Friday, 31 October 2014

Blogging - A great way to make friends

When you finish university and drift away from your friends it can be hard to see how you can make new ones. If you work with older people and don’t do much in your free time, how can you? Blogging has become a way to meet like-minded people and create friendships online. Although there is so much stigma about fake profiles and catfishing, bloggers show the world they are real through their blogs thus creating trust in people’s online relationships.

Blogging - a great way to make friends

As a way of making friends, blogging has helped me meet many people that I would never have had a chance to if I’d stayed away from the online world. Twitter is the main place that I get the chance to strike up conversations with people, mostly bloggers as they seem like the friendliest bunch. It can be in a scheduled chat such as #bbloggers or #lbloggers, in response to a question or simply saying hi to someone new. From a person's twitter profile you can most of the time find links to their other social media pages and of course their blog. I love to go through blogs from people I speak to on twitter and leave lots of lovely comments.

Blogging - a great way to make friends

An online friendship can stay at just that but more and more we are deciding to be courageous in our search for new friends by meeting them! In the past I've met people at brand events, blogger meet ups or just asking someone out for coffee. Us bloggers love the lure of tea and cake. It is so nice to meet people that you've spoken to online as you finally can put a voice and a personality to the face and online persona. You can establish what they are really like in person rather than just what they portray online which can most of the time help in becoming better friends.

Blogging - a great way to make friends

At said events and meet ups there is also the chance to make friends with people you hadn't previously known online which means you can start the friendship with a face to face meet. This can sometimes be harder as you have to pluck up the courage to speak to someone but with bloggers every one is so friendly you never get brushed off.

Blogging - a great way to make friends

The blogging community is truly a open and welcoming one with no judgements and a lot of love. It is brilliant that the internet opened up such a lovely place for people to chat about what they like and what they dislike whilst making friends along the way. Going forward I'm going to make much more of an effort to see my blogging friends and of course make new ones! Feel free to tweet me if you'd like to say hi! @danniannie

Have you made friends through blogging?
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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Taking tea with the Mad Hatter

Many many moons ago Kelly put a call out to bloggers for a magical afternoon tea that would transport us to a fairytale land. We chose a date far in advance - well we had to as it was all booked up - which happened to be just last weekend. A group of us all met up in the beautiful city of York for some retail therapy and obviously CAKE!
When the time came for us to start heading over to the Cedar Court Grand Hotel we were all extremely excited thinking about the amazing treats and cakes that would be in store for us. When we got into the room which the afternoon tea was held I was pleasantly surprised by the elegance of the setting but perplexed by the table in the middle of the room. Surely this wouldn't be a buffet?
Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Well, yes it was. Scones and tea were served to us at our very large table and then we were told to help ourselves to the treats they had laid out on the central table. When you don't know how much food you will get you automatically fill your plate, well that is what I did. I made sure to pick up one of everything so that I was sure to get a taste. Although the room wasn't overly packed with people it did still feel like a children's disco, all wanting to get to the food first.
Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York
We started tucking into our food and were surprised with how sweet almost all of the items were. The only savoury bits were small rolled sandwiches. It is safe to say we were all a little disappointed by this as there was just too much sugar on our plates, we needed something else savoury to balance it out. My favourite item on the plate would have to be either the strawberry jelly (as it was the least sweet thing) or the bottom of the mushroom (definitely not the topper!), which was chocolate wafer filled with chocolate mouse.
The other items were: pineapple and yogurt 'drink me' bottles (quite tasty), white chocolate lolly (very sickly with a sort of creamy texture), chocolate cake (nice but I didn't get a lot as I was too full), a cup of green and pink raspberry mouse (very tart and not nice at all) and edible white chocolate candles (nice idea but crumbled as you tried to eat).
Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea - Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

We all had to stop after a few bits of food as it was so sweet! We struggled to eat everything on our plates meaning we missed out a few things. For me I only had the tiniest nibble of my chocolate cake which I left till last as I wanted it the most! As we looked around we noticed everyone had take away boxes and were filling them from the table. By the time we asked for a box everyone had cleared the stand!
If someone asked me if I'd recommend this afternoon tea, sadly, I'd have to say no. For £33 per person I couldn't say that I enjoyed the food or the overall experience. The only thing that made this better was the company I was with. We all had a great laugh about how we were literally going to be in to sugar comas on our journey home.
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Halloween preparation

Halloween is always a fun time of the year. Everyone is picking out their outfits, deciding what they'd like to be. Is it going to be creepy, silly or slutty? I'm staying in this year and wanted to halloween-ify by house as well as get ready for the nippers that will be knocking on my door all night. With this in mind I took a trip to Asda and had a look online to find a few bits and pieces to get in the seasonal mood.
I love to carve a pumpkin. Its a challenge to get it just right, like the pictures of pumpkins you see all over. It's also nice to try something new, get creative and create a crazy pumpkin from scratch or maybe from a photo on the internet. Carving a pumpkin is one of the key parts of Halloween and I'm ready for it!
Halloween Preparation

Halloween Preparation

As we are now securely in Autumn I always feel the need to get the candles burning. Any shape or size and millions of them, all over the front room. Yes it is a little bit of a fire hazard. I've picked up many autumn scented candles on my shopping trips but never anything that could be used exclusively for Halloween until now. I purchased this little guy from Ebay but after looking through a magazine I've realised these are from poundland! I felt a bit silly. But needless to say this will be a part of my candle burning on all Hallows Eve.
Halloween Preparation

Halloween Preparation

Halloween Preparation

As I'll be monitoring the door for little trick or treators, I've decided to buy a few bits to jazz up the front of the house and of course I had to pick up some sweeties! I wanted to go wild in Asda as they had some amazing items that were really quite cheap but as I wasn't having a party or anything I had to hold back! In the end I picked up a Happy Halloween sign to hang by the door as well as some 'cob webs' with spiders to decorate the entrance.
To give out the sweets from I've picked up a Halloween pumpkin bowl (which is for the kids to go treat or treating with but who cares ey!). I picked up a few bags of sweets which were only a £1 each. I think when they run out the lights will go off. Well I'm not getting up and down all night, I've got things to do!
So these are the little bits and bobs I've picked up to celebrate Halloween.
Have you bought anything new to celebrate Halloween?!
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Friday, 17 October 2014

The struggle between online and offline

When I think of blogging I think of pretty pictures with white backgrounds and perfect lighting, well written blog posts that are just the right length and social interaction, lots of it. However achieving all of this and still having a life can be hard. Recently my blog has taken a real hit due to the fact that it all seems so overwhelming. The constant need for content and for it to be amazing and beautiful. I suppose this pressure has made me step back and leave the blogging world for a while to reassess how I want to go about my blog.

This is by no means one of those posts that apologizes for not being active on here because to be honest I know that this is my little internet space and I can blog when I want. I am simply acknowledging the struggle of trying to do your best on here whilst also keeping up with everything offline. I absolutely love my life at the moment and the thought of documenting it kind of seems a little strenuous and boring. I want to bring my readers something that interests them and to do this it has to interest me first.

What is also hard is that once you enjoy your offline life, you feel like what you've created online will crumble, that people will forget about you and move on to something else, something more constant. I totally understand that as I think that is something I'd do too. The internet is always moving and if you are not present then it moves on without you and that is what I am worried about when I don't post.

I guess that this worry is something that all bloggers can relate to. There are some that have more time and more drive to keep going and keep their face in peoples line of sight but for me it is becoming difficult. I am desperate to continue with my blogging as I love having Gingerbread Smiles and I am really proud of everything I've put into it so far. Also I am so grateful for all the people I've met through blogging and tweeting as they have become real friends that I feel I can turn to if I need them.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that blogging is still a big part of my life and that will not stop, but I might be a little more distant as I enjoy my offline life and take less time to document it. There may be less posts per month but I hope that the quality will be much better!

I'm hoping to get some Autumn themed posts up soon so keep a look out :)

If you want to keep up with me you can do this over on instagram or twitter

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Friday, 10 October 2014

Tortilla Pizza - A Healthy Idea

I love pizza! Get me an Asda make your own stuffed crust pizza with mushrooms & pineapple and I'll be happy. Since I've taken a step over to the healthier side I've stopped picking up my weekly pizza as it was very stodgy. I don't usually eat pizza now but recently I've fancied it so put one of these tortilla pizzas together. They are so easy to do and so satisfying!

Tortilla Pizza - A Healthy Idea - Recipe

This is the simplest pizza recipe you will ever see...

Ingredients
-Tortillas (you can use white or wholemeal)
-Tomato paste or pasatta
-Cheese (any pizza cheese like cheddar or mozzarella)
-Any toppings you fancy!

Method

First preheat the oven to an average cooking temp (I use 180 degrees). When that is warm, pop your tortilla on a tray and in the oven to toast slightly before adding the toppings. Bring it out and slather it with tomato paste as your base. Sprinkle cheese over this then add your toppings.

Be mindful not to add anything too large or wet as it will mess up your pizza!

Tortilla Pizza - A Healthy Idea - Recipe

Tortilla Pizza - A Healthy Idea - Recipe

Tortilla Pizza - A Healthy Idea - Recipe

Tortilla Pizza - A Healthy Idea - Recipe

Tortilla Pizza - A Healthy Idea - Recipe

When you are satisfied with how your pizza looks sprinkle a little cheese on the top and pop it back in the over. Depending on how crispy you'd like the base to be I'd say leave this for 5-7 minutes whilst watching closely.

Then wallah! You have pizza! You can cut it up like you would a pizza or fold it up like a calzone. The choices are endless but it tastes pretty darn yummy.

Also the possibilities for this creation don't end here! You could change up the tomato paste for BBQ sauce or garlic butter to make a totally different pizza. If you fancied you could also try a sweet version with chocolate spread. Seriously guys get experimenting!

Let me know if you make this and what you think!
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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland

Us North East bloggers LOVE cake! Any reason to eat some and we are there. Luckily, Chloe (New Girl in Toon) has started to organise a bloggers cake club in which she sets up a time and venue for us all to meet and gorge ourselves on all sorts of baked goods! I didn't get to go to the first one as it was too far North, so when she announced the next meet would be in Sunderland, I was up for the 50 minute drive.

The venue she picked was called Let There Be Crumbs and it was part of the Best Western Roker Hotel on the seafront. Although it wasn't a very nice day we sat at the window to get some sea views. The girls that attended were Chloe (obvs), Caroline (Notes from Caroline), Kayleigh (I Dream of Coco), Lisa (Is it Me Me), Shivani (Cloud in a Teacup) and Julie (Julie and the Knits).

Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland

Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland

The venue was great. Large space with lots of seating and great quirky touches such as large tea sacks as blinds and cushion covers as well as wooden boards on the counter covered in tea prints. We all got sat down and started to wonder what cake we should pick. There was a lot of choice! We even got up to go to the counter so that we could decide which one to pick. A few people got just tea and cake, whilst three of us got cream tea AND a piece of cake. When it came it included two large scones, a cheese one and a fruit one which were very yummy. I picked Mississipi Mud pie for my cake which was so tasty but very rich.

Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland

Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland

Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland

Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland

Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland
Let There Be Crumbs - Blogger Cake Club Review - Roker Sunderland

The food was lovely but we didn't get enough tea! Us Northern Bloggers need copious amounts of tea but we were sharing teapots between three and scraping by on sips. Also the service was a bit poor. Although I understand their were a few of us, it doesn't take that long to get pieces of cake and then for some to be forgotten. A bit all over the place but we enjoyed ourselves laughing at how English we were for wanting more tea but not speaking up because we were so polite.

This was a nice place and although the cakes were lovely I wouldn't rush back to visit because the service was quite poor. Hopefully they will sort it out and then I'd love to go back!

Has anyone been?
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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Meal Planning

Recently I came across an article that said that healthy food was expensive and that the person in question had to eat junk food. Um no, I don't think so. For me, eating junk food would be more expensive and most of all terrible unhealthy. When I moved into my house I was easily spending £60+ on a weekly shop for two people, but what on?! 

Rubbish, that's what. Biscuits, crisps, bread, sweets and too much food.When I started trying to be healthier and eat 'cleaner' I decided to meal plan and only buy what I needed for that week including a few treats of course. Now my food shop costs around £40 a week dependent on toiletries and kitchen essentials I need to pick up.

Meal Planning Help - Make weekly shops cheaper and get more healthy food

How do I meal plan?

To start my meal planning I look at what shifts Matt is on, next to if I am out any day that week (to see how many meals I need to plan) and then I decide what I fancy cooking. It does take me a good 30 minutes to plan but that is because I like to do something different each week and I search recipe books and pinterest to find new ideas. I've started recording all my meal plans so I can go back over previous weeks plans to get ideas for future weeks. This way I know what we've had and what we liked.

Meal Planning Help - Make weekly shops cheaper and get more healthy food

Why should you meal plan?
  • You know exactly what you will be picking up in the shopping. As you know what you are cooking you can search your cupboards to see what staples you already have and what you still need. This makes shopping easier, quicker and stress free. In the past I would be stood in the fruit and vegetable aisle for ages stressing out as to what I needed. Now I simply go in and follow my list.

  • It can make your weekly shop cheaper. If you know exactly what you need to pick up at the supermarket then you aren't adding unnecessary extras to your trolley. Now don't get me wrong I pick up the occasional pack of biscuits, crisps and cheese snacks but that doesn't really add a whole lot on to the total price. Be reasonable and if you want a little treat, pick one up!

  • When you plan you have more time to consider your diet and how to get more fruit and vegetables into it. I look over pinterest to find healthy alternatives to my favourites like chilli and spaghetti and incorporate them into my weekly plans. I find planning like this gives you less room to deviate from your plan as you don't have bad foods in the house!

When I tell people I meal plan for the week they do look at me like I'm crazy, but I think it works! It saves us money, makes us healthier and shopping is less of a hassle!

What do you think? Does meal planning help you? Could it?
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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Love Niche London Collection Fashion Preview - Newcastle

Last month I was invited to the preview of a collection called Love Niche London put together by fashion entreprenuerNisha Vedhara. She'd put on a gorgeous spread of treats including cocktails, fruit, popcorn and sweets which we munched on whilst we waited to go in to the studio.

Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview
Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview

Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview

The studio was amazing. It was filled with lots of clothes, sorted by colour, on racks around the room accompanied by lots of sparkling jewellery. I felt like I was in Kim Kardashian's walk in wardrobe! We all started browsing the clothes and picking our favourites. As we did, Nisha announced there would be an outfit competition so we all raced around the room picking items we loved that would go great together.

I fell in love with this gorgeous blue jacket, so I had to try and find items that would go with it. I found this pretty simple top with an accompanying necklace that I thought went perfectly underneath. The trouble came from me when I had to find trousers! I personally think this would go great with jeans but there were none to be seen so I tried out some white trousers with them.

Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview


Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview

Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview

Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview - Chloe (New Girl In Toon) + Danni (Gingerbread Smiles) + Lisa (Is it Just Meme)

Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview - North East Bloggers

Love Niche London Fashion Collection Preview - Danni (Gingerbread Smiles) + Alexis (Newcastle Sparkles)

Unfortunately I didn't win, fashion blogger Tasha Steel scooped first prize and got to take her chosen outfit home with her! We all took numerous pictures and browsed the clothes for potential buys. Throughout I got the chance to chat to my blogger friends who I don't see unless we are at blogger events; Chloe (New Girl in Toon), Lisa (Is it Just Meme) and Kayleigh (I Dream of Coco). I also met Alexis (Newcastle Sparkles) which was great as I love meeting other local bloggers.

It was a brilliant night spent with some lovely bloggers and gorgeous clothes. I think the plan is for Love Niche London to appear online shortly so you will be able to have a browse at the clothes yourself!
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