Monday, 30 March 2015

Trying Turkish in Middlesbrough town

Middlesbrough is not a city. We don't have loads of different eateries popping up on a weekly basis. We get really excited when hear of something new opening up and you'll find we all want to try it out and give our opinions. The Meze Lounge is relatively new and I've been wanting to visit for while now after lots people have said such great things about it. After much pestering we finally set a date to visit, which happened to be the one year anniversary of us moving in to our home together.

I'm really picky with restaurants, as you may have seen in my other posts, so I was expecting big things from this place. The restaurant was small but there was still a good few tables and they were all far enough apart that you felt like you had own space. There were only a few wait staff, which I liked as too many in such a small space can be suffocating, and we got shown to our seats straight away. It was a Thursday night when we went and not too busy at the time but I was told to book as it is very popular.

We decided to go all out and get a starter. I had the Sigara Borek which was filo pastry filled with Turkish white cheese, parsley and herbs and Matt had Lahmacun which was seasoned lamb mincemeat delicately spread on a thin base of dough with onions and parsley oven baked. My was lovely, my only thoughts were that the cheese was a little too strong for me, Matt loved his meal.




From this it was on to our mains! I picked the Tavuk Kebab, which was chunks of chicken fillet marinated with herbs and spices and chargrilled on skewers, technically it was called Ali Nazik as I got the special yoghurt and aubergine sauce with it. Matt had the Karisik Kebab which was a mixture of the chicken one I had, Adana which is lamb mincemeat seasoned on a skewer and Kuzu which was chunks of lamb marniated on a skewer. My chicken was full of flavour and good quality meat. It came with rice & chickpeas, a salad, some Turkish bread and a lovely spicy potato stew. It was gorgeous and what topped it off was the yoghurt and aubergine dip! It was so light and creamy, gorgeous with the chicken and rice. Matt throughly enjoyed his mixed kebab stating that this place definitely lived up to the hype.




At this point we were bursting at the seams but we decided to go all out and order dessert. We both picked chocolate fudge cake, although there were Turkish options, and it was divine. Some chocolate cake you get a restaurants is pretty standard but this was so nice! It really did finish a great night of amazing food.

If you want somewhere to go out for dinner, or lunch, in Middlesbrough I definitely suggest the Meze Lounge. It may be a little walk from town but it is worth it!

Let me know if you've been and what you think of it!
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Friday, 27 March 2015

Cooking up a storm with Millennium Hotels

I love to cook. Trying new recipes, new flavours and ingredients is always something that excites me. I do worry that I won't like what I make or that it won't be right, but most of the time it tastes really good! When Millennium Hotels asked if I'd like to try and make a recipe created by chef Andrew Scott who works in the Copthorne Hotel in Newcastle I was more than up for it. It was a mixture of items that I hadn't really thought would go but I thought I'd give it a shot! I slightly altered the recipe to make this dish a bit more hearty and also because it was quite vague when it came to the mint, but you can find the original on the Millennium Hotels website.

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil

Serves 2

2 balls of Buffalo mozzarella (chopped into chunks/slices)
8 Asparagus
150ml Whipping Cream
150g Peas (can use frozen)
6 Mint leaves
8 Cherry tomatoes cut in half
Juice of a lemon
50ml Olive Oil
50g Selection of salad leaves (a bag of mixed leaves from the supermarket will do!)
1/2 an Onion (finely chopped)
4 slices of Parma ham
A handful of pine kernels

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

Method

1. Blanch the asparagus by placing them in a pan of boiling water for around 4-5 minutes.

2. Time to make the pea puree. Sweat the onion by adding the onion to a pan and putting a lid over. Leave this for around 10 minutes making sure to monitor so it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom. If this happens turn the heat down. When this is done add the peas (if frozen leave to defrost for a while). Put the cream in your blender and add the onion and peas. Then add the six mint leaves. Blitz and season to taste.

3. Create the zesty dressing by adding the lemon to the olive oil and whisking.

4. Arrange the Parma ham, mozzarella, tomatoes, salad and asparagus on a plate. Blob the puree on the plate, drizzle the olive oil/lemon dressing and sprinkle the pine kernels.

 Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

Buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham, asparagus, pea purée, mint, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon and lime olive oil - Millennium Hotels Newcastle

There you have your finished dish! I think this would be great for a starter or if you wanted a healthy veggie filled lunch.

What do you think? Would you make this?

*Ingredients were provide to make the dish at home. All opinions are my own.
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Monday, 23 March 2015

The time I met my all time favourite band

Since forever I've been listening to Busted and McFly. When Busted split the focus was more on McFly. I'm obsessed with all their songs and have been to a few of their previous shows. I went to the 10th anniversary gig at the Royal Albert Hall and was very pleased to see Matt and James join the McFly boys on stage. It was a real buzz hearing Year 3000 again. When they formed a super group I was very excited! I didn't mind the collaboration and couldn't wait to hear Busted's songs again.

When it came out that they were going to do a meet and greet at their next tour I was all over it. I've loved McFly forever, especially Tom, so this would be an opportunity to tick one thing off my bucket list. Meet my favourite band. So I forked out £110 and waited eagerly for the day to come around.

I went by myself to meet the band, meeting up with my mum and her friend later for the concert, but I saw many people going with their friends, parents and siblings whilst I was queing. When inside the venue we all got in to a new queue specifically for meet and greet. After what seemed like an eternity, we were taken up the stairs to meet McBusted!

McBusted Meet and Greet Newcastle Dougie Poynter

McBusted Meet and Greet Newcastle Matt Willis

McBusted Meet and Greet Newcastle, Harry Judd, Danny Jones

McBusted Meet and Greet Newcastle Mcfly and McBusted

When people started to go into the room it was very exciting knowing that they were right behind the wall. People came out with the biggest smiles on their faces saying how lovely the band were. I got chatting to two lovely girls in front of me and we all couldn't wait for our turn to come.

When I got to the front and went into the room it was so surreal seeing the band in person. They were real life 3D people. I know that sounds strange but you see them so much on TV or hear their voices on CDs, so to see them that close up is so weird! I got to give them all a hug and as I did Harry asked my name. I said and Danny said great name, and Harry said you'll have to stand there then. In between Tom and Danny. That was fine with me! I got a few pictures taken and that was it. Over so quickly.

I was fretting all day to what I'd say to them and in the end I shouldn't have as I didn't have chance anyway! I loved meeting them and don't regret paying that much money even though I didn't see them for long. I'd probably do it again so I could get a bit more time and this time maybe have a little chat!

Have you met your favourite band before? What was it like?

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Friday, 20 March 2015

Take some time to relax

Each and everyday we are kept busy by work, chores or activities and sometimes it all gets a bit too much. We can get stressed out which affects our wellbeing by leaving us with a lack of energy, bad health and aches and pains. It also affects us mentally giving us a lack of focus, insomnia and a making it difficult for us to relax.



By taking some time to indulge in relaxation we will be doing our body the world of good. Benefits of this include a reduced risk of catching a cold, easing acne, keeping us slim by reducing stress that will make us want to eat, keeping your heart healthy and making us happier^.

I've created a list of ideas of things you can do when you are stressed and need a little bit of calm in your life.

  • Indulge in some relaxation. Doing gentle stretches and focusing on your breathing can make you feel calmer and more in control. Mind have some great relaxation and breathing exercises you can do when you have some free time on your hands.
  • Take a bubble bath. I think this is my answer to everything but it always makes me feel better. Taking some time to mull over your thoughts in a cosy warm bubble bath puts me at ease.
  • Write a list of what you have to do. If you have a million and one things running through your head it might be best to write it all down to put it in perspective. Also mark these as to what is most important and also note how long it will take. Get the quick ones ticked off right away and you'll feel much better seeing items being crossed off.
  • Do something you enjoy. Whether it be baking, reading or walking, take some time to get into a hobby and enjoy yourself. That time away from your stress will make you feel ten times better.
  • Exercise! Do we have to?! Yes. Exercising can boost your self-esteem and your mood, improve your quality of sleep and reduce  your risk of stress and depression. Sounds like something we all should be doing more of!
  • Getting to bed early. Following on from exercise, it is important that we fuel our bodies properly and get the right amount of sleep. We all know how we feel when we wake up from a few hours sleep. Not good, very cranky and agitated. Not very relaxed now is it.
  • Spa day! If you can take a day off work why not take a trip to your local spa? Step away from your busy life and pamper yourself for the day.


Will you be taking some more time out to relax? What do you like to do to relax?

*Collaboration with Time4Sleep - all content my own except where credited.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Falling down the rabbit hole - Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at How Do You Do

After a glowing review from Katie about How Do You Do's Mad Hatters afternoon tea, I decided that I had to visit. Although it was all the way out in Whitley Bay, around an hour away from me, I thought it sounded too good to pass up on. I showed my partner in crime when it comes to afternoon tea, my mum, the menu and she was sold too. We are always on the look out for new, exciting afternoon tea!

We arrived at the venue a little early for our booking, but towards the end of their afternoon tea service. There were many people quite the way through their cakey delights so we had an idea about what we were about to receive. When we were settled the waitress brought over a pot of tea, themed of course, which was spouting smoke. Very cool.

Falling down the rabbit hole - Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at How Do You Do

Falling down the rabbit hole - Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at How Do You Do

Falling down the rabbit hole - Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at How Do You Do

Falling down the rabbit hole - Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at How Do You Do

Falling down the rabbit hole - Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at How Do You Do

She then brought out the food and explained what everything was. We had ham and mustard sandwiches (the yellow ones), egg mayo and cheese & chutney (the green ones). These were nice but lacked a lot of filling. That was a bit disappointing but we carried on munching. With the sandwiches was a plain scone each with jam and cream which was nice and warm, a lovely colour and very tasty.

After these were wolfed down it was on to the tray of goodies. There was little 'drink me' cream soda bottles, marshmallows, macarons, mini doughnuts, meringues and petri-dishes of jelly. They were all lovely, although the macaron was questionable, but after it all we were still hungry which is not normal for an afternoon tea. Usually we are full to the bring with sugar and carbs. We ordered another pot of tea (which they charged us for, blah, we need bottomless tea!) and sat for a while contemplating chips.

For £12.95 each it was a reasonable afternoon tea but there were too many fiddly bits and not enough substance. I would have liked maybe another scone and some more sandwich filling to keep me happy!

Would this be something you'd like? Have you been?
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Friday, 13 March 2015

Time for food and a movie - Tyneside Bar Café Review

A typical date night for the majority of people involves going out for a meal and then on to the cinema for a film. So what could be better than the place you are visiting for food being right next door to the cinema! Established by the same people who run the Tyneside Cinema, the Tyneside Bar Café is their latest venture combining great food and drink with the delights of cinema.

Time for food and a movie - Tyneside Bar Cafe Review Newcastle

Time for food and a movie - Tyneside Bar Cafe Review Newcastle

Me and Matt visited recently to see what it was all about and try some of the lovely food. We arrived at around 1.30pm on a Saturday afternoon and the place was very busy so we struggled to find a seat we were comfortable in. After playing musical chairs as people left, we finally settled right at the back of the venue in some cosy seats. It seems the cafe has tried to fit in as many tables as possible which means everyone is a little bit on top of each other and trying to get through the tables is a bit of a maze. When it is less busy I'm sure this is fine but when all tables are taken it is a bit of a hazard!  

When we were settled we went up to the bar and ordered our food which was done quickly and with ease! They have a great selection of alcoholic drinks but we both settled on soft drinks, I went for a Fentimans cherrytree cola for a change. For our meals, I picked the Tyneside cinema hot dog in a brioche bun with onions and fries and Matt settled on the royale with cheese which was a ground rib burger in a soft bun with Olgeshield cheese, gherkins and fries. Mine was lovely but a tad messy to eat especially when I added the tomato sauce! Matt enjoyed his and said it was a really good burger.

Time for food and a movie - Tyneside Bar Cafe Review Newcastle

Time for food and a movie - Tyneside Bar Cafe Review Newcastle

Time for food and a movie - Tyneside Bar Cafe Review Newcastle

For dessert we decided to get the cookies and milk and the popcorn pannacotta. I picked the cookies and they were delicious and warm! Not sure if I had milk or cream with them though as it was quite thick and frothy but it was lovely on the cookies. We picked the pannacotta to try between the two of us but we weren't really keen on it. I think as neither of us had had pannacotta before we weren't sure what to expect!

Time for food and a movie - Tyneside Bar Cafe Review Newcastle

Time for food and a movie - Tyneside Bar Cafe Review Newcastle

Overall we had a lovely time at the Tyneside Bar Café, the food was lovely, the service was brilliant, we just thought it was a little overcrowded. If we were local I think we'd be down quite a bit to catch some of the free films they screen whilst enjoying some food.

*Food was provided free for review. All comments are honest.

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Monday, 9 March 2015

BIG Sea Salt Shampoo - Lush Review

Hi, I'm Danni and I'm a Lush addict. I bet you are too. Come on admit it, you have at least two bath bombs waiting to be sploshed into hot water for a colourful soothing soak in the tub. I certainly do, I have at least ten following the Boxing day sale. I kind of went crazy and got two gift sets and numerous half price soaps. And on top of this I also received gift sets for Christmas, so yes I am set for the entire year. Apart from all the smelly bath bombs, I decided to pick up a favourite of mine - Big Sea Salt Shampoo.

BIG Sea Salt Shampoo - Lush Review

BIG Sea Salt Shampoo - Lush Review

BIG Sea Salt Shampoo - Lush Review

BIG Sea Salt Shampoo - Lush Review

On Lush's website it says to use a small amount of this shampoo - which is filled with sea salt, seaweed, coconut oil and lemon and lime - work into wet hair well to create a lather. At first I was very dubious of Big's volumising claims, and I still kind of am. It definitely has all the makings of a great uplifting shampoo, but maybe I'm not doing it right. I should probably use less... But the real reason I am still in love with this shampoo is the way it makes my hair feel.

After using Big my hair feels so clean! It actually squeaks. This doesn't mean that my hair feels dry at all because of the intense clean, quite the opposite it feels silky and smooth. I don't use this all the time as it is quite an intense shampoo, what will the large chunks of salt, but every week I get the satisfaction of making my hair super clean. Squeaky clean.

It also smells amazing. At first you may not think so, which happens with a few of the Lush products, but after a few washes you will love it. It is so fresh and invigorating and the fragrance sticks to your hair after you've rinsed it all away.

I'd urge you all to try this shampoo and I think I will try using a little less to see if this helps improve my volume! Do you have any Lush recommendations? I'd love to hear them as I'm obsessed with the shop and need a reason to visit again.
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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Ladies Afternoon Tea at Crathorne Hall with Butterwick Hospice Care

Having afternoon tea is one of my favourite things to do. I love the savoury and the sweet all mixed into one tasty little sitting. Luckily for me, I was invited to a special ladies afternoon tea recently at Crathorne Hall, organised by Butterwick Hospice Care. I arrived at 1pm on a sunny Thursday in February with some work colleagues and we browsed the few stalls that were set up. There were people selling many different things including jewellery, cakes and little bits and bobs.

A stall that caught my eye was the Gingerbread Mam, selling lots of ginger related products including ginger wine, ginger syrup, ginger parkin and of course gingerbread men! Later on in the event we got to hear from Liz, the Gingerbread Mam, about her 'ginger' journey to where she is now! She has come so far attending lots of farmers markets across the North East and now she is even stocked in Fenwicks Newcastle and York. I've picked up a ginger syrup sponge which I had a little taste of at the event and it was yummy! I can't wait to have it with some ice cream.

After we heard from Liz, Adam Prest, a local renowned florist, took the spotlight to do some live arranging and talk us through his career up to now. He has travelled all over the world working at prestigious weddings and events. His arrangements are so unique and different to the normal run of the mill as he uses only flowers that are in season and really pays attention to what his clients want and brings his own ideas to the table.

Ladies Afternoon Tea at Crathorne Hall with Butterwick Hospice Care - Review

Ladies Afternoon Tea at Crathorne Hall with Butterwick Hospice Care - Review

On to the main event, the afternoon tea! On a table of eight we were served two tiered stands with a selection of sandwiches and cakes. To accompany this they brought a slate tray full of normal and fruit scones as well as bowls of cream and jam! To my dismay there were only three of everything on the stands so we didn't all get to have one of each.

I started with the sandwiches (as you do) having a cucumber one, a ham and an egg. My favourite was the ham! It was so delicious and didn't have any horrible chewy bits in like some do. After I'd eaten my three sandwiches I really wanted more but alas we were all out. Next it was on to the scones. I was pleased with my massive bowl of strawberry jam and lots of butter but a bit disappointed that the scones seemed to be a little over baked.

Ladies Afternoon Tea at Crathorne Hall with Butterwick Hospice Care - Review

Ladies Afternoon Tea at Crathorne Hall with Butterwick Hospice Care - Review

Ladies Afternoon Tea at Crathorne Hall with Butterwick Hospice Care - Review

Ladies Afternoon Tea at Crathorne Hall with Butterwick Hospice Care - Review

Last but not least it was on to the cakes. As we were all unsure of what each other wanted to take, and we were still craving more sandwiches (seriously I was on the verge of asking for more), not many of the cakes were eaten. I tried a chocolate tart which was very nice and then I had a bite of the pistachio cake which I didn't really think tasted very nutty but it was a lovely little cake. I didn't try the other items which were a berry eton mess and victoria sponge cake but I'm sure they were lovely too as the other guests on our table seemed to polish these off!

I had a lovely afternoon at Crathorne Hall and it raised money for a great cause. For £22 I think its great value and a great afternoon tea.
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Monday, 2 March 2015

Random acts of kindness week with Debenhams

A few weeks ago I was emailed during 'random acts of kindness' week by Debenhams. They asked if I would like to pick an item of jewellery as a gift! Of course I duly obliged and picked this lovely designer blue and jet enamel triple link necklace from Principles by Ben de Lisi.

Random acts of kindness week with Debenhams - Ben de Lisi necklace

Random acts of kindness week with Debenhams - Ben de Lisi necklace

Random acts of kindness week with Debenhams - Ben de Lisi necklace

Random acts of kindness week with Debenhams - Ben de Lisi necklace

I was unsure as to when I would be able to wear this but a work event came about and it seemed the perfect occasion. When it comes to my style, there is a lot of black, so it is unsurprising that the dress I wore to this event was black! I think it went perfectly with this necklace and the neck was just right to accommodate the length of this piece. It is such an elegant, yet chunky, piece that would go great with casual wear as well as dressy. This necklace will definitely be getting worn again and again.

What do you think? Is this something you'd wear?
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