Monday, 14 August 2017

10 Things That Make Me Happy

This is a (nother) highly late post as it was well over a month ago that I was tagged by Cath at Battlemum to tell you about Ten Things That Make Me Happy!

1 - Finally finding time to post!
I love my blog, despite it's flaws, but when life gets in the way it's the first thing to be put on the back burner sadly! Everything has been crazy busy recently due to some unexpected work problems (coupled with the school holidays!) but things are finally settling down a little and I hope to able to write a little more regularly now!

2 - Baths
The one luxury I will always make time for is a good long soak, prefereably in something sweet-smelling and pretty. I find that no matter what is on my mind when I get in the bath, I always feel about 50% better afterwards!

3 - Yorkshire
I feel very lucky that I live in such a beautiful part of the world. I genuinely would rather live in Yorkshire than anywhere else. Beautiful coastline, bustling cities, breathtaking countryside - we have it all, and more!

4 - Bettys Cafe
So integral to point three, but I love Bettys. A Yorkshire instituion for nearly 100 years, Bettys (any of the six Yorkshire based branches) is the perfect place for a sophisticated spot of tea and delicious cake, served with old fashioned charm! I've always said Bettys is my happy place so I couldn't leave it off this list!

5 - Bees
This is a funny one, as I've ever been a big fan of insects of any kind but this summer I've gained so much joy from watching the bees buzz around! I know how important bees are to humanity, so now when I see them going about their bee business I can't help thinking 'cheers, guys!'

6 - Cake
I mean, surely this needs no further explanation?

7 - Tea

8 - Game of Thrones
It's a little odd that a TV show with so much violence and nastiness makes me happy, but hasn't it just been the most amazing ride? This series in particular has been spectacular, with some genuinely happy moments in between all the bloodshed (hello Stark reuninion!) - can it last?

9 - Cats
I love cats, but allergies mean I can't have one. However, I was convinced into visiting the Cat Cafe in Manchester recently where I managed half an hour in a cat-filled room with no adverse affects, hurray! It's not enough yet to make me rush out and adopt a bunch of kitties, but it gives me hope I might one day be a proud cat-momma, and in the mean time if I get to hand out with the lovely felines for half an hour at a time while in Manchester, it's a great start!

10 - My Family
I couldn't really go the full list without mentioned the thing in my life that brings me most joy! Whether it's my adorable, sweet funny children; my supportive and wonderful partner, or my parents and my brother who have always been there for me - I'm very lucky to have these wonderful people in my life!

I hope you found this interesting! I haven't tagged anyone in particular but I'd love to hear what makes you happy!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Avoiding RSI with Penclic

I spend the bulk of my working life at a computer, and then I come home and spend more time at the computer. I've been lucky so far to avoid any of the assocated problems like RSI and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, but I know a few people that have really suffered with these and it's always made me a little wary!

I was recently given the opportunity to try out a new style of mouse designed to minimise the chances of computer-related health problems! The Penclic R3 Wireless mouse was designed to utilise the full erganomic advantages and clean design you might expect from a Swedish company like Penclic. The range is designed to give a more natural range of movement than with a traditional mouse, enabling you to more your arms and shoulders more freely and naturally whcih means RSI is less of a risk.

As well as the potential health benefits, there are certain circumstances in which the pen-like design just makes more sense - my kids, for example, love to draw pictures on the computer. This is so much easier for them with something that feels like a pen, as its so much closer to the natural tools for that task. They both love the Penclic mouse, especially my left-handed son as this is designed to be jsut as easy for lefties as righties!

It did take me a little while to get the hang on the penclic, which is only to be expected after years of using a different style of mouse - but the kids, who have never really used a mouse a lot before (all laptops, no desktops these days!) took to it like a fish to water - they love it, and I don't have to worry about them developing extra problems in relation to their computer time! 

I definitely recommend trying out this product for anyone who spends a lot of time using a computer and traditional mouse! 

Monday, 7 August 2017

I Sea Pasta - A Healthy Alternative

I've been trying really hard recently to make some changes to my lifestyle. I spend most of my day sat at a desk, and I love to eat - and the combination of the two is taking it's toll on my body!

I'm not a 'diet' type - like I said, I LOVE to eat, so I'm always on the lookout for ways to incorporate healthier options into my food choices. To this end, I recently came across I Sea Pasta - a pasta alternative made from seaweed!

Pasta is a huge vice of mine. It's tasty, versatile and easy to prepare, as well as a comforting throwback to my student days when I used to live on the stuff!  But as a sensible grown up I know that gorging myself on carbs every meal is not ideal. I need to learn to compromise!

My current compromise is I Sea Pasta - this tagliatelle alternative has 80% fewer calories than the regular kind, is low in carbs and full of iodine, iron and omega 3. It's also high in fibre and gluten free.

Importantly, seaweed is one of the most renewable foods on the planet too - at a time when I am becoming increasingly concerned about the future of the planet, this is a big selling point for me!

The pack came with loads of different cooking and serving suggestions (which can also be found online) but for my first attempt, I decided to stick with a classic - simple pesto with a few cherry tomatoes thrown in. As you can see, I half-and-halfed my dish with regular pasta (as per one of the suggestions - this made trying something so new and unique a whole lot less intimidating!

The seaweed comes straight from the ocean, and it sure smells like it! This could be a tad off-putting, but again there are tips on how to minimise the 'ocean breeze', but the smell is not really translated into the taste which I for one was quite glad about!

I'd definitely incorporate the seaweed pasta as long-term fixture in my diet. I'd probably stick to mixing it with regular pasta, as for the time being I'm happy to just make baby steps towards a better lifestyle!

Have you tried seaweed? Would you?  Do you have any good food-swap tips for me?

Friday, 30 June 2017

Five of the Best Parisian Restaurants

There are a lot of reasons that I'd love to go to Paris - the sites, this history, the culture, but most of all? The food!

Today I have a guest post on five of the best restaurants in the city, another five reasons to want to go!

Five of the Best Parisian Restaurants
Travelling to Paris is definitely something that everyone has to do at some point in their lives. The French capital not only has amazing historic sights, extremely famous landmarks and incredible shopping experiences, it is also home to some of the most amazing food and drink in Europe. From cosy cafes and coffee shops to quirky, foodie restaurants and enticing jazz bars, the city definitely has it all when it comes to culture and cuisine. The only problem with having so many great places to eat is being totally and utterly spoilt for choice which can be a little overwhelming when you’re only in the city for a mini break or a short space of time. Here are five of the best picks to help you out a little!

La Poule au Pot
When it comes to French gastronomy there really is no better than this traditional little French gem. Situated in Les Halles, this tiny little bistro is open all night (until 5am) and serves up the traditional French dish of stuffed, poached chicken. Step inside, and you will be transported straight back to 1930’s France as you enjoy a glass of wine in true French style and choose from a range of incredible dishes including Burgundy Snails, Duck Leg Confit and Fried Camembert with cherry jam. If it’s tradition and culture you’re after you really can’t go far wrong here.

This place has an extremely interesting concept and is a space for young and aspiring chefs to take over the kitchen and produce some great, creative dishes. These sous chefs hope to open restaurants of their own and the standard of food is next to none. A modern, rustic environment, the small building has a bustling atmosphere and a menu full of bold, vibrant flavours. Due to the nature of the place, the menu is ever-changing and dinner is a set price of 58 euros. Try it – you won’t be disappointed.

You can’t go to Paris and not visit a creperie and krugen is up there with the best of the best when it comes to serving the traditional French treat.  From tasty classics of ham and cheese to indulgent sweet flavours of melted dark chocolate, salted caramel and Chantilly cream, whether you’re the sweet or savoury type, you’re guaranteed to find a crepe to suit your appetite.

Hardware Societie Paris
I’m sure you’ll all agree that when it comes to brunch spots, small, independent places are definitely the best. Hardware Societie is situated on Rue Lamark and is a quirky, independent establishment that offers some of the most Instagram-worthy (and delicious!) brunches we’ve ever seen. If you love your breakfasts sweet then their fried brioche with lemon curd, vanilla and poached pear is a definite must, and if you like your eggs in the morning then their 64 degree eggs on top of a dill, lemon and trout potato cake with asparagus salad will go down an absolute treat. With daily specials and an extensive list of really good coffee and homemade chai, start your day right here.

Hank Burger
Now, everybody loves a burger and fries, they are a great, filling convenience meal and fast food in this day and age is becoming more and more creative. There aren’t as many places that Vegans can grab a quick meal and this place is extremely delicious whether you are Vegan or not. With a quirky shabby chic interior it is the ultimate hipster dining experience. The deliciously soft burger buns are all homemade and filled with an extremely tasty Vegan steak. You then simply choose your sauce from a list of delicious flavours including ‘La Rockeuse ‘ (figs and rocket) and ‘tata Monique’ (tomatoes and fresh basil). There are other options such as amazing Vegan pizzas if you’re not the burger type! Sides and desserts are also aplenty!

Monday, 5 June 2017

A New Approach

I've tried on and off over the years to lose weight. And it's worked, sometimes. For a little while. But as soon as I take my eye off the ball, it all sneaks back on again.

Its time for a different approach.

I'm not trying to lose weight. I'm trying to get fit.

Don't get me wrong - if I ended up losing a little weight on the journey, that'd be absolutely fine by me!

But I think my previous attempts have been thwarted because they weren't FUN. I want to have fun. I want to be able to dance all night without feeling like I'm gonna die.

I want to be able to run around that park - AAAAALLLLLLLL the way around! 

Not me running, but the lovely Jen at JustAverageJen who kindly helped me out with this photo!

I want to be able to swim well enough that if I ver get the opportunity to have a go as snokelling or scuba diving, or just swimming somewhere really cool, that I can just say YES without having to worry.

I want to find a sport thats for me. Thats suits me, that I am good at, and that I enjoy. I want to end up sweaty and grinning.

I want muscles. I want to be able to beat the guys at work in an arm wrestle.

I want to be able to climb the highest hills for the best views. I want to be able to walk miles to the hidden gems.

(And sometimes, I want to reward myself for these feats with a big fat fry-up and a pint. Becasue I've earned it.)

Also not me, but the gorgeous Kirsty Dee, showing me how it should be done!
And, unlike in the past - this time I'm REALLY EXCITED about it!

If you have any tip top fitness tips, or great sporting hobbies to recommend I'm LOVE to hear about them in the comments!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Mother's Ruin - A Gin Based Gift Guide for Mother's Day

Mothers and gin. Gin and mothers. The two are historically (if not entirely factually) linked, so it onlu made sense that my Mother's Day gift guide fell around the theme of the so-called 'Mother's Ruin'.

(For the recod, gin never ruined my mother - but she is rather partial to the odd one, so I stand by my suggestions!)

1) The giant Gin and Elderflower lollies from Hollies Lollies are made with real gin and are bound to appeal to any sweet-toothed mama's this coming Sunday. I love how big and bright these are, and the hand-tied ribbon detail is adorable!

2) Another one for sweet lovers, these gorgeous artisan Gin & Tonic truffles from The London Chocolate Co would make a wonderul Mother's Day gift!

3) For those mums, like mine, that aren't actaully too bothered about eating sweets, there's still a number of ways to incorporate a favourite spirit into some unique gifts. The Gin and Tonic lip balm from Sweet Cecily's looks like a great way to do this!

4) The gin coin purse from Tatty Devine is so cute - I want it and I don't even drink gin! Lots of details but not so many people might think you have an actual bottle of gin in your bag!

5) The best present to get someone who really loves gin, is gin! A subscription to the Craft Gin Club, a delivery of a full sized bottle of surprise gin complete with mixers and treats would be an amazing gift and there are different subscription options to suit different budgets!

What are you getting your mum for Mother's Day? 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Valentines Treats From Bettys

My dearest beloved is deserting my this Valentines Day as he's working away, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to treat someone I really love - myself!

And there's no better way to treat someone that with something special from the Valentines Range at Bettys!

I've mentioned before my love for the Yorkshire based company, and enjoy their baked goods whenever I get chance, but this is the first time I've tried their chocolates. But it's definitely the time of year for nice chocolates - and these are VERY nice chocolates!

The 'With Love' selection box is not only truly beautiful, in that lovely classic Bettys way, but contains a really unique set of flavours you wont find in your standard supermarket box. Traditionally used but often forgotten flavours (like the Rose and Violet found in their delicious fondants) make a welcome appearance. 

The chocolates themselves are beautiful to look at too - smooth chocolate casings with the sweetest of decorations ... they look almost too good to eat. Almost!

I'm actually quite glad I have Valentines Day to myself - I wouldn't want to have to share these!

You can always count on Bettys to provide something really special for any occasion - even if you have no one to impress but yourself!

* I was sent these delicious items free of charge, pleasure derived from them is all my own