SS: Sunday Saves (#63)

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Good morning everyone and welcome back to another edition of my Sunday Saves! If you’ve never read a Sunday Saves before, I choose three posts each Sunday that I’ve found throughout the week to talk about. This week I’ve decided to have a #NIBloggers special, and if you’re not sure what that is, it’s a hashtag used mainly on Instagram and Twitter for Northern Ireland bloggers. Being from Northern Ireland myself, I always think it’s great to highlight local bloggers as well as national and international bloggers. So this morning I’ll be talking about Instagram worthy feeds, becoming more ethical and tattoo stories.

1) Retro Rose (Is It Insta Worthy?)

Miriam Rose’s post about Instagram is something that I think we can all relate to. She speaks about some of her thoughts on Instagram including if you have nothing to post, that’s perfectly okay. I went through a period of panicking when I didn’t have something to post at least twice a day and I see on Twitter other bloggers who worry when they haven’t posted in a day. I soon came to the realisation that just because I don’t post in a day, it doesn’t make me any less of a blogger (or a person). She also talks briefly about themes and keeping to the same editing style which in all honesty, that wouldn’t be my cup of tea but whenever I see someone who has kept to a certain filter or style, I praise them because they have almost the perfect feed.

2) Lauren The Day Dreamer (Why I’m Trying To Be More Ethical)

I love that Lauren has decided to try and become more ethical! It’s something I’m trying to do myself; I haven’t ventured into any charity shops to buy clothes yet but I’m in the same boat as her. I tend to wear the same clothes over and over again and I’m definitely nowhere near as fashionable as Lauren so my sense of style could be labelled as boring but comfy clothing but I think I need to have another look at my wardrobe to see what I actually need and what I actually wear. Shopping elsewhere other than my regular H&M might even open my style habits up further too!

3) Sarah Louise Writes (My Tattoo Story #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek)

We all know that I love scrolling back on people’s blogs, not just looking at their latest posts and this is exactly how I came across Sarah Louise’s post about her tattoo. I don’t have any tattoos and I don’t know if I’ll never have one because I’m too indecisive, I’m more of a piercing woman myself but I loved her story behind the tattoo. I’ll let you go to her post to read her story in full but I think it’s so special to hear about the stories behind people’s tattoos because not many people open up as much as Sarah Louise has, especially when it comes to mental health.

Thank you so much for reading my post and remember to go to the featured blog posts to give them a read too. To catch up on my other Sunday Saves, click here and you’ll have another sixty two to keep you busy. If you want to keep up with what I’m up to during the week, I’m over on Twitter and Instagram. Have a wonderful day! 

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Ice Lolly Delight at the Linwoods Hemp Protein+ Launch Evening.

Towards the end of July, I had the pleasure of being invited to one of my favourite cafes in Belfast to go to a launch event for a brand new hemp protein powder made by a local Northern Ireland company. The product was launched in Tony and Jen’s and if you know me or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m quite fond of their pancakes.

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(The lemon meringue ones were replaced with cacao ice-cream one day and they were amazing!)

20170804_150347(The mint and cacao pancakes have been my absolute favourite so far, and yes, this is a double stack!)

While you scroll back to the pancakes again, I’ll tell you about the new product they’ve been making. With it being the Summer, who doesn’t love an ice lolly during the Summer months? That’s exactly what’s been going on in the special kitchen on the Lisburn Road; they have been making healthly popsicles that have been packed full of gorgeous ingredients. One of the ingredients being one of the Linwoods Organic Hemp Protein powders.

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(My favourite is the blue bag pictured on the right!)

Linwoods Health Foods are a local company based and founded here in Northern Ireland, which I think is what makes this just a little more special. We’re always saying we should celebrate more local businesses, so isn’t this the perfect way?

On the night, you got the option to pick between four different flavours. I ended up having two lollies (I had no dinner before I got there, so my decision was justified!); the first being cacao and mint (My favourite by far!) and the second being peanut butter and banana (My favourite smoothie combo!). This is where you got to be really creative with your lolly.

20170804_133807(Easier than ‘Snap Crackle and Pop’ right?)

Whether you’re a Notella person (like myself) or maybe cashew sauce is more your drizzle, you had the chance to add a sauce or two, add some ground nuts or sprinkle some raspberry sparkle over your lolly to really make it shine. Being a blogger event, you have to make sure your creation is Instagrammable so they had four mini perfectly laid out booths for them, but I am a fan of a marble background so I went there each time.

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(This was my first one: cacao and mint. From what I can remember, I drizzled it first in Notella, sprinkled hazelnuts and almonds over it and added an extra drizzle of cashew sauce over it.)

Jenny (one half of the lovely Tony and Jen) gave us an brief overview of their restaurant towards the end of the evening explaining why they choose to eat the healthy way, how the collaboration with Linwoods came about and then she showed us the process of how you make the lollies.

The goody bag we received at the end of the night were great! We even got our own little ice lolly moulds so we could make the recipes at home with the little recipe cards we received for the different versions of the lollies (See below!) We then got treated to a big bag of our own Hemp Protein+ and a few of Linwoods snack foods; all of which I have tried and I couldn’t wait until I got a good photograph of, sorry!

20170804_133709(When you turned it over, it gave you all the ingredients you needed, which wasn’t many to be fair, and how to make them.)

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I haven’t been to too many blogger events before and I’m slowly getting over my nerves of being shy and slightly to myself (I wrote a blog post on how my shyness could be perceived) so I feel like I pushed myself out of my own comfort zone by just walking up to someone new and introducing myself.

One thing I loved about this event in particular (apart from it being all about healthy food that I could eat) was that it was interactive. It wasn’t just someone handing out samples and telling you about the product so everyone had the same photographs or same experience; you got to choose what flavour you wanted to eat, you got to choose how to decorate it, you got to choose your own experience.

20170726_195024-01(This was my second lolly of the night; I chose Peanut Butter and Banana with the same toppings as my first creation except this time I added a little raspberry sprinkling too!)

If you want to find out anything more about the Hemp Protein+ Powders, you can click right here. If you want to find out more about the company itself, you’ll find it right here and finally if you want to find out more about Tony and Jen’s, you can find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you so much for reading! All the recipes for the lollies will be on the Linwoods website and I can’t wait to make my own, I’ll probably be doing it in December, but hey, you can eat ice lollies anytime of the year, right?

 

Eating In with Super Valu NI | #LetsCookNI

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If you follow me over on my Instagram, you’ll notice that I done something a little different on Instagram stories on Thursday evening. I was kindly asked to take part in a new campaign from Super Valu NI, so along with Sarah Patterson (Their vegetarian ambassador who is pictured above), myself and a number of other bloggers cooked up a vegetable stir fry that night.

We all used the hashtag #LetsCookNI on our social media channels (For me, it was Twitter and Instagram) and the main premise behind the campaign is to get people involved in the kitchen via social media. We all know that social media is such a huge part of our lives so why not incorporate food and social media together?

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(I posted up on my Instagram of some of the ingredients: a few are missing from here!)

If you’re a reader of the blog, you’ll know that I have a number of intolerances and I also eat a plant based diet so as much as I would love to go to food blog events, I feel like I’m at a disadvantage. I’ll be the first to admit that catering to my eating patterns can be difficult so I can’t complain that events surrounding food are few and far between. This campaign is different though and I’m genuinely so happy to be included despite my eating patterns. First of all, it was a vegetarian stir fry and the recipe doesn’t use any animal products so it is suitable for vegans too! I was able to leave out the carrot, I swapped out the soy sauce for some balsamic vinegar and I swapped out the Straight to Wok noodles for some rice noodles. The recipe is totally adaptable and I am a huge fan of recipes that I don’t have to stick to the script for.

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I took part via Twitter and Instagram, and I’ll admit, Twitter didn’t last very long because I got so distracted by making Instagram stories, and well, by cooking first and foremost. We all watched live on Facebook while Sarah cooked and it was definitely a nice change to cook along with someone but after a while, once my wok was fired up I could barely hear the laptop but even visually, it was quite a nice atmosphere (albeit online!). Super Valu NI created a Twitter moment with some of the pictures from the night and you can find them here!

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(One of my many Instagram stories from that night!)

How was the end result? The end result was really lovely! I haven’t made too many stir frys before this but I would consider making more in the future because it was quite quick after you prepped the ingredients. Roasting the cashew nuts and the sesame seeds had such a huge impact on the meal, which genuinely surprised me. It added an extra nutty crunch which I’m all for, so I’d consider doing this for other meals in the future. I didn’t make the sauce they suggested (so the sugar in the photograph wasn’t used) but I simply mixed some vinegar and salt together to give it an extra kick.

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(This photo was taken about a minute after I had tucked in, so it doesn’t have the greatest presentation in the world!)

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(I think that’s slightly better, right?)

You’ll find the ingredients list below and right here, I’ve linked the recipe up! I would love to hear your thoughts on it! What did you add in, what did you chop and change? What do you think of cooking along with social media?

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Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post, I hope you’ve enjoyed!

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Please note: The ingredients were sent to me by Super Valu NI in order to promote the #LetsCookNI event on Thursday night. Thoughts and content posted on my blog and my social media however, are my own views. I want to send you an extended thank you to Super Valu NI and their PR company for offering me this opportunity. 

Learning How To Be More Grateful.

Gratitude: “the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness to.”

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(The views in Rome will always be something I am eternally grateful for. Absolutely stunning!)

That’s what gratitude means according to the Oxford Dictionary but to me, it means “being grateful for the little things that life gives you and to be thankful for where you are right now”.

Since the start of the year, I’ve begun to incorporate mindfulness more into my daily life and gratitude is an addition to this practice. The one thing that I struggle with when it comes to gratitude though is when it’s a bad day. It’s the easiest thing in the world when you can think of all the great things from your day, but if you have a bad day, it can be very difficult.

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(Self reflection at the Ormeau Embankment in Belfast. It’s so gorgeous at night!)

You can show your appreciation for gratitude in many ways; some choose to write it on their blog or on their phone, some say it out loud as part of their meditation practice and others prefer to write it down in a notebook or a journal.

If you read the blog regularly, you’ll know I’m working with the Itty Bitty Book Co. on spreading the message of positivity and happiness and this is where their new product launch comes in. They have released their very own gratitude journal in three colours: yellow, blue and white. It’s a 21 Day Challenge with yourself (because the best person to compete with, is yourself) to see how gratitude can change your mindset, if that’s something you’re wanting to change or simply improve on.

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To give you a sneak peek into the journal, I thought I would share what my first day looked like. These were my three things for the day that I was grateful for. They don’t have to be big things; they really can be that really good cup of tea you had first thing in the morning or maybe you caught the early bus that morning to work. You can be thankful for the people that you have in your life, whether that’s your friends and family or the bus driver that smiled at you.

I’m planning on doing the journal every other day just to ease myself into the challenge, but if you can, you should try to do it everyday!

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(One of the first pages in the journal giving you a very simple explanation on how it all works.)

I wrote a post last year on appreciating on the small things (which you’ll find right here!) and I find that really relates to the gratitude journal, because you really are appreciating the little things in life.

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(One of the many bowls of Italian ice-cream I had on holiday with some tea; you can be thankful for the food you ate that day or the happiness you got from eating that food. It really is that simple.)

If you want to have a look at the Gratitude Journal for yourself, you’ll find it right here! It’s currently £4 for one but if you want all three colours, it’s just £10.

Please note: I am an affiliate for Itty Bitty Book Co. so affiliate links have been used throughout. This journal was sent to me to try for free but views shared throughout this blog however are one hundred percent my own.

A perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one (or yourself!)

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With the most romantic day of the year (Please take this with a pinch of salt!) coming up next Tuesday (February 14th, if you didn’t already know), it’s important to know that the day isn’t just for boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives; it’s also for your friends, for the people around you that you love and most importantly, yourself!

To tie in with Valentine’s Day, I’m very happy to announce that I’m now an affiliate with the lovely Itty Bitty Book Co. who I have spoken about a number of times on the blog now. I talked about their #PositivityTakeover movement and I posted a recent update including the gorgeous city of Rome. I even have their “Book of Strength” and I’ve had that for a few years now and it’s still in perfect condition, so I’m a huge advocate of the company and their ethos.

Itty Bitty have released a Valentine’s Day collection and of course, it’s shining brightly as always so I wanted to share what they had in store for everyone this year.

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We’re going to start with the big one first, naturally! This is jam packed full of goodies for that special someone in your life and/or going all out to treat yourself too!

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We’ll start off with a lovely 6×8 print (that you could even put in one of those lovely box frames after it’s opened! It’ll be the perfect print to stand out in the bedroom or even the bathroom.) If you want to tell someone they’re beautiful but you can’t find the right words, this one will serve you very well.

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Next up is the full set of mini Itty Bitty Books which boost motivation, strength and inspiration. They’re really small so they can fit in your handbag or they can even sit on your bedside table for a reflection of gratitude (and if you add a ten minute meditation to this just before bed, it’s the ideal way to fall asleep straight away. It’s a tried and tested method, trust me!).

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Finally, it’s the ‘Choose Love’ Irish Linen wall hanging which I think would go perfectly in the kitchen. I know I would put mine beside the kettle because that’s where a lot of love goes for me, into a perfect cup of tea!

This bumper set is priced at £40 and postage starts at £3.30 (UK to UK), all you need to get is a cute little bow, you won’t even need to wrap it (but if you do, it’ll be even more of a surprise to the recipient.)

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However, if you’re looking for something a little smaller in size and in price, I introduce the smaller version of the box. It’s £15 and includes the Positivity Itty Bitty Book as well as the gorgeous print listed above.

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If you want to find out more about their Valentine’s Day collection, you can click right here and it’ll take you to their full collection. If you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll find them at St. George’s Market most Saturday’s and Sunday’s but if you’re not from Northern Ireland, don’t worry! As I mentioned earlier, they do ship across the world but if you’re from the UK and Europe, you only have a few more days to get your orders in in time.

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Finally, and probably the most important thing I want you to take away from this blog post; it doesn’t matter if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend or if you don’t, you’re still loved no matter what. A lot of people (including myself at times) make Valentine’s Day to be the be-all-end-all of romance and you feel like you need to have the perfect day or you’re not in the most wonderful relationship or you’re a failure because you don’t have someone to share this day with. At the end of the day, the most important relationship you have is with yourself so cherish yourself, treat yourself and take care of yourself.

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(*I have used affiliate links throughout this post but this post contains 100% of my own honest opinion and that’s it.)
(All images belong to the Itty Bitty Book Company except the first image which I have downloaded from Pexels.com under the Creative Commons Zero licence.)

A Visit To: Synergy Studios

A few weeks ago I was kindly invited to visit the sunny seaside of Newcastle to visit “Synergy”, a shop based on the Central Promenade selling the best of local artists work. The lovely Lewis Robert Cameron from Beyond Man Magazine contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in the opportunity and I, of course, said yes.

I had never heard of Synergy Studios before but to be fair, the last time I went to Newcastle was just for a little walk, so you can’t blame me. It’s such a lovey shop and one of their main focuses is that every product in store is made locally in Northern Ireland, which is fantastic because we seem to be seeing more of these type of shops pop up in Northern Ireland.

For me, I’m really focused on moving out in the New Year so I used this experience to look in particular for quirky house accessories that I feel I would like when I move out. Going into a new shop always has you leaving with quite a few new inspirational ideas!

 I only purchased one product on the night; it was a glass plate that will be perfect for my rings or bracelets. It’s the perfect size and I loved the green and white together! With it being locally made, it’s quite nice to have unique products that you know other people won’t have because each piece is hand made so there will never be the exact same product made.

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For the night, there was also a fashion element and Lewis was styling the two stunning models for the night. I don’t know the first thing about fashion but I loved the edginess that Lewis brought to the night.

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It was such a lovely night; the staff couldn’t have been more helpful, there was a great turn out and it has a really lovely atmosphere, so next time you’re in Newcastle, take a pop into Synergy Studios and you might even pick up a gift or two!

Synergy Studios is located on Central Promenade, Newcastle BT33 0HH, Northern Ireland and you can find them on Facebook right here!

Spreading positivity with Itty Bitty Book Co!

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When I first started my blog, I never imagined I would be talking about my mental health, I thought my blog would just be a place to talk about nail polish, lifestyle and my beauty empties. Here I am though, in a community that talks loud and often about issues that affect them, mental health being one and because it’s such a true reflection of me, it makes me proud to write my blog and share some of the experiences that I have had in my life so far.

Positivity is a word that I see every day on Twitter and Instagram and hear in almost every podcast I listen to. I think positivity and negativity both have their place in life, but today I’m focusing on positivity. I am very happy to be teaming up with the Itty Bitty Book Company for, what will hopefully be, a long partnership of spreading happiness throughout the web, Northern Ireland and the world!

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Who are Itty Bitty Book Co? As you may or may not know, I live in Northern Ireland and Itty Bitty are based here too. They make all their products here and they were established in 2013. I’ll not give you their whole back story when they do a much better job to telling it over on their website, but I want to tell you about one of my favourite quotes from their website (which is available in print form here! )and what it means to me.

“Believe in yourself and all that you are, know that something inside of you is greater than any obstacle”

I think a lot of us are held back by ourselves; our worries, our fears and our self-doubt. Now yes, some of us might even be held back by other people but ultimately when it all boils down to delving into our deepest fears and what we worry about, it comes within ourselves. This quote to me tells me that we all have our negative moments and negative thoughts but if you work on yourself continuously, you can come out on top of that negativity and win. Whether that be on your own, with a friend, with a family member, with a therapist, with a group; if you work through your emotions and go in deeper as to why you feel the way you do, you build up a relationship with yourself that will be harder to break as time goes on.

This won’t happen over night, this won’t happen by saying one quote every day for a year, that’s not what I’m getting at at all. You can defeat anything, you just have to believe in yourself. Belief is much more stronger sense than people give it credit for.

I’m really looking forward to taking part in the #PositivityTakeover (and I’ve just ordrered their little cards which you can find right here!) and all the other campaigns with Itty Bitty too! I have included affiliate links throughout this post as I am a Itty Bitty Ambassador.

(Photography credit goes to Sera from The Style Guide Blog)