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)

So you want to try yoga?

I’m not an expert in yoga at all but if you read my first yoga birthday post, I have some quite fresh experience in getting into the lifestyle, so I thought I would give you some advice if you’re new to yoga or even if you want to try it, but don’t know where to start.

Do your research.
Do you know anything about yoga? Do you know what type of yoga you would like to do? Have you done it before? Is this your first time or are you getting back into it again? These are all questions you have to ask yourself while researching about the practice.

Find classes in your area.
I’m all for watching videos online, I think it’s a fantastic resource and with so much free content out there, I don’t think you should let it go to waste. HOWEVER, for yoga especially, I think it’s an absolute must to go to a class and learn how to do the poses correctly. You will never know if you’re doing it right if you’re watching it and trying to copy it, you could end up hurting yourself.

It shouldn’t cost the earth.
It doesn’t have to be expensive either; depending on the area you live in, you can find affordable classes with experienced teachers. I live in Belfast so I learn through Yoga Belfast who have a range of classes for beginners right up to intermediates, in a range of areas, and are affordable too. There’s some drop in classes and others were you can sign up for a certain amount of weeks. There are many other yoga companies in Belfast of course, but I haven’t had any experience with them.

Get the right gear.
You don’t have to buy a £200 yoga mat, you don’t have to spend loads of money on new workout clothing, but make sure you’re equipped to work out properly. You don’t need to worry about trainers because yoga is done in either socks or in your bare feet. Try to avoid very loose clothing but don’t go really tight either, try and find a nice balance in between the two. I personally don’t like the cheap foam yoga mats because they can slide back on the floor (First week I went to yoga, this actually happened, so personal experience is talking.) but I got a good yoga mat from ASDA and it wasn’t expensive at all. I’ve heard TKMaxx or Sports Direct do some nice ones too.

Practice makes perfect.
This speaks for itself really. You can’t expect to get better at anything if you don’t practice. You’ll mess up, you’ll fall over, you’ll lose your balance, your posture will need corrected, but you know what? That’s okay, if you learn with someone who is willing to show you the ropes and if you’re willing to put the effort in, even one or two times a week, then you will gradually get better.

I am very thankful to have introduced yoga into my life, I don’t know what I would do without it. It has helped me physically; I’m now more flexible and that is particularly helpful when I go to the gym too. It has helped me mentally; I still get stressed and I still panic but yoga helps to bring me down (If only I could do yoga in work every day, now that would be heavenly!). I believe yoga is for everyone, no matter what your age, gender, flexibility, fitness level, lifestyle, whatever it is. It’s such a good focus for people to get stuck into and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I hope my advice has helped even just one person, good luck!