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Monday, 28 August 2017

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds

*AD - GIFTED* The Alchemist Leeds is somewhere me and my friends often go for cocktails. It is a meeting place for us and we spend many a Saturday night in there. It isn't somewhere I have been for food before. For no real reason, I just haven't got around to eating there yet. So I happily accepted an invitation to go and try out the menu for myself.

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds

The Alchemist Leeds is in the Trinity shopping centre. It is on the top floor and the floor to ceiling windows offer incredible views over the city. The restaurant section is really bright and airy and has a mix of traditional tables, booths and bar seats around the windows.

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds

Their menu has everything from tapas style dishes to nibbles and quite bite sandwiches to main meals.

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds - starters

Both me and Ellie like nibbling sharing starters, so we can have a bit of both. So our first starter is cheese nachos. Nachos with cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa. The nachos are warm with lots of gooey cheese on top. There is a really good size portions of sour cream, guac and salsa. All three dips are really tasty and perfect for the nachos. It is a great sharing starter and a really generous portion size.

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds cheese nachos

Our next starter is popcorn chicken, which is £4.75. These are bite size chicken pieces with a southern fried chicken coating. The coating tastes amazing and is really crunchy. The dips from the nachos make a perfect popcorn chicken dip too. Again it was a great portion size and a perfect sharing starter.

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds popcorn chicken

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds - Main courses

For her main course at our lunch at The Alchemist Leeds Ellie chose chilli and rice, which is £10.75. This is chilli con carne with rice, nachos, sour cream and guacamole. It arrives in a really unique tin can and everything is in separate compartments. The chilli is mild, which is perfect for Ellie, but still really tasty and the accompaniments go with it perfectly. It is a large portion size so definitely one for when you are hungry.

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds chilli and rice

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds chilli and rice

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds chilli and rice

I chose the fish finger sandwich, which is £9.00. This is a fish finger sandwich with fries and tartar sauce. Fish finger sandwiches are one of my comfort foods and it is so unusual to find it on a menu. The bread is thick, soft, white and crusty and perfect for the crisp, breaded fish fingers. The homemade tartar sauce is SO good and the skin-on fries are amazing too. There are six fish fingers in the sandwich so again it is another large meal.

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds fish finger sandwich

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds fish finger sandwich

Unfortunately both me and Ellie were too full to try out the desserts. I did have my eye on the lemon polenta cake though and I know Ellie would have chosen the chocolate brownies.

Lunch at The Alchemist Leeds - Final thoughts

Having lunch at The Alchemist Leeds is a real treat. Both me and Ellie really enjoyed all of the courses, the food is all delicious. I wasn't sure whether it would be suitable for Ellie but is definitely perfectly fine for teenagers. It is all really good value for money too, especially considering the portion sizes. Our meal including a drink each came to about £35. Their brunch menu looks amazing so I will definitely be going back soon to try that.

The Alchemist now has 11 branches over the UK, so if you are not close to Leeds there will be one nearer to you.

Have you eaten at The Alchemist before? What would you choose from our dishes?

Why not pin this to your restaurant board to remind you to try it out for yourself.

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Friday, 25 August 2017

Frozen desserts with Thornton's and Weight Watchers

*AD - GIFTED* It is no secret by now that I am a huge foodie. Or that I have a super sweet tooth and a love for anything "naughty. So when I was asked if I would like to try out some frozen desserts from Thorntons and Weight Watchers of course I agreed.Frozen desserts are something I often keep in the freezer as they are great for lazy Sunday dinners or when the sugar cravings hit. 

Frozen desserts - Thornton's Melt in the middle chocolate puddings

Frozen desserts Thornton's Melt in the middle chocolate pudding

The first of the frozen desserts are the Thornton's melt in the middle chocolate puddings. These are chocolate sponge puddings with a gooey chocolate centre. The puddings cook from frozen, 12 minutes in the oven or 1 minute in the microwave. Each pudding is the perfect size for one person. The sponge is rich and chocolatey and the centre super thick and gooey. They are delicious and are my favourite of the frozen desserts.

Frozen desserts Thornton's Melt in the middle chocolate pudding

Frozen desserts Thornton's Melt in the middle chocolate pudding

Frozen desserts - Thornton's toffee profiteroles

Frozen desserts Thornton's toffee profiteroles

The second of my frozen desserts, Thornton's toffee profiteroles. These are choux pastry balls with toffee cream and a chocolate sauce. They need defrosting before eating (obviously) but defrost quickly, in about an hour. The sauce can be served cold or warm. We had warm sauce but this does make it quite a thin chocolate sauce. Next time I think I will leave it cold. The profiteroles are bite size and really nice. The toffee cream is a nice, different filling. Despite being runny the chocolate sauce is rich and super chocolatey. The profiteroles are easy to separate when frozen and the chocolate sauce comes in 2 packets so you can defrost and eat half a box at a time. Again we really enjoyed eating these and I will happily re-purchase them.

Frozen desserts Thornton's toffee profiteroles

Frozen desserts Thornton's toffee profiteroles

Frozen desserts - Weight Watchers toffee & honeycomb sundae

Frozen desserts Weight Watchers toffee and honeycomb sundae

The last of my frozen desserts are the Weight Watchers toffee and honeycomb sundaes. These are toffee and vanilla ice-cream with toffee sauce and a honeycomb topping. As they are ice-cream sundaes they don't need any preparation and can be eaten straight from the freezer. I wasn't sure what to expect from these being Weight Watchers friendly. But they are so nice! The ice-cream is really creamy and the sauce is really sweet. The honeycomb topping tastes really nice too, although it isn't crunchy like normal honeycomb. I'll definitely buy these again, especially as they are so guilt free. 

Frozen desserts Weight Watchers toffee and honeycomb sundae

You can find all of these frozen desserts in the freezer section of the supermarket.

Which frozen dessert would you like to try?

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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A guide to surviving your first festival

*AD - SPONSORED* Lots of people are packing and getting ready to head down to Leeds & Reading festival this weekend. I've been attending Leeds Festival since I was 18 years old...I don't even want to admit how many years that is! And over the years have been to festivals all over the country. Festivals are amazing fun but quite tough going too. Going to your first festival is so exciting but can be super nerve wracking too as you don't know what to expect. I have lots of experience and a festival essentials pack from Push Doctor to help me out this year. But for anyone with no experience, here is my guide to surviving your first festival.

A guide to surviving your first festival

A guide to surviving your first festival - planning

Proper planning has to come in to a guide to surviving your first festival.

All of the festivals have different camping zones and each zone has a different atmosphere. Some are the party hotspots, some quieter, some near the stages and some are for families. Work out where you want to be before you get there. It is much easier to get to your camp if you know which car park is nearest. The walk to the site from your car is usually long and your bags are heavy!

Print out a copy of the stage times and sit with your group to work out who everyone wants to see. There is a distance between stages and you don't want to spend the whole festival running between stages. There will be clashes and you will all either have to compromise or split up. The tents often get full for the headline acts so if you want to see that band get in the tent a set or two earlier. There's nothing worse than hearing your favourite band start whilst you are stood queuing to get in the tent. The right timing means you can get front of stage if you are lucky.

A guide to surviving your first festival

Have a list of essentials and work out who is bringing what. It saves everyone packing the same things when you can share. Less things = lighter bags.

When you are tent planning choose the right tent. The small pop-up tents look really cute and seem a brilliant idea. They are small, light and super easy to put up. But, from experience, they're not very good when you realise you AND all your stuff has to sleep in them. And trying to dress yourself laying down just isn't the easiest thing to do.

A guide to surviving your first festival

A guide to surviving your first festival - packing

What you pack can be the difference between loving your first festival or hating it and never going back. So packing is another important part of my guide to surviving your first festival. Apart from the obvious clothes, tent, sleeping bag, dry shampoo and beers there are things you might not think of.

You WILL need clothes for all weather. This is the UK so sure that pretty, short playsuit and gladiator sandal outfit will look cute but make sure you can add layers. Leggings, long socks, and long sleeve shirts are all great for adding layers. You will need hoodies and thick PJs, even if you are lucky enough to have gorgeous weather it still gets cold once it's dark. Pack more socks than you think. Wellies will rub, you will get a pint spilt down your leg and you will get muddy. Wellies are not optional. No matter what the forecast is like for the weekend the ground still gets muddy. They also protect your feet from the crowd too.

A guide to surviving your first festival

Roll a waterproof raincoat / poncho up in your bag it doesn't take up much room or much weight. It's a lifesaver once the heavens open.

Take a bottle of sun cream and aftersun. If the sun does come out there isn't any shade.

Pack plenty of bottles of water. Whilst yes you can drink beer for breakfast at a festival you still need to get your 2 litres down you. AND you can brush your teeth with it too.

Hand sanitiser gel and baby wipes are essential. The toilets are disgusting. You will get sticky and dirty and you can't wash. Just go with it.

Glitter is mandatory at a festival. Take some with you and you will save a fortune not buying it from the stalls there.

Make sure your group has at least one torch. It is such a pain going to the toilets in the middle of the night trying to guess where all the tent ropes are.

If there is a group of your going club together a buy a gazebo. Arrange your tents in a circle with the gazebo in the middle. You now have a sitting area protected from the rain and wind....you're welcome.

A guide to surviving your first festival

A guide to surviving your first festival - general tips

The battery on your phone won't last the duration no matter how little you use it. Just enjoy the break from it.

Because of the phone problems ^ have a meeting point with your group. It's so easy to go to the toilet or bar and not be able to find where everyone is stood again.

If you have time between seeing your favourite bands check out the smaller introducing stages. You can see some amazing bands that you wouldn't hear otherwise.

As boring and mum-like as it sounds try and pace yourself. You have at least three full days and nights of drinking. Going too hard the first day spoils it for the rest of it.

Festivals are hard work. There is a lot of walking, standing around and little sleep. Everyone is cold, wet, tired and hungover. Moaning about it will just annoy whoever you're with.

It more than likely will rain. It will be muddy. Slosh through the mud and just take it as part of the festival experience.

A guide to surviving your first festival

You will feel dirty, you're hair will be a mess and you'll think you look like s**t after the first day. Everyone feels the same so just forget about what you look like. Glitter and sunglasses do hide so many sins though.

Make friends around your camp and get in the festival spirit and join in with the activities away from the music. Decorate your face and do buy the flower garlands for your hair.

A guide to surviving your first festival

Finally, most importantly, have THE best weekend with your friends and with the music.

If you like my guide to surviving your first festival, Push Doctor have their own brilliant guide. Do head over to read that here.


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Monday, 21 August 2017

Reliving my childhood with Fox's Biscuits minis

 *AD - GIFTED* Is there anything more British than a cup of tea and a biscuit? Having a mug of hot tea, a biscuit and a sit down is my treat when I come in from work each day. So when Fox's Biscuits reached out wanting to send me some goodies of course I agreed. Opening a box full of the new Fox's Biscuits minis was a great treat!
Fox's Biscuits minis
Fox's Biscuits are made near to me, literally a 10 minute drive away, so they are a local brand I love. Fox's Biscuits minis are tiny versions of their classic biscuits.

Fox's Biscuits minis - Chocolatey minis

First up in the Fox's Biscuits minis range is the chocolatey minis. Mini shortbread biscuits with a milk chocolate coating. The chocolate layer is nice and thick and the shortbread biscuit is sweet and crunchy. They are really tasty and you know...chocolate so a winner!
Fox's Biscuits minis chocolatey minis

Fox's Biscuits minis - Cookie minis

Next in the Fox's Biscuits minis range are the cookie minis. Tiny cookie chunks with milk chocolate chips. Despite being so small these really are amazing. The biscuit is crumbly and melts in the mouth and there is the perfect amount of chocolate in them. The only problem I have with these is one is just never enough.
Fox's Biscuits minis cookie minis

Fox's Biscuits minis - Party ring minis

Lastly from the Fox's Biscuits minis is the party ring minis. I'm sure you know exactly what these are but just in case. Colourful mini biscuit rings with an iced topping. Party rings are such a nostalgic blast from the past. I remember having them at parties when I was younger and Ellie always had them too. The minis are bite size and just as sweet and crunchy as I remember. They are definitely my favourite of the range.
Fox's Biscuits minis party rings minis

Fox's Biscuits minis - review

I really love the Fox's Biscuits minis range. All three biscuits are perfect despite being a mini size. They look super cute and I love that they are all bite size. The biscuits are in a re-sealable pouch so they won't go soft once open. I think they are perfect for travelling or picnics or even just sitting on the sofa munching them like us.
Fox's Biscuits minis
I have to give a special mention to the card from Fox's Biscuits. It has the cutest poem and is such a lovely, personal touch to receive in a parcel from a brand.
Fox's Biscuits minis
What is your favourite type of biscuit? Have you tried the Fox's Biscuits minis yet?
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Friday, 18 August 2017

The Northern Craft Summer Fair in Leeds

*AD - GIFTED* The first weekend in August the Northern Craft Summer Fair came to Leeds. The Northern Craft Fairs are pop up exhibitions with stalls, workshops, pin drop and street food stalls. It takes place in the Northern Monk Brew Co. in Leeds city centre. 

Northern Craft Summer Fair - pin drop

The fair has a kick start with a Friday pin drop. The pin drop has 25 exclusive, custom made pins perfect for any collectors. I adore how they are on display here.

Northern Craft Summer Fair pin drop

My favourite pin has to be this tea pot pin by Livi Gosling. Which isn't surprising given my love of tea pots.

Northern Craft Summer Fair pin drop Livi Gosling pin

Northern Craft Summer Fair - The stalls

On the Saturday there was 34 different stalls. Selling clothing, stationery, jewellery, ceramics, prints, textiles, homeware and plants. Each stall is an independent craft business which are always my favourite places to purchase goods from. I'm sure you know the type I mean, the Etsy shops you spend hours favouriting their products. I love knowing someone has lovingly designed and made something, often in limited number. I really love supporting the smaller businesses too.

As there are so many stalls selling so many lovely things today I am sharing my favourite few. I'm not including stalls I bought goodies from as there is another post coming up about those soon.

First up The Level Collective who sell unisex clothing. I love their clothing and that the inspiration for it is from their love of travel.

Northern Craft Summer Fair The Level Collective

This gorgeous 3D jewellery is by Geo Heaven. Every piece is 3D printed which I had never seen in real life before. Each piece is surprisingly sturdy and strong. I love the bright colours and geometric designs of everything.

Northern Craft Summer Fair Geo Heaven

The Secret Haberdasher is another favourite. Beautiful baby girls clothes, handmade with the most gorgeous printed fabrics. I'm just sad I don't have a baby girl anymore to dress in anything from the shop.

Northern Craft Summer Fair The Secret Haberdasher

I have already shown some photos from this stall on Instagram. Finest Imaginary sells handmade, laser cut jewellery. Each piece is gorgeously girly and summery and I could quite happily have one of everything! I will definitely be treating myself to something very soon....and it will quite possibly have a flamingo or terrarium on it.

Northern Craft Summer Fair Finest Imaginary

North or Nowt (how fab is that name?!) is an online hand printed print shop that I have to mention purely for this print. "What would Bruce do". I'm a huge Bruce fan so this definitely caught my eye and would be a real talking point piece on a wall.

Northern Craft Summer Fair North or Nowt

And lastly Red Paper House. Another gorgeous jewellery shop selling colourful, geometric wooden jewellery. I especially love that it is sustainable wood and the hand painting and illustrating.

Northern Craft Summer Fair Red Paper House

The Northern Craft Summer Fair - workshops

As well as all the stalls workshops were being run too, to learn how to make a terrarium or macrame plant hanger. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to book and didn't get a place. Jennie did the terrarium workshop and has a post about that here.

The pin drop is still available in Northern Monk Refectory until the 4th of September.

Northern Craft are also holding a street market on the 26th August at Water Lane in Leeds.

After attending the Northern Craft Summer Fair I will definitely be heading along to the street market and can't wait for the next fair.

Have you every been to a fair like this? Which is your favourite stall from these?

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds - A must for sweet teeth!

*AD - GIFTED* It is no secret that I love eating out and finding new places to eat. One of my favourite courses is always desserts. In fact the dessert section is usually the first thing I look at. So Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds is always going to be a huge hit with me. Kaspa's is a dessert house serving desserts, milkshakes, ice-cream and gelato. They have branches all over the UK with more opening soon. The Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds is on the top floor of The Core. It looks very American diner-y with big comfy booths and a long bar for ordering. It is all black, bright pink and glittery so it's really eye catching as you walk past.

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds - The drinks

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds have a huge choice of milkshakes, smoothies, bubble drinks and hot drinks.

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds milkshakes and smoothies

I chose a Milky Bar chocolate bar milkshake, which is £3.95 for a super size glass. The milkshake is super thick and creamy. It tastes of milky bar and has little pieces of the milky bar in it.

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds Milky Bar chocolate bar milkshake

Ellie chose a pineapple sunset smoothie which is £3.95. This is a pineapple, papaya and mango smoothie. The smoothie is perfectly smooth with no froth and tastes amazing.

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds pineapple sunset smoothie

Kaspas Desserts in Leeds - The desserts

As you would expect for a dessert house the dessert choice at Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds is huge! There are sundaes, waffles, crepes, cakes and puddings.

Ellie decided on the nutella crepe which is £5.50. Nutella is pretty much Ellie's favourite food ever. The nutella crepe is a freshly made crepe, with Nutella spread and a side of ice-cream. The crepe is very thin and light. There is a really generous amount of nutella and ice-cream too. The hot crepe, warm nutella and cold ice-cream all goes together perfectly.

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds Nutella crepe

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds Nutella crepe

I chose the waffle crumble which is £6.50. It is a fresh waffle with apple crumble pieces, maple syrup and a cinnamon dusting. The waffle is thick but still light and fluffy. The apple crumble chunks are absolutely delicious. (Apple crumble is definitely my next choice when I go again.) The combination of the waffle, apple, crumble, syrup and cinnamon is heavenly.

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds Waffle crumble

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds Waffle crumble

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds - Review

Kaspa's Desserts in Leeds is a really unique place to visit. I can see it being really popular with teenagers. It will also make a great place to meet the girls when you don't want to have drinks. I will definitely be calling in again for a Saturday shopping re-fuel or a just a treat with Ellie.

All of this above came to just under £20 which, for the size of the portions and quality, I think is really reasonable.

If you want to find out more about Kaspa's or see if there is a Kaspa's Dessert house near you check their website here.

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Monday, 14 August 2017

Brooklyn Beckham What I See book signing event

 Spending a Friday night with Brooklyn Beckham definitely isn't something I thought I would be telling you about! But that is just what we did a few weeks ago. We were lucky enough to attend the Brooklyn Beckham What I see book signing event in Manchester.

Brooklyn Beckham What I See book signing

If you don't already know Brooklyn Beckham, yep the son of David and Victoria, has released his first book. If you follow him on social media you will have seen he always seems to have a camera with him. What I See is a book full of the photographs he has taken.

Selfridges, where the event was held, did an amazing job. We were there for just before our time of 6pm. A huge area was cordoned off, we were given our copies of the book and joined the queue. The queue did move fairly slowly but it gave us plenty of time to have a look through the book.

Before too long though it was our turn to go meet Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Beckham What I See book signing

Brooklyn Beckham What I See book signing

Me, Ellie and Ellie's friend all met with him individually whilst he was signing our books. Brooklyn really is so lovely! He seemed so genuinely happy to be meeting his fans and proud of his book. He is super polite and well mannered. It is impressing that he is able to talk to teenage girls like Ellie and their mums like me too. I had a fab chat with him about photography and his favourite styles.

After seeing us all individually he was happy to have a group photo too.

Brooklyn Beckham What I See book signing

I have now had a chance to look through the book cover to cover. Despite having some bad press I think it is brilliant. Watching Brooklyn's journey through photography is really nice to see. There aren't many of us who pick up a professional camera and instantly produce professional photographs. We all learn and grow as we go along. Seeing Brooklyn Beckham learn what he loves to photograph and his style is interesting. And of course a behind the scenes look at the Beckhams, the family photos and holiday snaps away from the posed magazine or press photographs is such a unique view. I really love the book.

Brooklyn Beckham What I See book signing

All three of us had an amazing night at the Brooklyn Beckham What I See book signing. As well as meeting him all three of us have a brilliant book to keep too.

Ellie is incredibly happy to have made it into his instagram video of the Brooklyn Beckham What I See book signing too.

Have you ever been to a celebrity signing? Who did you meet if you have? Or who would be your dream celebrity meeting?

You can pick up your own copy of Brooklyn Beckham What I See here.

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