Blogmas, christmas, general, humour, lifestyle, parenting

Welcome – to Blogmas

I’ve literally just discovered what Blogmas is about 5 minutes ago. So can I bang out 25 blogs in 25 days..? I’ve got a few festive things lined up over the next week, and sure I can think of more so let’s do this. I am particularly excited for Day 5, watch this space…

So it’s December 1st today and at around 10.30 last night whilst in bed, I realised I hadn’t done anything with that Elf thing I bought the girls. I’m new to Elf on the Shelf. I literally thought you just stuck it on a shelf and it acted like a Santa cam. Then last year I realised they caused mayhem by doing a whole range of naughtiness we stress to our children that they must not do. Then last night, I learnt they also come with letters for the children to encourage good behaviour. The pressure

I was going to get up and hang it off the light in the living room or something equally adventurous, but thought sod it, we’ll start on the 2nd.

Turns out it was up to mischief during the night anyway as we were woke with Emily kicking off. She’d woke up excited to open door number one on her calendar, but found somebody had already beat her to it, and eaten her chocolate. Jessica told her it was Elfie the Elf, as she saw him do it.

Obviously it was Jess. Emily cried for 20 minutes. Not even joking. Twenty. Minutes. of hysterical pleas of ‘where’s my chocolate gonnnnnnne’

On close inspections on both calendars, Jessica has about 15 chocolates left. A gal after my own heart. I replaced them 3 times last year throughout November for the girls, as I ate them all before the 1st. Yes, I ate my way through six.

Thismorning, I’ve decided my children shall always be school dinners as I spent about an hour in the kitchen cooking two sausages and knocking up Chicken Tikka Pasta for Emilys school trip. Her choice since I told her biscuits and a packet of crisps is now frowned up. She went to Dance City to watch a performance of The Little Match Girl. We used to go there quite often when she was smaller. She told me on her way to school she couldn’t remember, but I wondered if she would once she was there.

Decided to take the girls to watch the Lantern Parade after school and have a look around the Christmas market.

Kids whinged until I caved and let them go on the rides and we spotted the Brownie Bar. Came home about £30 down, but two words – Oreo. Brownies

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general, lifestyle

Gin and Vodka Tasting Event at Olives

This weekend saw Whitley Bays first ‘Weekend of Gin and Vodka’, providing an opportunity for local Gin and Vodka lovers to taste and appreciate the popular tipples.

Tying in with this event, Olives at the Station held a Gin and Vodka tasting evening last night, and I was kindly invited along to blog about the event.

Now I should probably point out that I never drink Gin, or Vodka. I stick to cocktails as I dread the actual thought of a hangover. My spirit drinking days are over. However, I have noticed a recent rise in popularity amongst Gin, and felt very tempted by all the different flavours so was more than happy to go along and see what it was all about.

I took along my friend who always sticks to Vodka on a night out, so thought it would be interesting to see her views on the range of Vodkas available.

This experience was a chance to sample a range of shots supplied from a variety of different brands, local business and distilleries including Hepple Gin, Gin and Vodka from Durham Distillery’s,  Alnwick Gin, The Geordie Gin Co, Black Cow Vodka, Graceful Vodka and ‘Old Tom’ Gin from Poetic License, and Tynemouth Gin.

Upon arrival, we were presented with a score card where we were able to rate a score 0-5, with 20 minutes to try each drink until the next was served.

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I did my maths and worked out that if I was to drink every shot, I was going to be quite merry in about 40 minutes, and unable to find my way home by 10pm. Panic!

However, we all had the option to drink each shot neat, or with a variety of mixers including Tonic Water, Bitter Lemon, or Lemonade, which gave me faith I could just perhaps get through the event, or at least half way.

This was blind tasting, and the first shot I tried with Fentimans Rose Lemonade which I love, ice and a slice of lime selected from a wide variety of accompaniments, and it went down a treat.

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Feeling hardcore at this point, I was and ready for shot number 2 and feeling more adventurous trying with lemonade and raspberries.

I changed up my mixers between each shot, and some I could only manage a couple of mouthfuls, but I think that could largely have been down to my choice of mixer rather than the Gin. I sat at a table of 3 other Gin samplers and every one of us enjoyed each shot, and our scoring similar.

I also found that after a couple of sips, the tastes changed and the one which I didn’t enjoy the taste of initially, actually turned out to be my favourite, which was Whiltey Bay Seaglass by the Whitley Bay Gin Corporation.

It had a taste which I recognised but couldn’t quite work out what it was until I heard Mark from the Whitley Bay Gin Corporation mention Turmeric.

The vodka didn’t go down so well on our table unfortunately, again with very similar scoring. My friend enjoyed only two out of the eight shots. I’ve never been a vodka drinker (my one and only night on vodka and orange put me off for life) but I did have a taste of the Thunder Toffee Vodka as the smell was divine.. It was suggested on our table it could go well in a coffee. Not something I would’ve thought of, but then again people think I’m strange for having enjoyed Malibu with Chocolate Nesquick Milkshake back in my party days (try it – a-ma-zing)

At the end of a very enjoyable night, the score cards were collected in and results announced seeing Newcastle Gin coming out on tops along with Annos Vodka, which was my friends top choice.

This event was a brilliant opportunity to relax, and to mingle, meet and socialise, and once again, fabulous hospitality by Olives. I especially enjoyed meeting Wil and Jade from Boda Home who we sat with and hearing a bit about their independent family owned store which I really need to visit. And Mark from the Whitley Bay Gin Corporation who told us a bit more about Gin, and how to drink it regarding choosing the right mixers.

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I know for sure, next time I am out (which is actually this weekend coming as my birthday approaches), I will defiantly be enjoying a gin or two. Maybe even more as I woke up with absolutely zero hangover. Result!!

 

food, general, lifestyle, review

Our afternoon at Loca, Whiltey Bay

When I noticed on Facebook that a new restaurant in my small hometown of Whitley Bay was looking for bloggers to attend their Press Event, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d never tried my hand at food blogging before, but I was more than willing to give it a go.

I arrived at 1pm along with my friend Jeannie, a keen foodie with an interest in the current ongoing regeneration of Whitley Bay, fellow cocktail enthusiast and bad influence (we were trying out a new eaterie in town monday afternoon with a voucher she won in my fundraising raffle) and we were told to go head next door to the Italian restaurant, as Loca was very much still under construction, where we were then each presented with a glass of Prosecco, and a press pack.

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We excitedly took a seat near the back of the restaurant along with other bloggers and a photographer, and had a look inside our press pack, where we found information about the Latin American Restaurant & Bar, Food and Cocktail Menus, a small plastic bottle containing an invite to the VIP launch the following night, and some photos of some rather tempting looking deserts.

We had a look through the menu, in the meantime was offered another Prosecco, which we gratefully accepted.

Within 5 minutes of scouring the menu, I had already decided what I would be ordering on my first visit (it’s got to be a Brazillian xim xim Chicken Rice bowl), then Jeannie and I sat and discussed what tapas we shall order when we go with our friends. This was before even trying anything. But with tapas dishes such as Salmon & Scallop Ceviche, Lime, Tofu and Mixed Bean Salad and Chipotle bbq Baby Back Ribs, there is something for everyone. And of course there is a selection of Bocadillos (or sandwiches on spanish bread – thank you Google), sharing dishes, Ensalada (salads, yes, I was about to google that too, then common sense kicked in) and a selection of Little Locas for the kids. Childrens usual favourites of Chicken burger, Chicken Strips, Cheeseburger and a vegetarian option of a Tofu Pitta. Along with impressive selection of sides

Ok, that’s the food. Now lets move on to the cocktails. Wow is all I can say. I will first of all point out that we only expected to be sampling cocktails in little shot glasses, just to get the general taste, which is why we went by car rather than endure the 5 minute walk in the rain. Generous bar staff presented us with a selection of full-sized cocktails. First off I tried a Loca Colada. A blended cocktail of white rum, coconut rum, coconut syrup, fresh banana and condensed milk. Delicious.

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Then I tried a Galapagos Iced Tea served in a tall glass and I must say it’s something I wouldn’t even think of ordering, but definitely will next time I’m in Loca.

Then onto a Sensation Sours – something else I would probably avoid as it contains egg white, but again, very nice.

Drinks are very reasonabley priced at £7 each, or 2-4-£8 before 7pm or after 9pm.

After then hearing from owner Steve Welsh as to why he chose to create his own ‘Latino Bay’ at Loca, we were then taken for a look around the establishment, which was still very much a building site at this point. We could see with VIP launch night happening in just over 24 hours, the builders had their hands full and were probably looking at pulling an all nighter.

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But we could still get the general feel of the bar with beautifully decorated walls and as we went back to the Italians next door to sample some food, I’d decided I’ d definitely be there the following night to see the finished result.

We then spent about half an hour sampling some Tapas. Dadinhos, Avacado, Corn & Black Bean Tostada, Empanadas which were without a doubt my favourite, and Chorizo, Jalapeno and Cheese Churros which may sound strange as a starter, but were really nice, although I did think how some Nutella to dip them in would be great right now.

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We then had one more cocktail for the road, another Sensation Sours for me and I have no idea what Jeannie had. At this point she was ringing her hubby to come get the bus down to drive both her and the car home. So a quick obligatory snap chat selfie, we thanked the staff for their hospitality, then left, impressed (no, I haven’t misspelt p*ssed)

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We returned the following night for the VIP launch, although we didn’t arrive till just before 9. I go to a dance fitness class on a thursday night for two hours, and missing it is just never an option. Instead I took a change of clothing, my make up, and baby wipes and ‘freshened up’ in the toilets (I know. I’m a minger) and Jeannie and I met up with our other boozy friend, Jenny.

The building work was complete, and the interior stunning. The place was buzzing, music playing and drinks flowing. I feel I should add we did wait half an hour for the barman to make three cocktails, and for that reason we only stayed for one, but I’m sure this was purely with it being opening night and service will improve.

Guests were again presented with a selection of food to try, we had chips, a really decent sized bowl full and very tasty

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Opening night slow service certainly hasn’t put me off and I am keen to return again soon. There is a wide selection of cocktails I plan to work my way through and the Chocotorta looks just devine

Thank you very much to all at Loca for a fantastic afternoon, and evening and wishing you all lots of luck and success for the future.

To check out the menus, opening times and book a table at http://locawhitleybay.com/

 

birth, general, health, humour, lifestyle, pregnancy

The truth about labour

Between Hollywood and old wives’ tales, there’s a lot of misleading information about childbirth out there. But until you’ve been through it, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.

I’ve had three children, all natural deliveries. Two induced, one spontaneous labour, each experience different. So thought I’d clear up a few myths and expectations and tell it like it is based on my experiences

It’s nothing like One Born Every Minute

First off, I can’t speak for other mums and dads, but there was no playful chatty excited banter in the delivery room with my other half. None.

Mainly because soon after my  first dose of induction gel with my second child, my hubby was given a bed, snuggled down and went to sleep. Which worked out fine anyway, as I wasn’t able to think of anything other to say other than repeat ‘I am SHITTING myself’.

I then labored very quietly an hour later, for around three hours, before waking him. Then once again repeatedly told him I was shitting myself.

How do I know I’m in labour

If it’s your first time you may be expecting your waters breaking will be your first sign of labour. This was the case with my first two children, but with my third, contractions started soon after my second sweep.

They actually started as we went to do our weekly shop in Morrisons. Intensified throughthe night, so off to hospital we went at 5am, via McDonalds drive through, for carbs.

I was checked over. Confirmed  I was in active labour, but sent home. They got stronger as soon as my waters broke whilst bouncing on my yoga ball watching ‘Thismoring’. So straight back to hospital we went. Me sat in the passenger seat on a pampers changing mat to protect the seats. Seriously.

I was convinced I wasn’t going to make it from the car park to the delivery room. Rushed through the hospital recption area pulling my overnight hospital bag replying ‘NOW’ as someone asked when I was due, and stood in the lift insisting ‘it’s coming out’ whilst thinking ‘phew, we’ve made it just in time’ and ‘go me’ for doing it all drug free.

I went another 5 hours

Your birth plan goes right out the window

Nobody can predict how a birth will go. With my first I stated I’d rather not have any students present, yet I had 3 or 4 stood at the end of the bed, watching intensely and taking notes as I was stitched up after labour.

I hoped for a water birth with my third. I had a vision of this completely calm, earth mother, serene drug free experience. Just me, the midwife, and the hubby

My daughter opened her bowls, ruling out a water birth. I panicked every single time the midwife left the room and continuously sent my hubby out to look for her, snapped up her offer of ‘pethidine’ without hesitation, and again welcomed a few male student doctors in the room. Pretty sure I kept asking them random questions, although I have no idea what – I was off my face.

They congratulated me and left as soon as I’d given birth, turning down the opportunity to watch the needlework.

The birth plan goes right out the window, along with your dignity

The truth about the poo

Yes, you might have one, no you will not realise this, yes your partner will find great joy and hilarity in telling you, and no you will not care

The tea and toast

I think I was more focused on the tea and toast I knew I’d be getting after labour than the hugs with my baby whilst laboring with my third. I knew the drill at this point, baby, placenta, repair, toast.

I swear my hubby even spurned me on with ‘Think of the tea and toast, Lou’ as I pushed through the final contractions with my third

Post birth tea and toast is the best tea and toast you will ever have in your life

Your hospital bag

Pack underwear, plenty of it or like me you’ll be texting your mate asking her to pop to Peacocks on their way to hospital to visit, to pick up a few packs of big black size 18s

This is also the one occasion it’s perfectly acceptable to rock a nighty and pair of fluffy socks. But trust me, it’s gonna get messy so make sure they’re cheap ones.

And just when you think you’re done

You have to endure the not so rewarding third stage of labour, which nobody tells you about. The delivery of the placenta. I think it just pretty much slipped out with my first two, but with my third I was convinced it was twins and powered through it with gas and air. There was a moment of panic as I heard the words’surgery’, but out it popped just in time

The hospital exit

Boy is it emotional. Not only are you  met with ‘congratulations’ off hospital staff as you pass them, you also feel a slight pang of ‘we’re on our own now’ anxiety

I’ll always remember filling up with tears as I heard my other half say ‘welcome to the world, little one’ as we exited through the doors with Emily.

It’s a special moment, take it all in

 

You’ll probably vow ‘never again’ 

Whilst in the final stages of labour, then whisper ‘I’d do it again in a heartbeat’ the second you hold your long awaited perfect tiny little bundle.

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Find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LouAlex

Twitter @LouAlexa

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dance, general, health, health and fitness, mental health, wellbeing

WARNING – Things THAT will happen to you when you start to exercise

It’s just gone 2 years since I went out and purchased my first pair of trainers since school (I’m not even joking), threw on the leggings, bit the bullet and ventured into the world of ‘fitness’.

So if anyone is thinking of doing the same, I should highlight some of the changes, in both body and mind, you can expect to experience.

These aren’t a load of scientific facts I’ve googled and threw together, but all based on personal experience.

First off, expect to feel an increase in energy. You know when you find it really difficult to get up in the morning, particularly in the winter? You’ll find yourself waking up rearing to go. Especially if it’s a class day. And if that is the case, you’ve probably went to bed the previous night excited for morning. I mean who actually looks forward to 6am? That’ll be me

Your physical co-ordination will improve, helping you navigate even the most cluttered of tasks or busy crowds like the ninja you are

You’ll find yourself feeling good. Like really really good, less stressed and so much more relaxed. That’s the beauty of serotonin

You’ll gradually notice you are feeling so much more confident. You know all the things you wish you could do, but believe you can’t? The things you’d love to try but worried you’ll be no good at? The changes you’d like to make in life but are held back by the ‘what ifs’? You’ll do them. Because you’ll have the self-belief and confidence to have a go at absolutely anything you desire. And if it doesn’t work out as planned – you won’t care because at least you’ve given it a go

Your wardrobe will change. I have way more gym gear than ‘normal’ clothes. Barely any of them fit and I prefer to stick to black or gray, but I saw, I liked, I bought, and I’m sure they will at some point. Trainers will become the new heels. Especially if you go out for a few sociables after class. It happens

You’ll experience a sense of pride as your self-esteem begins to rise as you set and smash those goals you will start to set. Some fitness related, some not. Whether it’s to run a mile, fit into a pair of jeans or go along to a new class. There is no better feeling than that of achievement and you’ll reach a point where you believe you can have a go at pretty much any thing, although it’s important to not become too delusional. Don’t think after two weeks of pumping iron you’re ready to fly a plane. Keep it real

You’ll meet new people. People you’ll strike up friendships with, as you’ll all share a common interest and passion. Friends you’ll look forward to seeing, who cheer each other on, lift each other up and will play a special part in your life.

You’ll start to care so much less about what others think of you. As your confidence grows, so does a layer of thick skin which any unwanted negative comments you may unfortunately find being thrown your way, just can not cut through. There will be no room for negativity in your life. Good vibes only, people

In addition to all the above, your body will inevitable change. Not only will you be losing the pounds, your shape will change. You’ll notice you look and feel toned as muscle starts to form (especially if mixing weights with cardio).

So unless you want to feel utterly fabulous, completely change your mindset and open doors to a whole new you, you best avoid the gym and all the funky new fitness classes I just can not get enough of

 

 

 

 

 

 

depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, metnal health

Twenty sixteen

It’s here, a new year and I’m hoping this year will be even better than last. My aim for 2015 was the typical ‘lose a bit of weight’ goal. But as suspected, months in and it just wasn’t happening.

It took me till the summer to start shifting the pounds, and that’s only because I discovered a love for exercise. I doubt I would’ve seen any difference at the end of the year had I just ‘gone on a diet’.

So this year I plan to continue dropping the pounds, as well as building strength both mentally and physically. I’m not aiming or aspiring to be ‘slim’, or a particular weight or dress size. This is about being in the best shape I feel I can be. I want to be healthy in both body and mind.

I’m hoping to achieve and stick to this by blogging, hopefully daily. I am going to share some of my meals, document any exercise I have done, and the scariest part, take photos. I want to see how much my body (not size but shape) can change over a year if I stick to my plan.

I’m also aim to keep track of and share my mental state over the year. On the days when I’m not feeling so good, I am going to identify why, and what I do to change it. I’m curious to see just how much absolutely anyone can change over a year.

Today is New Years day, and should really be day one. Only we still have food (cheesecake, crisps, chocolate) left over from Christmas, but very little and I suspect it’ll all be gone by tonight.

So tomorrow is day 1. Tomorrow is back on a healthy diet, only stricter than it has been and hopefully I can fit in an hour in the gym, or possibly even a run. But tonight,  I’m having a bath and finishing off the vino from last night.