Happiness is

Bright bunches of flowers, unfurling petals, the rustle of leaves, raindrops on the window pane, dew-speckled grass, the early morning sun 

The #HBHullBloggers take on Furley & Co for the #HBMiniMeet*

Hello, lovely! I’m so sorry if you visited this post earlier to find nothing at all; everything I had written up somehow deleted and didn’t make it apart from the title, which is very frustrating. Anyway, here it is, so let’s start again!

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A few weeks ago myself and some of the #HBHullBloggers came together to give the lovely Alex from Champagne and Lemonade a cheery farewell as she embarked on her travels for six months. We thought it’d also be a fabulous chance to have a mini get together, and we were lucky enough to have some gorgeous goodies sent to us. imag2019.jpg

We met at Furley & Co, a fairly new eatery/bar/cafe in the centre of Hull, which serves a huge variety of craft ales, beers and other alcoholic beverages, alongside freshly brewed, quality coffee, teas and other soft drinks. Though Furley’s hasn’t been round for long, it has already made a huge impact on the locals and is widely-renowned for their delicious ‘Freak Shakes’, which you’ll get to see later! We were lucky enough to try some of Furley’s newest menu items – burgers and fries – which are made from chuck steak seasoned in house, lovingly crafted and griddled with cheese and served with your choice of mustard, BBQ mayo or ketchup and pickles. Yum! Although I do sometimes eat meat, I am becoming increasingly interested in exploring vegetarian foods and perhaps switching to a veggie diet altogether, so I plumped for the halloumi burger; griddled halloumi, rocket and onion chutney, all sandwiched between a rich brioche bun. Yummy!

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13384791_10154211558068544_125391270_nWe also had freshly cooked fries, seasoned with chip spice, which was the perfect accompaniment to both burgers. I really liked the BBQ mayo, and would seriously recommend trying it with the fries! After the burgers came the monstrous ‘Freak Shakes’; a sweet concoction of milkshake, whipped cream and plenty of sweet treats. I had the banoffee flavour. A warning though; these are not for the faint-hearted!

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Isnt that amazing?! And yes, that is a doughnut! These are quite the party-piece, and we sure gave them a good go. A definite treat, but something I would recommend when visiting Hull!

As I said earlier, we were fortunate enough to have some gorgeous goodies sent to us, and below you’ll see some of the gorgeous goodies. These included Batiste, Benefit, Stargazer cosmetics, Simply Beautiful Collection, Gosh, Paul Mitchell, Make Up Revolution, LYDC and Ultradex. I’d also like to thank Eat Your Photo for making me look good enough to eat! Don’t worry; you’ll get the lowdown on all these fabulous products soon, so keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming favourites! As always, a huge thanks goes to Kat from The Kats Paws for being so wonderful and an organisation-Queen,  who even treated us to our very own party bags! Of course you’re never too old for party bags, and the whole evening was so much fun.

Here’s a few snaps; how lucky were we?! I’m sorry there aren’t lots of snaps right now. I’ve had real trouble uploading pictures, but as soon as I’m able I’ll post them for you to have a good nosy at. Technology isn’t always on my side!

Hope you’ve had a great day, whatever you’ve been doing…

Heather x

 

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Hallmark Hull: #MadHattersAfternoonTea*

Hello, you! It’s great to see you. Thanks for popping by! Though I’d share a recent experience I had at the Hallmark Hotel in North Ferriby a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be treated to a deliciously inviting Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea, complete with tiny ‘Drink Me’ bottles and a myriad of lovingly-crafted savoury snacks, sweet treats, pots of tea, and a glass of sparkling bubbly. It really was as good as it sounds!

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We were very lucky to have had our afternoon tea on a gloriously sunny day, which can sometimes be a rarity in the North so we were all rather pleasantly surprised! Afternoon tea was served in the grounds of the Hallmark Hotel, with a view of the Humber Bridge. We really couldn’t have asked for a better day.

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Our table was strewn with playing cards and adorned with delicate china tea cups, waiting to be filled with freshly brewed tea or coffee. The rabbit ears were a lovely touch, and we all got into the spirit of things and thoroughly enjoyed trying them on. We just couldn’t wait to see what was on offer, and we weren’t disappointed when our food arrived!

 

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We were brought a selection of hand cut sandwiches – including ham and pickle, cheese and chutney, egg mayo and rocket – alongside some homemade scotch eggs and tomato and egg ‘toadstools’. My sweet tooth was well and truly sated with a selection of iced cupcakes, mushroom-shaped meringues, freshly baked scones with dollops of zingy lemon curd and lashings of clotted cream, and adorable ‘Drink Me’ strawberry beverages that tasted deliciously fruity and exceedingly summery. All this was topped off with helpings of popping candy, to delight both children and big kids around the table in equal measure!

The full menu of delights is as follows:

Assorted finger sandwiches/wraps: Ham & Pickle, Cucumber & Cream Cheese, Cheese & Chutney & Egg Mayo & Rocket
Home Made Mushroom meringues
Savoury Scotch Egg and Boiled Egg/Tomato Toadstool
Eat Me popping candy cupcake
Freshly baked Scones and Strawberry Jam, Lemon Curd & Devonshire clotted cream
Strawberry ‘Drink Me’ Syrup
Popping Candy
Pot of Tea or Coffee.

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We loved the attention to detail given to the afternoon tea, where the items were carefully stacked on miniature picnic benches and surrounded by Alice-themed paraphernalia. This treat would be a fabulous experience for any Lewis Carroll fiend, or for anyone who simply loves a little bit of magic and Wonderland whimsy!

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L-R: Me, KateAshtonAlex and Megan. Photo courtesy of Ashton Gibbs. 

 

 

All in all we had an absolutely fabulous experience at the Hallmark Hotel, and I would like to thank the chef for preparing such a wonderful treat and the staff for making our visit so relaxing.

Why not pop into Hallmark in Hull to experience this for yourself? Prices start from £17.50 without the glass of bubbly and £22.50 for the fizz included.

What do you make of the afternoon tea?

Hope you’re having a great evening,

Heather x

 

CBT, OCD and Coming Clean

It’s been a good few weeks since I started CBT, and thought now would be the right time to share my experiences with you so far.
Since my mental health conditions are ongoing, I’ve had multiple assessments and this isn’t the first time I’ve had ‘talking therapy’ in order to help alleviate the symptoms of my anxiety and depression. When I initially presented with mental health problems, we decided counselling would be the best thing. Counselling is more about talking through the issues that are bothering you; CBT is working out how to change your behaviours and learning how to better rationalise your thoughts by searching for ‘evidence’, rather than clinging onto assumptions. Though I actually really benefited from counselling, it was the right thing for the time. I hadn’t explained my deepest, darkest fears before; I hadn’t confided in someone and told them all about my secrets and how I felt about myself and so on. And for that time, counselling was great. It gave me a voice, and provided that undivided attention I needed to address these issues and tackle my mental health head-on. Now I’m at a different stage in my life, and I didn’t feel talking about everything again would be beneficial right now.
This is where CBT comes in. The NHS defines CBT – or cognitive behavioural therapy – as ‘a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave’, and is particularly useful for ‘anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems,’ (NHS, 2014). Rather than just discussing your thoughts, emotions and resulting behaviours, you are actively developing coping strategies and methods to manage your behaviours, which are often unhelpful and perhaps increase feelings of anxiety/depression.
It’s quite a long-winded explanation, so I’ll try and illustrate with an example from my sessions:
Situation : Seeing deadline date in diary
creates
Thoughts and Images: of a bad mark, disappointing others, feeling unworthy and useless
These thoughts and images then produce
Emotions and Physical Sensations: ‘nervous tummy’, palpitations, impending sense of doom and anxiety.
as a result of these emotional and physical sensations, my behaviour changes:
Behaviours/What I did: withdraw, ruminate, ask for reassurance, plan rather than do, hide away from impending situation.
These behaviours then reinforce my Thoughts and images, and so the cycle perpetuates and continues. The idea here is to address the behaviour; it is very difficult to stop the thoughts, but I can stop behaving in an unnecessary and unhelpful way. So, rather than withdraw, perhaps I should focus on what I have done. Changing this focus involves taking into account my good marks, keeping an activity diary to show myself what I have achieved despite how I’m feeling. I know this sounds so simple, but I often get too blinded by my anxiety and depression that I forget what I have done. It helps me immensely to keep track of this.
If you’ve had dealings with anxiety, depression or similar conditions, you’ll know how troublesome assumptions can be. And when I’m at my worst, when the irrational thoughts pop into my mind, it’s so hard to get rid of them. My therapist is keen on getting me to realise that my assumptions – eg ‘people think I’m stupid – are just that; assumed, with no real evidence. Assumptions are largely negative, and don’t help anything, so I’m working on undoing that negative thought process and replacing it with something useful, instead.
Another thing we’ve identified during my sessions is the fact I have OCD -obsessive, compulsive disorder – and have been engaging in classic ‘OCD’ behaviours, including repeatedly checking. This was a bit of a revelation for me. Admittedly, I did wonder whether the checking I’ve been doing was normal, but I didn’t realise it was OCD. I tend to become fixated with checking various things, including checking locks on doors, both in my own place and when using bathrooms on campus, and sometimes this checking can go on for minutes. On a particularly bad day, I’ll go to check multiple times an hour, or wake up and check because I’m so anxious about whatever it is I’m checking. I also like to have certain items arranged in a certain way; the hangers on my clothes rails are often rearranged every night for fear of ‘ruined’ clothes. I am always worried about things breaking because I didn’t put them away properly, so jewellery is often checked and put back, and my alarms set, reset, checked, set, reset, checked…you get the idea. It’s strange. Thing is, I know these things aren’t actually useful, but at the time, checking things is the only way to rid myself of the anxiety. It’s complex, because the more you check, the more you find it difficult to not check. My therapist described these behaviours as coping strategies, as they help me to feel like I’ve regained control, even if it’s just momentarily. And even though I know my door locks as soon as you close it, it just isn’t enough. It’s like my irrational thoughts, and my unhelpful assumptions; I know it isn’t really helpful, but in that moment, and at that time, that’s all I can do to alleviate my worry.
Undoing these things will take time, and will have to be done step-by-step, but for now I’m feeling positive, and I’m hoping to get the most out of my sessions. I have another on Tuesday, and hopefully my progress will continue.
It feels good to be sharing my progress with you. This is a good way for me to see how far I’ve come, and hopefully I’ll be able to look back at these posts and feel proud. I haven’t always been upfront about things, particularly the OCD, and it’s time to just accept it and learn how to deal with it. Mostly I’m sorry that I hadn’t told Drew, or at least not enough. Hopefully I’ve rectified that.
It’s fairly stressful over this way, but as always, I’ll find a way.
Hope you’re doing well and look after yourself.
Heather x
ps: here is the link to the NHS page regarding CBT if it’s of any use:nhs.uk/Conditions/Cognitive-behavioural-therapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Happiness is

Guinea pig hiccups, working in the summer sun, passersby saying hello, sunglasses and lipstick, shorts and skirts and linen shirts, making plans, dandelion seeds floating away on the breeze

Nando’s: Exciting New Additions For Summer 2016*

Hello, you lovely lot! Here’s another gorgeous foodie post for you all. A few weeks ago I was extremely lucky to be invited to try out Nando’s new menu items when they launched on the 17th May, by the wonderful Callum over at Callum Jackson Blogs. I love trying new things, and Nando’s never disappoints, so I really couldn’t wait to see what they had to offer.

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We were welcomed into the St Stephen’s restaurant and sat at our places, marked by our favourite bottles of their famous Peri-Peri sauce (what a beautiful touch!) and waited excitedly for what was to come. We were greeted warmly by Callum, who explained what each new addition existed of, and treated us to a truly fabulous night.

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Firstly, we got to try the new range of Vinho Spritzers, which are a refreshing blend of wine, lemonade, and heaps of fresh fruit. First up, the white Vinho Spritzer; a refreshing blend of Crispy Cara Viva White wine, topped up with lemonade and garnished with freshly sliced lime and sprigs of cooling mint. The White Vinho Spritzer was a refreshing take on a white sangria, and I could see this being an absolutely gorgeous addition to a balmy summer evening whilst tucking into your favourite Nando’s! The Rose Vihno spritzer consisted of Summer Fruits Cara Viva Rose wine, spritzed with bubbly lemonade and raspberries, sliced lime and sprigs of mint. The Rose Vihno Spritzer was a huge hit with the Hull Bloggers, and would be enjoyed by those who like their beverages fruity and fresh. Finally, we had the Red Vinho Spritzer; Cara Viva Red wine topped up with sparkling lemonade, and garnished with raspberries, orange slices and a cinnamon stick. This was my favourite of the lot, as it reminded me of a summery-take on a mulled wine. It was warming and delicious, and I’d really recommend that one. Wonderful!

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Naturally, we couldn’t wait to try the rest of the new items, and it wasn’t long before we were presented with the delicious-looking Fino Platters. Now this was what we had been waiting for! A Nando’s legendary whole Spatchcock flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken, served with a selection of colourful sides including Sweet Potato Wedges, Fino Coleslaw, Supergrains, chargrilled veg, and Peri-buttered corn-on-the-cob. Yum!
The Fino Platter is a great way to get together with friends and family to share some delicious food and good company, something favoured by our South African buddies across the pond which was the main inspiration for Nandos’ delicious new platter. The chicken is the main star of the show; tender, succulent and easily pulled apart, complemented by a tangy grilled lemon to squeeze over the top as you wish. This was absolutely delicious and it’s easy to see why Nando’s is so famous for its chicken dishes.

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Next up we had the corn on the cob; a sweet, crunchy, juicy cob, topped with lashings of spicy Peri butter that complements the sweetness perfectly. Divine!
Supergrain is a new side from Nando’s, which consists of a mixture of grains, including wheat berry, the ancient freekah grain, red quinoa and black barley, with added edamame beans, cannelloni beans, chargrilled bean halves, shredded kale and spring onion. This fabulous mixture is seasoned together, and dressed with light lemon and oregano. This was a real hit, and we couldn’t stop eating it! In fact, this is the first regular side Nando’s has added to their menu since Creamy Mash, so it really is a little bit of something special. It comes in Regular, Large and Nandino portions, minus the dressing for the Nandinos. Stunning, and again, a great addition for a summertime feast.

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The other sides – Sweet Potato Wedges and chargrilled veg – were a fabulous complement to the platter, providing just the right amount of variation and deliciousness to complement the show-stopper of Spatchcock chicken. It was a hugely satisfying meal, and seriously delicious. In fact, I have plans to take my friends next week because they need to try these new items! Gorgeous with a Vihno Spritzer to wash it all down.

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Finally, we tried Nando’s new delicious brownies, available in two gorgeous flavours; salted caramel, and Peri-Peri! Before you start panicking, the Peri-Peri brownie is not as scary as it sounds, and although I’m a salted caramel fiend, the Peri-Peri brownie turned out to be my favourite of the two! Salted caramel is bound to be a hit with most; indulgent, gooey brownie, laced with lashing of salted caramel goodness, and drizzled with chocolate and a hint of golden sparkle. As you can imagine, these were a huge hit, packed with caramel goodness and a deep, chocolatey flavour. The Peri-Peri consisted of the same gooey, chocolatey brownie base, with a hit of Peri-Peri packed punch. If you’re a chilli chocolate lover, you will love these! Although I was absolutely stuffed from the Fino Platter, these were too good to resist and we nearly finished the whole lot! They were served alongside a cooling scoop of Vanilla Gelado, providing just the right amount of creamy indulgence to finish off a meal. We were also keen to try out Nando’s new Peri Pomegranate dressing, a spicy yet sweet and fruity sauce, perfect for both savoury dishes and great drizzled over desserts. I particularly loved this on top of the Vanilla Gelado, providing a spicy-sweetness to cut through the creaminess of the Gelado. What a treat!

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Photo courtesy of Chelsea over at http://chelseahamilton.blogspot.co.uk/

We left Nando’s St Stephens with the biggest smiles on our faces, proving that good food AND good company is a great relief from the stresses of everyday life. I had had a hugely stressful week, and that was just what I needed. Nando’s launched their new menu items on the 17th of May, so they’re waiting for you to get stuck in! Thanks so much to Callum and the St Stephens team for hosting us; I’m sure we’ll be back soon!

Have you tried the new menu items yet? What do you think?
I hope you’re having a fabulous week,
Heather x

‘May-pril’ Favourites (aka April Favourites Part 2)

Hello! Well, this is embarrassing. I just realised I posted my first April Favourites on the 3rd or thereabouts, and I promised to get something up with the second installment that week, but (as usual) life got in the way, and I haven’t been able to post this sooner! I apologise profusely, but (hopefully!) it’ll be worth the wait. This is my ‘May-pril’ favourites (thanks, Drew!) and are a selection of things I’ve been loving. As usual, any gifted products are marked with an *. Let me know what you think!

1. Sif Jakob’s pen*

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I absolutely love stationery (no, really!) and I’m always wanting to buy new pens, notebooks or additional Filofax inserts, so when I saw this in our Hugh Rice Luxe goody bags I was giddy with stationery-induced joy! This is a gorgeous refillable pen, with a highly pearlised, white finish, and a barrel full of beautiful sparkling faceted crystals. It’s just the perfect size to fit into my Filofax pen loop, and I’ve been using it with my Filofax ever since. Seriously gorgeous and a great gift idea!

2. Handi-help handi gripper

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Here is one of the things my dad kindly bought for me to make my life a little easier. It’s a tool to help pick things up which is very useful for me because of my painful back, which is greatly exacerbated by strenuous activity. This has been really helpful for getting washing out of the machine, or picking things up. My occupational therapist also showed me how to use it to help you get changed in the morning on a particularly painful day. It’s really great, and all you need to do is squeeze the trigger. The gripper part can also be rotated to help with particular tasks. A must for anyone who needs a little helping hand!

3. Lab2 I’m Turning Pro makeup brushes*

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Here is another fabulous product we received at the #HBMarchMeet. We received some brushes from lab2 last time, and I was seriously impressed, so when I peered into our over-flowing goodie bags I couldn’t wait to try these! They pick up plenty of product with minimal fall out, and have super-soft handles marked with the brush type which make applying make up a real joy. I particularly love the contour and buffing brushes, which are used every single time I apply make up! They’re slowly replacing my trusty eco tools because they’re so versatile.

4. Thomas Sabo jewellery wrap*

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Here’s another fabulous little treat we received at the Hugh Rice Luxe event. It’s a gorgeous velvety wrap, with plenty of pockets for storing all your precious pieces. It’d be great for travel!

5. Moschino silk scarves

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I had had a particularly bad cbt session, and I decided to go into TK Maxx, where I found these beautiful silk scarves. They’re great for adding a little bit of glamour to an outfit, and I’ve been enjoying trying out new ways to wear them. I also like putting them in my hair as headbands, or tied around a handbag. Hopefully, with plenty of love and care, these will last for many years to come. 

6. Kiko Urban Sheen Lip gloss in shades 01 & 04*

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Another gorgeous goody from the #HBMarchMeet! These are fabulous little crayon sticks, that provide a sheer wash of colour and a light sheen to brighten up your make up look. These would be really great to chuck into a suitcase on holiday as they’re only small and lightweight, and are extremely moisturising on the lips. Om really enjoying these and will try to share some swatches with you.

Well, we got there! Thanks for waiting to see this; life has been so so busy, but I’m just about getting on top of it now.

Hope you’re having a fabulous week, and let me know if you’ve tried any of these!

Heather x

PS you can find me on instagram, snapchat and twitter as htlcy; why not come and say hello?