22 February 2016

North East - Revisit to The Post Box - Ponteland

Yesterday I went back to a lovely cafe - The Post Box, Ponteland I discovered last June, I had been meaning to go back, but it is 30 minute drive from where I live so I combined it with a breezy walk around Northumberlandia with my boyfriends family.  The Post Box doesn't disappoint, with fabulous service and yummy food to offer.

This local vibe cafe looks gorgeous from the outside and equally on the inside. I love the history of the previous post office coming out in the decor, with red accessories and themed menu - breakfast dishes are called 'All day deliveries'. The jar lights in the window and the village post box sitting outside really makes me smile.

I pre booked the table via twitter earlier in the week as there was 6 of us and I know it can get busy. The team came back to me really quickly - what a great service!

We turned up 15 minutes early for the table which was no problem and we had the lovely large dining table that fitted the 6 of us perfectly. The table was decorated with postcards and seasonal flowers - a mix of tulips and daffodils. 

The choice of all day breakfast, burgers, soups and light bites does make it perfect for everyone, including the great kids menu which was a great hit with one of us.

I tried to choose something else but I did end up ordering the Post Box Rarebit which comes with a portion of salad, I did really fancy the pancakes and all day breakfast too but I enjoyed the rarebit so much last time it was hard not to order it again. 

The attentive service really makes the experience enjoyable, plus with a buzz of constant activity makes it a perfect location for family time and relaxing with friends.

The selection of cakes on offer were super and included an option for gluten free customers. We all decided to get a fruit scone - we were just being greedy but we just couldn't resist.

If you are visiting Ponteland or looking for somewhere new to try, I can highly recommend The Post Box, I am already thinking when can I go next.

View my previous post June 2015 - The Post Box - 1st visit review

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14 February 2016

Love | My perfect Hot Chocolate

Happy Valentines Day! 

Some couples don't celebrate, some go all out - me and my boyfriend we just exchange a card and a little gift, I would rather we saved our money for bigger gifts for our birthdays in February and March.

It's Sunday so we will be having a relaxing day and to finish it off I will be making us a yummy hot chocolate with a movie.

I have to be honest its a bit sickly but heyyyyy its a cosy night in!

To make a my perfect hot chocolate you need - 
Yours and your partners favourite mug!
Cadburys or similar Hot Chocolate powder
Hot frothy milk
Optional marshmallows, can of whipped cream, chocolate sauce
Big spoon!!

Let me know what goes in your perfect hot choc! 

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13 February 2016

Beauty | OPI Gel Nail start up kit under £100

I have done my own nails for at least 3 years, first of all I had a large UV light with Shellac nail polish and I have inspired a few friends on the way to do the same. 

I am not against going to the salon for a pamper but at £20- £25 per visit every 2 weeks, the cost mounts up. If I continued to go every 2 weeks it was going to cost £500 per year minimum. 

If you are willing to put £100 investment into a start up kit, you can do it yourself, learn a new skill and treat friends if they pop over.

I don't take appointments as I wouldn't say I am trained but I have to say I am pretty good at doing my own nails now.

In October last year my 2nd UV nail lamp broke down, and to be honest it needed alot of ongoing maintenance like the plug would stop working or buying new bulbs for it plus you had to make sure you had some stock as you could end up with dodgy nails if you are one light out. 

Shellac was OK but if I was starting again I wanted to invest into a different brand.

In December I went to a local salon for my nails doing for my friends wedding and they used OPI gel, so I had a look online and they had a lot of choice with cool names for each. So I decided this is what I was going to choose to buy next.

What do you need?
I buy everything including colours from Amazon UK, some items come direct others are from marketplace so could be sourced from USA.

Gel lamps have changed since I bought one last and now LED is what is used instead of UV and there is no replacement of bulbs and there is 2000 hours of light which is going to last ages as this lamp sets the nails much faster than UV.

Lamps vary from £15 - £50 but after a bit of research I couldn't really see much difference and its just for me, so I decided £25 was enough to spend. 

Bond Aid (£10)- this is new to me, and I only saw it used in December at the salon and was it is meant to do is neutralise the nail so a little drop on each nail before you start should allow the gel to bond more with the nail so you have a longer lasting result.

Base coat and Top Coat
It is really important (speaking from experience) to use the branded items. When I was trying to reduce costs, I bought shellac fake brand and it turned my nails yellow, so I won't do that again, so I now buy the proper OPI Gel Base and top coat, they are around £20 each.

Same as the base coat, I think its better to invest in a small amount of colours, I have only bought 2 so far as most of the time I only wear red but its nice to have an alternative so I bought a copper colour too.

I am missing a few key colours but I will buy them over time, I am happy with a couple to keep me going. The prices of colours on amazon vary from £18 - £25 each 

Finishing wipe & Lint Free cotton squares
Once you have finished painting your nails (I will tell you the process next) you are left with a sticky top layer so you need to wipe this off using a special finishing wipe, smells a bit like nail polish remover but just a couple of drops of this on the lint free cotton (so it doesn't scratch) and wipe over the nail then ta dah nails are complete. (Wipe is £10 - 15 for a bottle and cotton squares are £3 but this will last ages).

How long does it take?
It is possible for me to do both nails in under 20 minutes now. It used to take me up to 40 before with UV so getting an LED lamp has really improved the overall process and the result is faultless.

1) Prep the nail - filing, push cuticles back then add the bond aid
2) If you are doing your own, do one hand at a time - put a layer of base coat on each hand then set the timer on the lamp for 60 seconds
3) Then paint a layer of colour on each nail and set for 60 seconds  - do 2 layers
4) When you are ready for top coat double check the thumb nail is set before applying top coat so I sometimes set the thumb only for 30 seconds - this depends on the size of your hands to make sure the light fully sets all nails. Then paint all of the top coat on your nail making sure you don't get too close to the edge as this is what will lift your paint if it goes slightly off the nail. Set for 60 seconds. 
5) You are now ready to complete the hand by cleaning each nail with the finishing wipe. One nail done. Repeat for the other hand.

Nail paint for me really does make me feel fully presented and I went so many years without nails painted or lipstick, i think thats why now I can't live without either.

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12 February 2016

Food | Gluten free brownies

Last week I had some girlie friends round for dinner and I wanted to make a dessert everyone could enjoy so I chose a Nigella recipe for gluten free brownies.

Table setting for my dinner party

Can't go wrong with Prosecco & Chambord

When choosing something I didn't want to use Gluten Free flour as I haven't had much success as it doesn't rise so I was really pleased when I found this recipe.

I bought all my ingredients from my favourite supermarket Lidl, this is not an advertisement.. I am just obsessed with the amazing quality and price, I will do a review of why I like it so much next week.

What you need (Based on Nigella's)
  • 225dark chocolate - 70% cocoa solids
  • 225g unsalted butter 
  • 2tsp vanilla extract 
  • 200g Caster sugar 
  • large eggs (beaten) 
  • 150ground almonds 
  • 100chopped walnuts 

I am so impressed with this 70% cocoa dark chocolate from Lidl for less than £1, the gold foil and the embossed pieces make it look much more expensive than it is. 

To make the brownies first of all you need to break up the chocolate and place it in a non stick pan - (large pan as you will be mixing all your ingredients in here).

Add the chocolate and melt on a low heat.

Add in the chopped nuts, vanilla essence and ground almonds then mix together - Next time I make this I will probably add some more mixed nuts and dried fruit.

I didn't seem to have the appropriate tin, so I greased 6 mini loaf tins and then I could split them into two pieces.

This worked out really well as they cooked through well. I baked mine for 30 minutes at 180c but it would be safer to set the timer for 25 minutes then just keep checking them. 

They still didn't look fully cooked but they were hard on top so I thought I would risk it. 

I don't have a picture of them cooked :-( but luckily my friend Miss S remembered to take a picture of hers before she ate it so here it is..... I served half a mini tin with Carte D'or Cafe Latte ice cream (amazing) and some raspberries.

Perfect treat to make for a valentines meal for 2!

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9 February 2016

Style | Jolie Papier haul

I love paperchase, but now I think I have found somewhere I LOVE more...

I am a sucker for stationery which can be an expensive habit but there was a flash sale last Saturday at my new favourite stationery store Jolie Papier, my closest store is Newcastle and absolutely everything including sale items was 50% off. 

**Updated 21st Feb 2016 - Really sad news this store has closed down :-(

This resulted in a haul of note pads and Kate Spade merchandise....

Paris or New York? There is no need to decide with this double covered notebook I love fashion illustration and this has inspired me to start doing some more doodles.

When I buy a notebook I try to think what I would put in it, sometimes it just for popping on my desk for general notes.. this .next one definently wants some fashion planning. 

I also picked up a Kate Spade stripe book. It had green interior.. no further reason.. except it was £6 instead of £12. I have already put this to use and I am doing a full audit and log of my makeup.

JP stocks alot of Kate Spade merchandise, cups, shopping bags, stationery accessories like cute paperclips, luggage labels and cards.

I picked up this polka dot cup which is perfect for having on your desk to make sure you are drinking lots of water.

Last of all I saw these Kate Spade 'holiday cards' before christmas but they were £20 for 10 cards so way out of budget. I picked these up for £6 which is much better price and I have sent out a couple already and they are so beautiful. Pink cards with gold foil letters plus white envelopes with gold stripe interior is just gorgeous!!

This store is next to Michael Kors and White Company in Newcastle City centre, make sure you pop in next time your looking for a gift for women, they have so much stuff they would love - perfect for Valentines! I love everything and flash sales are totally up my street. 

I have tried to track this down online, but as it is a sister brand to Clintons, it auto diverts you to their homepage and you are not able to browse their products as you could not find a brand so different to Clintons.

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6 February 2016

Home | H&M cushions

H&M is my favourite place to buy home decor at the moment. 

No where near me stocks H&M home but it is available online - ordering is OK as the delivery is affordable (usually £2.99) and arrives within 2 days.

I had been looking for some perfect cushions for a few months mostly because I didn't know what I was looking for. I had morrocan theme in my mind to go with my new grey corner sofa, but I just didn't see anything I liked.

When I first discovered H&M's green collection I couldn't resist and had to order these banana tropical leaf cushion covers. I ordered 3 at first as I wasn't sure if more than that would be too much.

I put them on my sofa as soon as they arrived but decided I needed 1 more so I went back on to order and found they were out of stock :-( available in grey

So if I have learnt anything, if you see it buy it, as they have already moved onto Tropical Pineapples.. which is also right up my street!

Instead I ordered 6 more cushion covers in 2 shades of green so I can have them in sets of 3.

The quality of the cushions are so good, the light green were only £2.99 they are lovely material complete with hidden zip fastening on the back. Some of you are probably thinking this is not affordable if you need to buy inners but I had alot of cushions that just needed new covers so this was a good solution for me.

I am happy with my new space.. next step is to fill my table with some complimentary items but it is limiting in size and height so at the moment I have the sections filled with my favourite coffee table books.  

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2 February 2016

Food | Miss K's special Tiramisu

Tiramisu is one of my fave desserts, finding the perfect recipe is a bit of a challenge as nothing will taste as authentic than eating it in Italy which I have been lucky enough to do.

Quite alot of recipes for tiramisu contain raw egg which i am not a bit fan of but the recipe I found doesn't so let me share my favourite recipe.

If you want to make a giant one like I did which serves 12 portions double up the following ingredients:

250g Marscapone
3 tbsp Amaretto (or Tia Maria)
150ml cold black coffee
4 tbsp icing sugar
150ml single cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
18 savoiardi biscuits (trifle fingers)
cocoa powder or chocolate decorations of your choice
serving dish of your choice - you could even do individual ones if you prefer

1) Mix the marscapone, icing sugar, cream and vanilla extract 

2) Add in amaretto and 50ml of coffee into the mixture - you will need the other 100ml of coffee next

3) Once all of your mixture is ready you can layer up your tiramisu

4) Dip your biscuits one by one in the cold coffee (add a splash of extra booze if you wish) and cover the bottom of your chosen dish - then add a layer of mixture, repeat this until you have used all of your biscuits and mixture up ending with mixture so you can then coat with cocoa

You can make this a day head just cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge. 

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