Coffee with Currys

Monday, 8 December 2014

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Nespresso 'Coffee with Currys' event in Cardiff - you'll have probably seen the #coffeewithcurrys hashtag around the social media-sphere.

It was such a fantastic event, I met a lot of lovely faces behind some wonderful blogs like She and Hem, A Lovely AppetiteA Cardiff Beauty Blog and A Slice of My Life to name but a few.

The day was truly a coffee lovers delight!

The event was held in a lovely little cafe called Wyandham Tea suited in a quaint little arcade, a stone throw from the train station.

We started the day with a yummy iced ginger mocha, and a lovely introduction from the team at Joe Blogs, Nespresso and Currys.

Now let me start by saying that although I am a huge tea and coffee fan, I've never been hugely impressed by 'pod coffee machines' and have always been somewhat set in my mocha pot and cafetiere ways. But - when the invite popped in my inbox I was eager to find out more...

The event was based around 4 different stations, all encompassing different ways to use Nespresso. From Coffee Cocktails, 'Cupping' (this really isn't anything rude I promise!), Latte Art and an Introduction to the different Nespresso machines available.

Now the first thing I learnt was that my coffee pod machine ideas were someone outdated. It wasn't all instant coffee and dried milk. No, no, no. Nespresso works by using the freshest pod of finely ground coffee, combined with one of their many 19 bar pressure machines and producing a rather perfect espresso. To my relief, there wasn't any UHT or powdered milk in site, phew!

So, in theory, a Nespresso machine is just a very clever and tidy way of making the freshest, tastiest espresso coffee in your own home - which can be added to hot steamed milk to make an amazing latte!

Making the coffee cocktails was a blast. James, the mixologist was fab. He showed us how to make a selection of tasty coffee infused tipples which really went down rather too easily!

My faourite creation was the Toblerone Cocktail:

  • 1 Measure of Coffee (either a vanilla or caramel Nespresso pod)
  • 1.1/4 Measure of Kahlua
  • 1.1/4 Measure of Baileys
  • 2 Measures of Milk
  • Melted Chocolate and Honey to decorate

You literally mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, pour melted chocolate and honey around the inside of a glass, then top with the creamy coffee concoction. Perfection.

Following the mixology session, we headed over to the demo area to see the machines in action. I have to say that I was totally taken with the Lattissima machine. It had a built in milk steamer, with a detachable milk container you could pop in the fridge between brews. It was so simple and easy to use. No mess, just the flick of a switch. And most importantly, the coffee tasted divine! (The Lattissima machine is now firmly on top of my Christmas list!)

There are over 22 different blends of Nespresso pods, and with already a large number AAA rated, they're working towards making the range 100% AAA rated - so it's clear to see the company takes the whole coffee process extremely seriously.

After the demo, we stopped for lunch. And my oh my what a lunch it was; perfectly cooked salmon, kale salads, freshly baked breads and delicious tartlets (it makes me hungry just remembering it!). 

Lunch was followed by a rather difficult latte art session. Needless to say, my cup looked atrocious - seriously bad. I tried to save it with a few swirls from a trusty wooden coffee stirrer, shameful I know. 

The last session of the day was the 'Cupping'. Our group sat around the table, and took it in turns to taste and describe different blends of freshly made Nespresso. This was fun, albeit also challenging! I was pleased to report I did manage to figure out a few! 

Before we finished for the day we were treated to some homemade cakes, all incorporating coffee. From sweet potato cake, to gluten free coffee and caramel cake they were all extremely moreish. They were the perfect accompaniment to end a lovely day, with another cup of coffee!

If you are interested in having a look at more of the range then head on over to Currys!


Total Guide to Reading has now Launched!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Follow my blog with BloglovinWe're so pleased over at Total Towers - our fifth site has just gone live! (whoop whoop!)

As Halloween is just around the corner, we've been busy with that too. With the help of my colleague Dan Flay (model), we've put together a great little tutorial on how to achieve the perfect skeleton makeup! All you need is a white and black face paint, a sponge and a couple of brushes. To see how we created the look from start to finish click on the image and you'll be transported to the tutorial! Easy peasy!

It is on all our sites, but as Total Guide to Reading is the newest (and we're all pretty excited about it) I thought i'd give you the link to this one. Feel free to have a look around the site and see the best places to listen to Jazz, go for Sunday Lunch or even what to do on a Rainy Day!

Dermatude Facial with Bloomin Beautiful

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

How does Meta Therapy work?
Image from

Working as a Beauty Editor definitely has some fab perks, getting to try new and excitement treatments is by far the best one.

Working with Total Swindon means I've been able to work with some fantastic experts in the beauty field, and none more so than Caroline from Bloomin Beautiful (a rather fabulous beauticians based in Swindon).

I first went into Bloomin Beautiful to experience an Environ Facial and skin scan - which was great. You can read my full review here. The skin scan was a great way of really looking into your skin's health, and was very useful in helping you decide on the right products best suited for your skin type.

My biggest problem, apart from dreaded hormonal breakouts, is the slight scaring I have on my cheeks and forehead. I had never really thought much about how to improve the appearance of these, as I assumed the only way would be expensive (and painful) laser treatment.

That is before I was introduced to Dermatude - which I really knew very little about. Dermatude is a type of Meta Therapy that involves making lots of tiny, (as in so small you can’t see them), micro-perforations on the top layer of the skin. Now this might sound painful, but I can assure you it really wasn’t too bad at all – waxing hurts a lot more!

My First Beauty Editor's Picks

Saturday, 4 October 2014

I'm super excited to share with you my very first Beauty Editor's picks with Total Guide to. I've picked some of my favourite products to share with you - perfect for October!

Let me know what you think!

You can read it here.

Review // The Body Shop Nutriganics Smoothing Eye Cream

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

This year I celebrated my 27th birthday, and although I am by no means old, it got me thinking about anti-aging.

When should we start thinking about this?

I think it's important to start thinking about anti-aging before it happens - prevention is better than cure after all!

I have heard people say you should start wearing anti-aging products in your early twenties - which I definitely didn't do! I have been careful to limit my sun exposure, I don't smoke and I rarely drink - all things renowned to aggravate the aging process.

Hitting 27, and my skin having started to settle, I thought it was about time I at least gave it a thought. Until recently I was still looking for anti-blemish over anti-ageing - so I didn't really pay that much attention to anti-aging products! One thing that has always worried me about anti-aging skin care is the richness of the creams. For someone like me, who has suffered from blemish prone skin, I am always cautious about what I put on my face through fear of provoking breakouts. Heavy oily creams have always been a no no.

Having done my research, it became apparent that the delicate skin around the eyes was one of the most noticeable areas of facial aging. I starting looking into anti-aging eye creams, and oh boy there are a lot out there!

I ended up purchasing The Body Shop's Nutriganics Smoothing Eye Cream at £14. It was by chance that I ended up seeing this product - I was given a £10 off a £20 spend voucher and thought i'd stock up on some bits. I will add here that I am really glad I did find this cream, I love it and will be replacing it when it runs out.

The cream is not designed to just 'reduce the appearance of fine lines' - which so many products claim to do, instead it is designed for the first signs of aging. It soothes the eye area leaving it soft and supple without being heavy or sticky. Keeping the eye area well hydrated is key to reducing the onset of wrinkles. The cream's ingredients are 99% of natural origin - which is always a plus.

My eyes feel fresher, and my make-up applies really well over this product. I don't actually have any fine lines around my eyes - so I cannot comment on that. But I have seen an improvement in the appearance of my under eye skin.  I would recommend this product for anyone in their twenties as a fab first eye cream.

Fingers crossed it will be a while before I have to up my anti-aging game!

What anti-aging skin care do you use?

Beau Jardin Luxury Hand Creams

Monday, 1 September 2014

I have a 'thing' for all things floral and/or vintage inspired - and this doesn't stop when it comes to buying beauty products.

Beau Jardin from Heathcote & Ivory make the most gorgeous toiletry products. All their packaging has been beautifully created in a vintage French style. Seriously, vintage and French - does it get much better???

I've had the pleasure of trialing their Shea Butter Hand Creams in all three of their wonderful scents. These scents were inspired by the tradition of mixing and blending home grown herbs and floral essences.  The Beau Jardin range is packed with lovely ingredients like Shea butter, vitamin E, oat bran, almond oil and contains no parabens or sulphates.

The three different scents include; Citrus Grove, Rose and Geranium, and Lavender and Jasmine. They are really light, and pretty, floral scents - quite traditional but not so traditional they smell like old lady perfume.

I love their little motto - “a treat for today springing from the wisdom of yesterday”

The hand cream is lovely and rich. It soaks into the skin to leave your hands silky smooth. The tube does take a little warming up to help get the cream out easier – if you don’t you’ll be squeezing for some time as it is quite a thick cream. But don’t let its thickness put you off, when  it warms into the skin it’s pure luxury.

I have really enjoyed using the creams; they keep my hands soft and smell great – a really top product all round and not too badly priced at £8 for the set of three! They are small so good to keep in your handbag - and I like to swap and change depending on my mood. Overall I would recommend them and their packaging means they also make great gifts. You can buy these pretty potions from the Heathcote and Ivy website here.

p.s - there is an offer at the mo if you spend over £15, see below..


Beauty // Mini Makeup Haul

Thursday, 28 August 2014

I popped into Boots on my way home from work today, and picked up a few treats from the Rimmel stand.

I'm by no means a makeup snob, but I tend to buy mainly Bobbi Brown and MAC makeup for myself, but every now and then a drug store brand catches my eye. 

I used to use a lot of Rimmel in my teens, it was always very affordable and actually pretty good!

I've been reading a lot of good things lately about their 'Wake Me Up' foundation - so thought I'd give it a go! I only wear foundation when I'm off out somewhere nice, or have a meeting with work. I like a medium to full coverage that is buildable and moisturising - there's nothing worse than a tight face from overtly drying foundation! At a mere £8.99, it was also a complete bargain - so why not!

Life // Emily Griffin Make-up Artist

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sorry for yet another long delay between posts, once again I have let life get in the way! You may have noticed my blog is undergoing a bit of a re-vamp - it's not quite finished but I think it looks much cleaner than my previous theme. I will finish it soon I promise!

If you've been reading my blog, or following me on my various social media accounts, you'll know that I have completed my make-up course and I am now qualified - eek! My website is not quite finished, but you can see the work in progress at (yes I know another job on my ever growing list!).

I am so excited, I got my Sally's trade card this week (for those of you not familiar with Sally's it's a hair and beauty trade suppliers - aka heaven!). I bought some fantastic supplies for my kit - and my favourite shampoo in salon size at a very good price.

I have been researching 'setting up a business' and extra makeup products to buy for my kit. I bought a fantastic holdall from Primark at the weekend, to carry all my lovely kit in. I am not a huge fan of the heavy makeup boxes, as they aren't the most practical. The bag is black with gold hardware and looks sleek and professional. I sort my makeup into clear plastic cosmetic bags, with black piping, so these fit perfectly in the holdall. I haven't taken a picture yet - but I will do this week. It was only £12, and a real bargain!

I will do a little post soon, to show you all my hard work setting up as a freelance makeup artist (and a sneaky look into my makeup kit). I am hoping to get some portfolio pictures shot this month - so that will also make for an interesting post!

I have also set up a Facebook page here - so please help support my new business venture and hit the like button! I will be sharing tips and advice soon, as well as advertising my work.

if you have any questions for me then please do post a comment!

Emily x

Review // Romantic Birthday Getaway at Thornbury Castle Part 3

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Welcome to the final part of my Thornbury Castle review. I have saved the best until last.. the restaurant. You can read part one and part two here.

Thornbury Castle's restaurant is truly fantastic. The food is incredible. It doesn't come cheap - but then you do get what you pay for. The dinner menu rocks in at £50pp excluding drinks. But - it is honestly worth it.

Review // Romantic Birthday Getaway at Thornbury Castle Part 2

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

If you read the first post in this series (if not read it here), you'll know that I took my boyfriend for a surprise night away to the amazing Thornbury Castle. I took so many pictures, and the hotel was so great, that I decided to split it up into three posts; The Room, The Grounds and The Restaurant.

I think the grounds speak for themselves, so here they are:

Review // Romantic Birthday Getaway at Thornbury Castle Part 1

Monday, 5 May 2014

A couple of weeks ago I surprised my other half Kevin with an overnight stay at the highly renowned Thornbury Castle Hotel for his Birthday. Kevin loves history, castles, the Tudors, unique luxury hotels and good food. So, with this in mind, Thornbury Castle fitted the brief perfectly.

I first came across the Castle after reading an article on Total Bristol - following their victorious win, again, of Small Hotel of the Year 2013 in the Bristol Tourism and Hospitality Awards. The hotel is situated in the small (emphasize small) town of Thornbury in South Gloucestershire. The building dates back to the 1500's (but has obviously undergone renovations and updates since then). Apparently, it's not a 'true castle' but more a Tudor country house - but either way it's pretty fantastic! It even boasts a visit from King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Kevin has no idea I had booked this surprise stay until the day we were due to leave. I do love a good surprise! Anyways, off we headed.

The breathtaking hotel is hidden just behind a beautiful old church, on a narrow winding road. It is set in preened green gardens and it really is a gorgeous building! I ended up taking so many photos that I am splitting this post up into three; Our room, The Grounds and The Restaurant.

Our Room - The Bedford

We parked the car up (although there was valet parking) and headed to reception to check in. We were staying in one of the hotel's 'Deluxe rooms' called The Bedford - and it really was deluxe. We headed out of reception, across the pretty courtyard, to the little tower and up a winding spiral staircase to an old oak door (okay, so i don't know if it was actually oak - but it's setting the atmosphere right??).

We put the old fashioned key in the door and were greeted by the most amazing hotel room I have ever seen. A gigantic four posted bed adorned with luxurious red velvet and gold piping was situated to the left of the room, the stone walls were decorated with old tapestries, guild mirrors and period paintings. To the right of the room, in pride of place, was a large gas fireplace, two couches, a TV (in an old fashion cabinet) and a complimentary decanter of sherry. The room had wonderful wooden floors with large traditional rugs and it was simply incredible.

At the back of the room was a small door way. This lead through to the huge bathroom. For me bathrooms are just as important as the hotel room, and I'm pleased to report that the Bedford's bathroom was lovely. It was large, clean and decorated to a high standard with wonderfully fragrant toiletries. It had a huge sink, a big shower cubical and a separate bath. I was slightly disappointed in one thing - there were no mini toiletries! I love getting to a hotel and using their mini products - there is something about a mini product that I just love. (I've even ended up buying products after using them in a hotel and they are always brilliant for your carry on luggage when you fly). They did have lovely products though. The brand they used was VOYA - which is a lovely organic spa range. They were in large bottles and it was cleared stated if you took them home you'd be charged.. so we just enjoyed them there.

The bed was lovely and comfy, the bedding was crisp and clean and there wasn't a sound to be heard. We really did love the room and had a great night sleep - after enjoying dinner in their fabulous restaurant and a cheeky bottle of a delicious Bordeaux.

Stay tuned for the restaurant review (including rhubarb vodka, the perfect chocolate fondant and mouthwatering peppered loin on venison), and some snaps of their picturesque grounds.

Here are our room pictures, enjoy...


Life // A New Spring in My Step and Bath in Fashion

Saturday, 26 April 2014

April so far has been just incredible! After a lot of hard work and dedication, and an absolute refusal to give up, I am pleased to announce I have started a brand spanking-new job. I am now - drum roll please - a Digital Content Editor for the for the amazing Total Guide to Ltd.

I studied English at uni, but never really knew what I wanted to do. It was 6 years ago when I graduated, and it was only in the last 2/3 years that I realised I wanted to work in the media. Not being fresh out of Uni, I thought I would find a lot of obstacles in pursuing a career change to this industry. Luckily for me, my commitment and passion, and a whole lot of freelancing has paid off. 

So far my month has been jam packed full. My first week started with Coba Cocktail Ice Lollies and ended with my, extremely well deserving, boss the stunning Liz Ledger (who I am hoping will inspire my waist line not just my career) winning Business Person of the Year after a champagne reception at the glitzy Wiltshire Business Awards.

I have honestly had such an amazing first few weeks and I couldn't of ask for lovelier work colleagues.

But, little did I know the best was yet to come. Bath in Fashion, now that's what I'm talking about!

I am so excited to be going along to some of the events to cover them for our Bath site. With the likes of Barbara Hulanicki (the brains behind the iconic brand BIBA), Mary Homer of Topshop, Vogue on Vivienne Westwood, Makeup Masterclasses, catwalks and much much more Bath in Fashion 2014 looks to be a huge success - and I can't wait!

You can check out our coverage and details of all the events here at Total Guide to Bath's Bath in Fashion Guide.

I'd love to know if you are going to any of the events or have been in previous years?

Hopefully, I'll see some of you there!

Vintage and Retro Festival

Friday, 28 March 2014

A few weekends ago I went along to the Brunel Swindon's first ever Vintage and Retro festival with the lovely Stephanie from Stephanie Dreams and Jess from Total Guide.

The festival took place over the weekend with lots of locals getting involved. The Brunel's own vintage shops Carry on Vintage and Miche Niche styled the catwalk - with wonderful vintage hair styled by the lovely Sass's Hair and Beauty. There was also a fab make-up demonstration from the students of Swindon College (which is where I did my makeup course!). They were kindly gifted make-up products from the Boots No 7 brand - which believe it or not, was first launched in 1935!

One of the highlights for me was a lesson in 1940's fashion from the wonderful Biltz Buddies group. They are a group of friends who all share a love of the Blitz era. They had the most incredible clothes - including original pieces as well as beautifully crafted reproductions. They even had an infamous hard wearing CC14 coat and a parachute silk dress - and let's not gloss over their very own Captain Mainwaring!

The event also had vintage cars, music, dancing and a vintage market. Over all I really enjoyed the day - it was a welcome change for my little home town and I am looking forward to seeing what the next one has in store!

Here are some snaps of the day:


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