Baking, food, general, lifestyle, review

Coffee and Chimney Cake at Carpathian Speciality, Whitley Bay

I try to keep my life as balanced as possible. I think the two things which I am known most for is my love of working out, and my love of food. I do the former, to enjoy the latter, and last week I enjoyed a coffee and a Chimney Cake with newly opened cafe ‘Carpathian Speciality’ Chef and owner, Tibor, and found out more about the popular Hungarian sweet snack.

Chimney Cake is a popular pastry specific to Central and Eastern European regions. What was once more traditionally a wedding pastry, then became a Hungarian street snack, and is now available in Whitley Bay.

A Chimney cake is essentially a donut, but rather than deep friend, the pastry is coiled around rolling-pin shaped moulds, then grilled on a rotisserie until golden, and finally dusted in sugar or other toppings, such as nuts, coconut, chocolate or sprinkles. The end result is a chimney shaped cake with a caramelised, sugary, golden-brown exterior and a soft and chewy bread like strip interior.

The Chimney cakes at Carpathian Speciality are entirely fresh as they are made to order. Ready in minutes and come served with a pot of freshly made custard, the cake is eaten by unwinding and dipping into the custard, and they are just divine. I’d possibly say even nicer than a donut, and healthier being grilled rather than fried. Bonus.

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Or if you’d prefer something to take away or which you can walk about with, a Doughcone may just be your thing. Once again, made using a yeast dough, it’s then rolled around a cone shaped instrument, and grilled. The cone I was kindly given was then filled with a layer of chocolate spread, then rice pudding, and topped with a whirl of cream and a maltezer.

I can’t wait to try one of these in the summer filled with ice cream. I felt less guilty for sabotaging my diet once again, upon being informed the Doughcones are only around 450 calories. Other fillings offered at Carpathian Speciality include Dark Bounty, Banoffee, Peanut Butter and Banana, Rafaello and Fruity.

Carpathian Speciality also has a wide selection of teas and freshly ground coffees which you can enjoy with your pastry or cheese or pesto scone, including Hawaiian coffee made with coconut milk, and Affagato, which is vanilla ice cream soaked in espresso.

Tibor is hoping to expand his menu to include Langos – another Hungarian food speciality. |A deep fried dough with savoury and cheese topping so quite similar to a pizza. And Milkshakes, Juices and even a range of fruit soups.

The Chimney Cake was absolutely delicious, and my two girls children thoroughly enjoyed the doughcone and we will definitely be back to try with other fillings.

To find out more about Carpathian Speciality and opening hours, then check out the Facebook Page

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Baking, general, hosting, lifestyle, party, party ideas

Our Sunday Superhero Party with Baking Mad

If there is one thing I love, it’s a party. But I’m more of a party goer than a host. I’ve only ever hosted one at home party before, and that was for my daughters 6th birthday last year. However Sunday gone I hosted a party for friends, family and their little ones, with no other reason than to pretty much showcase my baking skills.

Ok, I will admit, I have never made a cake before. Not from scratch anyway. Sure I’ve bought a ready mix and added an egg, but that’s as far as my baking skills go. I’ve always imagined it to be too much stress and too much mess.

However, when this beautifully packaged box arrived from Baking Mad  containing all the ingredient needed to whizz up a cake (except the eggs and butter), I was more than prepared to get stuck in and give it a go.

The box contained a booklet containing very easy to follow instructions and I had the ingredients thrown together and ready for the oven within minutes and just over half an hour later, I had three layers of a cake to throw together and decorate. (Apologies for the untechnical baking terms. I’m no Nigella). Ok, within an hour as when I went to check after 20 minutes, I realised I hadn’t turned the oven on

From a variety of themes which included Peter Rabbit, Pirates, Unicorns and Princesses, we opted for Superheros. My daughters love an opportunity to dress up as a Superhero, and let’s be honest, so do I.

After decorating the cake with buttercream, and a variety of superhero coloured sprinkles which I added (Halloween sprinkles), and finishing off with cake toppers, I then had a further task of making cup cakes. Which was actually again a doddle and mainly left upto my daughters age 6 and 9 to do.

Once cooked and again, decorated with buttercream, sprinkles and cake toppers, we were all set for our Superhero Party.

A few brightly coloured Superhero decorations also from Baking Mad, added an extra touch to the living room where I was to host my party, and at 1pm, my guests began to arrive.

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We had a fab two hours playing pass the parcel, musical statues, having a mini disco and of course enjoying the party food and the star of the show, the cake, which I have to say  was delicious. As were the cupcakes and went down really well with my guests, even my hubby who is often harsh with my kitchen skills. I did good.

Each child left with a superhero goody bag, again supplied by Baking Mad which I’d filled with sweets and pocket-money toys. The adults a Baking Made goody bag containing oven gloves, a tea towel and donut fridge magnet, kindly supplied by Baking Mad. I did also buy chocolate to add, but sorry guys, I ate it.

Although I will probably stick to a shop bought birthday cake in the future, I enjoyed having the opportunity to make my own cake and bake with my two girls. The kit is brilliant if like me you’re not familiar with baking, but wanting to give a homemade cake a go, as it was definitely so much less stressful than I imagined.

The kids retail at £44.99 but are currently 25% off  and can be snapped up online for £33.74.

The bunting and accessories (including paper plates, napkins, party bags, party masks) retail at between £4 – £10 but again, are currently 25% off

This is a sponsored post and I was also gifted the products, however opinions are completely honest and my own

Contact me at loualexa77@yahoo.co.uk to work with me

 

general, lifestyle

Meet Scott of Hamiedog Menswear

1. Tell me briefly a bit about yourself?

I’ve lived in North Tyneside all of my life and currently live in North Shields. I’m *just* on the right side of 40 and work for a local charity full time so most of my spare time and weekends is spent looking after the business.

2. What made you decide you wanted to start up a business in retail?

I have always been a follower of men’ fashion and just got a bit bored of the offerings and the limited choices available. I like to try things on rather than shop online and I hate huge big shops which are always too busy, too warm and have too many items on the rails so you can’t even look properly. It was never a long term plan however, I just had a bit of a ‘lightbulb moment’ when I was out shopping one day and that’s where it all started from.

3. What was the idea behind Hamiedog?

I’ve always thought that menswear was terribly under represented on the high street. Often in department stores, the mens section is in the basement or in a little corner of the first floor after being forced to walk through the ladieswear. There aren’t a great deal of menswear stores around anymore, less so for independent retailers. I really wanted to change this by being able to offer something which was fashionable but also affordable and perhaps a little bit different to the mainstream offerings. There are a few other independent menswear retailers here in the town but I think we complement each other very well and there’s not really any overlap with the type of goods we sell.

4. How did you get started in this business?

Sourcing funding was the biggest task for me because I had no savings that could be used so I started looking at startup business loans and support. There’s actually plenty of support out there and the process was much easier than I had thought. It does involve lots of preparation though, including writing a business plan and making predictions for sales and cashflow. Before any money is offered, they need to see that you’ve done the hard work and thought everything through properly. There’s only so much you can do of course, but I also had free sessions from business mentors when I was starting out and these were very useful.

5. What about your location. What made you decide on Whitley Bay as an area to trade?

The location of the shop was one of the most important elements for me and Whitley Bay was always at the top of my list. I had to balance things correctly because I didn’t want to start with too big a unit but also didn’t want to be away from a high street out of sight. Park View is a wonderful street and is full of independent retailers so when I saw there were a few small units available I knew that I had to have one of them. I did plenty of research to look at footfall and competition and realised that Whitley Bay was ideal. The shop unit that I chose did need quite a lot of work before it was ready to move into, so a lot of my budget went on rewiring, refurbishing and decoration and making the place secure. Prior to me moving in the unit was a chiropodist and has also been a barbers, sweet shop and offices so it has seen quite a few businesses come and go. Hopefully we will be here to stay for a long time because I can see that 2018 is going to be an exciting time to be in Whitley Bay when the Dome and sea front developments are complete.

6. How long have you been in business?

I got the keys to the shop in July 2016 and opened for business at the end of October 2016 so we’re still new and still getting established.

7. How do you go about getting the clothing which is in your store?

Initially, as a new business that was quite a challenge so I started with using wholesale suppliers for my stock. But after around four months I was approached by a local clothing designer and realised that using local suppliers was going to be a much more beneficial way of doing business. As we began to get more established, more local designers got on board and this has definitely been a massive turning point. Working with local businesses means that you have a much better relationship with your suppliers, on a personal level rather than on a corporate one. We’re really lucky to now have 8 clothing labels in store, all based in the north east.

8. What would you say is unique about Hamiedog Menswear?

The ‘shop local’ approach is something which has become very important for us. Because we have such a good relationship with our local suppliers it means that we can sell clothing items which are totally exclusive to our store that people can’t source from anywhere else. Fashion can sometimes be a bit too serious and we have proven in our first year that people like to wear things that are a little bit different to what everyone else has got on. Any t-shirt that has ‘Whitley Bay’, ‘North’ or links to Newcastle on it immediately becomes a best seller. People are proud to be from this part of the country and some of our pieces have made their way as far across the world as Australia. I would say that 80-90% of the stock that we currently have in store is sourced from our local suppliers and this has been so well received by our customers that sometimes it is hard to keep up with demand!

9. How do you market your business?

Marketing is always a bit of a tricky one but I have found the power of social media to be amazing. We post several times a day on Facebook and also use Instagram and Twitter. You have to make things interesting and appealing to users and ensure that you are responsive to any interaction on your pages. I have experimented with paid advertising in magazines and local publications but have found those to be disappointing so social media will be how we continue to market the business in 2018.

10. What made you come up with the name Hamiedog?

Coming up with a name took ages! I thought about using my own name but it just didn’t sound right, and I wanted to use something which was unique that nobody would have ever heard before. Then I remembered about my first pet dog when I was a young child – a Westie called Hamish. We used to call him Hamiedog and the more I thought of that name, the more I liked it as the name for the business. It is often a topic of conversation in the shop, people like to know the story (and how to pronounce it correctly) so it’s a good talking point.

11. If you had one piece of advice to give to someone just starting out in retail, what would it be?

Follow your dreams and don’t give up. There were times when I thought I’d made the biggest mistake in my life by starting a business, and then subsequently being made redundant from my only source of income just as the business had opened, but I’m a firm believer of putting in the hard work and it will pay off. You’ve got to accept that you will make mistakes, it is totally natural and is part of the learning experience but it makes you stronger and helps you to plan for the future. But if you want something to work, you’ve got to put in the effort and give it time.

12. Do you trade only from the shop?

No, we’re online as well at http://www.hamiedog.co.uk.

13. How would you describe Hamiedog in 3 words?

Small, independent and funky!

14. What are your visions for the future with Hamiedog?

I’d like to continue to grow the business and would love to move into larger premises at some point, but larger premises bring larger challenges so we’ll see how this year goes before making a decision on that one. Our online store has started to become more popular so we’ll be investing in improving our website and building our current customer base. We also will continue to get involved in more local community events and shouting about how important shopping local is. I’m also planning on using more local lads for modelling and am always interested in hearing from local designers who need an outlet for their range. I think the future is bright, we just need more people to get on board and celebrate local businesses and our wonderful shops here in Whitley Bay.

For more information on Hamiedog, check out their website or Facebook page

 

Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, parenting

Santas Grotto @ Kommunity

We’ve decided against a Panto this year. Panto was a tradition I always enjoyed as a child, however, I’ve realised it’s not something my kids seem to particularly enjoy. They like to be up singing and dancing preferring a more interaction and participation.

So, with that in mind, last weekend I took them along to a Santas Grotto a theatrical experience ran by Big Red and The Little Greens instead, held at Kommunity in Newcastle

I’d been told to use the phrase ‘Santa is expecting me’ upon arrival, which I prompted my two girls aged 6 and 9 to say, just to get them into the spirit of being about to embark on a festive adventure.

We were greeted by three elves, Poppy, Cookie and Merry played by Hildy Harland (the lady behind the idea, along with Kim Tate), Ashley Waugh and Catherine Muckle, who chatted to all of the children before the mini show even began, asking if they were excited for Christmas and if they thought they had what it takes to be one of Santas Elves. My youngest daughter said she couldn’t be an Elf, as she didn’t like the idea of cleaning up Reindeer poo.

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Poppy, Cookie and Merry then entertained us with singing and dancing, encouraging the children to join in throughout.

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Before being led on a hunt to find Santa as they entered a winter wonderland behind a big curtain, which was truly freezing cold and beautifully decorated.

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The children also had an opportunity to meet Santa in his Grotto, and were also presented with a Cookie and bell to hang on the christmas tree, which my children loved.

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There was a good selection of refreshments and snacks on offer from Wildflower Creative Kitchen, and my girls enjoyed a cookie.

The event lasted about an hour, and was £15 per adult, adults free. My children throughly enjoyed it, and it is definatley worth a visit if the Grotto returns next year.

You can find out more about Santas Grotto Big Red and Little Greens and watch out for future events here

 

general, lifestyle

Lessons of 2017

I know it’s still only early December, but I’m powering on with Blogmas, and decided to change it round a bit today and write about things I have learnt this year, rather than about my day.

First off

To stop caring what other people think

When my kids want to go swimming, but I refuse to wear a bathing costume, I’m spoiling their fun because of my own silly hang ups. My kids will look back and wonder why I never took them swimming, but will anyone really notice, remember or even care how I looked in a bathing cossie?

Infact, let’s just get this out there now. This is me in a swimming costume. Headless, but me. I took it earlier this year when my main focus on life was to spend 2017 dropping the pounds. The purpose of the pic was for my own personal use only to record progress and defo not share on the internet. Not ever..

I hablogven’t dropped the pounds. I’ve probs chunked up if anything. Happiness and my love for food has stopped me once again this year, no matter how much I work out, which is a lot. Still feel freaking awesome, though

Learn to love yourselves ladies, exactly as you are! 

To never give up

If I want something, no matter how out of reach it may sound, I’m going for it. I’m not talking material. I don’t aspire to live any kind of flash lifestyle. I’m all about character building, confidence building and making dreams a reality.

I’m leaving 2017 proud in what I have achieved and excited for the future. I know exactly where I aim to be this time next year, and I’m gonna get there.

Live in the moment

My children seem to be growing up so fast, too fast and I’m finding it difficult to decided whether my family is complete, or not. I treasure every single night I kiss my girls good night, and every single hug they give. Because one day, sadly they’ll reach an age when they may not want a good night kiss.

Also I like to plan things to look forward to throughout the year. Then spend the days/weeks and sometimes even months in between on a countdown. Then things happen during or after that time that I had no idea would, which I would never look forward to. Not sure this makes sense, but trust me. Don’t wish time away

I am in control of my feelings

I’ve concluded that depression can be ‘cured’, but anxiety cannot. I now understand that to remain in a happy state, I need to fill my life doing things I love with people who bring something to my life. But anxiety lives with me every day. I know this because I wake in the night frequently in a state of panic. It’s when I’m asleep it gets me. So I wake and fill my head with positive thoughts and remind myself of all the reason I have to be happy. I do it in order to regain control. And I win. Every single day

Seeing other people happy

I’m also quite an empath and pick up on others feelings. But one of my favourite things in the world is seeing others happy. If I can do anything to make someone feel special, I will

Surround yourself with positivity

I can’t deal with negativity. Or rather I won’t. Not that I’m often around negativity. You attract the energy you give out, so make it positive

That life is an adventure

An adventure can be jumping out of a plane for some people, or embarking on a journey around the world. For me, it is in creating a life for myself and my family by fulfilling dreams, enjoying family holidays, and making happy memories. Or even just watching fireworks out of the bathroom window

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Chase your dreams

And turn them into a reality. You’re never to old to do something new, you’ve just got to be brave enough to try. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, show them you can

The importance of fun

It doesn’t matter where I am, or who I’m with, I often just have a strong desire to be silly, and to laugh. Even if life isn’t going how I’d like it to, or I’m having a bad day. Fun is a priority to me. As a person who spent many, many years feeling sad and unhappy, I realise how important it is to not take life, or yourself, too seriously.

I have become stronger.

So much stronger. I was thinking just yesterday about how many times I have cried this year. Think it’s a small handful. I used to take every single thing to heart and let so many situation or comments reduce me to tears. Now I don’t. I’ve even had moments this year where I’ve thought ‘Why aren’t I crying? Why am I not upset’. It’s because I’m stronger. Still emotional, still sensitive, but stronger.

I have a voice

And I know I’m being heard. I’ve received messsges of support and encouragement from friends, from people I went to school with and haven’t even seen since then, and from complete strangers. And they all tell me the same thing. Keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re helping people. And that’s why I share personal stories. I am a believer if you have a story which could inspire others, you should share it

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My mindset is rubbing off on my children

One thing which sticks in my mind this year is my 6-year-old daughter asking me if she was awesome, because she felt awesome. She also often tells me, her older sister, and friends they are beautiful. And by this she means inside and out. I love that. I love her expressiveness and her confidence and I’ll do all I can to ensure she grows to be a confident young lady, too

My son also told me this year that he plans to go to uni next year. He said he has big aspirations and knows with hard work and a positive mindset, he can achieve them. He makes me proud every single day

How much I love writing

I just find having the ability to express yourself and open up about things others perhaps wouldn’t, so liberating. It’s also my therapy,  a journal to look back on, and memories for my children once I’m gone.

Blogmas, general, lifestyle

Besties, Balloons and Blogmas Day 6

I realised last night just how much in need I was of a good night out and catch up with friends. We do see each other quite often, but we don’t always get time to sit down and talk about what is going on in our lives, and last night we got to do that.

We went out to celebrate some good news our really good friend Jeannie has had this past week. First of all let me tell you Jeannie is the kindest, most caring person you could ever meet. I’ve known her about two years I think and I can’t even remember how we became closer as friends.  But she is just sunshine, and she’s there whenever you need a friend. Obviously I’m not going to mention what her good news is, that’s not my story to tell. But she has so much to look forward to and last night we wanted her to feel like the special lady that she is.

So I popped out yesterday afternoon to get some helium balloons to decorate our table, and diamonte confetti. I chose three, two stars and a heart. Only I hadn’t realised how huge the heart was till I went to pick them up, so trying to navigate my way home with that flying in my face was interesting.

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I later on dropped them at the restaurant, went home to quickly get ready, and about three hours later (not even joking) I was good to go.

Jeannie chose to book a table at newly opened Italian and Mediterranean restaurant. I arrived first, then Jenny then the lovely lady herself along with Debra.

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We chose our food, then we were very kindly brought a garlic bread over to enjoy whilst catching up. The food was so nice and we all thoroughly enjoyed. And of course with it being a special occasion, there had to be desert. And there has to be food pics

The night went by too fast as we shared news of whats been going on since we last all got together, our plans for Christmas, and our excitement for getting together with even more of our friends at a party Saturday night.

As the night was coming to an end, we were kindly given a shot of Amaretto each. Jenny was driving so Jeannie decided we should share the third shot. j5 Then we left, balloons and all. We had issues getting the heart balloon in the car so decided it should fly out with window, me holding it. Which was fine until it blew off the ribbon and headed for space.

Reading over this blog it’s pretty boring. But I don’t need to include details of the night or any attempts at humour, or any major excitement. I just want to make it about Jeannie and for her to know just how awesome she is and we can not wait to watch, love and support her as she starts on her new journey xx

Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, review

The Inventors’ Ball @ Enchanted Parks 2017

Tonight was the night myself and my two girls Jessica and Emily, have been really looking forward to. The opening of Enchanted Parks.

This annual 5 day event, once again sees the already beautiful Saltwell park come to life in another after dark adventure.

Last year was the first year we visited, being too late to purchase tickets previously. I was surprised to see feedback that it didn’t meet its usual standard, we thoroughly enjoyed it. So this year I expected they may have upped their Enchanted Park game

This years ‘Inventors Ball’ themed event tells the story of Ursula – the eldest daughter of William Wailes and Heiress to the Saltwell Estate.

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Ursula greets visitors upon the start of their magical adventure, and using image projection, Ursula is brought to life. Ursulas’ wandering mind reminds us all that ‘the body is a machine, a fleshy container for the intellect’, and whatever she thinks she is, she becomes, which she then goes on to demonstrate.  I was impressed already as I truly believe that, too.

Whilst mesmerised by the beautiful Ursula, thunder could be heard in the distance, along with lightning in the trees – and we could see electrical sparks and crackles projected upon the façade of Saltwell Towers.

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This was probably my favourite piece this year. We spent a good while just watching and taking in the atmosphere felt by the excitement of both children and adults.

We then continued our adventure through the park, meeting many characters on our way which my children loved and stopped to speak to every single one of them.

Throughout the park we winded our way through many more beautiful installations, including giant illuminated bunnies, and night creatures down by the stream.

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My girls particularly enjoyed walking up the winding path alongside flower stems which when we shook, fariesreleased a fairy.
My husband however, wasn’t impressed one of our girls was a little over enthusiastic and he suffered a few bumps on the head as Jessica gave it a shake shouting ‘Come on out, fairies. I want to see you’!!

Singing and dancing also filled the park, as we saw silhouettes of beautiful ballerinas, whilst enjoying the tones of a very cheerful pineapple.

The lake at Saltwell was lit up this year with the moon which Ursula cleverly managed to capture with a lasso to dazzle us all.

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After walking thorough the Apothercarist’s Garden full of enormous illuminated plants full of healing properties, an animal menagerie of a string quartet playing by the waterfall and the flowers for Ursula,

we’d reached the end of our Enchanted adventure, and joined a crowd of visitors gathered together, anticipating what was about to happen as a clock in the trees displayed a countdown. Then as the timer hit zero, a character appeared and began to pace up and down with a machine producing smoke. And then, we watched as the Spirit of the Cyclone appeared before us.

This was spectacular and happens every 15 minutes. We had just over a minute to wait, which was fine. But please don’t be put off if you have to wait much longer. It really is worth it and would be a shame to miss and it ends the magical experience just perfectly.

Well done NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Gateshead Council. You completely blew it out the water with this magnificent event. My two girls aged 6 and 9 loved every single second of it as did I. My husband although tired after a long and cold day at work and hungry, thoroughly enjoyed it too.

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Excited for next years already, although I have no idea how you can top this.

Thank you so much to Rachel Horton of Gateshead Culture Team, for the opportunity to blog about and share my experience of this fabulous event.

Tickets are still available for this event, running until sunday 10th December, and purchased here http://www.shopnewcastlegateshead.com/tickets/enchanted-parks-2017/

Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, review

A local festive day with my girls

One thing which I love about Whitley Bay, is the sense of community. With a large number of independent business owners and sole traders, everyone supports each other. I’ve lived here most of my life, and it isn’t till this past year I’ve got to know other locals and often spot a familiar face when out and about.

In summer I enjoy the festivals. The singing, watching children dancing and all the delicious food on offer. I also enjoy the evening events which seem to be becoming more and more of a regular thing in the area, which is great as there is always something to plan with friends to look forward to throughout the year.

I love a Christmas market. Think I’ve been to two already this year and we’re only on to December 2nd. This afternoon, along with my girls we went along to Whitley Bay Station Christmas Fayre, organised by Stephen Andrews of Newcastle Building Society.

We arrived around lunch time and it was pretty busy and saw a large array of tables showcasing some beautiful products and information of services, including The Fostering Company, Based in Killingworth and ran by a team of people dedicated to helping children and young people in creating supportive, consistent and enriching fostering environments.

We first of all took a look aroud, soaking up the cheery atmosphere and listening to the choir sing.

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First off, the sweet cones caught the kids eyes, and mine too. I’m actually sat in the Crab and Waltzer as I write this having just had lunch and now passing time waiting for my hubby to come meet us. The kids are in the play area, and I’m feeling very tempted to tuck into one of them..

We then went to check out the fabulous work of  Sea Tern Print. A creative print workshop, and had a chat with local artist, Michelle who told me a bit about the Social Enterprise set up to help people using creative print activities.

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Then I noticed the Virtual Reality area, hosted by Pirate Escape, and Jessica decided to give it a go. She took a seat and was immersed into a fully interactive 3d virtual world, on a rollercoaster experience as we could see on the big screen.

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She only lasted a few seconds however, before declaring she was scared, which I can quite imagine. This is something I’d  like to give a go, along with the Pirate Escape with friends. We did a similar escape experience last year.

We didn’t escape in the hour. Doubt we’d have even escaped in two without a lot of input from the lads who ran it. But mainly because it was after a few bottles of wine, so I definitely think we need to give Pirate Escape a go, whilst sober. We’d smash it!

Speaking of alcohol,  I then got to sample the really, really delicious V Gallery Vodka and Rubis Chocolate Wine.

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If you think chocolate wine sounds amazing, the vodka was Marshmallow and Toffee with Fudge flavour and devine. I think I really need to stop saying that I don’t like vodka, because I clearly do, and I shall be buying some of the gift sets for Christmas. For myself.

We then popped over to meet Katie who runs Fun Little Foodies, an activity class which promotes an enjoyment of food and cooking for children, and the girls made a mini Christmas pudding out of a chocolate crispy bar and teeny tiny decorations to go on top

I then spotted a Facebook friend who I’ve yet to meet in person, Jill from Daisy First Aid, and The Family Hub – a play centre which incorporates a range of play activities for children 0-4. Jill kindly gave Emily a beautiful glitter Tinkerbell tattoo. Then both the girls had their faces painted.

Other stalls which were there, but I didn’t get round to stopping at as the sugar rush began to kick in with my kids which meant it was time to leave, included Pureknead, a bakery which sells a range of artisan breads, cakes, biscuits, sweet goods and more.

Nord, a bottle shop and tasting room based in Whitley Bay. Edens Cafe, located on Park View and ran by Janice and Robert. If you haven’t already been to Edens, you have to go. I can highly recommend their sandwiches.

Jason Friend Photography, award winning professional travel and landscape photographer, and the Whitley Bay Brewing Company, ran by Gary who also owns 42nd Street, another place I like to go eat with my family, or drink with friends.

Thank you so much to Martin and Julie from Olives at the Station, for inviting me along to blog.

If you’d like anymore information on any of the local business mentioned, then check out their Facebook pages

beauty, general, lifestyle

My new iNails by AAB Shiremoor *

Regular readers of my blog will know that beauty blogging is not my forte. As much as I love make up and beauty products and a good pamper at home, I’m not one for beauty treatments and have never ventured further than a haircut (once a year. Shocking, I know) and a one off spray tan for a wedding. However, when invited to try the new iNails, I was more than happy to whip off my stick on drugstore nails and give them ago.

My nails are in awful condition. I’ve always been a nail biter. I did manage to grow them last year, purely because I started dental treatment with Invisalign meaning I physically couldn’t bite them. Until a few months in and found a way which I could start nibbling again, and they were back to looking ugly in no time.

I arrived at AAB Shiremoor, and was greeted at the door by Susan who then took me to her beautiful salon in her home. This is where I have to admit to being a bad blogger, as I forgot to take a pic, but the room was gorgeous. I sat down and first of all apologised for the tatty nails she was about to make pretty. Susan started by cutting and trimming my shamefully almost non existent nails, pushing back the cuticles, then selecting the correct size by dry fitting it into place

iNails are an alternative to gel and traditional acrylic nails, which take only around 15 minutes to apply a full set. They are kinder to your nails as there is no need to use an electric file. You could suggest they are similar to the stick on nails you can buy from Boots, etc, but they’re adhered with lyric acrylic, and much better quality.

Susan started to apply each nail by applying the liquid acrylic onto the nail, then placed it onto my natural nail, making sure the liquid spread across and down the entire nail bed, without any gaps or air bubbles. The nail was then held in place under a beam projector, and held for about 20 seconds to completely cure

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I’ve never been to a nail salon before, but I have noticed a strong smell as I’ve walked past nail bars, however there’s no solvent odour with inails

Any excess dry acrlic was then filed away from the side walls and cuticles, they were cut down to size, then buffed.

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I usually opt for short square stick on nails, but decided to go longer with inails, with a slightly more curved tip. Once finished I was surprised with how natural my new nails looked.

I then chose a gel polish finish of an extensive selection including chrome, glitter and marble effect. I had a Halloween themed weekend away with friends for my birthday planned that weekend, so opted for gray , with a white accent nail and a couple of Halloween stickers. Then finished off with a clear gel top coat.

I was thrilled with my new nails.

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I’m now 5 days in with my inails and they still look and feel as good as new. They feel so light, and exactly how I’d expect my nails would look if I were to grow them.

The nails are supposed to last up to 3 weeks, but I have read reviews where they’ve lasted even longer. After spending around £6-7 on stick on nails a week, which would last only a couple of days, I shall defiantly be sticking to inails as I know I will be getting more for my money, a much better quality of nail, and can leave the nail glue at home when I go out.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to Susan Ord for my lovely experience and fabulous nails.

To find out more about AAB Shiremoor and the range of treatments available, check out the Facebook Page or call 07949 510 588 to book an appointment

*contains gifted experience

 

 

anxiety, depression, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Dear Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

It is not often that we personally address something which we cannot physically see, but I can feel you, and I have been able to for as long as I can remember. You’re part of me and I dislike you as much as the lumps, bumps and flaws I’ve beaten myself up over for the longest time, which I can see. The lumps and bumps and flaws which aren’t even half as bad as you’ve had me believe. I was even convinced at one point in my life that I was too ugly to leave the house, so would spend my days in doors, hidden away from the world. But I wasn’t too ugly, I was too anxious.

I have periods where your toxic thoughts take over my mind and fill my soul with negative feelings and take away every bit of self-belief I have strived to gain. I have no photos of me holding my three children as babies, not one single photo.  No visual memories of days out or birthdays with their proud mum – until this year. I did not want to look at myself as I could not deal with the repulse I would feel, or have anyone else look at me and squirm. And I hate you for that.

You’ve stolen hours, days, weeks and months from me,  even a large part of my childhood where I struggled to make friends. The school days where I sat in my chair with my head down avoiding any kind of eye contact with the teacher during reading, filled with dread and fear that I would be asked to read aloud to the class. My heart pounding. My head spinning. Sitting knowing the answers to questions, but not daring to raise my hand for the fear, the absolute humiliation of being wrong.

University wasn’t easy either. Believing I wasn’t smart enough to be on the course and I was heading for a fail from day 1. Luckily, every single assignment I got back, proved you wrong. I graduated with a 2:2 which I worked so hard to get, and around being a single parent. I was good enough, and my confidence hit an all time high. I thought I’d beat you.

I hadn’t. You’ve been the most prominent part of my life for the last three or four years in particular. Where I have battled with you literally every, single day. You’ve made me tear myself up inside to the point where when asked what it is I don’t like about myself, I had a list. I hated everything from the colour of my hair to my overly bitten fingernails. You had messed with and taken over my mind to the extent that when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see what everyone else saw, but a horrific, distorted image. You made me want to hide away. So I did. I isolated myself. I couldn’t deal with the world of thinking people are pointing and laughing at me. Thinking that everything that came our of my mouth was just plain, insignificant rubbish. Convinced I’m unlikable, and undeserving of friendships, which I find incredibly hard to make and maintain.

Eventually I went for help. And it’s from that help I was given the ammunition to fight you. I was put in a position where I had to identify and talk about my positive qualities, and given the tools to challenge negative thoughts. I was given enough self-belief to realise I can be anything I want to be, and began to pursue my dream.

I’m fully aware of you now. I can feel how you flood my thoughts and infest my mood with dark paralysis and despair. You are literally a demon.

I’m now at a place where I’ve become completely mindful. I’m finally in tune with my body and emotions. I can feel you creeping up on me, and as recent as three weeks ago, you had me convinced yet again that I’m a failure. You drained me for days. All the tears, the effort of pretending I’m fine when around other people whilst forcing a smile. The listening to my husbands words of positivity but choosing to ignore them, makes me exhausted, and him frustrated. But just like any illness, I knew it would pass and just had to ride it out. You’ve gone now and yet again I’ve gained more strength. I’m winning.

So thank you anxiety, for giving me the courage to chase my dreams. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t be working my way towards a diploma in journalism, and I wouldn’t be taking care of myself and working out so much to release the natural endorphins which help to keep your evil thoughts at bay and act as a must needed distraction as I feel you creeping around me, smirking.

I’m taking back my life, anxiety, so next time you try to worm your way in, don’t worry, I’ve got this.

(Origionally Published on Cultnoise Magazine)