Wednesday, 28 February 2018

2018: So far

2018 so far
girl drinking tea

It’s weird to be sat writing a post reflecting on a year that we’re only just a two months into but y’know, when January felt like it lasted 49667385 days, it feels like we’re properly bedded into 2018 now. When I got to the end of January I felt like I’d lost a month as it seemed to pass by in a blur of crazily busy working weeks and yet time still slowed down to treadmill minutes (why do treadmill minutes take so much longer?!) when I had payday on the brain. I was so focused on making it to the end of the month without being in total financial ruin (LOL, I was), that I didn’t take stock of it actually being a really fun start to the year, and February was a pretty decent follow up.

I did a lot in January. I had nights out after work, I had nights in watching Disney films, I celebrated my sister’s birthday in three cities, I saw some of my favourite gals at two blogger events and I caught up with one of my best friends to put the world to rights after a hard week. Looking back at my diary from the month, I crammed in a lot given I got to the 31st and felt like I hadn’t achieved a thing.

February has been a pretty positive month too. I’ve been to London, had afternoon tea, been on yet even more nights out and had some more fun blogger events. The time I’ve spent with people has been both planned and spontaneous yet all ‘quality’ time without a doubt.

I’m definitely guilty of judging how fun my life is based on a scroll back through my social channels and that’s a habit which needs breaking for sure as living in the moment is becoming ever more important to me. Whilst I use my blog essentially as a best bits round up (y’know, in case the day I die I don’t get shown one as I go through the pearly gates), some things aren’t what I want to write about but that shouldn’t take away from them being the most fun and full of laughter. This year so far, I’ve definitely reduced how much I post on social media (though my endless Instagram stories suggest otherwise), and I’m living life more in the moment rather than though a lens – which can’t be a bad thing?

When it comes to how the start of the year is reflected in my resolutions for the year (anyone else starting to feel like this is a monthly report of my progress?!), I’ve actually done what I wanted to do. Doing more fun stuff is on my list every single year and I can safely say that I’ve filled my days with just that. I’ve worn new clothes which I love which makes me feel like I’m owning and defining my style a little more. Just a couple of weeks ago I passed my probation at work which is definitely a professional development. I’ll even tick off improving my living space now that I have fairy lights around my bed. (Well, it’s a step in the right direction at least).

Overall, 2018, you’re looking like a good one. You’ve been better than expected. You’ve been expensive, emotional and you’ve made me cry both sad and happy tears but I’ll take that. As February is coming to an end and March is already shaping up nicely, hopefully I’ll be continuing to keep up this positive vibe into the spring.

How’s your year so far? Let me know in the comments.


Sunday, 25 February 2018

Afternoon tea for two

Heritage Deli and Kitchen: Afternoon tea
Heritage Deli and Kitchen: Afternoon tea

It had been absolutely ages since I last went for afternoon tea so I was pretty delighted when Heritage Deli and Kitchen invited me to try their offering in Huddersfield. Though it’s a little out of the city centre in Lindley, I’d say that it’s definitely worth the trip over from the experience I had when I went to review.

I took along Catherine, who is one of my best friends, with me as it was the weekend between her finishing her old job and starting her new job on the Monday so it was the perfect treat for her, especially as she loves afternoon tea as much as I do. We’ve been for a few together over the last few years and as we can both be fairly picky eaters, it’s a challenge to please us both but Heritage Deli definitely didn’t disappoint.

We arrived and found that it is in a renovated mill, and is incredibly modern on the inside – lots of copper finishes and velvet chairs which is right up my Instagram-focused street. It’s the kind of place which is the absolute dream if you live in the area as it’s the perfect place to just go grab a coffee without having to go into town – we were there for a few hours and didn’t feel at all rushed which was perfect.

Our afternoon tea came with a glass of prosecco each which was a lovely touch, especially as it came in such beautiful glasses – I absolutely adore glassware which is a little different from normal and it’s this kind of attention to detail which ticks all of my boxes.

There were four flavours of sandwiches – egg and cress, beef, pate and prawn cocktail – all of which were on different types of bread which I really liked. As I mentioned, we both can be picky with food but this mix worked perfectly for us as Catherine loves prawns and I love pate so we swapped those between us. All of them were very filling and generous sizes for finger sandwiches.

Next up were the fruit scones which were served with cream and strawberry jam. It’s only recently that I’ve realised that I don’t have a strong standpoint on whether I prefer cream or jam first, something which most people seem incredibly passionate about. I guess it comes down to how thick the cream is and if it’s spreadable or dollopable? Who knows. Anyway, the scones were a big hit as they were homemade and came sliced in half already so there was no struggle of a scone falling apart as you try and cut it with a butter knife.

The cakes on the top tier were delicious too, with a really light lemon curd sponge and a millionaires shortbread with popcorn. The sponge was my favourite for sure as it tasted delicate with a sweet hit of lemon. Catherine loved the millionaires shortbread and she actually ended up having half of mine too as I just couldn’t finish it as I was stuffed. I must admit, I’m not big on popcorn personally, but it was still a delicious and more unusual choice for an afternoon tea.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend going out of your way to go to Heritage Deli and Kitchen if you’re in the area for Afternoon Tea – it’s just £12.95 per person (without prosecco) which is an absolute steal, plus there’s nothing better than going somewhere that serves homemade cake. What do you think? Does it tickle your tastebuds? Let me know in the comments.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Let’s all scream for (vegan) ice cream

Northern Bloc Vegan Ice Cream
Northern Bloc Vegan Icecream launch party

I’m sure that it’s no surprise to anyone that I’m an ice cream fan, but I have BIG NEWS about Northern Bloc, which is an independent seller from Leeds which has, not surprisingly, hit the big time with their tubs of creamy goodness being stocked in freezer aisles around the UK (specifically in Waitrose and The Co op).

*Drumroll please*

Northern Bloc is launching a vegan range which goes on sale in March.

If you’re big on ice cream/love supporting cool brands then tell your friends, and not just the vegan ones, as I went to their launch party and can confirm that their chocolate and orange blossom vegan ice cream is a gift sent from the Gods for us all to enjoy.

Northern Bloc Vegan Icecream launch party

I know what all the non-vegans reading this post will be thinking (and I’m ashamed to say, I held the same doubts before I tried it), that it would be a less good version of the dairy icecream which they already produce. How wrong I was. It’s absolutely banging. It tastes creamy and rich and there is zero compromise on quality with the new vegan flavours in comparison to their regular ones. They have four new flavours launching but my heart lies with chocolate and orange blossom (but FYI the other flavours are Hazelnut and Tonka Bean, Strawberry and Yuzu and Peanut Chip plus their sorbets Raspberry and Sorrel and Grapefruit and Bergamot).

Northern Bloc Vegan Icecream launch party

Northern Bloc Vegan Icecream launch party

Whilst we’re on the subject of excellent vegan alternatives, the launch took place at Temple Coffee in Leeds which if you’re from the area, you’ll know it as the place which does galaxy donuts. If you’re not from Leeds, then get yourself down there for a galaxy donut as it will meet all of your Instagram and tastebud dreams in one. Temple has an incredible vegan range (they regularly sell out so maybe consider going for a breakfast donut) which we tried on the night of the launch party and they honestly taste just as good as the regular version – there’s no difference – though I’m sure you can only imagine the post-party sugar crash I had that evening. It was intense.

Temple coffee leeds

Temple coffee leeds

Temple coffee leeds

It’s great to see brands really backing vegan diets with alternatives which are of just as high a quality as their regular products as so often, dietary requirements mean getting a substitute which isn’t as good as the real thing – whereas Northern Bloc and Temple Coffee get it spot on and I couldn’t recommend them both any more highly. I’m seriously excited to stock my freezer when the new range launches in March, especially as it’s just in time for Spring and any sunshine is an excuse for ice cream, right?


Monday, 19 February 2018

Hyde Park Book Club turns two

Hyde Park Book Club Leeds
Hyde Park Book Club Leeds

Oh you know how I love an independent? Well, I’ve only gone and found another absolute gem.

Hyde Park Book Club is a cafe/bar/gig venue/events space/place to hold exhibitions/book club that’s right at the heart of a community. It’s there to bring people together, to celebrate skills and talents. It started off simply as a coffee shop next door to the fancy dress shop, expanded into the storage space between them and has since taken over the downstairs basement when they have club nights on and bands playing. Needless to say, in the last two years, things have escalated quickly.

What makes Hyde Park Book Club special is that it celebrates and nurtures talent by giving people the opportunity to showcase what they’re doing and get together. Students would come in and ask if they could DJ or hold their end of year shows there and the local labour MP even had their party offices there during the last election. It’s the type of venue which isn’t about trying to grow and expand for commercial reasons, it’s grown out of passion and word of mouth, which is why it’s not your slick Instagrammable haunt that you’d necessarily expect in 2018, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t got a charm. It’s welcoming. It’s somewhere you can bring your laptop to work on a Sunday morning, come for a night out to support your friend’s up and coming band, or do what the name says, and become part of the book club.

Hyde Park Book Club Leeds

I was invited down to celebrate their second birthday over brunch and their menu is definitely up my street. The venue itself only serves veggie dishes as the managers are both vegetarian (so it would be a bit weird for them to start serving up steaks), but the brunch offering is second to none. I went for the breakfast bagel which included avocado, veggie sausages, spinach and a fried egg served in a toasted bagel and it was the absolute dream. There are plenty of sweet options too with breakfast pastries or the classic alternative of cake for breakfast. We all know that’s a great idea, especially on a weekend.

Hyde Park Book Club Leeds

Hyde Park Book Club Leeds

Hyde Park Book Club Leeds

Hyde Park Book Club Leeds

Hyde Park Book Club is definitely one to watch – it’s the place to go if you fancy getting involved with something different or if you simply fancy trying somewhere new when you’re having an afternoon catch up with friends and don’t want to brave central Leeds on a Saturday. I’d absolutely recommend checking it out, especially if you get chance to try the food or a beer from their bottle shop, and y’know, you can pick up some fancy dress from the shop next door if that tickles your fancy too.

Have you ever been to Hyde Park Book Club? Will you be checking it out? Let me know in the comments.


Thursday, 15 February 2018

Cocktails with a side of free pizza

Cuckoo Leeds free pizza
Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

Did I have you at free pizza? Yeah, I thought so.

A week doesn’t go by in Leeds without a new bar or concept springing up and Cuckoo was a late 2017 addition to the cocktail scene in Leeds. Situated on Call Lane, it’s a prime spot for the after work crowd (AKA moi) and it’s managed by the same people as Mean Eyed Cat, Call Lane Social and Brooklyn Bar – three other absolutely solid bars in Leeds.

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

In a city which has a concept bar or six on every street, it’s hard to launch a bar with something that’s all new but Cuckoo definitely brings something different to this end of town. We’re talking cocktails crafted by the bar staff themselves, pizzas fresh from the stone fired pizza oven and some seriously cool decor. In fact, between 5-9pm you get a free 6 inch pizza with every cocktail and if that’s not music to your ears then who even are you?

I headed down for a night of fierce friendly competition after I was invited to design a pizza which would feature on the specials board for the month of February. Needless to say, I stepped up to the challenge and my design sits proudly next to the pizza oven. We were challenged to make vegan pizzas and whilst I’m 100% down with a veggie topping selection (I always have a Veggie Supreme on my half and half from Dominos), I’d never tried vegan cheese before and I must admit, I was impressed at how similar the alternative is. I mean, it tasted like cheese and that’s all I was interested in!

I opted for a Mexican theme to my pizza as it combines my two fave cuisines, so it was a tomato base, peppers, onions, crushed nachos, vegan cheese and topped with guacamole. And of course it’s called ‘You guac to be kidding me’! 

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

It was an absolute taste sensation if I do say so myself and was perfectly matched with the prosecco and tequila cocktail that is my favourite on the menu. I mean, who doesn’t want a drink that has a half bottle of prosecco sticking out the top of it? Some might say that it’s a lethal combination and they’d be right.

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

Cuckoo Leeds Call Lane

I’m definitely a fan of Cuckoo and I think it’s now a definite addition to my usual choice of bars on Call Lane – enough so that I dragged all my colleagues there last Friday night and everyone seemed to enjoy it too. Will you be heading down to try some pizza and cocktails? Let me know in the comments!


Monday, 12 February 2018

2018: The year of the woman*

The year of the woman
hyde park book club leeds

How many times have you heard someone proclaim that they believe in gender equality but they’re not a ‘feminist’? That they’re an ‘equalist’? Even if you’ve heard it once, I’d go as far to say as that’s too many times.

2018 marks 100 years since women in the UK gained the right to vote and with movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp gaining more momentum by the day, this year is being dubbed the ‘year of the woman’. Women are starting to speak up about their beliefs, to call out those who have subjected them to abuse and to reinforce that no really does mean no. Whilst it’s heartbreaking to see how many people have been affected, the number of people taking action and standing up against such behaviour is an incredible thing – and that’s from both women AND men.

If 2018 is the year of the woman, it’s the year where I want to see the term ‘feminism’ being absolutely owned and championed. I want to see it stripped back to it’s core definition, lose the association with extreme views (cheers to the huns at the Daily Mail for that one) and become something you expect as standard from someone who isn’t a dickhead.

(Know what I mean? It’s like that standard criteria which decent folk look for in friends, where you wouldn’t tolerate someone being racist or homophobic, so why would you tolerate someone who doesn’t believe in gender equality?)

Feminism by the Oxford Dictionary definition is: ‘The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’.

What feminism isn’t, is a group of arsey women burning their bras and claiming they’re better than men at everything. (But y’know, if women were paid the same as men, maybe we’d be able to afford to burn our bras as do men even appreciate the cost of lingerie?).

Whilst we live in a world where there are some truly terrible people at the top, feminism needs to become a standard belief so that women and men can champion each other through mutual respect and equal rights. Equality works both ways. For every person fighting to abolish the gender pay gap there should be another fighting for shared parental leave. For every little girl being told she can be a firefighter, there should be a little boy being told he can be a ballet dancer.

Identifying as a feminist shouldn’t be something that’s extreme or out there. It shouldn’t come with any other associations than respecting gender equality and wanting men and women to be treated as equals. When you put it like that, it doesn’t seem too outlandish does it?

To celebrate gender equality and some seriously strong women (since it’s the year of the woman after all), I’m giving away the complete series one of Jessica Jones, the All Woman Platinum edition CD Compilation and a Girl Power notebook to one lucky person. The entry form is below, good luck!

Competition prize

*This post was written in collaboration with Paddy Power Bingo, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 
A note from them...
Under every women’s appearance lies a superhero. We might look calm and collected on the surface but underneath we are a ball of energy balancing work, family and friends all while we play bingo online!

Paddy Power Bingo are offering a Superheroine Kit which contains the complete series one of Jessica Jones, the All Woman Platinum edition CD Compilation and a Girl Power notebook to write down your deepest, darkest secrets.


Sunday, 11 February 2018

Happy 5th birthday!

Photo Credit: Squibb Vicious Media

They grow up so fast, don’t they?  I really can’t believe that my blog baby turned five this weekend. Five years since I sat in the library and mugged off proof reading my dissertation to launch this site. You could say that this is my biggest commitment to procrastination to date.

My blog entered the online world as a space to talk about glasses. I quickly got distracted by the world of fashion and beauty, began dipping my toes into restaurant reviews and everything seriously spiralled into what it is today. I might not be able to pin down a niche (soz Google hun, I’m a rule breaker), but five years on, I’ve found my voice and I’m still writing content that I love.

This site hasn’t just been my space to create content but it threw me into a blogging community and then even further into a friendship group. When you’re growing up you’re told not to meet people off the internet and yet at the age of 25, I can safely say that I have a group of women in my life who I’d never have met without it. Women who are my absolute rocks, my support network, my cheerleaders and the people who tell me straight when I’m being a dickhead. To me, they’re friends first and bloggers second – shout out to Kellie, Laura, Hayley, Haydy, Rachel, Kariss, Milly and Caroline for being top babes.

Having a blog isn’t as easy as most people think. It’s a constant pressure to be creating new content, staying relevant, not coming across as a bellend, learning technical skills, putting yourself out there and opening yourself up to criticism. This site has kicked me well and truly out of my comfort zone. I’ve posted outfit photos when I’ve never felt more insecure. I’ve shared opinions that not everyone will agree with. I’ve poured my heart onto a page discussing my struggles with grief and pressed publish on words that I didn’t know how to say out loud. I’ve become so passionate about something that so many people don’t really get and are quick to dismiss, and yet I can’t imagine my life without it.

I don’t want to sound like that person, but this blog has helped me work out the person I am and the person I want to be. Writing things down makes me think more objectively and being challenged by other people opens me up to different ways of thinking. It’s given me confidence in my opinions, in my beliefs, in what I’ll stand for and what I’ll stand up for. I started this blog as a 20 year old pushover who could be talked into anything. I write this now as a 25 year old who stands for far less shit. It’s a good thing, I hope.

As I round off this post, I want to say thank you to every single person who has supported me, by reading my content, leaving a comment, sharing a link, letting their food go cold whilst I take a photo of it, freezing to death when taking photos of me, being a plus one or telling me that something I’ve written has made a difference to them. I honestly never believed my blog would still be here five years on and I’m truly proud of it, but it probably wouldn’t be this way if it wasn’t for the support.

Peace and love x


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The year of self love

pouring tea from teapot
The year of self love

Odds on how many people clicked this link thinking this post was going to be a haul from Ann Summers or something equally as explicit? You filthy minded bunch. This post is about self love in a being kinder to yourself sense so calm yourself with a brew, it’s going to be a long one.

Looking after yourself both physically and mentally is really damn important. I’ve written before about how I try to take time out when I’ve been really busy to schedule in a social hangover (you know when you’ve been a back to back social butterfly for a week and just need a break from other people? That’s a social hangover) but I think 2018 is when I need to take more time to look after myself just in general. Here’s what I’ll be doing to show myself a little love in 2018 as with Valentine’s Day looming, it’s all too clear that nobody else will be doing it for me.

Honestly, you can’t get away from the innuendos in this post. Facepalm.

Clean sleeping. Yep. Once again, I’ve hit peak grandma, but there’s something about making a conscious effort to make your unconscious time as productive as possible that is incredibly satisfying. A fairly regular sleeping pattern, waking up to a simulated sunrise (my Lumie sunrise lamp is my absolute fave), cutting back on screen time around bedtime and some high quality bedding can make all the difference.

Eating breakfast. I got into some seriously bad habits late last year where I started eating breakfast at my desk and trust me when I say that a golden syrup flavoured porridge pot is far from the healthiest of options. I find that when I get up earlier, cook breakfast (eggs, baked beans, mushrooms and broccoli) that I stay fuller for longer and don’t have an energy crash just before lunch because all I’ve eaten is sugary oats.

Being a little more high maintenance. I’m the definition of low maintenance when it comes to my appearance which is why I can include getting my hair cut as a self love goal. I commend anyone who gets their hair cut more than twice a year as where the hell do they find the time?! I want this year to be the year I look after my hair a little more and wear it down far more frequently.

Health checks. Going to get my eyes checked at my local opticians (I’m due my regular test soon) and a dental check up are both on the list for 2018. I’d recommend heading to The Old Church if you’re local to West Yorkshire – if anything is going to distract from dentist nerves it’s snapping a shot for Instagram and the surgery is in a beautiful converted church. When it comes to my eyes, I’ll definitely be shopping around for some new frames, regardless of whether I need them, so hit me up with recommendations for quirky opticians.

Reading more. I find reading the most relaxing thing in the world and I definitely want to spend more time switching off and being drawn into someone else’s world this year. I think 2018 could be the year I re-read the Harry Potter series as I haven’t done it for a couple of years – and it’s any excuse to buy new copies as so many of my books are falling to pieces.

Laughing more. It sounds so stupid to have this on a list of things to do but it’s so easy to get caught up in a blur of work that you forget to let off steam. Last week my team at work had a night out and it was so much fun and I cry-laughed a lot, both when I was out and when I was debriefing on Monday morning – what’s not to love about that? Making a conscious effort to spend time with the people who make you howl with laughter is definitely a great way to cleanse the soul.

So that’s my round up of self love tips for 2018 – what will you be doing to show yourself a little love? Let me know in the comments.
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