Sunday, 22 April 2018

Very Important Cakes

Ask anyone who knows me, even if they've only met me once, and they will tell you that the number one thing I love is cake. In all shapes, flavours and forms, cake is truly one of life's delights - eating it, baking it, drooling over photos of it - I absolutely flipping love it and I'm not afraid to shout it loud from the rooftops! 

Which leads me to a very special evening last week. First of all it was invite only, second of all the whole purpose of the evening was to EAT CAKE and third of all it was for VIPs - very important people who can scoff cake like it's going out of fashion... Sign. Me. Up. 

Let me take you along for the ride and while I'm there introduce you to Bendelow's Kitchen: Catering/Baking/All Occasion Goods run by Dominique Bendelow. 

I'm going to start right at the beginning because the first thing I saw when I entered the event was lines and lines and oh so beautiful looking scrummy lines of mini cheesecake pots *D R O O L* I managed to remember my name (just!) and sign myself in before deciding right there and then that it was going to be a mighty fine evening! 

The whole place was filled with cake. Oh my, it was a dream come true. There were cupcakes, mini puddings, pieces of fudge, millionaire's shortbread, meringue kisses...I lost track of it all while figuring out how many things I could eat without looking like the greediest one in the room (as if I really cared, ha, bring it on!) 

So what did I try? First of all I had churros with a chocolate dippy sauce. Fluffy, sugar sweet, oh so light and very very tasty indeed - the perfect starter course. For mains I moved on to the sticky toffee pudding for which there are no words. One of the nicest versions of this famous pudding I've ever had, and trust me, I've tried many. For pudding I opted for the cheesecake - shaved chocolate on the top, the richest most heavenly chocolate sauce, dipped right into a creamy cheesecake filling and crumbly biscuit to finish. I honestly contemplated if I could fit one into my handbag to bring home for second pudding. Instead what I actually had for my next pudding was the scone that I got in the goodie bag which was also exceptionally fine! 

Oh what a night! It's basically like it was made just for me! If you fancy trying out some of those deeeelicious treats for yourself you can follow Bendelow's Kitchen on Facebook and drop Dominique a message to talk all things cake. Obviously I can highly recommend you do just that! 

A big thank you to Bendelow's Kitchen for my invite and all the tasty delights - I had the most lovely evening! My big love of cake is entirely my own and can previously be found documented pretty much everywhere.  

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Life is too short for rubbish moisturisers!

I LOVE a good empties post. Call me weird but there's something oddly satisfying about seeing or reading all about products that people have loved so much they've literally scraped every single last drop out. I'm more than happy to stand alone on this one, but just in case you're like me, I'm coming at you today with a few of my most loved, used, scraped out - hell I've even cut one of them open - lotions and potions from the last few weeks!  

Mixa Restoring Body Lotion
Since I went all out there with the drama about cutting things open, it makes sense to start off with Mixa - the bottle that had the scissors taken to it! As with most things that we consume these days, I first came across this brand via at least three of my bloggers/vloggers/YouTubers/Influencers - whatever you want to call them. They all talked about how fantastic the brand was, how much good the lotions and potions were doing to their skin and most of all, how purse friendly it is. I have to agree, they were right on all three counts. 

There's nothing fancy dancy about Mixa at all, it doesn't particularly smell of anything, but it is indeed flipping good lotion that will do good things to your skin. This particular one worked wonders on my red patches from so much cold weather (COME ON Spring, what you playing at?!) and I was genuinely upset when the lotion stopped coming out via the pump, hence the dramatic scissors whereby more and more product just kept coming out for about another week, yay! I initially had to order this via Boots online, but I've since seen the brand in person in Superdrug in Middlesbrough so if you're interested, I would definitely head there first. I would like to think that the cut open packaging/scissors story speaks for itself, but it's safe to say I can highly recommend Mixa and I look forward to trying more. 

Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter
This is my third repurchase of this really flipping good cleansing balm. At just over £10 for the tub, it's a decent size that lasts a reasonable amount of time and does a really good job of removing all traces of makeup. I like that it's very, very light on fragrance, that it's super effective, it's really easy to travel with (she says, as if always off to far-flung destinations when in actual fact it's been no further than UK holidays), and I sometimes end up getting it for slightly cheaper if I have Body Shop points saved up. The only reason I haven't bought this again is that I've got a real hankering to try the Clinique Take the Day off cleansing balm so I'm saving my pennies up for that! (sidenote: way to tell that this blog is strictly amateur hour - when was the last time you heard a blogger say they needed to wait for payday for anything?!) 

Lee Stafford Sea Salt Spray
Boy, is this packaging pink! I inadvertently ended up buying two things from this range and the overwhelming PINK in my hair stuff basket was hurting my eyes! Rainbow bright packaging aside, this is a crackin' sea salt spray that has basically been making my life, now that my hair is 7 inches shorter than it was and back to being all bouncy and full of life. Spray in, quick scrunch and job is a good'un! Not sticky, not crispy, indeedy not rubbish at all. I can highly recommend! Once again, the only reason I didn't buy it again straight away is that I like trying new stuff out so I've currently got a blue one from L'Oreal. All the colours of the rainbow!

Lee Stafford Air Dry Foam
I'm definitely going to file this one under the category of fail. I don't quite know why I was so intrigued to try one of these 'air dry' products when in actual fact I air dry my hair every time I wash it (translation: can't be bothered to get the hairdryer out so leave it to dry naturally) and don't really need a product to help me do that. It was faffy, sticky and didn't really do anything at all. Very much a 'meh' from me. 

Bionsen Caring Touch deodorant (aluminium, paraben and alcohol free)
Over the past few years I've made many a foray into the natural deodorant world. The first one I ever tried did not go down well at all and basically gave me a kind of prickly heat rash in my armpit. 

Pleasant. *sarcasm* 

I have to admit that after the trauma of that it took me a good two years to be brave enough to try again. The next attempt was with the crystal style one. I'm still trying to figure out how that one works...when I saw this Bionsen one I was really intrigued. It looked like a normal deodorant, smelled nice, and didn't seem too scary, and it was about £2.50 so definitely not bank breaking at all. 

I've been pretty chuffed that it's turned out as well it has. I really, really like it and use it on weekends and when I'm working from home. I'd like to say that I use it everyday but I work in what is basically a sweatbox so if you don't have 48 hour Mitchum protection type deodorant on you might as well forget wearing any colour except black... 

Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum
Excellent price point, very easy to buy (just pop into your local Boots) and a nice, sinks in quickly and moisturises at the same time serum. It ticks all the boxes but there was just something about this that didn't really float my boat. I bought a second bottle just to make fully sure, but the second attempt didn't really excite me any further. I think it's perfect if you're looking for an entry level serum but for those of us that might require a little more assistance in the hydration department, the big guns are needed and this cute little bottle just isn't big and doesn't have enough ummmph behind it. 

And there you have it. A whole heap of empties and a mini review thrown in for good measure. What have you emptied out lately? Hit me up in the comments - we've already established that I'm very easily enabled...

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Away from the norm

I think a post every six weeks or so seems reasonable...erm, oopsy, fell off the blogging wagon before I'd even started again! Meh, as I said in my last post, I'm here when I'm here and hopefully that will be enough...

I took a day off work last week, not that unusual in March when everyone frantically tries to use up their last remaining leave before they lose it forever, or something like that anyway. What was kind of unusual was that it was a day off with purpose. Me and the work wife, Rach, had to be out and about taking photos for a blog post that we were writing for work and we had some very specific locations to visit. One of them was of course the Transporter Bridge

Infamous to our fair town, the big blue bridge soars over the River Tees in all her glory. I've been there heaps of times, photographed it even more heaps but I can honestly say, hand on heart, that in all my time as a resident Teessider, I'm not sure if I've actually been across it! 

Well I have now! 

I was slightly nervous. It's a gondola type thing that can carry both cars and pedestrians and I think what's always put me off is that it might be a bit too 'motion-y' for me. It's the dodgy ears you know - these days whenever I do anything that rocks the horizon it sends my rubbish ears into a tail spin and it's dizzy-central, definitely not a state that I actively seek out, as *U G H*

For anyone else feeling nervous, I'm here to reassure you, it's not at all like that. It's a verrrrry smooth ride and it's so much fun to do! I was imagining that we would have to stay stuck behind glass but they let you go out and basically lean on the barrier and watch the journey across the river. The freakiest thing was approaching the other side and thinking it was going to be a big bang as it hit the connecting part of the bridge (dead technical explanation there or what!) but that fear was also completely unfounded. Smooth as smooth and we sailed right up to the edge. 

We essentially turned right around and came back over as the car was parked Boro-side, and I would say that the return journey is definitely the prettier. With the sun reflecting just so on the river and Temenos and the Riverside Stadium in your eyeline, you really can't get much more Boro than that! 

If you've never been before I can highly recommend it. It was the best £1.20 (single journey) that has ever been spent! For the bravest of the brave, there's even a top of the bridge tour where you ride up in a glass lift and can walk right across the top. Obvs this is never going to be a thing that I brave, but I've heard it's absolutely worth it for the views across our fair land. 

Oh Boro, people say many things about you that are less than complimentary but I definitely think you have some true beauts up your sleeve! 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

And she's back!

Oh hey! Fancy seeing you here...

So yep, I decided to come back. Tell you the truth - I kind of missed it. I've learned all my lessons while I've been away - no more saying I'll do this many posts per week and busting my gut to schedule things in to make sure I'm living up to my own ridiculous ambitions. This time I'm calling it like it is. I'll post when I can, who only knows what it will be about, but I hope very much that you'll enjoy reading.

I guess if we're starting this properly I should let you know what's been happening. A little life update if you will. 2017 eh? What a funny year. And by funny we all know that I don't mean split your sides laughing at how hi-larious life is. Funny as in freaky-deaky shiz that has basically terrified most people into some kind of wide eyed emoji face that it can actually be possible. I don't consider myself any kind of expert in some of the crazy I've heard/seen/read and therefore am not able, or indeed willing, to provide any deep and meaningful comments. Suffice to say that on the daily I am generally expressing shock/amazement/disgust and often outright horror. This is mainly because I work in social media where there is seemingly no filter on what can be said. But that is probably a topic for a whole other day.

Told you. Who only knows what it will be about *chuckles*

You want some good news? Go on then. I got married. Yep, you did indeed read that right. MARRIED! Me who had always said many things against getting married went and did it. It was bloody brilliant and if I had the money I would do it every single weekend of my life. I'm definitely wanting to write some words on the whole wedding thing because it was a journey, and as with all travel there was lots to be learned along the way. One for another time though. Until then here's a lovely picture of us looking all fancy-like.

Yes we had photos taken in our garden. Before the ceremony. Yes I wore pink glittery shoes. And yes, carrying a bouquet is massively awkward. More on that soon for sure.

Work remains work. It has ups, downs and fair to middling days. It is all kinds of everything and some days I don't know if I want to stay there forever or never go back again. The past year has been a roller coaster of opening my eyes as wide as they can go to the world of how people behave on social media. Hint: rude would be an understatement. There have been times when my faith in humanity and hope for future generations has been utterly destroyed - if that sounds dramatic, it is suitably so. To truly believe it you would have to spend a day in my shoes, and that would need to be a day when an event gets cancelled or your bin does not get collected because of the snow. I've been tested more than I ever imagined and it has not made me a better person. Irritation and short-tempered are two new elements of my personality that I do not like. I'm working on it. Daily. But I fear that to return to my usual even-tempered, sunny-side up soul, the only way is out of social media. This one I'll keep you posted on.

So what's stayed the same? Still reading up a storm, forever passionate about libraries and love it the most when I get the chance to work with them on projects - my heart!

Theatre remains a big part of our lives. We practically moved in when we were getting married as we had our party there! This will definitely be a topic for discussion on the wedding thoughts...

Bob the dog gets bigger, dafter and more affectionate by the day. He currently weighs in at 7 stone yet is still convinced he's the perfect size and weight to sit on your lap...

After a long five years away, we've declared that 2018 is the year we will return to France - yay! We're taking the dopey hound with us. He needs a passport. I'm still wondering if he needs a photo for it...

I love my friends harder as we're all so busy and not great at organising time together so every minute is precious. I miss the ones who live far away the most - please come back soon! I made a promise to myself that I would be better at making time for friends this year and so far so good. It's only February...there's still time to fall...but I'm determined not to!

And last but not least the blog is back. Here we are again friends. No promises. No crazy scheduling. Just you, me and my rambling thoughts. Thanks for being here and see you again soon.

C x

Friday, 14 April 2017

I think it's time

I've been thinking long and hard over the last couple of weeks, back and forth, forth and back, and I finally reached my decision a couple of days ago - it's time to say goodbye to the blog and to blogging in general. I can try and come up with a million and one reasons why, that will be heartfelt and mean so much, but the honest truth? I simply have no time.

I knew that going back to work full time would be challenging which it is, and I am in no way, shape or form moaning about this, but my 'spare' time is becoming increasingly precious and with that are the decisions I make as to how I spend that time. More and more of it is offline, as I now live my all day, every day online. Also a lot of it is away from a screen, or at least a computer/mobile screen. With my new job I sometimes find it hard to switch off, and often wake up in the early hours with tweets and replies to comments in my busy, over-thinking brain, and so lately, the past couple of weeks or so, I've been moving away from online and going old school - reading a book, lounging on the sofa chatting and listening to music, catching up on films I missed at the cinema (yes a screen, but definitely not the same 'noise' that you get from being online), playing with the dog, watching the sunset from the back garden...and it's been so much better for me. I've been sleeping better, and generally feel more rested. Sometimes just being is exactly what you need, what I need. 

Anyway, back to the blog. I have very much enjoyed my brief time here, and I intend to leave it open, just in case I suddenly decide that I want to come back (never say never!) but for now, it's time for me to say goodbye and switch to radio silence. 

Thank you, to everyone who came with me from the old blog, who found me along the way, whoever you are and wherever you are from, thank you. Maybe I'll see you again someday...

...but for now? Over and out. 

Friday, 31 March 2017

March favourites

I'm taking comfort in company that a lot of people feel like 2017 is flying by! A friend recently told me that someone had informed them of how many days it is until Christmas *splutters* I mean, what?! 

It's the end of another month which means it's time for what's been floating my boat for the last four weeks. Take it away...

I have to start with long weekends. Even though it was only a few days ago, that glorious, four day weekend was exactly what was needed. It was relaxing, we spent loads of time together, no-one had to go away, there wasn't any work to be done - the only requirement was to just be, and it was, quite simply, wonderful! I'm happy to report that the chance to do the same again is coming up very soon as Easter falls in April...come on, you long weekends! Woop! 

Next up, let's talk books. Specifically books by Emily St. John Mandel. So far, I've only read two (Station Eleven and Last Night in Montreal) but I have absolutely loved both of them. Montreal particularly has been an absolute delight. As we all definitely know by now, I'm not too good at the whole book review thing, but I would describe her writing as wistful with a side of melancholy. Which is actually my perfect book. There's additional love as the books have very simple white covers with a small illustration on them - also my perfect kind of book. I have no idea why I am so drawn to white book covers, but I can spot them a mile away in a book shop/library and inevitably found myself drawn to them even though I might have heard/read nothing about them before. Interesting fact: Barack Obama follows her on I'm assuming he must be a fan too...clearly a man of taste. I would absolutely recommend picking one up to try, and if you're going to start somewhere I'd start with Last Night in Montreal - part mystery, part melancholy, I have loved every single page. 

This is Us. Yep, it was my favourite last month and it's still my favourite for this month. Every episode I watch both delights and breaks me all at the same time and I have no idea what I'm going to do when it's over...although I recently started following Mandy Moore on Instagram, as you do, and there was mention about a second series so *heart sings* there's that...if I didn't convince you last month, there's still time for you to play catch up. Pack some tissues though, you will definitely need them! 

Spring is springing up all over the place and all around my garden and I am absolutely thrilled! Bursts of yellow, purple, pinks, and green shoots and leaves, oh it makes me so happy! I'm sure it's been helped along by glorious blue skies and sunshine days. The weather is definitely making me feel so much brighter and lighter and like yep, I've totally got this! 

See you next month! April = Easter, so it's likely that chocolate will feature somewhere in there. Have a great month! 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Weekend status: still not over!

I'm declaring it: four day weekends are officially the best! THE BEST! There's something extra specially wonderful about finishing work for the week on a Thursday and then it rolls round to Sunday and you've still got one day off - ahhhh bliss. We certainly couldn't have timed it better either. Someone has very definitely switched the Spring clock to on and it's been blue skies and glorious sunshine every single day. The clocks have also moved that hour forward which means longer evenings too - double bonus! 

So what's made the weekend so lush then? Well, lots of not having to get up with the alarm is always a winner. We've also been outside for pretty much most of it - it was even warm enough to eat our lunch outside yesterday - yasssss! Roll on BBQ season, I can almost sniff your smoke charred wonderfulness! We've been to new places, bought new plants, started all the exciting plans for the garden, strolled around markets and bought yummy bread and tasty cheese, caught up with both sets of parental units and taken flowers and pretty biscuit gifts for Mother's Day today...the best thing is, it's 4pm, it's still beautiful sunshine outside and we don't have to think about alarms tomorrow. Oh happy day, oh happy shiny day. 

Highlights definitely include the discovery of Fairy Dell - a really rather delightful woodland/lake/stream combo that has potential to be up there for my new favourite outdoor place. We strolled around, the dog charged around as he does, threw himself into the pond and then into the stream, and basically all had the loveliest Friday morning in quite a long while. 

I've also really enjoyed having a chance to 'catch up'. This is probably going to sound really lame, but catching up with housework and jobs that I've been meaning to get around to for ages and never quite had the's ever so boring adulting stuff but it feels fab to have actually got around to those things! One step at a time, you never know, by Christmas we should be almost caught up...ha! 

And that's that. There's still plenty of evening for some more weekend enjoyment and then who knows what we'll do tomorrow. There are no plans, the day is wide open, let's just see where it takes us!