Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Weekly Love #30

This week was my first official week at my new job, which was both exhausting trying to get back into a routine, but also really fun - I definitely feel as though I'm part of the team, and everyone has been so lovely and welcoming.

1. Tampopo Event

If you read last week's post, you will know that I went to the Tampopo supper club in June, which was a great way of trying new dishes (post here) at their Trafford Centre restaurant. I was invited down to their Corn Exchange restaurant on Wednesday with some of my favourite blogging girls for an event to showcase some of their new dishes. I sat with a girl called Sarah who was a vegetarian and had ordered the veggie platter for us to share, which was delicious and inspired me to have a meat-free main. I'm going to do a full post on it with details of what we ate, so keep an eye out for that.

2. Turtle Bay

Sticking with the food theme, on Friday, some of the work girls invited me into Manchester for dinner, which I thought was really lovely of them. We decided to go to Turtle Bay in the Northern Quarter, which, if you know me, you'll know is one of my favourite restaurants. We managed to get there for happy hour, so enjoyed a couple of cocktails each - passion rum punch for me - and I had a burger for my main. A great way to start off the weekend!

3. PLY

After dinner on Friday, a couple of the girls had to get trains home, but I stayed out for a little bit longer as I had nowhere to be. We decided to go to PLY, which is round the corner from Turtle Bay, as they do interesting craft beers. We all went for a Juice Springsteen, which was a tropical flavoured pale ale (with a very interesting taste...) It was really nice to spend some time with the girls from work, outside of the office, and I hope it becomes a regular occurrence.

4. Chester Races

One of the things I look forward to the most is spending time with my friends, which is why I was so excited to go to Chester Races on Saturday. We'd been toying with the idea for a few months, and only booked the tickets a couple of weeks ago. We got the train at 9:45 am so we could go for brunch first at Carluccio's (which was delicious) and then went to a couple of bars before carrying on to the races. I personally didn't have any winners, but a couple of the group did. We had such a lovely day, and the sun even came out for most of it.

5. Current Favourite Song

It's not often that I'll mention a favourite song on here, but this week I have been listening to 'Two High by Moon Taxi' on repeat. I don't know what it is about the song, but it is one of those ones that I don't think I'll ever get tired of. It's been out for a couple of months (or so YouTube tells me) and I can't wait to hear some more stuff from them.

6. Topshop Dress

As I had the races on Saturday, and I have a couple of weddings coming up, I thought I better invest in a summery dress that I could wear to both. I chose this one from Topshop, which I had seen Lily Pebbles in on Instagram and I love it. I'm not a huge fan of having my arms out, so this was a great choice as it covered them up, and I love the blue colour and the floral print. Unfortunately, they only had the petite version available online, which is slightly short on me, but as I'm 5'4, I feel as though I can just get away with it!

7. Danone Yoghurts

I've noticed a few pounds creeping on in the last couple of months so I thought it was best to start eating a bit healthier. I was offered the chance to try the Danone Intensely Creamy yoghurts, and I am already obsessed. I'm not a big yoghurt eater, so I was quite reluctant at first, but these are much nicer than a regular yoghurt, and a lot thicker. I've gone for the blueberry and strawberry ones, and I can't wait to try the other flavours.

8. Sunday Walks

On Sunday, I felt like I had come down with a bad case of summer flu (a name I have definitely made up myself...) but it meant that I was very snotty, tired and achy. I thought it would be better to get outside, especially whilst the weather was nice, so we decided to go for a walk into Didsbury along the canal. Overall, we walked just over 10k, and although I was tired when we got home (and my feet were killing because I stupidly thought mules would be a good idea...) I was glad I did something productive instead of staying in and feeling sorry for myself.

9. Makers Market

One of the main reasons for the walk we did was to go to the Maker's Market in West Didsbury. We've been going to this one since it started in 2014, and this one was definitely the biggest I have ever seen it. We hadn't been to this one for a couple of months, so it was nice to go back to where we used to live. I love supporting local businesses and sampling the food, and because the weather was nice, there were loads of people with dogs, which is always a plus!

10. Three Pugs Gin 

On the note of supporting local businesses, one of the ones that I wanted to mention on here was Thee Pugs Gin. I won't lie, the reason I went over to the stall was that they had three pugs in a pen behind the stall and I'm only human. We got talking to the seller, who told us about the history of the brand, where it was based and how he brewed it. He gave us some samples, and I ended up buying a little bottle of it (which I can't wait to try with rose lemonade and strawberries). If you ever get the chance to try it, definitely do as it is much smoother than other gins I've tried!


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Friday, 28 July 2017

Beauty | Kiehl's Event

Today I'm going to be talking about the Kiehl's event I was invited to last weekend at their Manchester King Street boutique store. I met up with my friend Rachel before the event (from the blog Ode2Fitness) plus her baby bump and we wandered through a very quiet Manchester at 9:30am.

I've walked past the Kiehl's shop so many times (I used to go to college up the road) but I'd never actually been in. On arriving, I noticed how big and bright the shop was compared to some of the other branches I've been in, and there's even a treatment room downstairs where you can book yourself in for a facial (these usually retail for around £35, but for the month of July and August, you can get one for £5 - definitely worth it!)

We were greeted by Jane and Puneet who showed us around the shop, and let us take photos of all of the incredibly well displayed products. We were given a glass of bubbly (pineapple juice for Rachel) and some pastries for breakfast whilst we waited for the other bloggers to arrive.

For those who aren't aware, Kiehl's is an American cosmetic brand, which specialises in premium skin, hair and body care products. It started off on Third Avenue in Manhattan, New York, back in 1851, so to say they know a thing or two about the market is definitely an understatement. The currently have over 250 stores worldwide and over 1,000 points of sale, including their department store presence. In comparison to some of their competitors, Kiehl's have a very large male following, which we saw first hand in their Manchester store whilst we were there.

When I was invited to be an ambassador for Kiehl's Manchester, firstly, I was incredibly surprised - I wouldn't class myself as a beauty blogger of sorts... I've blogged about beauty here and there, but nothing too recently, but I am always up for varying my content, and I have admired the brand for a while; secondly, I was honoured to be part of such a big campaign that the brand are involved with - at the moment, Kiehl's have joined forces with MTV for their Staying Alive campaign which aims to fight HIV globally. Kiehl's have produced an avocado eye cream, which has been designed by Leona Lewis, and are donating £10 of every sale to the charity. The eye cream is really rich and smooth (from the bit I tried on the back of my hand anyway...) and would be a really nice addition to your skincare routine, whilst helping such a great cause.

We were talked through the history of the brand by Jane, and she mentioned some of the most popular products: We were very kindly gifted a beautiful box of Kiehl's goodies. After the introduction to the brand, Puneet gave us a run down of what Kiehl's Manchester are doing over the next few months, how we can get involved, and some of the competitions that are happening throughout August.

One of the main competitions is for you as my readers - for every one of you that donates £3 to the MTV Staying Alive campaign by texting KIEH99 £3 to 70070, you can pop into store and get a little goodie bag full of miniatures of some of their most premium products. Also, make sure you are following me on social media (twitter and instagram) as I will be promoting some more of their competitions.

After we had been given a run through of some of their store favourites, we were given a skincare consultation. At the moment with the weather being a bit warmer, my skin has been so dry, which showed up on the oil test that we were given (there was literally no oil on my cheeks, which apparently is a bad thing...) Puneet recommended me some products to try to combat the issues including the turmeric and cranberry energising radiance mask, the ultra face cream and the midnight recovery concentrate. We were given a bit more time perusing the shelves before taking some selfies with Mr. Bones, the brand mascot.

I am a big lover of brands that partner with charities, and I hope you will agree with me that this is a really great cause.

Thank you to Jane and Puneet for the lovely experience, and keep you eyes peeled on my social media channels for the upcoming competitions.


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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Life Is What You Make It

Since 'growing up' in recent years (although, I am using that term loosely...) I have come to realise how much we as individuals are in charge of our own happiness. It's something that got me thinking, and questioning of all of the things that make me happy, whether I focus on the happy moments in my life enough, and prioritise happiness in general.

When we are younger, we rely on our parents to create the fun for us, and even when we get to school, our friendship groups usually have a big impact in terms of making plans and socialising.

University is a different barrel - you have to be outgoing and confident in order to create friendship groups, and try new things, go to new places, and generally, get out of your comfort zone. In theory, the only thing you have in common with people at university is the fact that you are both studying in the same place... but that's also the exciting thing too - you get to meet a whole new kettle of fish.

Once you've finished uni and enter into adult life, we become more and more in charge of our own happiness. All of a sudden, we aren't getting student loans, our bills aren't included and our friends are spread all across the country.

This is the first time that our life is in our own hands - no more parents, flatmates, lecturers: The start of having to think about where are pennies are going, saving to buy a house, having a baby.

But as we get more busy with life, it becomes increasingly harder to do the little things that used to make us happy; as much as we love it, life tends to get in the way: We have a whole new set of responsibilities.

The thing is, if we dwell on that fact, life becomes hard. It becomes really hard. Feeling as though you have no time is one of the worst feelings in the world - because it's simply not true.

Yes, we spend the majority of our time at work; but without it, we wouldn't get very far.

We still have early mornings for a breakfast date with your boyfriend, evenings off to spend sipping cocktails with your girls, and weekends to catch up with your family. When you start to prioritise your happiness into the free time we do have, your life becomes more fulfilled and you become more content.

I'm not saying you need to do something every evening in order to feel happy, but instead focus on the cosy evenings in as taking a well-deserved break, the new dish you want to try cooking as a chance to experiment in the kitchen, and having people over as a way to save money but spending time with those who mean the most to you.

If you start to focus on how tired and sluggish you feel, how you've got so much to do, but no time to do it, thats exactly how you're teaching your brain to think.

Yes there are always going to be other factors that influence how happy you are, but it is up to you how you go about these situations. If you focus on the negativity, then your mood will plummet. I've found it hard to change the way my mind works, and from time to time, things still do get to me more than they should; but once I remember that I am in control, and I am the only one who can warrant how much something is going to get to me, then it is much easier to get my life back on track and into a happy place.

Last but not least, I am always an advocate for having something to look forward to, whether thats a night out with your friends, a weekend away with your boyfriend, a family gathering or a trip abroad - having something on the horizon is definitely a way of making the most out of your life.

Life is what you make it.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Food | Tampopo Supper Club

Tampopo is one of those places that I've been going for years, yet I can't remember the last time I actually went. I remember going for our Christmas present exchange once; I remember grabbing a quick bite to eat before going to the MEN, and I remember taking advantage of their fantastic student offers when I was at university. But I'll admit - it had been a while since I'd been, which is why I more than happy to go along when I was invited to their supper club: If you've read my blog before, you'll know that I am a huge fan of Asian food too.

If you don't know, Tampopo is a chain of restaurants based in Manchester (and one in London) that serves dishes from East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore & Indonesia) in a relaxed atmosphere. The word Tampopo itself is a Japanese girl's name meaning dandelion (which I thought was very cute!) and is also the title of a Japanese film about a woman searching for her perfect bowl of noodles - very fitting!

When Hannah and I arrived at the Trafford Centre restaurant, we were greeted by Claire, who showed us to a table at the back of the restaurant, where the supper club was taking place. She mentioned that they do the supper club as a way for people to try 5 or 6 dishes off their menu, with a drink, for a set price. They usually run them quarterly and they cost around £22, which, for the amount of food you get, is really good value.

We were also given a Lonely Planet guide to Japan, which I started reading as soon as we sat down because it is one of those countries that has always appealed to me. I would absolutely love to visit and immerse myself in a culture that is so different to what I am used to - watch this space! After having a quick look at the tasting menu (one for meat-eaters and also vegetarians) we both ordered peach bellinis, which were included in the deal.

The menu started off with a portion of pork gyoza and tempura fried vegetables on the side. Gyoza are something that I tend to order whenever I eat at this kind of restaurant, as I find them so tasty, but not too filling before a main meal. The tempura fried vegetables was something that I hadn't tried before, but I really enjoyed it - we had slices of pepper, baby corn and broccoli stems in the tempura batter which is a really light batter, and isn't greasy at all.

Next, we had chicken wings in a teriyaki sauce with pickled cucumber. The sauce on this was so sweet, but not at all sickly, which I find some teriyaki sauces can be, and the pickled cucumber was a welcome addition as a hint of something savoury.

After that, we had a chicken ramen with ramen noodles in a broth, which is something that I have had before at the restaurant, and it didn't disappoint. I really love having noodles in soup because it feels as though you are having two separate meals, and I love the fact that all of the flavourings from the meat and the veg goes into the sauce.

The next course was a sample of two different dishes - sweet potato katsu curry, and a portion of yaki udon. Katsu curry is probably my favourite Asian curry that I have ever tasted, but I had never had it with sweet potato before, and I would definitely order this over chicken next time. The sweetness of the potato matched the slight spicy twang from the curry sauce perfectly, and the rice is always good at soaking it up too. The yaki udon was very flavoursome, and I loved the hint of ginger on top.

The final course was a green tea ice cream, which I was very intrigued by when I first read it on the menu. I've had a green tea ice cream before, and wasn't overly keen, but this one tasted a bit different, and it was nice to have something sweet to end the 4 savoury courses, without it being overpowering.

I would highly recommend the supper club if you haven't been to Tampopo before, or if it has been a while since you have been because it gives you the chance to sample a number of different dishes that chance with every menu, which are talked about in detail by the staff members - for £22 as well its a really good deal.

To find out more, visit the Tampopo website here.


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Monday, 24 July 2017

Weekly Love #29

This week was an exciting one for me because I started my new job and had some really exciting events and a little addition to our family.

It finally seems as though my life is on track after a hectic few months and I for one couldn't be feeling more positive.

1. Luna

I think now is the time to introduce the latest addition to our family; our new furry baby, Luna. We decided to get a new kitten a couple of months ago but didn't want to rush into anything so spent some time researching the best ways to introduce two cats, whether one gender would be better than the other, and talking to local rescue centres. When I was offered my new job, it seemed like the perfect time to get a sibling for Simba because of my longer hours, and not being able to get home as early. We eventually found our new little baby at the RSPCA in Macclesfield, and we are already in love. I can't wait to keep you all updated with how he is getting on.

2. Park Life

On Monday, my friend Phil and I went to chill in the park opposite my house because the weather was so nice. I decided to start my job a little bit later in the week, and he was also off work so it seemed like a no brainer. It was a really lovely and chilled way to start the week.

3. New Job

If any of you know me, you will know how much I really didn't like my old job - it just wasn't for me. I'm very much an advocate that you create your own happiness, and seen as we spend so much time at work, I thought it was about time that I felt happy and comfortable with my career. On Wednesday I started my new chapter, and I'm already so happy I took the plunge into something new.

4. Enzo Event

On Thursday evening I went to the Enzo pizza blogging event in Manchester for some carbs and fizz. At the moment they have two sites - one in Manchester, and one in Nantwich, but are planning to open others. I couldn't get there until after work but managed to wolf down some very tasty pizza and they very kindly boxed away some starters for me to take with me. It was such a cool, laid back place, which would be perfect for a quick lunch, or after work slice - definitely check them out if you're in the city!

5. Neighbourhood Relaunch

After the Enzo event, and in a slight food coma from eating so fast, Jacinta and I went to the relaunch event at Neighbourhood in Spinningfields. I love this venue because it is so fancy with coloured leather seats, flower walls and neon lights, so I was surprised to hear that they had renovated it - especially in such a short space of time since the last time I was there only a fortnight ago. When we arrived, we were seated at a table with some familiar faces and were able to sample the new food and drink menu - both of which were amazing. We got to try the mini burgers, sushi platter (which is definitely what you should order if you do go...) and a couple of the starters. They had a live singer too who was amazing, and the event was packed.

6. Kiehl's Event

On Saturday morning, I was invited to an event at the King Street branch of Kiehl's in Manchester. If you don't know much about the brand, Kiehl's is a premium skin, hair and body care brand and was started as a single pharmacy in Manhattan, where the store still stands today. I went with my friend Rachel (from Ode to Fitness) and we had such a lovely time learning about the brand, having a skincare consultation and chatting with other bloggers over breakfast. They invited us to test their latest avocado eye cream, which is in collaboration with Leona Lewis and MTV, where they are giving £10 from every pot sold to the Staying Alive Foundation, which helps those affected by HIV. I have a whole blog post coming on what it all means, and some great competitions and I am really excited to be an ambassador for such a great cause.

7. Danilo's Lunch

My friend Louise was up from London this weekend, so we had lunch at one of our favourite Italian restaurants, Danilos in Hale. The food was amazing as always, but I f t so sleepy after having such a big lunch! It was really nice to catch up with her and meet her family's new pug, Hatty, who was adorable. She even came to see Luna afterwards, as she is a crazy cat lady just like me!

8. Chilled Afternoon

After quite a hectic morning, Hannah came round to ours to catch up and have a chilled afternoon doing nothing. We haven't seen each other for a couple of weeks, so it was really nice to hear about everything going on in her life at the moment, and even better that we could just do it in the comfort of my living room watching Inbetweeners 2.

9. Uncle's Birthday

On Sunday, it was my uncle's birthday (and my twin cousin's birthday the day before) so we went round to his house for a BBQ to celebrate. I didn't realise how many people and family members there were going to be there, but it was amazing seeing everyone in one place. They always put on such a good spread for us when we go over, but this time it was even more incredible.

10. Wedding Pictures

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I was a bridesmaid for two of my closest friends back in May, and yesterday I got to see their wedding photos for the first time. It was very emotional living the whole day again, and seeing all of the pictures just brought back all of the good memories!


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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Food | Tatton Foodies Festival

Last weekend, I was invited to the Foodies Festival at Tatton Hall in Knutsford. I've been to this particular festival a few times at Tatton, Harrogate, Clitheroe and Arley Hall, but hadn't been to this one for the last couple of years so I was excited to be going back - plus, you can never go wrong with a food festival.

The festival itself was started in 2006 by Sue Hitchens in Edinburgh who wanted to set up a fun, family-orientated festival in her hometown celebrating local produce but also allowing Michelin-starred restaurants the chance to share their recipes with a 'foodie' audience.

We were offered VIP tickets to the event, which normally retail at £38. Once we arrived, we were directed to a separate tent to pick up our wristbands. The wristband meant that we got a glass of fizz on arrival, free rosé, tea and coffee throughout the day and a recipe book.

We met up with a couple of friends who were also there, and went for a wander round, rosé in hand! The thing I love about food festivals is a number of vendors that you don't get anywhere else. We saw a Venezuelan BBQ, Yorkshire based halloumi and dark chocolate and fennel sausages, to name a few.

Throughout the day, there are chef demonstrations, baking tutorials and a drinks tent, where you can meet big names from bake off and Masterchef - I managed to quickly meet Candace, bake off 2016 winner, before she went to do her thing!

I wanted to try something random for my late lunch and went for a traditional Peruvian dish called Aji de Gallina, which was creamy chicken, rice and potatoes, seasoned very well, and incredibly tasty and nothing like I had ever tried before!

After having lunch, I felt as though I wanted to try the gin bar, so off we went to have a nosey and what was on offer. The brand was called the Gin Spot, and had a huge selection of flavours and mixers: I went for a Rhuberry gin and ginger ale, as it was the closest to what I had at the gin festival back in March, and I loved it.

As a self-confessed sweet tooth, after we had done a round of the hot and cold food stalls and had a few samples, I was on the hunt for something to satisfy my cravings. If you know me at all, you will also know that I am a huge fan of fudge, and made it my mission to be taking some home, which I did - malteaser and kinder bueno, if you were wondering.

If you were following my Insta stories, you would have also seen that there was a brownie stall where you could get hot chocolate sauce poured on top - absolute heaven - so of course, I got one of these too, and it was divine (salted caramel, obvs...)

The thing I really love about food festivals is the variety of choice on offer. I've been to a fair few markets in my time, but usually, they are much smaller, so it is interesting to go somewhere that is totally dedicated to food and drink.

If you get the chance to go to a foodies festival, I would definitely recommend going to check it out just for the atmosphere if nothing else takes your fancy!


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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Travel | Our Trip To Reading

A little while ago, Jordan and I toyed with the idea of getting Royal Ascot tickets as a bit of a late birthday treat for me (and an early birthday treat for him) and spending a few days down south. Just as we were about to press confirm on the website, I got an email off Accor hotels offering us a complimentary stay in their Reading hotel which had just been refurbished.

Without a hesitation, I said we would love to stay and mentioned that we were going to Royal Ascot and asked whether we could come on those dates. They said that would be fine and a lot of other people would be doing the same.  I'm not saying Reading is Manhattan or Paris, but it did exceed my expectations. If you are heading to Ascot or anywhere else down south for that matter I would recommend it as an alternative to staying in London as it is much cheaper, and less than 30 minutes on the train.

I didn't really know much about Reading, apart from they have a festival every August bank holiday, and I was pleasantly surprised. We drove down on the Thursday afternoon and it took us roughly about 3 hours to get there (with a snack stop in the middle). The hotel was easy to find, and they have a deal with the local NCP so you can park for 24 hours for £10.

Once we had parked up, we wandered over to the Ibis Central, which was on one of the main roads (opposite a Revs De Cuba and next door to a Nandos, if you need convincing...) The decor inside the hotel was very modern, and we were checked in by one of the staff members using an iPad. They had lemon water in reception, but also a bar and restaurant - they also had a breakfast area on the 1st floor, but we didn't take advantage of this.

The lift could only be accessed with your room key card, which made us feel very secure. When we got up to the room, I was impressed with how big and bright it was. We had a king sized bed, a view of Reading and an en-suite with a huge shower.

We dropped our bags off and went to explore the city, which was on our doorstep. We walked into the main shopping area, which had all of the names you would expect, and through the shopping centre. I remembered seeing on the map that there was an area with loads of restaurants, so I made it our mission to find somewhere for dinner.

Once we had come through the shopping centre, there was a river with restaurants on either side of it and a pop-up beach bar that had been put up for summer. I was really overwhelmed with the amount of choice we had and enjoyed looking at some of the menus for places that we don't have in Manchester.

We decided to go back to the beach bar a little bit later on after we had showered and got changed, and we made our way back to the hotel (via Tesco for G&T's obvs...)

After we had recouped a bit, we wandered back over to the beach bar, where we had frozen cocktails and beer and sat in deck chairs on the sand whilst people played table tennis. Although it was the UK, the weather was about 26 degrees, and it really did feel like we were abroad.

Once we were suitably tipsy, we decided to eat at The Real Greek, as the menu caught our eye. The dishes were served on a plate holder that reminded me of what you get when you went to afternoon tea. I adore Greek food, and we were spoilt for choice. We ordered a bottle of red to compliment the meat dishes and ordered an assortment of hot and cold dishes - all of which were amazing.

I've never been to Greece, so I can't say whether the food compares to authentic Greek cuisine, but it tasted amazing, and I already can't wait to go back next time I'm down south.

When the meal was over, we were absolutely stuffed but decided to head to Revs De Cuba for one drink as it was opposite our hotel. I've been to a couple of different Revs in my time, but this one was by far my favourite. The overall vibe of the place was so chilled and relaxed, and everyone was just having a really good time.

The next day we woke up quite early to go for breakfast at a place called The Shed Cafe which was incredibly cute and had the most amazing fresh coffee smell. I went for crumpets and jam, and Jordan had a bacon and egg baguette. For the price, I would definitely recommend this place if you find yourself in Reading, plus the staff were lovely.

After a quick walk around the town to wake ourselves up, we went back to the hotel to start getting ready for Ascot. Even before we got back to our room, we saw people dressed for the races, already starting to drink before 10am - bearing in mind the first race was at 2pm....

Once we were ready, we took a couple of drinks and headed to the train station, which was less than a 5-minute walk away. We were slightly early for our train, so decided to make the most of the sunshine and have a drink on the platform, with a bunch of rowdy Southerners. I was impressed with how quick the train was to Ascot, and how little we had to walk to get there.

Overall I really enjoyed my time in Reading, as it wasn't as overwhelming as London can sometimes be, but had everything you needed a short walk away. I would highly recommend the Ibis because of the great location and really lovely facilities - rooms start from around £60 a night.

It always amazes me when this little old space on the internet allows me to do new and exciting things, and visit new places - thank you for all your support.


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Thank you to Accor Hotels. All views are my own. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Weekly Love #28

I've had a much more chilled week this week, which is exactly what I needed - sometimes I feel as though my head and my heart tell me two different things when it comes to slowing down, but a week of chilling was definitely what I needed.

1. Chester Races

On Monday, I booked to go to Chester Races with a few friends at the end of the month. I've been to Chester Races every year since 2013, and I really didn't want this year to go by without getting the change to get all dressed up with my friends. We've had the date in our diaries for ages, so it was good to finally get the tickets booked and have something to look forward to!

2. Twinings Coconut & Mango Green Tea

I was recently sent these tea bags to try as they are new from Twinings, but if I'm honest, I forgot about them in the cupboard - that was, until the other day where I wanted something different than my regular peppermint tea. I was a bit dubious at first because coconut is a bit like marmite for me, but I thought these were so delicious. They taste basically like a pina colada but are good for you! Winner winner.

3. Wimbledon

I'm not a girl that is massively into sports, but Wimbledon is something I find myself watching every year, and this tournament was no different. I managed to catch most of the quarter and semi-final matches, as well as the men's final, which is always one of my favourites to watch. I definitely want to try and go next year, because I can imagine the atmosphere is amazing!

4. Glamour

After going to the British Style Collective last week and listening to talks from Alessandra Steinherr (the beauty editor of Glamour) I went and bought the latest issue. Although I'm a complete digital junkie, I do love reading and old school magazine from time to time, and Glamour will always be one of my favourites.

5. Iced Coffee

I've been working from home a lot this week, but sometimes I find it quite hard to be motivated, especially in the morning. I'm not usually a coffee drinker, but I do love iced coffee because I find it much more refreshing. I've found myself drinking a couple of these over the week, and I love the fact that we have a coffee machine and I can make them at home!

6. Uploading Photos

This is quite a lame one, but this week, I have cleared a lot of photos off my phone and uploaded them to Facebook. I hadn't updated my 2017 album since the start of April, so it was great to look back on the last three months and see all of the memories I have made and relive them all whilst freeing up space on my phone (always a good thing!)

7. Vegetarian Meals

I'm someone who enjoys food a lot - I think I've made that clear on many occasions - but recently, I have been trying to eat much less meat. At the moment, I only really eat meat when I go out, or to someone's house for dinner, and this week I have managed to eat only vegetarian during the week, which I'm really proud about. I don't think I will ever be able to take the plunge and become full on vegetarian, but every little helps. Also, if anyone has any good vegetarian recipes, please send them my way.

8. Laura Bradshaw

I am always up for discovering new blogs and YouTubers, but I also really enjoying re-discovering people who I used to watch. This week, I started watching one of my old favourites, Laura Bradshaw (originally Tiny Twisst) again and fell in love with her channel. Her content is much more grown up than before as she has recently got married and bought a new house with her husband, and I find her really relatable and sweet. Definitely, have a read of her blog!

9. Foodies Festival

On Saturday I was invited to go to the Foodies Festival at Tatton Park. I've been to this food festival a few times now, but only to the Tatton park one once so I was intrigued to go back. The festival itself is all outdoors and definitely bigger than I remember! I've got a full review coming next week, so keep a look out for that to hear everything that we got up to!

10. Cousin Visit

On Sunday my cousin, Kate, rang me to ask if she could come and see our house, as she hasn't since we bought it. She came for about an hour and we got to have a really lovely catch up, which we haven't been able to do for a long time so it really made my weekend to see her.


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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Soave Wine Event

Last week I was invited to attend the Soave Wine event at Bakerie in Manchester's Northern Quarter. I'd only been to the bar once before for another wine tasting (where they had a wine vending machine and it was really really cool... but I digress...) but it is known for its great wine selection and bread and meat boards - what else could you ask for?

It was only about this time last year that I started to drink wine, and I'm mostly a red girl, although I do prefer a white wine in summer because it is much more refreshing.

The Soave region is within the Venetian hillsides and produces some of the best white wine in the world. Italy is well known for its wine production, and I felt very lucky to be able to try them in such a relaxed environment.

I went with my friend Liz (who write the blog Dirty Thirty Crisis) and were met by Sarah Abbott, a Master of Wine and an ambassador for Soave wines in the UK - very cool title! She showed us to the table and talked us briefly through the 20 wines that were on offer. They started off with the cheaper ones and moved up in price and availability the higher the number. 

We got to about wine number 4 before platters of food came out (probably a good a thing!) which were a dream come true - a mixture of breads, cured meat and chutneys; everything that I'm a massive fan of (although I did feel bad eating bread in front of Liz who is gluten free...) 

We made some friends over the food, and carried on with them and got to about wine number 10 (bearing in mind we were having about half glasses each time, we thought it was about time to slow down...) when Sarah did a speech thanking us all for coming and mentioning that we could all take our favourite wine home with us. 

Because we didn't want to look like alcoholics with bottles of wine walking down the street, Liz and I thought it would be a good idea to finish off our favourite wines (which evidently were the two cheapest!) at the bar. A man from the Cheshire Wine Society came over to join us and told us about all of his favourite vineyards, which was actually really interesting.

This event definitely made me want to go to more events like this and made me realise that there is so much more to wine than you first think and the £5 bottle you used to live on at university, probably is the reason you think you don't like it. My advice - do your research and try as much wine as possible! 

If anyone knows of any other events like this, please let me know in the comments xx

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Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Truth About Blogging Awards

Blogging awards aren't around to make us feel in competition with each other, or to stroke the ego of some particularly 'big' names, but to give recognition to those who are so passionate about what they do and appreciation of how much effort that goes into running a blog.

The great thing about blogging is that it wasn't even taken seriously a few years ago. People thought we were all just winging it with our writing, and maybe there is some truth in that - but blogging has taught the world that the every-day girl would rather read the review of someone similar to her, rather than listen to a celebrity bang on on social media about a product they clearly have never used in their life.

The difference between a blogger endorsement and a celebrity endorsement, in my eyes, is that 9 times out of 10, the blogger has gone out and purchased the product themselves in order to test it for their audience.

Yes, some bloggers are lucky enough to be gifted products - but those relationships are usually formed after an initial trial period, or until the brand catches wind (whether that be through social media, a YouTube video or coming across one of their blog posts) of what the individual is doing, and in turn wants to use the voice of that particular 'influencer' to spread the news of what they are selling to an audience.

The brand is then putting themselves in the public eye - which can be quite dangerous if that particular influencer doesn't like the product - because they have no say in what they can produce on your blog.

My point is, there is a lot of authenticity in what a blogger says and this should be recognised in the industries we work within: that's why it is so positive that blogging awards have come about because of the boom in the voice of the 'normal' girl.

I'll be the first to admit that blogging isn't easy. Yes there are some posts that come naturally and you can write them within a couple of hours; but for others... days, weeks and sometimes even months goes into creating content, taking photography, writing, proofing, editing, scheduling, tweeting, Facebooking, instagramming - it's no walk in the park.

Blogging awards are becoming bigger and bigger every year, and not only do they celebrate the full-time bloggers out there but also the smaller influencers who are just as passionate about their corner of the internet. I've followed some of the largest names in the blogging world and seen them win incredible awards, but even some of the lesser known bloggers that I follow have had the recognition they deserve.

Everyone knows how much I love writing - I talk about it enough - but honestly, this blog has given me so many opportunities and introduced me to some of my closest friends and inspirational people and I am beyond thankful for every unbelievable moment that I have had, and the continued support I get from my readers.

I would love to be able to write on this blog every single day; to share content that I think is relatable to my audience, posts that I have put so much time and effort into creating and ones that I will look back on and be proud - but at the moment, life is so completely crazy that I haven't found the time to do so yet - but it will always be my goal.

My blog is so important to me. It's a place I can share my thoughts; a place I can use to get my head straight, and a place I know holds such great prospects for me.

And this is why I feel like it is such a big honour to be nominated for Best Lifestyle Blogger in the Northern Blog Awards. It would mean so much for me to win it, but to even be nominated is such an achievement and I am so thankful: I am up against some great bloggers, personal friends and ones I have admired for years.

Whatever the outcome on the 16th September, I will always love coming back here week after week and I hope you do too.

You can vote for my blog here xx

Monday, 10 July 2017

Weekly Love #27

This last week felt like such a blur, filled with such fun events, and making memories with friends both old and new. I'm slightly looking forward to this next week being not as busy!

1. Catching Up

On Monday I met up with my old friend Anna for food and a long overdue catch up at The Deli in Didsbury. We used to work together, but she has since had a baby, Lucy, who I had only met when she was first born so I was really excited to see them both. She's set up her own business which is doing really well, and it was interesting to hear all about that and have baby cuddles of course. A really nice way to start off the week.

2. Northern Blog Awards

On Tuesday, I found out that I have been shortlisted for Best Lifestyle Blogger in the Northern Blog Awards, which I am absolutely over the moon about. I'm up against some incredible bloggers (including my good friend Lily) but it is just nice to be recognised for my little corner of the internet. If you do want to vote for me though, you can here!

3. Soave Wine Event

On Wednesday afternoon I made my way into Manchester for the Soave Wine event which was held in the cellar bar at Bakerie in the Northern Quarter with my friend Liz. I will admit that this time last year I very rarely drank wine, especially white wine, but this event massively changed my outlook on it. I do prefer it in summer (because I associate red wine with Christmas) and we tried some amazing ones from the Veneto district of North West Italy. We were greeted by a member of the Soave team and shown to the 18 wines on the table. I won't lie and say I was feeling slightly tipsy after glass number 3, and funnily enough, both Liz and I said that we preferred the slightly cheaper ones. We chatted with some local experts over a bread and meat platter and were all allowed to take a bottle home with us, which was such a lovely gift after a really informative and fun event.

4. Beauty Book Launch

After the wine tasting on Wednesday, we made our way over to Neighbourhood in Spinningfields for the launch of Beauty Book held by one of our favourite Manchester PR companies, Ledigo. The event was such a success with famous faces, lots of glitter, nails and tasters of some of the services they offer (I had a cheeky shoulder massage).

5. Around The World

On Thursday evening, my friend Jacinta and I went to the around the world cocktail bar for their new summer menu launch. The bar itself is located in the Printworks in Manchester, inside Bierkeller. We were greeted with a glass of prosecco and joined by some of my favourite blogging girls. They provided food for us and gave us the menu to chose as many cocktails as we wanted from the 18 new ones. My favourite was definitely the Pina Colada, but it made me want to be sitting on a beach instead!

6. Pizza Friday

After quite a hectic few days, I decided to have a chilled evening on Friday and had a couple of friends round for pizza and pick 'n' mix because we're super good adults. It was definitely what I needed to chill out as my head had been all over the place all week, and we had such a lovely evening just relaxing at my house.

7. Elite Gym

On Saturday morning, instead of being good and going to my actual gym, I went to the open day of the Elite Physique gym in Stockport. The gym is really open plan and bright with lots of different stations and machines. There was a live DJ, different healthy food stalls and lots of familiar faces. I think it was my first time going to this type of event on a weekend, but it was really fun.

8. Blossoms

On Saturday afternoon, I went over to my friend's house with a group of others to have a few pre-drinks before the Blossoms concert at Castlefield Bowl in Manchester. If you haven't heard of Blossoms (where have you been...) they are an indie pop band from Stockport that have been around for about 4 years. This was the first time I had been to see them, and also the first time I had been to a concert at Castlefield Bowl, and it was incredible. They were so good live, and the crowd really made the show.

9. British Style Collective

I was lucky enough to be invited to the British Style Collective, presented by The Clothes Show, over the weekend, so me and Jacinta decided to go on the Sunday. It was held at different venues across Liverpool including the exhibition centre, St. George's Hall and the Echo Arena and was such a fabulous day. We arrived about 11:30am and went straight into the fashion and beauty halls where they had familiar brands, but also some up and coming ones, then we walked over to the docks to have a look at the stalls along there, then back over to the Echo arena for the fashion show and finally to industry talks at St. George's Hall, which was the most incredible venue ever. I'd only been to The Clothes Show once in Birmingham, but I felt like with being older and running my own blog and Instagram made me appreciate the whole experience much more.

10. Sunday Evening Walk 

When I got back from Liverpool on Sunday, I felt as though me and Jordan hadn't spent any quality time together for a few days so we went for a walk in the sunshine to Chorlton Water Park. It was nice to get some headspace after a few hectic days and the lake is such a relaxing place to be. Definitely a good way to wind down.


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Saturday, 8 July 2017

Around The World Cocktail Launch

On Thursday evening, I went to the summer cocktail launch of the Around The World bar inside Bierkeller in the Printworks in Manchester. I was invited by Lee, who works for the PR agency, and being cheeky, I asked for a plus 1, and brought my friend Jacinta along.

We met in Manchester on a lovely sunny evening, and walked over from the met station. The Printworks isn't somewhere I tend to go anymore because it reminds me of being in my teen years, rinsing my bank account in Tiger Tiger and way too many slut drops, but I am always up for a midweek cocktail tasting session.

The bar itself is inside Bierkeller, which, if you've ever heard of, is pretty much as close as you will get to an authentic Bavarian beer hall outside of Germany. I've never actually been before, but I've always been intrigued after been to a real-life Bierkeller in Berlin.

We were greeted with a glass of Prosecco and took a seat near to where they were doing the cocktail demonstrations to get a front row view!

We were told by the waitresses that there were 18 cocktails on the new menu and told to call in sick to work tomorrow. We started with a strawberry daiquiri and a porn star martini, followed swiftly by an amaretto sours, one of my favourite cocktails.

After that, we had a passion fruit Margherita and English Country Garden which was one of my favourite from the night, being a gin and elderflower fan. At this point (and only a little bit of food) we were all feeling a little bit tipsy and didn't think we could make it all the way to the magic 18.

Seeing our despair, the waitress told us we could just order what we wanted when we felt ready. We all went for a pina colada, which was our best cocktail of the night. After a few boomerang cheers, selfies and group shots, the night was starting to wind dine, so we decided to call it a day.

We jumped on the met home and obviously, I got Jordan to drive me to Tesco to buy some midnight snacks - definitely got some boyfriend points!

Overall the bar was really cool, and the cocktail menu had some classics that you would expect, but also some new ones that I would definitely go back and try!


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Thursday, 6 July 2017

Food | Tattu

Tattu in Manchester's Spinningfields, is just one of those places that oozes cool and trendy dining, that you can only really warrant going to if you're incredibly swish, or have something to celebrate. So when my friend Sophie suggest going there for her birthday, it was the perfect excuse for a treat.

Tattu is primarily a Cantonese restaurant, with two units in Manchester and Leeds, but it's not like any others I've ever been to before. I usually tend to steer away from eating Chinese as it's been known to induce a migraine, but I knew at somewhere this snazzy that there would be no chance of that.

As a self-confessed foodie, I had already had a read of the menu before we got to the restaurant, and had an idea of what I wanted. Me and my friend Laura got there first and had a celebratory glass of prosecco before the others arrived at the bar downstairs. As soon as we walked in, the overall vibe of the restaurant is almost quite nautical, with high ceilings so you can see the upstairs restaurant, ropes hanging from the walls with roses intertwined.

When we'd all arrived we made our way upstairs to our table, which was a booth near to the kitchen. Tattu is well-known on the Manchester dining scene as having a beautiful pink cherry blossom in the middle of the restaurant, but it is so much prettier in real life. The restaurant was quite dark, but it only added to the overall ambiance.

We sat down and our waitress came over straight away to greet us. She talked us through the menu and said that most people get a few different dishes to share and maybe a main between two, which is exactly what we all did. She took a drinks order from us and left us to peruse the menu. I was driving this night so I stuck to the water, but the cocktails looked lovely, and the little taste I had of Sophie's was delicious and tasted like parma violets.

For the starter, two of us shared the duck spring rolls and the spicy pork wontons, both of which was so tasty and completely different to the dim sum you would get from a takeaway: the quality of the ingredients definitely came across. For a main, we had the Chinese bbq chicken with some beansprout noodles. At first, I didn't think the main would be big enough for two, which can sometimes be the problem in a more fancy restaurant, but I was impressed with the portion size, and I would definitely recommend doing it this way.

I managed to try a few of the other plates that were on the table, including a duck and watermelon salad, the steamed hoisin buns and the crispy squid, all of which again was incredible.

The entire experience was just lovely and although the restaurant was full, we didn't feel rushed once, and the staff were so lovely and knowledgeable.

All in all I would definitely recommend Tattu if you were looking for somewhere a bit more upmarket to go for a celebration, or just want to feel ultra-fancy.


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Monday, 3 July 2017

Weekly Love #26

This last week feels like it lasted quite a while, but now we are officially in the second half of the year, and I'm just counting down the days until I can start talking about Christmas before people start rolling their eyes at me.

I will admit though I'm kind of missing the summer weather we had for all of 5 minutes. I feel as though the darker, greyer days definitely have an impact on my mood, but instead of wallowing to myself, I am trying to be as positive as possible.

1. Tampopo Supper Club

On Tuesday evening, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Tampopo supper club at The Trafford Centre to try out their five-course tasting menu. I'm going to do a whole post on it, but overall it was a really lovely experience and I would highly recommend going to one if you get the chance (they are every quarter). The staff were great and so knowledgeable and even gave us a travel guide to Japan so we could learn more about the country.

2. Catching Up With Friends

On Tuesday and Wednesday lunchtime, a couple of different friends popped round for a cup of tea and a catch-up. I'm one of those people who tries to do fun things in the week so you don't put too much pressure on the weekend, so it was lovely to break my day up with a visit from the both. Plus it gave me an excuse to eat biscuits with lunch, which is always going to make the day much better!

3. Salon Success

On Wednesday afternoon I came home to a parcel from Salon Success who look after the hair care brand Paul Mitchell. They are always so generous when it comes to gifting my products, and this time around sent me the new summer collection which consisted of a paddle brush, sculpting brush and a volume enhancing shampoo and conditioner which I can't wait to try.

4. Blogosphere Magazine

I know this issue of Blogosphere came out a while ago, but I haven't had a second to sit down with it and have a read (plus it was delivered to my parents which is why I was slightly delayed getting my hands on it...) I love reading this magazine because it makes me feel so inspired about the industry and hearing everyone else's story about their little corner of the internet.

5. Blogger's Brunch

On Saturday morning, I joined some fellow bloggers for the launch of the new collection from Simply Argan at Victors in Hale. I've been to Victors a few times and the food has always been amazing, so I was really looking forward to having brunch there. I had smashed avocado and poached eggs on sourdough with a side of smoked salmon, and if that wasn't enough, I also finished my friend Jacinta's pancakes (which were equally as amazing!) The products are such high quality and I can't wait to try them all.

6. Lambrini

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by Lambrini to try some of their new flavours. I won't lie, when I think of the brand, memories of getting our older friends to buy us the £1.99 bottles of it spring to mind before anything else. But when I heard they have launched a whole host of new flavours, I was definitely keen to try them. I went for the original and the truly peach, and had my first taste of them both on Saturday. Because it was such nice weather, me and Jordan had a couple of glasses whilst we relaxed in the garden, and I can honestly say, I didn't get any flashbacks of my 'drinking in a park' days because they tasted so different. Out of the two, I would say my preference was the peach one, as it tasted just like a peach bellini and I'm excited to try more of the new flavours.

7. Bon Voyage BBQ

One of my good friends Sarah is going travelling with her boyfriend for 7 months later this month, and on Saturday, her and her family held a Bon Voyage BBQ at her sister's house. The food and company were both amazing, even if I am going to miss her more than she realises! Saying that I'm always up for people following their dreams around the world.

8. Mexican Feast

Yes, it seems as though all I did on Saturday was eat... but what can I say? After the BBQ, we went round to my friend Emily's house for a birthday celebration and some food. I hadn't seen her or her husband (eeek) since her wedding so I was really excited to hear all about the honeymoon. They put on a great spread of Mexican food, with mojitos and every other alcohol you could think of, and it was a really lovely chilled evening catching up with some old friends.

9. Makers Market

On Sunday, Jordan and I drove into Knutsford to go to the Maker's Market they hold there on the first Sunday of the month. The weather was amazing, and everyone seemed to be in a really good mood. We got a woodfire pizza and some macaroons to share, but I could have eaten everything in sight because it looked so good. Definitely check them out if you live in the North West.

10. Fresh Flowers

Yesterday afternoon I picked up some fresh flowers from Aldi for £2. I went for some fuchia roses, and they really brighten up the front room. I realy want to get into the habit of having flowers around the house (most probably fake) because they really put a smile on my face!


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