As a little girl Dawn seemed to have a charmed life, but she was hiding a dark secret: that her older brother, John, was abusing her. Then, aged fourteen, she was groomed by the father of a schoolfriend, a local businessman who seemed to love her. She ran away from home to be with him. Pregnant at sixteen, rejected by her parents, she ended up marrying him. She had no idea that he was a notorious criminal.For years, Dawn suffered horrific abuse from her husband and was frequently hospitalised. She was also forced to work all hours in the bars he owned and realized she was good at business – better than him. As her confidence grew, she found the strength to tell the police about her brother. Gradually, Dawn realised she was more than a battered wife – she was a survivor. When she fell in love with a genuinely good man, she hatched a dangerous plan to free herself from her abusive husband and take the thing he cared about most – his money.

I warn you now, this book will be uncomfortable read, involving child sexual abuse, grooming, domestic abuse and controlling coercive behaviour, but it is uncomfortable in the right way.

I found this book refreshingly written, as too many shy away from some details when tackling the theme of child abuse as if they are ashamed or too scared they will shock and horrify, or they try to be overly clinical – but this Dawn gives enough detail  to help readers understand the reality of what happened to her, and tackles the topics in an open way that gives a very real insight into the world of a victim turned survivor. You will feel both disgusted for yet also inspired by this young girl as she grows into the strong woman she becomes.

I found this book unputdownable. I started it and quite simply could not put it down until it was finished. A very gripping and compelling autobiography. The book very clearly illustrates early sexual abuse and coercive control and how such experiences affect the victim’s sense of their own self-worth and what is normal behaviour in a relationship.

Dawn said in an interview:  ‘Today, my freedom and independence mean the world to me. I believe that everybody has the right to be where they want, with whomever they chose. Now I want to inspire others to find the confidence to search for that freedom too.”

If you need help, call the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Trained counsellors are there to listen and provide practical information and emotional support, every hour of the day.

I Own You is out now, at £3.80 for a Kindle Edition, or £4.00 for a paperback.

I’ve got to say, I absolutely abhor protein shakes. Absolutely gross! No matter how tasty the first sip is, I also find swallowing it gross and gag-worthy, no idea why. I’d rather just smash a boiled egg after a workout than mixing grim powders with milk or water.

However, I got the chance to try Savsé protein smoothies – a brand created by Guka Tavberidze.

A lot of smoothie-type drinks use heat pasteurisation to make the product last longer and kill bacteria. The ingredients are boiled at 78 degrees, which strips out the goodness. Savsé smoothies are different as they’re cold pressed.

They use a method called high pressure processing (HPP) to make their smoothies. The fruit and veg ingredients are packaged in plastic containers and put in a high-pressure chamber filled with water. When the chamber is switched on it reaches pressures of 87,000 psi. Everything is completely fresh and the process gets rid of bacteria and gives the product a longer shelf life

You can look at the range here, but I tried Protein Blast, Protein Smash and Protein Punch – perfect when you’ve just had a work out and nicely refreshing too.

My favourite was definitely Protein Punch. Here’s the description:

“We took the classic Piña Colada and stirred it up, Savsé style, to make drinking protein a whole lot tastier. What’s more, this is the UK’s first cold-pressed protein drink preserved using HPP. This smoothie is a great way to pack protein into your diet and help repair tired muscles.”

Ah, modelled after an alcoholic drink. Probably why it’s my favourite. Go me. I’ve popped the nutritionals below – I’m a big calorie-watcher so 70cals was nice to see:

Honestly, take a look at the range – I’m a big fan now and will continue to be. The range can be found in Boots, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and more.

I was also sent some other goodies to try out to help me on my way to fitness, and I have been really enjoying the water infuser from Bobble. Priced at £10.49, Bobble is a stylish, reusable bottle that filters water as you drink, using an ingenious replaceable carbon filter. when water passes through the filter, the carbon removes chlorine. bobble is intended for municipal tap water making water better, with every sip.

I’ve been drinking so much more water!

In addition, these Happy Plugs earphones have come in handy, both when working out and when listening to playlists during work hours. They come with different sized ear buds, such a good idea for those with little ears!

 

images courtesy of savse.com, water bobble.uk

If you didn’t know already, I’m heading to Thailand in April and I’ve been trying to get this ass in shape. Problem is, I’m really lazy with my food at the moment, especially seeing as I’m still living in a studio flat (until 25th March!) and cooking / creating anything is a full blown operation.

Enter Lizi’s Granola. I’ve always avoided granola as I find it difficult to find some without loads of sugar or without mountains of dried fruit (gross).

Lizi’s Granola looked really interesting with plenty of varieties in the range; I’ve been trying out both the low sugar and high protein products which are suitable for vegetarians, vegans and are GL tested (the science-y thing that works out how to make us fuller for longer).

I mixed mine with Greek yoghurt, but often just had it plain with semi-skimmed milk and either chopped up banana or a few raspberries chucked in.

I’ve got a really weird thing about soft cereal as well so if it’s been sat on a shelf for a while I’ll just throw it away (I know, I know) – but these have a resealable top so there is no issue here!

The granola kept me full until lunch as well, something really important if you don’t want to be reaching for the biscuit tin at 11am! In short, I’m a big fan of this stuff – I hope you will be too. Enjoy!

images courtesy of lizis.co.uk and http://www.freshmarketing.eu

We were invited to Phở’s soft launch at its new restaurant in Kingston this week, and it’s fair to say that we were Phở-king loving it (sorry).

Stephen and Juliette Wall opened Pho, London’s first Vietnamese street food restaurant, in Clerkenwell in June 2005 after they travelled to Vietnam and fell in love with the food. They made the decision to start a restaurant serving pho while sat on high stools, slurping pho bo, around the shopfront of Pho Quynh in Ho Chi Minh City (323 Ð Pham Ngu Lao, if you’re heading there soon). Eleven years later, Pho is still a family-run business serving great value, authentically prepared Vietnamese street food, with restaurants in London, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge and Bristol.

Importantly, the food is made FRESH and in-branch everyday.

Phở [pronounced fuh] is the Vietnamese national dish; an aromatic, nutritious^ and delicious rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs to add as you please. The addition of these herbs and table condiments is an essential part of eating phở and adds another dimension to the dish – our chilli paste for a kick, fish sauce for extra saltiness, garlic vinegar for sourness.

Here’s what we had:

Muc chien giòn – tender friend baby squid with a salt, pepper and lime dip
Chå giò – crispy pork spring rolls
Pho chin – tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth
Pho tái chin – steak and brisket slow cooked in broth

The meat was amazing and there was absolutely loads there. It sounds gross, but I could have actually just drunk the broth, it tasted increds. 10/10 would recommend for a lunch break or dinner.

Head down to Kingston’s new restaurant now to experience proper Vietnamese food, or visit the website for more details – http://www.phocafe.co.uk/

 

I do love a new product and am a self-confessed impulse buyer! Adverts know what they’re doing, and all it takes is a quick stroll around Boots or Superdrug for me to come out with a whole hoard of bits and pieces (how did this happen, I only went in to buy one thing etc etc). I’m generally pretty happy with my purchases and am continually buying those cute little storage boxes from IKEA to keep them all in. However, there’s a few that don’t live up to the hype. All that excitement of a new product for something which doesn’t work for me.

When finding a product like this, I try my best to give them away to friends and family to ensure they don’t go to waste – I’m not saying they won’t work for everyone!

Here are the top five products I regret buying.

Max Factor Masterpiece Eyeliner

This one really annoyed me! I tried it on my hand in Boots and out came this wonderful jet-black liquid which dried exactly the way I like it. The nib was also really interesting and I thought it’d really help the construction of my cat-liner. No such luck. As soon as I did practically one swipe on my lids, the nib dried up and I ended up dragging it across dry, which really hurt! It seems to not work on top of eyeshadow which is rubbish. I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt by pressing the nib on paper to ensure it was damp with liner before going in on my lid. This took ages though and I ended up using my usual liner over the top. Banished to the storage box, my friend!

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Rimmel Instaflawless Primer

No. Just no. I think I got distracted by the pretty packaging. I was excited about this one, because who doesn’t want to be bloody flawless? The slightly orange liquid slid around my skin and would barely absorb – it didn’t feel like a primer AT ALL. I tried different applications on different days – brush, fingers, beauty blender – and none of them seemed to work. Even worse, when trying to apply my expensive Dior foundation on top of this ‘primer’ it just smeared even worse – and I had to take it off! I’m sticking to my All-in-One BB Cream from BodyShop.

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Real Techniques Sculpting Brush

Ooh, controversial. I LOVE Real Techniques brushes, don’t know where I’d be without them. But this one…meh! It just doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried different products, techniques and areas of my face to use it on and just can’t seem to find a way to use it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely and the bristles are nice and dense – I’m just not a fan. One of my friends LOVES this one, though.

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Mane ‘n’ Tail Shampoo

Often described as having a ‘cult following’, this shampoo was originally made for horses before someone decided it worked quite well on their own hair too. Oh no. Not for me. It practically made my hair feel like straw, no matter how much conditioner I used afterwards! However, another of my friends swears by it!

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Scünci Perfect Pony

Who doesn’t like an extra bit of volume for their hair without unecessary backbrushing? But unfortunately…this thing just does not work. It comes with a piece of plastic to kind of push up your hair when it’s in it’s pony tail. I’ll stick to my trusty backcombing brush!

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Are there any products you regret spending the money on?