7 July 2017

In The Kitchen: Slow Cooked Meaty Ribs

recipe for meaty ribs, food blog, food bloggers, ribs recipe

I love getting messy with food - it's a personal and enjoyable experience, who says you shouldn't have fun with your food? And that's why meaty ribs make it straight to the top of my list of delicious and fun foods to eat. Plus, they're so cheap to buy! Get them from a local butcher, or from a supermarket butcher - the ones I have used here are from Tesco Butchers, and for 6 ribs it cost me less than £4.

This slow cooked meaty ribs recipe is easy to do, and tastes incredible once it's out of the oven. All of the spices are easy to find, except one which you'll have to make yourself: adjika. Adjika is a pesto type mix of chilli, garlic, coriander, fenugreek and seasoning. This paste comes from Abkhazia, where I was born, and has been a favourite of mine since I can remember. Whenever my mum visits our family back in Abkhazia, she always brings a pot back from the market - but she is also a pro at making it at home! All you need to do is blend the ingredients together in a blender et voila, you're done! I might try and make my own version at home and write up a recipe for you guys because it's truly amazing.

recipe for meaty ribs, food blog, food bloggers, ribs recipe

What you'll need:

  • 6 x meaty ribs
  • 2 x garlic cloves (whole but peeled)
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet chilli
  • 4 teaspoons of clear honey
  • 3 teaspoons adjika
  • 3 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 3 table spoons olive oil
  • 1 small dry bay leaf
  • salt & pepper

recipe for meaty ribs, food blog, food bloggers, ribs recipe

Pour all of the ingredients into a large oven proof dish with the ribs. Get your hands dirty and smother the ribs in ingredients, rub the spices all over the meat and massage your ribs until tender. Leave to rest for 10 minutes to let the meat absorb the oil and spices.
In the meantime, heat your over to 170c.

recipe for meaty ribs, food blog, food bloggers, ribs recipe

Pour about one cup of boiling water into the dish, cover with tin foil or a lid, and place in the oven. Leave the ribs to cook on a slow speed for about 1hr/1.30hrs, checking occasionally that they don't burn! Your aim is to have ribs where meat simply slides off the bone, and the bone comes off clean. This meat will be tender, juicy, and full of flavour!
When you're happy you ribs have reached the 'fall off the bone' stage (and don't be afraid to have a cheeky taste!) remove them from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

recipe for meaty ribs, food blog, food bloggers, ribs recipe
recipe for meaty ribs, food blog, food bloggers, ribs recipe

Serve your ribs with spicy mayo (I usually mix adjika/sriracha with mayonnaise) and chips or sweet potato fries. This dish is messy, delicious, packed with a flavoursome punch yet a tangy sweetness from the honey - basically anything you could ever want from ribs!

Cooking meals like this for friends and family is so much fun, I really love having everyone sat around the table eating, talking, laughing. It's so cosy to watch! You can make these ribs in bigger batches if you have more people, but 6 ribs are perfect for 3/4 people when there's more food on the table, but not as a whole meal.

Will you be trying this recipe?

5 July 2017

Hashtag Basics

what are hashtags, how do I hashtag, lifestyle blog, hampshire blog

plural noun: hashtags
a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic.

Hashtags are the key to finding topics on platforms like Twitter and Instagram - they are also the key to putting your business ‘out there’ and making sure your reach is widened through the use of online tags. Most of us know what hashtags are and what they do, but what a few of us still haven’t sussed is how to use hashtags to benefit our accounts.

If a treat falls in the middle of the forest, but there was no one there to see or hear it - did it ever really fall? The same goes for your content. If you put out the most amazing content, but don’t tell anyone about it - how will the people interested know you have content, products, services out there? And whilst many platforms allow searches to come back with simple text, some platforms like Instagram work on hashtags, locations, and account names. So unless you hashtag your photos, your potential audience who can turn into customers or readers, just won’t see it. Simples really.

OK, so hashtags are important. We get it. But how do you use hashtags to their best ability?

Search For Topics: Use the hashtags to search for topics which you are interested in, and may be beneficial for your own accounts. I often see people on Instagram trying to be clever and coming up with really long hashtags, for example something like ‘creativityisamazingandilovemyjob’ - great, but that is 1 hashtag on the platform and no one is ever going to find you through that. Instead, why not try #creatives (690,372 tags); #mycreativebiz (642,367 tags); #lovemyjob (12,352,692 tags). And smaller community tags like #creativetime which has 32,400 tags. It’s beneficial to add some big tags, and smaller hashtags to join different social communities.

Promote Your Business: Once you’ve researched your hashtags, you can start applying them to your own posts. Hashtags on Instagram are very important, and one way I keep track of what I’m doing is to save 30 hashtags on a specific topic in my notes, then copy and paste them in the comment underneath. Actually let’s take a second here - I am still seeing so many accounts who ‘spam’ their own captions by adding 30 hashtags in them. Just copy your tags into the comment box below! It makes you feed nice and tidy, and hides the hashtags. It’s a pet peeve. Almost as bad as accounts who think it’s OK to type out a link in your Instagram caption. Guys, Instagram doesn't support links unless they’re in your bio, and you can’t even copy and paste those links so please stop. It’s frustrating because you want to go to the webpage/blog post, but you physically can’t! But that’s a whole other topic.

Advertise Events: Most events will have their own hashtag - this is a brilliant way to collect photos from all different accounts, find out who’s at the event, follow it, and make more social media connections. And it's not just corporate event but weddings, birthday parties, engagements - it can literally be any event!

Create Your Own Hashtag: Whether it's a new product launch, an event, or a movement you can create your own hashtags and watch the community grow. Make sure to talk about it and encourage others to jump on that hashtag, again it's all about clear communication and ensuring your audience have a call to action to follow!

And how many hashtags should you use on your platforms? Well, there’s a quick guide for that.

Instagram: 11-30 hashtags
Facebook: 1-2 hashtags
Twitter: 1-2 hashtags

Hashtag Fails: Before I let you go, let's take a second to think about all the hashtag fails which have happened in the history of social media. Although hashtags are brilliant, research and common sense is very important when it comes to talking about a topic on social media. Remember #susanalbumparty? Yep, that didn't go quite as planned but obviously got people talking. It was supposed to read as Susan (Boyle) Album Party, but instead... well you can see for yourself. Or #Cairo - a brand trying to jump on the bandwagon of a trending hashtag with their newly launches fashion line when it fact #Cairo was trending in the midst of the Egyptian Revolution. Viewers were horrified. So please, use a little common sense and do your research to avoid hashtags going horribly wrong!

Do you have a hilarious hashtag fail story? I'd love to laugh along with you - comment with your stories below!

26 June 2017

Instagram Favourites - New Instagram Feature?

Instagram Fabourites - new Instagram feature, social media Hampshire, lifestyle bloggers, new Instagram feature 2017

Dear Instagram - what else can we expect from you this year? With so many changes to the platform, social media managers, bloggers, and businesses have been left scratching their heads as to how they can raise falling engagements without paying for posts; and audience has been left feeling deflated after so many influencers decided to take to photoshop and edit themselves into locations where they never were. Instagram is definitely keeping us on our toes - so what's the latest?

Instagram has added a feature that allows 'friends only' to see certain posts and Stories. This feature is called 'Favourites' and users can create a list of followers which they will share exclusive content with, and it will be labelled with a green badge to let them know it was shared with a 'select few'. Instagram has commented to say that this feature will allow more control over content, as at the moment it's kind of all or nothing with the platform.

But don't panic just yet - this feature is being tested amongst a small group of chosen Instagrammers, and the roll out of the feature is yet to be determined across the wider platform.
"People are trying to hack Instagram to create smaller audiences, and we're trying to recognise that" commented Robby Stein, the product lead over at Instagram.

Here, I have to butt in. Reeeeeally? I love Instagram for it's community feel, the ability to creatively promote my blog and my business, and more importantly to share my personality with my audience. And everyone's invited - at the end of the day, if people don't like what they see they will unfollow, and that's OK with me.

I mean, let's have a show of hands - have you ever felt the urge to share a drunken photo over your professional Instagram account? No. Have an aesthetically unpleasing photo which is funny/useful/personal that you want to share but don't really want to ruin your Instagram theme? Hello Instastories. Personally, I hope this feature doesn't make it past testing because to me this platform isn't about exclusivity and popularity, or even favouritism. If I have a funny photo I want to share with my friend, I'll send them a WatsApp. And hope it doesn't go public.

But let's brake the news down for businesses: what are the benefits of Instagram Favourites? Well, as a retailer you can really reap the rewards. You can create competitions, exclusive discount groups, all activity to help your customers fell 'special' goes a long way. Same with restaurants, pubs, and anyone who is selling a product.
Bloggers? Yep, you've got a winner too - create groups of people to share discounts with, get people to sign up to your email lists to enjoy exclusive Instagram content, have 'pods' where you share images.
There are many ideas I have on how I would use Instagram Favourites for my clients - but I won't be giving all of them away right now.

But what about the downsides of these Instagram favourites? The dreaded feeling of being excluded from a community, or your favourite brand/influencer not including you in their exclusive pod? You know this will go sour very soon.
How about showing more raw content on social media, and letting brands/influencers express their own personality? I have personally seen much more feedback on Instagram needing to be more 'real and raw' rather than requests on how to hide content. Isn't that the whole point? We're building our communities? And if you're really that uncomfortable for someone to see your content, there's always the block button.

Yes, some people may argue that there are personal benefits of 'Favourites' - I can already hear someone saying 'But you can hide posts from employers, etc' - my answer: you shouldn't be shady on your social media profiles anyway because you always get caught out. So don't think that this feature will let you get away with dodge activity.

I have mixed feelings about Instagram Favourites going live right now: I can see how my clients may benefit from the feature by building exclusive groups, but personally, and also for my blog, it's not something I think I would implement because like I said before: everyone is invited to the party and I have nothing to hide. Honestly, it would be like censoring cups of tea, episodes of Love Island, and crap photography of my dog!

What are your thoughts on this new (potential) Instagram feature? Are you excited about it, or do you think it's pointless? And if you want to follow my ramblings and a little bit of rawness on social, find me on Instagram and say hello!


23 June 2017

Whip Your Hair Back In Shape With Marula Oil

Marula oil haircare, marula oil hair care review, Paul Mitchell Marula Oil, beauty bloggers, UK beauty blog, lifestyle bloggers

Last year I was introduced to Marula Oil haircare by Paul Mitchell - an ingredient which is set to overtake Argan oil as the essential oil used in haircare for soft, nourished, and strong locks. Marula oil is an ancient moisturising oil which has been used by women in South Africa and Mozambique for centuries. The oil comes from nuts of the Marula tree and traditionally has been used in cosmetics, preserving meat, and cooking, and is cold pressed so it keeps it's exceptional quality and nutrients.

I was really excited to try the new styling range from Paul Mitchell Rare Oil sent by my friends at Salon Success - I have previously tried the shampoo and conditioner, hair oils, and Marula oil mask from Paul Mitchell Marula Oil but recently Iv'e been loving style essentials and wondered how these would compare to the high streets products I've been using.

Marula oil haircare, marula oil hair care review, Paul Mitchell Marula Oil, beauty bloggers, UK beauty blog, lifestyle bloggers
Marula oil haircare, marula oil hair care review, Paul Mitchell Marula Oil, beauty bloggers, UK beauty blog, lifestyle bloggers
Marula oil haircare, marula oil hair care review, Paul Mitchell Marula Oil, beauty bloggers, UK beauty blog, lifestyle bloggers

I loved using the 3-in-1 Styling Cream - whilst hair is wet,  rub it over the ends of your hair and then whatever is left on the palms you can run through the lengths of you hair. It helps keep split ends sealed, fights frizz, and keeps hair nourished so it's a great all-rounder product. Then blow dry, or let hair air dry for a beach babe look!

If you love your blow drys, you'll love the Extending Primer - a lightweight product which helps keep your hair smooth and prolongs the blow dry style.

But my favourite has to be the Marula oil hairspray which locks out humidity and frizz whilst keeping your style in top shape. It smells gorgeous and is super light so your hair doesn't feel crispy - a pet hate of mine. Hair just should't be hard and crusty! I used it to hold relaxed waves in for a black tie event I attended recently and when I woke up the next morning my hair wasn't a tangled mess, but felt rather soft and nourished. I don't know how I could ever go back to using the typical high street hairsprays after discovering the Rare Marula hairspray! It gets a solid 10/10 from me.

19 June 2017

Staying Sane Whilst Growing A Business

how to start your own business, tips on running your own business, Hampshire lifestyle blog

I'm 8 months in to managing my own business and I'll tell you once thing - it's the wildest roller coaster you will ever get on in your life. Being freelance has brought the highest of highs and occasionally the lowest of the lows - eventually balancing itself out. With such emotional hurricanes it can be difficult to keep your feet on the ground, and stay sane in the process.

There are different stresses that come from working or yourself - the fact is you're the boss, and your actions, decisions, and attitude is what keeps the business afloat. When you're working for someone, you effectively stress out about their decisions and rules, or at least I did. For example I hated how even though my hours were 9-5, I still had no control over when I could leave. I remember when I took half a day off as holiday because I had an important family get together to go to, my boss made me sit at my desk and work for an extra 3 hours. Not only did that mean that I technically only got 1 hour off instead of 4, I also stressed loads and missed the family event. Thanks boss!

Of course now I have full control over my hours - but don't think it's all stress free. Yes I can choose to have a day out in the middle of the week to enjoy a sunny day or a special occasion, but I have to then make up those hours which go into client projects usually in the evenings/night time or at the weekend. And it's pretty safe to say that by 1am when I'm editing photos or a video, it can get pretty stressful.

Or on the other hand, the slump you get into when work goes quiet. It's very rare that you have balanced weeks in freelancing - it's usually either a week of working from dusk until dawn, or dead silence. With a schedule this hectic and unpredictable, you need to make sure you're getting enough rest, and keeping motivated.

Then there's financial stresses - unlike working for someone, you don't have secure income and no 'pay day'. Trust me, even if you plan to invoice your clients so you have an actual pay day, it's more like one whole month later that you'll receive payments from 50% of the brands you're working with! So you need to plan ahead, constantly scout new opportunities, approach companies, go to networking events - all to make sure you have rent and bills money. For me perhaps this has been the biggest worry because I have a house to pay for, bills, pets, a car, and of course you want some disposable income to do some pleasurable things too. I'll also let you in on a secret - I've had clients before who think I do this as a part time job for fun, live with my parents, and someone even went as far as asking if I was in college. Baby face problems - because I'm a young looking girl, apparently it's OK to think I'm a little princess who runs around playing 'business woman' in her spare time. Be prepared for that if you're a twenty-something woman who doesn't have kids, the undermining comments are never ending.

And of course apart from worrying about your own business and what you're going to do next, there's the stress of something going wrong with your service or client accounts. You have to be prepared to fight your cornet, or accept that you've made a mistake - regardless, you'll have to answer for your actions on your own, there's no boss to do that for you.

So with all that in mind (and that's just a gentle dip into freelancing!), it's easy to get stressed and dig yourself an emotional hole to climb into. And trust me, I did just that a couple of weeks ago. I stressed myself out to a point where I've had to take a couple of days off as a 'sanity break' and remove myself from work, social media, and most people around me. I know I'm not the only freelancer who feels like this, so here are a few tips which have been tried and tested to keep you sane whilst growing your business:

1. Make a schedule for yourself. The same way as you would work an 8 hour day, then go home and rest (or blog!) - you need to have a limit as to how much you can work in one day. Slot your client projects and your own promotion into an 8 hour day - and remember to take a lunch break. That's not to say you have to work 9-5, if it suits you better work 12-8 or 6-2pm - the beauty is you choose your hours. But remember that cramming everything into one day and overworking yourself is a sure way to burnout city.

2. Take a break. Learn how to take a time out from work - especially if you're business is mainly digital. Have a day or a couple of days off to focus on yourself, do things you love, live in the moment, and DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR EMAILS! If something is dead urgent, people will call/text.

3. Invest in essential oils that help you de-stress - Bergamot oil is a winner in my mind, it's the perfect relaxer to burn around the home office, add to a warm bath, and even to the tips of your hair after washing!

4. Talk about your stresses with friends and family - don't keep your frustrations in because it's just going to come out in one big outburst. It especially helps if you have a freelance friend who knows how stressful it can get sometimes - and you can bounce ideas off each other and help each other through the rough times.

5. Remember that everything is a learning curve. No one who starts their own business is 100% sure of how to run a business. You may be the perfect hairdresser setting up on your own, but do you know how to market that business? No? You're going to make mistakes. You may be the most incredible cook who started their own catering company - but are you a mathematical whizz who can do accounts? No? You're going to slip up eventually. So don't kick yourself when you make a mistake - instead learn from it.

Perhaps the last point is the most important tip in keeping your sanity whilst starting your own business - especially for perfectionists. I took everything so personally and any mistake I made was like the end of the world. And kicking yourself like that is a short road to getting yourself stressed out about everything! Embrace the mistakes - we're only human!

Do you ever feel like running your own business is driving you a little insane? What do you do when you feel like that? Comment below!

16 June 2017

Tips On How To Soothe A Sunburn

How to soothe a sunburn, tips on soothing sunburn, help heal sunburn, Hampshire lifestyle blog, lifestyle blog, Sandbanks

It's summertime and we're all excited about seeing more sunshine, higher temperatures, BBQ's, trips to the beach, and being nearly able to tan. I went to the beach the first time this year on a hot and sunny day - had the best time ever! And would highly recommend visiting Sandbanks and Studland if you want white sandy beaches, pubs and restaurants with incredible views, activities, and fish and chips on the beach.

But my amazing day trip cost me 48hrs of pure pain - I got the worst sunburn of my life because I didn't take the right precautions (i.e. putting on high SPF, didn't cover myself with the appropriate clothing, basked in the midday sun which is the worst, and forgot my straw hat to help reduce the risk of sunstroke) - so because I'm stupid and made this mistake, I wanted to share with you top tips on how to heal a sunburn if you find yourself in a hot situation.

Although spending time in the sun has masses of benefits like absorption of vitamin D, uplifting moods, getting a healthy natural glow - it also has it's downsides when we don't take precaution: premature skin ageing, damage to the skin, sunburn, increased risk of skin cancer, and damage to the eyes. So before embarking on a sunny day out or a trip to the beach make sure you have the following essentials:

  • SPF 30+ and take this with you because you'll need to reapply as the day goes on
  • Sunglasses to help protect eyes from sun damage
  • Light hat, especially if you're prone to sunstroke!
  • Light cover up if you're wearing shorts and a stroppy top - remember that clothes can help protect your skin from sun rays so it's good to have a light cover up in case your skin starts to feel too hot
  • Water, water, water! You need to keep hydrated in the sun

Equipped with the items above, you'll have a great day out in the sun. However, if you find yourself coming home and realising you've been sunburnt then you can immediately soothe it with items you have at home:

  • Have a cold shower, or use a cold compress on the affected areas - you need to cool your skin as quickly as possible
  • Apply fresh aloe vera to the burnt areas. I have an aloe vera plant in my house and it's been an absolute skin saviour - my sunburn was really, really bad and from one aloe vera leaf I managed to apply the gel all over my legs and arms so little goes a long way. Aloe vera contains zinc which helps fight inflammation caused by sunburn
  • Apply cold natural yogurt, it's not going to feel amazing when you do that but trust me yogurt works wonders on burns - dairy soothes the skin
  • Apply a natural moisturiser without any perfume or other allergens - restoring moisture is so important as your skin will go dry and tight when sunburnt. Apply at least 3 times a day, or more if needed!
  • Keep drinking water and rehydrate your body - the chances are if you're badly sunburnt you'll also have mild sunstroke so you'll need to replace the fluids in your body and drink twice as much as you would normally do
  • Have plenty of rest and listen to your body - it knows how to help itself. I spent a whole day in bed because my sunburn was all over my legs and I physically couldn't walk anywhere! Frustrating, but that's what you get for being silly and just running out into a whole day of sunshine without thinking about the sensible actions!

I hope these tips on how to soothe a sunburn are helpful if you find yourself in a predicament like I did - and next time take care in the sun because I know I will! And if you have a trick which has worked for you, please share with the Dalry Rose community - comment below!

5 June 2017

Restaurant Review: Bill's Restaurant, Southampton

Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs

I enjoy hearing about more and more restaurants around us using local, British produce which is grown seasonally - not only is this great news for farmers, but also for us who get to eat seasonal goods at their best, grown just down the road from us.

It's even better to hear that it's not just our local artisan pubs, but also restaurant chains on the high street that are embracing seasonal. We were delighted to come and review the British asparagus meals at Bill's in Southampton - asparagus is in season through Spring, but still grows strong in June.

Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs

Bill's is a chain of quirky restaurants who have a good bar, and an even better menu. Catering to all tastes: from healthy salads, to juicy burgers, you can enjoy a delicious meal whatever your dietary requirements are. The problem is, sometimes with restaurant chains you are likely to get frozen meals which quite frankly taste frozen. So knowing that Bill's source local and seasonal produce whenever they can really made my day - and in May they teamed up with British asparagus, who tell you all about recipes, benefits, and where you can buy British asparagus.

I enjoy meals at Bill's because of the informal, and very Instagrammable setting - plus, I've never been but everyone who has enjoyed a breakfast at Bill's says it's the best. So we really do need to check it out soon!

Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs, British asparagus
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs, British asparagus

We shared two starters: a vegetable crudite bowl with spiced avocado dip, and deep fried calamari with a garlic sauce. YUM. The vegetable crudite bowl was probably the healthiest starter option I have ever chosen, but I have to say after a weekend of pretty unhealthy habits I enjoyed the freshness and crunch of vegetables, and the slight creaminess of the avocado sauce. Plus, did I mention there were parsnip crisps? I also ordered up a watermelon juice which was absolutely delicious and much needed in the heat of the beginning of June - keep those coming!

The calamari, in the words of Heidi Bawden, were the best she's eaten! They were not chewy at all, tasted like the sea and holiday, plus the dip was the perfect accompaniment with hints of garlic.

Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs, calamari
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs, British asparagus
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, British asparagus, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, Hampshire blogs

Mains are always the 'main event' (that's why they're called that, duh Lana!) and I have a favourite at bills which I always go for - the buttermilk chicken burger with slaw and swap sweet potato fries for normal fries because I just love fries. It comes with a slightly spiced mayo and delicious coleslaw, plus a soft brioche bun which is forever the best bun when stuffing a burger into your face. There's one problem I have with this main though - every time I order it, I just can't finish it. The burger is so delicious - but so filling at the same time! It's a mission of mine to one day clear the plate, and it's a challenge I'm ready to take on!

Heidi ordered the grilled halloumi salad with grilled vegetables, including British asparagus, and a portion of chips because chips are life. The salad came with pesto covered toasted slices, delicious halloumi, and freshly grilled vegetables. It was a delicious combination of freshness and lightness, with some carbs thrown in for good measure.

Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, fresh peppermint tea, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, buttermilk chicken burger, Hampshire blogs
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, fresh peppermint tea, Bill's in Southampton, Hampshire food blog, buttermilk chicken burger, Hampshire blogs

After a pretty heavy meal, we ordered one dessert which were sugary doughnuts with a chocolate and caramel sauces, and syrupy strawberries; and I just had to have the fresh peppermint tea which is great for digestion, and is simply refreshing. It gave me a brilliant idea to do the same at home - I have a peppermint plant and all I need is a mug and hot water!

Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, doughnuts at Bill's, Bill's in Southampton
Bill's Restaurant review in southampton, fresh peppermint tea, Bill's in Southampton

We always have a great time at Bill's Restaurant and can't wait to go back there again. Especially now that we're going to be on the lookout for seasonal menus!
And I'd like to thank British Asparagus for sponsoring us to come and review the menu at Bills' - asparagus is one of my favourite veggies, especially at breakfast when I can dip it into runny eggs, or just on its own with freshly made hummus. Asparagus is also full of antioxidants which are great for you, and can help with weight loss (especially when you substitute sugary and fatty foods with raw asparagus strips).

What do you think about eating seasonally? Do you tend to try and keep to local and seasonal foods?

31 May 2017

Summer Picnic At Arundel Castle

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

You really don't have to go far to discover dreamy destinations - just an hour and a half away from our little town in Hampshire is Arundel Castle, a beautiful medieval castle and flower gardens set on top of a West Sussex Hill. The castle and grounds are known for their picturesque beauty, and the infamous tulip festival held there every year! And on a beautiful sunny day, where else could you go for a picnic? 

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

Picnics are my favourite - I even did a post on winter picnics which are super cosy and fun! But we're all about summer now and that means sunshine, open spaces, blue skies, and as always - delicious grub. For me, a picnic basket consists of the following: a few carbs, fresh produce, munch that you can pick on, and the appropriate drink. On this picnic, we paired up with Portlebay Popcorn who kindly sent us some of their flavours to sample - these included chilli & lime, wasabi & ginger, sea salted, lemon sherbet - which all tasted incredible, but I'm definitely one for savoury over sweet! Especially when we've filled up on jam tarts and strawberries... ;)

Strawberries are currently in season, so I strongly advise you ditch the supermarket and go visit your local farm shop or market stall and get some homegrown strawberries which you may find may even be cheaper! Shopping for seasonal produce means you're helping the local farms, eating fresh food grown in the UK, and saving money. I remember the first time I went to my local pick-your-own and I bought 4 large punnets of strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries and something else which I really cannot remember all for under £5! So remember before picking up something from the supermarket, as convenient as it is, if you visit butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers you'll be doing everyone a favour. That's another common misconception - everyone thinks butchers are more expensive than the supermarket but I disagree! Yes, if you're going for a top notch fillet steak you will pay a couple quid more than you would in Tesco - but that's a treat and you know you'll be getting something special. But if you're shopping for cheaper cuts of meat then you can expect to pay the same prices as the supermarket. Or, if like me, you don't mind cheaper cuts of meat like Bavette steak you'll be paying even less for great quality meat. I remember I tried calves liver in a restaurant and I loved it - I also remember it being a little pricey at £12 as a main course - so when I decided to treat myself to a piece of calves liver from a local butcher, he cut me a piece for 2 people as a main, and when he weighed it the total cost was £1.70, I was extremely happy and a convert to local butchers.

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

Don't you guys just love the random pieces of information? Let's get pack to the picnics! Here is my summer picnic check list:

- Picnic basket (extra points for wicker!)
- Picnic blanket (make sure it's not going to itch your legs!)
- Paper plates, plastic cutlery and glasses - because no one has time for washing up when it comes to picnics. Straight in the bin it all goes!
- A tray or board to put your food on
- Napkins

I like taking light food on hot days, as you still enjoy delicious snacks without filling up too much - then theres room for a scrumptious dinner!

- Carby food: think bread, crisps, savoury pastries
- Fresh produce: strawberries, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet peppers, bananas - remember you don't really want to get messy and sticky so if you're bringing items like a mango then peel and cut it at home!
- Snacks like popcorn, crackers
- Pickles, olives, onions, antipasti
- Sweets like tarts, pastries, muffins
- Drinks: pink lemonade, rose lemonade, cloudy lemonade (all the lemonade!), elderflower fizz, prosecco, still water for hydration!

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

Make sure that you keep hydrated when it's hot - and remember water is the best hydration! You can spike it with cucumber, mint, and lime but stay away from sugary drinks when you're feeling thirsty because they will only dehydrate you further. 
Also keep sunscreen in your handbag (anything but Banana Boat because there's just too much uncertainty about them at the moment) - even during cloudy days you can get sun burnt, trust me; and a hat if you know you're prone to getting sunstroke - again trust me when I say it can happen even in the UK! It's because we're so unprepared for scorching weather we just throw ourselves in to the sun hoping to get as much Vitamin D as we possibly can before the clouds come back from vacation. 

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

And remember to enjoy the views, eat slowly, talk to your friends, and put that phone down. When you're surrounded with such beauty as this, then you really want to take it all in - there will be time for Instagramming later. I will be doing a post soon on things to do at Arundel Castle - don't be deceived into thinking it's just a couple of hours fun, there's a whole day of exploring to be done! 

What are you essentials for a summer picnic? Have you got a favourite picnic spot - where is it? 

26 May 2017

In The Kitchen: Squid with Seaweed Pasta

I Sea Pasta review, squid and seaweed pasta recipe, UK food blog, food bloggers

Squid is a treasure from the sea, and often a delicacy on a restaurant menu - but did you know that you can easily cook squid at home for a quarter of the price? I paired up with I Sea Pasta* from Seamore Food to create a delicious and healthy at home meal which will be an equal hit as a dinner party main, or a casual family feast. 

24 May 2017

How To Go Freelance Without Going Broke

how to go freelance, lifestyle blog, Hampshire bloggers, career blog

Many of us will stop pursuing our dreams thanks to just one fear that stops us dead in our tracks: financial stability. When I decided that I wanted to give up my 9-5 office job, I was so excited at the opportunities and how my life would change - but I was terrified about how I'm going to be making a living, and what happens if at first I don't get any clients?
You have to understand that when I left my financially stable job, I didn't have much in my savings account except for a couple of hundred pounds I've managed to save when I finally handed in my notice, I have a house which I'm renting and that rent needs to be paid along with bills, and I have mouths to feed in the form of my animals. The 'money fear' was real. So how on earth do you get the courage to take the leap, and start your own business without going broke in the process?

Well, firstly you need to have the belief that you can do it. Keeping a positive attitude throughout this process is key, and if you don't believe you can do it - the universe won't believe you can do it either. A delusional sense of self confidence and belief goes a long way in these life changing times. So now we've got the right attitude, let's talk about practical things.

Don't decide to go freelance or start your business in a moment of passion and rush to hand in the notice for your 9-5 job. I have been thinking for years about going freelance, planning my business strategy, building up confidence and knowledge, and also building a client base. Confession time - I have once before tried to go freelance 'on a whim' and trust me, it didn't work out because I didn't have the right tools, or knowledge, or paying clients! I ended up back in a 9-5 office after only a couple of months. It's great following coaches who promise to take you from £0-£10,000 in 3 months but the reality is - it's going to take some time to build your business and turn a profit.
And this time I really wanted to make it work, so whilst I was balancing a 9-5 (which we all know is never 9-5, more like 8-8) I worked really hard on my blog, found paying clients who I could contract with for a couple of hours a week, went to networking events, and started to position myself as a freelancer on social media and also on my website. I collaborated with local creatives and worked on some projects for pennies, so I could build up my portfolio. I worked more than I ever did in my life because after my office job was over, my freelancing work started. But you know what? It took me 5 months from the concrete decision of leaving my job to be able to leave and embark on my journey, thanks to all the hard background work I put in.

As a freelancer you quickly learn that some months you land a job which will pay your bills and more - and some months you'll end up eating pasta for weeks because you don't know when the next pay check is coming in. So if you have savings - great, you'll end up using them. If you don't, you need to learn not to spend your earnings monthly but start squirrelling away your money for months when work isn't coming in. It's all about balance - and I've had to learn the hard way to say 'no' to going out to dinners with friends, going shopping, or even going out for drinks. You have to accept that your social life might suffer when you start your own business because our 9-5 friends don't understand that as freelancers we don't have a 'payday' as such. Even if you try and invoice your clients at the end of the month, I can tell you now that at least 50% of them won't pay you on time. So you have to think of the worst, and ensure your bank account is never empty. I've had dreamy months when I've landed several big campaigns - but I've also had months when I had my smaller accounts which just pay my monthly bills, and in the same time my car broke down, I had a water leak and my bill was in the hundreds, and my bank account incurred charges. True story, shit happens - and you have to be prepared for it.

In your first months, and even more importantly as you grow, you need to be proactive in finding work and new clients. To be profitable, your client base needs to grow and projects need to be filling up your diary. Networking events are a great way to find local clients and make brands aware you are working close to their HQ's. Social media is your best friend - share your latest projects, news, and offers with all of your followers, you never know who's looking for help you can offer.

And before I forget, if you are in the creative industry don't forget that you can save a hell of a lot of money on marketing by producing your own materials! Design your leaflets, logos, websites, business cards - wherever you can save money and get creative with DIY then do it. Or, collaborate with other creatives in your area in an agreement you can both benefit from.

So, in summary here are my tips on how to go freelance without going broke:

1. Have a plan before you leave your stable 9-5 job: that plan needs to include savings, clients, and how to build your business

2. Put in the hard work in making your plan happen whilst you're still in full time work - contract a couple of clients who will pay your basic bills, this is very important

3. Keep an eye on your bank account and remember that some months will be better than others - especially at the start of your freelance journey

4. Always be proactive in finding new clients, telling people about what you do, and sharing your latest news and offers online

5. Create as much of your own marketing as possible, and collaborate with local creatives on mutually beneficial partnerships

Now I'd love to hear from you guys - so many of you tell me you want to go freelance but something is stopping you. Is financial stability the main reason you haven't gone freelance yet?

19 May 2017

Snail Skincare - Yes or Yuck?

Dr Shills Snail Gel Skincare, snail slime skincare, beauty bloggers UK, Hampshire lifestyle blog

Made famous by the Asian beauty markets, snail slime skincare has quickly made its way to the UK with more of us interested in trying out this infamous anti ageing ingredient. Snail slime skincare became popular after Chilean farmers who handled snails realised that their skin became smoother, was less damaged by the sun, and showed less signs of ageing. It also helped their wounds and scars heal when the slime got on their skin. So what makes snail filtrate, aka snail slime, so special when it comes to taking care of our skin?

17 May 2017

Why You Need To Be Your Biggest Fan Online

social media marketing for small businesses, Hampshire social media, Hampshire bloggers, UK lifestyle blog

You need to be your biggest fan online - I heard this at a workshop I recently attended which talked all about the ways of marketing your business online. The coach had fantastic points about why we should be our own cheerleaders and shout about how great our skills and businesses are - but doesn't the idea of that make you cringe, if not a lot then even just a little?

It's easy to be a little sceptical about the image we portray of ourselves online - I work with local businesses on improving their social media accounts and ultimately brand presence, and the hardest challenge is to get the heart and soul of the business (i.e. the business owners) in front of the camera, talking about their journey to success, and why they are different and better than their 'competitors'. I don't think it's because we're humble, but rather unsure about blowing our own trumpet in case someone comes along and bursts out bubble - whether it's questioning your expertise, commenting on your products, or attacking you as a person.

I'm no stranger to snide comments, which let's face it don't make anyone feel great about themselves or what they're doing, but from years of blogging and having public profiles online I've learnt to deal with the 'haters'. I used to get really deflated when people tried to question what I was doing or talking about online, publicly, in front of others - it genuinely gave me anxiety seeing those comments. But instead of deleting those comments or rising up to an online argument, I simply stuck by my points and put those who thought it appropriate to try and make me look stupid in front of a crowd back in their place.
One of my favourite moments was a few years ago when someone I knew, and someone who didn't really 'get' social media, decided to make me look like a vain young girl in front of guests at a dinner table: they asked everyone around the table when was the last time they took a selfie? The rest of the dinner guests laughed it off as a silly thing to do, and maybe once in a blue moon they post a selfie for a 'laugh'. My turn came up and I replied "A couple of hours ago." "So why do you feel the need to post photos of yourself online?!" "Well actually it was a part of a brand collaboration, in partnership with XXX." It's my job. Later that evening, the individual who tried to sabotage me admitted (after one too many drinks) that they were jealous and actually 'admired' what I did with my blog and the opportunities I've had from my work. Well, we would have been friends if you just said that to me, instead of trying to make me look like an idiot and slam my job.

There will always be some people who just don't see how social media marketing works, but as bloggers, businesses, freelancers we get work through our social media profiles and presence. We showcase our best products, beautiful photographs, and good hair days. We post photos of our achievements, milestones, and achieved goals. We show our personality and share our lives with our customers, followers, clients. And people love that - personality, positivity, progress. The three P's that healthy social media accounts have in common.

You're giving your followers a reason to be your fans - because if you aren't proud of what you do and you don't want to shout it from the rooftops, then why should we as consumers or followers get excited about your news? Just look at the Instafamous influencers, and big brands - they blow their own trumpet, and celebrate even the smallest of achievements to get the crowd excited about what they're doing.
Show people how amazing you are at what you do, tell them about your achievements, celebrate your growth - and do all this publicly because soon enough others will start praising you publicly too, spreading the word about how great you are and ultimately attracting new followers/customers/clients.

Here are a few post ideas on how you can start being your biggest fan online today: 

1. Reminisce about the last year - talk about your achievements, your goals, your growth.

2. Take a moment to talk about what you're grateful for - focus on the things you're proud of and what you want to share with your potential customers.

3. Post an aspirational image of your new product/post/service the moment it's launched and tell people why you think it's the best thing since sliced bread, and why they should be interested.

4. Post client testimonials and reviews - it backs up what you are saying about how amazing you are!

How do you feel about being your biggest fan online? Does it make you cringe or are you willing to give it a go?

15 May 2017

Boss Girl In The Sticks - An Update On Freelance Life

Hampshire bloggers, Hampshire social media manager, lifestyle blog UK

It has been 7 months (not that I'm counting, but I kind of am!) since I left the 4 walls of an office and embraced the uncertain world of freelancing to build my own business. When I left my secure, comfortable, and well paid job in a creative studio I gave myself 3 months to test the waters and make something of myself - if I didn't make it in 3 months, I'd be back to a 9-5 job which probably would numb my mind but give me financial security.

12 May 2017

A Potent Potion To Banish Dark Circles

Its Potent Benefit Eye Cream review, UK beauty blogs

I'm not a party animal - gone are the days when I used to live for the weekend and make an appearance at clubs ready to dance the night away and wash down my dinner with shots and cheap drinks. No, I love my early mornings - waking up at dawn when everything around me is so quiet, and everyone else in the house is still asleep, there's something so peaceful and happy in that moment.
But I can't handle my early mornings without having enough sleep - but sometimes it's inevitable. Photo shoots and video shoots sometimes roll into the evening and travelling from location can take hours, meaning my head hits the pillow late at night; working on campaigns with tight deadlines means that I often end up working into the hours of the night; and attending exciting brand events means I know I won't be home until nearly midnight! So dark circles and bags under my eyes make an appearance on my face more often than I would like them to.

I have been using It's Potent! from Benefit for a number of years, sometimes wondering away from it when trialling a product for my blog. I really enjoy using this eye cream which is why I thought I would tell you guys about it - this isn't a brand sample or a Benefit plug, but rather a product which sits on my bathroom shelf and makes my mornings a little more pleasant.

It's Potent! has a moisturising effect which tackles tired eyes - apply a little bit under the eye in the morning for quick results. It's developed so it works well with concealer on top, really helping to cover up dark circles. The only thing that puts me off this product is the fact that it does contain chemicals rather than natural ingredients, and I try and use skincare which is more natural because I think it's generally better to use organic/natural products wherever you can. It's not as damaging as chemicals, which sadly It's Potent! does contain. I would also have to point out that reading other reviews, some people have had reactions to this creme so make sure you test it a little before you smother it on your eyes.

Have you tried It's Potent! Eye Cream from Benefit? What do you think? And if you know of a more natural but effective eye cream please let me know! I'd love to find something which works as well, but has more natural ingredients.


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