – phew!

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers bottle of gin
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers unwrapped bottle of gin

There are six crackers in total, each one containing a different wax sealed 30ml dram of gin:

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers alternative view of gin bottle
  • Ableforth’s Bathtub Sloe Gin
  • Ableforth’s Bathtub
  • Gold Infused Yuletide Gin (sadly this one is not suitable for vegans – contains milk and egg)
  • Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin (57% vol!)
  • Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin
  • Tanqueray Rangpur Gin

I know that you could buy one big bottle of gin for a similar price (a set retails at £34.95) but I love all the little details that have gone into this gift set. It’s a fun way for a gin lover to try out some award winning tipples from around the globe.

I’m also rather excited about laying them out on the dinner table, they’re going to look so good!

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers picture of Ableforth's Bathtub Gin bottle

If you’re struggling to buy for the man in your life (or let’s not be sexist here, ANYONE that loves a good tipple!) the Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers are available online at Masters Of Malt and on Amazon. A Spirit and Liquers version of the cracker is also available along with a range of other themed selection boxes.


Remember that if you’re ordering online the last posting dates are:  Thursday 20th Dec (1st Class) and Saturday 22nd Dec (Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed).


LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Drinks By The Dram kindly gifted me their Gin Festive Crackers. They simply asked me to share my thoughts with my readers if I wanted to!




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The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper

Over the years I’ve sent several gift hampers as Christmas presents. I love the thought of someone’s face lighting up as they discover all the delicious surprises!

This is my first Christmas since turning vegan though and I’ve had to seriously consider what I feel comfortable buying as gifts for other people. I was thrilled to find that the The British Hamper Company offer no less than six beautiful gift hampers curated with entirely vegan friendly contents. Filled with artisan produce from all over the UK, that’s one choice made far easier!

I received their Deluxe Vegan Hamper * to review so let’s take a look inside.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper

In my opinion a proper gift hamper should come in special keepsake packaging. This one arrived presented in a beautiful box patterned with iconic London images and hand tied in royal blue ribbon. A personalised gift card inside invited me to enjoy the contents. Don’t worry British Hamper Company, I intend to!

In amongst the shredded papper I uncovered treat after treat.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper -contents of the box laid out

Strawberry and black pepper jam to accompany gourmet olive, walnut and pimenton toast…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - Strawberry and Black Pepper Jam

Luxury handcooked Yorkshire crisps…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper birdseye view of contents

Beautifully packaged Las Trincheras Gold venezuelan chocolate from Wilie’s Cacao…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - hand holding Las Trincheros Gold Dark Chocolate Bar

Even more chocolate with a Christmas classic – mint creams…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - hand holding Beech's Classic Mint Creams

…as well as air dried apple crisps, red onion chutney and a big bag of garlic and rosemary olives.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - arial view of box contents

What a gorgeous selection! I’ve been so tempted to make a start on them but I’m trying my best to save them for Christmas. I think they’ll be perfect nibbles to lay out on the table in the evening. I intend to tuck into mine whilst watching a festive movie or two!

If you’re struggling for a last minute Christmas gift or just want to treat yourself I recommend checking out British Hamper Company’s website. The vegan options are available here: https://www.britishhamper.com/uk/theme/vegan-hampers/


Just remember that if you’re ordering online the last posting dates are Thursday 20th Dec (1st Class) and Saturday 22nd Dec (Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed).


LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: The Deluxe Vegan Hamper was gifted to me by The British Hamper Company in exchange for sharing my honest review.

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Beauty Favourites December 18
[Vegan + Cruelty Free]

This year I’ve made it my mission to find high performing vegan and cruelty free beauty products to replace the ones I was using previously.

Here are some of my favourite pampering products found so far:

Banana Hair Mask | The Body Shop

My hair got into a terrible state a few years ago. It was dry and brittle and I ended having to have a chunk of it chopped out. I’ve managed to get it back into healthy shape but then found out that my trusty nourishing hair mask wasn’t cruelty free. Nuts.

I’ve tried quite a few brands now and the one I’ve ended up sticking with is the Banana Hair Mask from The Body Shop. It’s easy to apply and rinses out well, leaving my hair free from tangles and frizz with a nice shine. It also smells like Banana Munch Bunch yoghurt and the sweet scent lingers in my hair long after I dry it.

Shower & Bath Gels | Treacle Moon

Treacle Moon‘s bath and shower gels have the most delicious ingredients that smell good enough to eat. I’m currently finishing off Sweet Strawberry Dream before I head back to Marshmallow Hearts, which smells of sweet candy. My favourite over the summer was one Ginger Morning as its zesty smell was a really cheerful and refreshing pick me up in the morning.

Note that although everything in the Treacle Moon range is cruelty free, not all of it is suitable for vegans. Some products contain honey for example. However there is still lots of choice and the packaging very clearly labels the ones that are vegan. I also love the fact that Treacle Moon is available in supermarkets, which makes it easy for me to make an ethical choice.

Face Masks | Daytox* (available from Waitrose)

My skin was feeling pretty grotty a few weeks ago thanks to the cold from hell. I’d been cooped up inside with the heating on full blast and my skin overreacted by going extra oily and spotty. It was delightful!

Daytox (a new beauty brand available at Waitrose) had kindly sent me some products to try a while back and it seemed like the right time to put them through their paces.

The Active Charcoal Peel Off Mask did wonders for my skin and halted a few angry spots in their tracks. However I probably won’t buy this in future as I really didn’t enjoy peeling it off again!

This is because it sinks in deep to give your pores a very thorough cleanse, so when you take it off you can feel it clinging to your skin as it draws all the impurities out. My skin felt wonderful afterwards though, so if you’re less of a wimp than me and have trouble with blackheads this one’s for you.

The Detox Clay Mask, was a big hit however! It’s formulated with natural clay and an alkaline deep cleansing treatment designed to remove impurities and sooth stressed skin, so it does a similar job but is much more relaxing to use.

I really like it because it’s not too heavy and it dries fast, meaning that I can stil have a mini pamper session even when I’m a bit pressed for time. My skin feels clean, fresh and noticeably less oily.

Skincare for Men | Bulldog

I quite often treat my boyfriend to a pamper sesh so I’m chuffed to have discovered Bulldog, a vegan and cruelty free skincare range for men. It’s another one that you can find on the shelves at pretty much any supermarket as well as Boots and Superdrug now.

So far, we’ve tried the face wash, beard oil and an anti ageing moisturiser, all of which have been a success. The range has been on sale recently so I’ve been picking up bottles here and there for around £4 a time. In our opinion these are really good quality for men’s skincare so this seems like a total bargain to me!

The botanical scents are subtle and fresh and I’ve actually been nicking the face wash when I have a shower as I find it really gentle on my skin!


So there you have it, my vegan and cruelty free beauty recommendations for December ’18.

I’m always on the lookout for affordable, high performing ethical beauty products so if you have anything you think I should check out please let me know in the comments below!


LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterisk are PR samples which I have received in exchange for providing an honest review.

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